Parks and Rec is Back, Baby!

The Parks and Recreation Season 7 premiere immediately ninja kicked my face with awesomeness and hilarity. The show hasn’t lost any of its goofy charm or relentless humor. It’s as great as it’s ever been, and maybe–possibly–the best season yet. The premiere was two whole episodes, both of which were fantastic, and we still have eleven more to go. Keep in mind that as I drool over the new season, there will be a spoiler warning in effect.

I voiced my reservations about how every character seemed to be so successful that it might be difficult to maintain dramatic conflict. Turns out the writers anticipated my whining, and waste no time smothering my doubts in their crib. The characters are more successful, but that only makes them bigger, older, and more complicated. The conflict is on a much bigger scale than before. Leslie started the series wanting to fill in a pit, but she’s ending it vying for a $90 million parcel of land (currently owned by the Sweetums corporation) so she can turn it into a National Park. Her chief rival? None other than Ron Swanson, now the owner of Very Good Building Company, who wants to help Gryzzl turn the land into a new hi-tech campus. It was inevitable that Ron and Leslie eventually butt heads given that they’re both strident proponents of the two extremes of big-versus-small government. Making a fight between the two of them the driving conflict of the final season is a brilliant idea. It splits the usual cast of characters into two camps: Leslie, Ben, Andy, April, and Terry versus Ron, Tom, and Donna. I’m looking forward to seeing the sparks fly, and also to seeing how the time gap gets gradually filled in. What was the mysterious “Morning Star” incident that caused Leslie and Ron’s falling out, anyway?

I'm guessing it went something like this.

I’m guessing it went something like this.

Most of my predictions have already been shot down, but I was right about Tom’s romantic subplot with Lucy. I always liked Lucy. She was straight-talking and honest with Tom about his shortcomings. Having her back now is a good thing, although her having a boyfriend is a huge hurdle for Tommy. Can he swagger his way back into her heart? Only time will tell! But seriously, probably yes.

I can’t wait to see more of Andy’s Johnny Karate TV show. The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show seems like basically the best TV program ever created, and I fervently wish it was real. I was dying when Andy sicked his ninjas on Terry despite his protests. It’s awesome to see Andy doing so well, but I’m reminded that he’s still the same old Andy when I hear lines like, “Everyone will see my wiener — I mean, you’ve seen it, you know how dumb it looks.”

MailmanBarry

Mailman Barry doesn’t even know how attacked by ninjas he’s about to be.

April’s search for her passion in life is an interesting plot. I was never really sold on her being a government bureaucrat; she just doesn’t seem like the type who could enjoy monotonous paperwork, and it never really rang true when she became Leslie’s protege. All the other characters seem to have graduated to their true calling, and I hope she finds hers. Also noteworthy: Aubrey Plaza looks mighty good this season. That is all.

One thing I couldn’t help thinking about was: who the hell is running the Pawnee Parks Department now? As far as I can tell, everyone either quit to do their own thing or went to work for Leslie at the National Parks Service. I’m sure they’ll address this, but it’s got me curious. Hopefully the guys from Animal Control are in charge now.

We didn’t see the triplets at all in the first two episodes, and I honestly forgot they existed for a while. We get some off-hand mentions of them staying with Leslie’s mom, but that’s the most we hear about them (or Leslie’s mom, for that matter, who I guess is still alive despite not having seen her for two seasons). The triplets could make for some really interesting stories, but it seems like they may be going the way of Ron’s family: the focus of a few episodes, but then shunted to the side so the real plot can happen.

Another plot prediction: Gryzzl. How will they fit into this whole thing? Do they still worship Ben as the maker of Cones of Dunshire? Is their stranglehold on communication in 2017 a sinister plot to be dealt with this season? Gryzzl seems like it might be some overreaching company that will compromise its morals to increase marketshare, but at the same time it might just be a benevolent overlord that knows what’s best for everyone, like Google.

I was gratified to see Councilman Jamm and Tammy II’s unholy union in Episode 2. Jammy was a true horror show, but Leslie and Ron’s slap-filled deprogramming retreat had me rolling on the floor, especially Leslie’s spot-on Tammy impression. I hope we get to see more from these minor characters this season, but something tells me this might have been their last hurrah. If so, it was a good one to go out on.

My favorite scene in the premiere was Werner fucking Herzog as Keg Jeggings, the deranged, staircase-to-nowhere-building owner of a haunted house that used to hold people who had gone insane working at the old doll head factory. I love that crazy German man to death, and hearing him say he wanted to move to Orlando to be closer to Disneyworld in his trademark precise deadpan absolutely killed me. It’s such a random cameo to have, and the kind of unexpected brilliance that makes me love this show.

"It's haunted. . . and disgusting."

“It’s haunted. . . and disgusting.”

The double episode premiere was fantastic, and really affirmed that Parks and Recreation is the funniest show on TV. Coming back to my TV friends in Pawnee was like snuggling up under a familiar blanket. I’m stoked to see what the future holds (cause they’re in 2017, get it?), but I think it’s a safe bet that the farewell season is going to kick ass.

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6 thoughts on “Parks and Rec is Back, Baby!

  1. I was more worried about the time jump, but the fact that they needlessly inserted the strange transparent tablets to remind the viewer that it’s in the future was somewhat worrisome. As for the triplets, they will do nothing with that whatsoever. It wouldn’t surprise me if we never see them again. The only thing the Parks and Rec audience wants to see less than children are pregnancy and babies (which I suspect might have incentivized the time jump in the first place). What really disappointed me was that we did not see Lucy Lawless at all. My understanding is that she commands a relatively high per episode rate, so they have to use her sparingly. Still, I hope she doesn’t fall by the wayside.

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    • As a huge Parks and Rec fan, I think that there would have been a lot of humor potential with a pregnant Leslie Knope, so maybe don’t presume to speak for all Parks and Rec fans about that. Beyond that, kids can be funny, if the material is right (look at Wednesday Adams). I love the time jump, it’s bold and opens up the door for a lot of gags (I love your skin. GIVE ME YOUR SKIN!). And while Diane is always great in any scene, her not being there isn’t really disappointing, as I don’t think at this juncture it would really serve the story very much. She may show up in future episodes, she may not, but I really do trust the writers to craft a funny, touching story. So far, I haven’t been disappointed.

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    • The transparent tablets were jarring at first, I agree. It’s like “Oooo future!”, but really it’s only three years from now. I think it’s more than set dressing though: Gryzzl seems like it’s going to play a big role this season, so the tablets are helping establish how influential Gryzzl is now. I do miss Dianne, especially since we only saw her once last season. I really miss Leslie’s mom — she’s mentioned, but not seen since S4.

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