Blog Archives

Happy 100: The Top 10 Parks and Recreation Episodes (So Far)

In honor of tonight’s 100th episode of Parks and Recreation, here are my 10 favorite episodes of one of my favorite shows.

Note: As always, there is a good chance that there are some significant spoilers below, so read/view at your discretion.

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A Year in Review: The Top 10 Shows of 2013

Anyone who says that there isn’t anything good left on television clearly isn’t looking very hard, if at all. There was almost too much great television this year. from intensely satisfying final seasons to incredible showings from a wealth of new series and everything in between, 2013 once again proved there has never been a better time to be a TV addict.

Note: As always, there is a good chance that there are some significant spoilers below, so read/view at your discretion.

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Parks and Recreation – “Partridge”

Parks and Recreation - "Partridge" [S05E17]

From left: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott

Rating: B-

“Partridge” is an episode of missed opportunities. It’s a missed opportunity to give Ben a chance at redemption. It’s a missed opportunity to give Ron an actual challenge. It’s a missed opportunity for Ann and Chris to have an actual conversation about why they’re giving their coupling – albeit completely non-romantic, for now at least – another try. But before any of these issues have a chance to evolve into something more than mild inconveniences, they’re resolved just as quickly as they show up.

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Parks and Recreation – “Leslie and Ben”

Parks and Recreation -

From left: Adam Scott, Amy Poehler

Rating: A

Like a few past Parks and Recreation episode, “Leslie and Ben” was written with the mindset that this would be the show’s final episode. But unlike the show’s past potential series finales (“Win, Lose, or Draw” being one of them), “Leslie and Ben” had an amazing feeling of finality and goodbye, acting as a heartwarming culmination to a season that already felt as if it were wrapping everything up. And just like those past episodes, “Leslie and Ben” was a brilliant showcase of the incredible writing and acting talent behind this wonderful little show about the lives of a few kind folks in a quirky small-town.

If I can pick out one flaw with the episode it’s this: this was a difficult episode to review. Because I don’t think an entire review of synonyms for ‘perfect’ makes for a particularly interesting read. And if it feels like I’m putting the episode up on a pedestal, it’s because it unquestionably belongs up there.

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A Year in Review: My Top Ten TV Shows of 2012

Since starting this blog way back in January (it seems so long ago now), I’ve learned three things. One, blogging takes a hell of a lot more work than I had previously thought. Two, I actually don’t watch enough TV – critical darlings such as Homeland, Louie, Parenthood are still not a part of my weekly viewing schedule. And three, blogging – although frustratingly time-consuming – is a whole lot of fun.

Although there were few breakthrough hits in 2012, some of television’s old stand-bys saw their best seasons yet. Even though a good amount of time was put into this list, I unfortunately – as hard as I try – cannot watch everything on television, so below is my list of the best that television had to offer us this past year. And I encourage anyone who reads it to argue my placement, and exclusion (or inclusion), of these shows.

Note: Although the accompanying video clips highlight some of the best moments these shows had to offer in 2012, they also contain a good amount of spoilers, so watch them at your discretion.

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All I Want for Christmas – My Top Ten Christmas Episodes

Holiday break is finally upon us. A wonderful time when all shows take their winter hiatus, giving TV addicts like myself some much needed downtime to play catch-up. But perhaps you don’t have anything to catch up on, and simply want to cozy up to a warm blanket, some hot chocolate, and a stocking full of heartwarming television. Then my allow my 10 favorite Christmas-themed episodes to provide you with some holiday cheer.

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Parks and Recreation – “Ron and Diane”

Parks and Recreation - "Ron and Diane" [S05E09]

Nick Offerman

Rating: A

I love Christmas television. Maybe it’s because I get too wrapped up in the holiday cheer, but that permeating sense of togetherness and selflessness that Christmas-themed episodes have is why I get excited about television around this time. Save the suspense and drama for September and May, December is all about joy and warmth. Christmas episodes also give shows an opportunity for their characters to behave unlike themselves, to make even the most curmudgeonly character do something nice for a change – because who wouldn’t believe that people aren’t capable of an act of charity if they’re inspired by the magic of Christmas?

So what does a show like Parks and Recreation  a show where seemingly each episode already embraces the holiday cheer – have to offer us? Why, nothing short of one of the happiest episodes of the entire year, of course.

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Parks and Recreation – “Halloween Surprise”

Parks and Recreation - "Halloween Surprise" [S05E05]

From left: Adam Scott, Amy Poehler

Rating: A

Take out the last 2 minutes of “Halloween Surprise” and you’re left with a solid B or B+ episode of Parks and Recreation. It has consistent laughs, a healthy dose of character development – Ron setting aside some of his manly bravado, and pushes forward the story just a bit – with Ben preparing to take his career to that next step. But something just felt off, that maybe the episode was building to something greater, that maybe Ben’s reluctance to take the Florida job meant something, and because it just seemed inconceivable that Parks and Rec would end an episode with Leslie’s sadness being unresolved.

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Parks and Recreation – “How a Bill Becomes a Law”

Parks and Recreation - "How a Bill Becomes a Law" [S05E03]

Chris Pratt

Rating: B+

We like to believe that our government has our best interests at heart, but  as the election season drags on it becomes harder and harder to believe that it’s the case. It’s not difficult to see that people are tired, that they are tired of the rhetoric, that they are tired of the promises, they are tired of politicians who just don’t seem to care. Enthusiasm about the democratic process has given way to indifference and discontentment.

And television has reflected this growing trend of unrest. Shows  focus more on government corruption or political scandals than the tireless few who are there to preserve the better good. Sure, that may make for more entertaining television, but that doesn’t mean the democratic process can’t make for engrossing television (The West Wing being a prime example). Most of what is on today media government portrays a bloated, heartless machine whose sole purpose is to serve themselves. There is far more criticism than praise. So much so that I’d imagine even The West Wing may have trouble staying afloat these days.

So maybe that’s why Parks and Recreation isn’t as popular as it should be. Maybe we find it hard to believe that there are Leslie Knopes out there, that some of our elected officials really are there to better their communities, that they truly believe in what they preach. We are more surprised to see a politician who is actually excited about politics than we are when one is caught in a scandal. There aren’t many shows that are willing to talk about the democratic process, let alone highlight the brighter aspects of it.

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Parks and Recreation – “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington”

Parks and Recreation - "Ms. Knope Goes to Washington" [S05E01]

From left: Chris Pratt, Amy Poehler

Rating: A

Somewhere along the way Parks and Recreation became my favorite running show on television, and I’m not quite sure how that happened. I don’t know at which point a comedy about the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana (not Missouri, because that place is a total craphole) became my most anticipated television show of the season, even above the acclaimed AMC dramas. It could be that Parks is easily my most blogged about show, so I naturally formed a connection with it. It could be that nearly every episode left me feeling boundlessly happy. It could be that it was the most consistent comedy out of the four major NBC Thursday night comedies (the others being The Office, Community, and 30 Rock). Or it could be that Parks has some of the most likable and endearing characters, most gut-busting and well structured writing, and most optimistic atmosphere on television, making it one of the best all around shows on today.

Still, maybe I shouldn’t have been setting my hopes up too high, because maybe I didn’t want to be let down by the season 5 premiere. Last season’s finale, “Win, Lose, or Draw,” was about as perfect as Parks and Rec could get. But while it did create a great deal of potential storylines, it also generated a lot of uncertainty about the future of the show. How will Leslie deal with her new job as city councilwoman? What will the show do now that it doesn’t have a central story arc (the campaign)? Will we get too much needless drama resulting from Ben and Leslie’s long-distance relationship? And will this finally be the season that the show starts its decline and Parks burns out? So even though I was giddy with anticipation about the new season, I was equally as apprehensive. Read the rest of this entry