Another double dose of Parks and Rec this week shows off its strengths and weaknesses as it evolves with its changing cast.
Donna has been slowly groomed to be a full time player throughout the season, but both episodes this week put her front and center as we got to know a lot more about her. Tom and Donna have always been a good team, but getting her to interact with April over her power animal and Ron as she tries and sells one of his “two cabins” worked pretty well. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the transition is now complete, fitting since Chris seems to have gotten his last big moment on the show as he doups Jamm into funding Leslie’s Community Park. But let's focus back on Donna and it’s nice to see Retta step up to the plate and show some real depth to her acting. We count this as a win for the show.
Also making a successful, sort of, reboot is Larry. After Jerry retired last year it seemed like he might be rather limited going forward, but with the cast depletion this year and no signs of Chris Pratt having much time to do the show any more (thanks Jurassic World), Larry might be around the office a lot more than we expected. Larry is still the butt of a lot of jokes, but they seem to be approaching the humor around Jim O’Heir’s character just enough to make it feel fresh. Not that it was never not fun to make fun of Jerry, but I don’t find myself saying “Poor Larry”, which signals a new angle of comedy surrounding him.
Nowhere near as successful is Craig. He was my least favorite of the doppelgangers and the show seems rather tepid at bringing him around full time. DO YOU ENJOY WHEN PEOPLE SHOUT AT YOU! Yeah, me neither, and that really seems to be the only thing the character does. Plus, he feels like a stereotype with nothing standing out besides the shouting in his few brief appearances. Can we vote Craig out of the office?
A move I’m not so sure they are testing, but should embrace wholeheartedly, is making Jamm a full time player for the rest of the show’s run. Jon Glaser is a delight every time he pops up on the show, which has been quite a lot these last couple seasons, but I wish he was a regular. Him and Leslie going back and forth at each other this week was a highlight of the season and forcing them to work together more, maybe even turning him into a frenemy could work really well for the show. More Jamm, all the time, that is my wish.
Outside the transitional stuff, Anne was absent for both episodes this week, but I guess that means she gets to stay on a little deeper into the season. Tom continued a great run of episodes and I’m not sure the character has ever been better than it has been this season. The boost of confidence they have given him has been great for Ansari and I feel like they are finally tapping his full potential. Ben got to be dorky in the second episode of the night and that is when he is always at his best. Seeing him hang out with the fellow accountants is always a lot of fun, but putting him as the new City Planner makes a lot of sense. Now that his run at Sweetums is over though, I think we can safely say that the plotline was one of the biggest dead ends the show ever put itself into. April continues to get a lot to do without Andy, but she just isn’t the same without him. I really hope Pratt doesn’t leave the show, but I look forward to seeing what they do with two if it comes to that in the future.
Lastly, there were some great Swanson moments this week, but sadly, I’m not sure there is a whole lot left for that character either. This weeks episode really focused on him becoming a changed man with his new found family, but I want to see him interact with them and not just his co-workers again and again. Give us a fresh take on Mr. Swanson, not that I will ever stop laughing at what we get, and I think the show might get that shot in the arm it needs to make it through this transition.
Parks and Rec had a lot of great moments this week and continues to do a solid job at transitioning to a post Anne, Chris and, possibly, Andy world. Andy would be the only major loss there, but the way the show has been handling things so far this season makes me hope they will figure this out. Still, no transition is easy, and the show still hasn’t been at its sharpest as of late, but at least it's still finding plenty of laughs.
-"I am fine."
-"I love sports."
-"I approached the tree, murdered it..."
-"Are you going to crawl my way, by Lenny Kravitz"
-"Got an Asian girl to sit in it once."
-Loving all of these parenting books.
-"I'm like a white male U.S. Senator."
-"I wanna do things the Swanson way."
-"Because you were embezzling, I hope."
-Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey!
-"All I have on my side are facts and science." So sad, because it's true.
-It's RANNNNNNNNDY's music!
-"I tested it by hitting it with my truck."
-"To fertilize my berry patch."
-"A mogul, mogul."
-"Dad, he's here!"
-"Like Dr. Phil, only qualified."
-"I don't want you getting any ideas about us being friends."
-"We can watch the shadows get longer."
-"It's not sexual, I'm just a big fan of her game."
-"Photoshoped it myself."
-"Wow, you have really immersed yourself in Asian culture."
-"In some weird, perverted, sexual way I'm going to miss you when I'm gone."
-"You have no legal claim to it."
-"Leslie, you're my best friend too."
-"Oh, I'm currently in deep denial that's happening."