Thursday, November 14, 2013

REVIEW: 'Parks and Recreation' Returns with Leslie Staging a 'Filibuster' & Then Dealing with the Results of the 'Recall Vote'

NBC's Parks and Recreation - Episode 6.06 Filibuster / 6.07 Recall Vote

Leslie throws Ben a birthday bash but has to leave early for an emergency late-night filibuster; Tom tries to make memories with Nadia; Ron and Donna go hunting; April reconnects with Andy; Leslie, Ben, Ann and Chris prepare a haunted house on the day of the recall vote; and Tom fears the end of Rent-a-Swag and persuades Ron to help save his business.

Parks and Recreation was finally back tonight. After the immediate failure of Welcome to the Family, NBC opted to hold some episodes to air in one-hour batches this week and next and then returning in January with Community. So, we are still getting nine episodes this fall, but four are airing over a two-week period.

And it was so nice to have this show back again. These characters are all so memorable and hilarious. I just really enjoy spending some time with them. There were some issues with plots in both episodes tonight. But I'm still delighted to be watching Leslie Knope and company again.

"Filibuster" was probably the weaker of the two episodes. The A-story focused on Leslie Knope standing up to filibuster a vote preventing Eagletonians from voting. It was a straight-up parody of what Wendy Davis did earlier this year. And it plays exactly like that. It didn't feel like the characters doing this as much as it was the show making a comment on a topical real-life political moment. The only character moment came went Leslie - forced to think out loud - made the decision to continuing fighting even after it was revealed that the Eagletonians wanted to vote her out and have one of their own replace her.

And this season has really been kicking Leslie down. The Committee to Recall Leslie Knope were relentless and it does feel like it has been awhile since she's gotten a win for herself. She does succeed at the filibuster but that ultimately gets her voted out. And that's really odd considering how upbeat a show Parks and Recreation is. Leslie usually bounces back with more determination than ever before. But when she's gets voted out of office, she is defeated. And that moment really works in "Recall Vote" because it wasn't what I was expecting to happen. Parks and Recreation is in its sixth season. We want Leslie Knope to success. But here, she doesn't. But that's also very exciting. A show in its sixth year that can still surprise me gives me lots of hope of what's to come in the next few episodes. Leslie still has 30 days in office which should make all her unfinished business a lot of fun.

Some more thoughts:
  • So, the Jerry name switched to Larry is apparently staying. It was so awkward when everyone starting calling him that. Jerry is Jerry. It just feels wrong to call him something else - even if it actually is something else which is a gag that never worked at all.
  • Tatiana Maslany continued to be completely charming as Nadia. "Filibuster" did a great job of showing how that character could enjoy spending time with Tom. If she's available in the future, I would welcome a return appearance.
  • The April-Andy stuff was awkward solely because these two episodes were paired together. Chris Pratt - on a break from filming Guardians of the Galaxy - returned for "Filibuster" and April's "faking it" speech and using cookies instead of bread moments were great. And then in "Recall Vote," April was more sullen than usual because she was missing Andy - even though it felt like she just saw him.
  • Ron and Donna make a great pairing. They should do more stuff together beyond Ron being puzzled by her modern verbiage.
  • And Tom sold his business to Dr. Saperstein. Sad that they couldn't get another Henry Winkler appearance. But that B-story in "Recall Vote" with Erinn Hayes was odd and never went to anywhere really funny.
  • So Ron went back on "Pawnee Today" and no one referenced the time he took over from a drunk Joan and the show was briefly retitled "You're On with Ron"?