Sometimes, you just like getting together with old friends again. So it is with the fifth-season premiere of “Parks and Recreation.”
“Ms. Knope Goes to Washington” is not the fall-off-the-couch funniest episode the series has done, despite some great stuff from Chris Pratt as Andy and the surprising comic duo of Tom and Ann. Ron’s love of grilled meats almost went too far, sending him to the verge of being unlikable.
But this is a show that knows its characters so well and is so consistent in the way it handles them that it’s fun just to spend 22 minutes with them, almost regardless of where they and we end up.
It would not be at all surprising if Ben returns to Pawnee for good at some point later in the season, but it’s nice to see the show follow through on the scenario it set up at the end of last season. It’s also — not nice, but at least true-feeling — to see Leslie get smacked around a little in Washington. As big a believer as she is in the power of (local) government to do good, the federal government doesn’t work on the personal level that she’s used to.
Combined with her realization that Ben’s new job has put him in the midst of a bunch of other smart, driven women (who all seem to be taller than she is), and Leslie has a full-blown panic attack that not even Sen. John McCain can assuage (his cameo, along with those of Sens. Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe, were fine but didn’t add a whole lot).
But then Andy, that lovable doofus, reminds her that she’s about the last person in the world to just give up on something, so she takes the cleanup project into her own hands. And we have a feeling that if the Interior Department bureaucrat ever does get to Leslie’s audiovisual presentation, there might be some federal money coming Pawnee’s way.
Back in town, meanwhile, “Parks and Rec” made a rare (and slight) misstep with Ron. He’s completely right that good barbecue takes a long time, but knowing that and knowing Ron, you might think he’d have been at the park since dawn, both for the joy of delicious meat and for the fact that he’d get to be by himself for several hours before the rest of the staff showed up. It was a rare case on the show of a character serving a joke rather than the other way around.
Still, the acknowledgment that he was wrong and the serving of Pig Tom (plus corn on the cob!) at the office was a nice redemptive moment in the best Swanson tradition.
Finally, if the show only made Tom and Ann a couple to make them an ex-couple, then we might be OK with that. We could listen to them argue about appropriate uses for glitter and Ann do her Tom impression for a long time.
What did you think of the “Parks and Rec” season premiere?