Over the past week, The Extraordinary Contraptions have reached 64% on Kickstarter, and my latest review was published at Steampunk Chronicle. However, most of what I’ve done is watch the fantastic NBC comedy Parks and Recreation.
If you don’t know, the show follows Leslie Knope (played by the fantastic Amy Poehler), the deputy director of the Parks and Recreation department of the fiction city of Pawnee, Indiana. She’s enthusiastic about her job, waffles, sugar, and strong and powerful ladies. She’s joined by the equally colorful Parks and Rec department, where she is probably the only one capable of doing her job.
Besides having one of the most awesome ensemble casts on TV, the show provides a real natural humor that feels like the ridiculousness that happens when you surround yourself with friends. Nothing ever feels forced and the view we take of the characters isn’t cynical. We want them to succeed, despite their flaws that run rampant. For example, when we first meet Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), we see that he’s an unemployed loser in a band who’s dependent on his hard working girlfriend Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) and is not the brightest bulb in the box. Despite that, Andy still comes off as lovable and despite his problems, we’re happy for him as he slowly begins to turn his life around as the series progresses.
Right now, the series is in its fourth season and has quickly rocketed to many critics top lists despite a slow start in the supremely short first season. However, what convinced me to watch the show was the enthusiasm and love shown for the show on Tumblr. That, and Ron Swanson’s reaction to Browser Cookies and Google Earth.
I don’t know what else to say about this show besides WAAAATCH IT, but I can pick my top 5 episodes so far.
1.) ‘Hunting Trip’ (2.10) – After Leslie insists on the men in the office take the women (and Tom) on their annual turkey hunt, things go badly after Ron gets shot in the back of the head with buckshot. While the episode features some hilarious moments, like Leslie playing dumb to the park ranger and Ron’s continuous rant over being shot in the head, it also features some wonderful character development. This is the first episode we really begin to understand that Leslie Knope will do anything for her friends as well as the first episode that we see what would become one of the best couples on the show.
2.) ‘The Fight’ (3.13) – This episode is when we see a pivotal moment for Leslie and Ann’s relationship as well as Tom’s future, but really, the whole episode is worth it to see nearly everyone in the Parks department drunk off their ass. It also inspired me to create Snake Juice for AnachroCon this year. Only being there for two days be damned!
3.) Any episode focused on Ron and his ex-wives (2.08, 3.04, 4.02) – Oh god, I wish I could just narrow these episodes down to one, but it is impossible. Throughout the series, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) is seen as a stoic father figure to the Parks group with a hatred for government and a love for red meat and breakfast food. However, any time one of his ex-wives comes back into his life, he turns into something entirely different. With the cold Tammy I (Patricia Clarkson), he becomes friendly and completely dependent. With Tammy II (Megan Mullally, Offerman’s real life wife), he becomes a sex obsessed freak who is also weirdly dependent. In any situation, the outcome is hilarious and watching the department try to reign him back in is a great ride.
4.) ‘Smallest Park’ (4.08) – EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS EPISODE MAKES ME WANT TO ROLL OVER ONTO THE FLOOR AND CRY WITH JOY. THEN SADNESS. I would not suggest this as a starter episode without watching the previous episodes of season 4 since a lot of what happens rides on the development on those episodes. Still… crying… everywhere…
5.) ‘Flu Season’ (3.02) – This is another one of those episodes that not only features great comedic acting from several of the cast members (Poehler and Rob Lowe especially), but features great developments for many of the characters. This is when we see Ben Wyatt begin to understand what Leslie Knope is all about and April and Andy get one step closer to actually getting together.
There are so many other great episodes I didn’t get a chance to mention, but why don’t you take a trip to Pawnee and discover its greatness for yourself?