Today, Kelly Stitzel looks at a returning favorite, Parks and Recreation. How does the new season stack up with last year’s triumph? Well don’t ask me! Read, damn it!

“Parks and Recreation” (Thursdays, 8:30 PM, NBC)

Parks and Recreation got off to kind of a rocky start in its (very short) first season, began to find its voice during its second season, and really came into its own as one of the smartest, funniest shows on TV during its third season. And with the start of its fourth season, it is showing no signs of stopping the upward trend. In just two episodes, Parks and Rec has given us a plethora of storylines and plot twists that some shows might prolong and spend an entire season to introduce.

Let’s recap (you are now being alerted that spoilers are ahead. But, you know that when you read these things, don’t you?):

  • Leslie has announced she’s running for city council and, subsequently, she and Ben broke up.
  • Andy became Leslie’s new assistant.
  • Ron’s frightening first wife, Tammy One, returned to make his life a living hell.
  • Ron’s mother, Tammy Zero, was introduced, and it’s clear the steak doesn’t fall far from the cow. (Not that she’s a cow. It’s just, you know. Ron likes steak. Apple from tree. Whatever. You know what I mean.)
  • Ron shaved off his mustache, something nobody ever thought would happen, eliciting incredible concern from the Parks & Rec department staff. (It was really weird, right? I mean, I’ve seen Nick Offerman without a mustache, but to see Ron Swanson without a mustache? WEIRD.)
  • Tom introduced everyone to his ridiculous new business, and after asking Ben for help with his financials, realized Entertainment 720 might not survive. (”I would guess they’ll be bankrupt by the end of this sentence.”)

As with the harvest festival story arc last season, it would appear that Leslie’s city council campaign may be the big storyline for season four, though whether or not it will last the entire season remains to be seen; Parks and Rec is really good about letting a storyline run its course in a reasonable amount of time and not dragging it out unnecessarily. It will also be interesting to see how long it will take before Tom’s new business fails and he’s back at the Parks and Rec department (you don’t think that Entertainment 720 is actually going to succeed, do you?). And I really hope that all three of the Tammys make more appearances — Ron under the influence of any Tammy is hysterical. Let’s not forget Andy and April — those two are becoming my favorite sitcom couple. There are so many possible hilarious shenans those two could get up to, particularly since Andy is now the assistant to someone running for office. I mean, nothing could possibly go wrong there, right?

All in all, I think this season is already shaping up to be the show’s best. And come awards season, I think we’re going to see it finally kicking some Modern Family ass.

Some of my favorite things about the season so far:

  • Ron Swanson. I mean, Ron is one of my favorite things about the show, in general. But so far this season, he’s been a little extra Swanson-y. And he’s had some of the best lines (”I keep a sizable amount of ground chuck in my desk.” ”I have the toes I have. Let’s just leave it at that.” ”I’m Ron Swanson and you’re Leslie F-ing Knope.” ”Tammy One is my blonde chicken.”)
  • Tom’s leopard loafers in the season premiere. They made me laugh almost as much as anything he’s done or said so far this season.
  • The Parks and Rec Anthony Weiner-esque penis photo scandal. (”Oh my god. Your inbox is literally filled with penises.”)
  • The Entertainment 720 branded chotchkies. The fireplace bellows were my favorite.
  • Leslie and Ben’s break-up scene. It’s one of the sweetest, most sincere break-up scenes I’ve ever scene on a TV show.
  • Ron’s method of handling his finances, including hand-written notes that say ”I bought supplies” and a photograph of a ”gentleman’s agreement.”
  • Ann and Chris’s video shoot. (”I cannot believe I dated him. For a long time. And he broke up with me.”)
  • Ben’s new nickname: Jello Shot, J-Shot for short.
  • Patricia Clarkson as Tammy One and Paula Pell as Tammy Zero. Those roles could not have been cast any better.
  • April’s admiration of Tammy One. (”She’s the cold, distant mother I never had. I love her.”)
  • The old-fashioned prairie drink-off. Drunk Leslie is the best. (”Not even close. Not even close. Glenn Close.” ”Everybody pants now!”

What do you think?

About the Author

Kelly Stitzel

After shutting down her own blog, Looking at Them, in mid-2008, Kelly migrated over to Popdose, bringing with her Soundtrack Saturday, the most popular column from her old site. Kelly makes a living as a fashion and marketing copywriter, which takes up a lot of her time. However, when she is able to write about things that have nothing to do with her day job, she contributes reviews and musings on music, film and a variety of other topics. In addition to Soundtrack Saturday, columns she's written include Filminism and Pulling Rank.

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