Parks and Recreation: Season 4

Parks and Recreation 1

The first two episodes of Parks and Recreation (Parks and Rec) Season 4 aired on Dave over the weekend. Rarely has a show deserved Dave’s particular brand of endless repetition more.

By Season 4, Parks and Rec was well and truly in its groove. The first episode of Dave’s ‘double bill’ quickly introduces the next stage of Leslie’s inexplicably inexhaustible career. But weaving throughout Leslie’s imminent campaign for public office are two of the most infamous plotlines in Parks and Rec history: Ron’s sudden, violent, and hilarious departure from the Department and Tom’s vague business, Entertainment 720.

Firstly: Ron’s departure. Ron learns that his ex-wife, Tammy I, is drawing nearer. What follows is one of the finest scenes of character development and comedy that has ever been written and performed. It was and is so thoroughly appropriate a reaction for the character that Ron Swanson remains the inimitable source of countless quotes and memes even after the series has ended.

Not wanting to spoil the details of Ron’s exit any further for those that will be lucky enough to see it for the first time, I’ll move on to Tom Haverford.

Entertainment 720 is just as thoroughly ‘Haverford’ as Ron’s exit was ‘Swanson.’ The scenes focusing on Tom and Jean-Ralphio’s company are filled with satire pushed beyond the limits of absurdity that demonstrate the childish nature of corporate culture and marketing. Just one example finds two professional basketball players shooting mindless hoops in a corner of Entertainment 720’s lavish Headquarters. Parks and Rec strengthens this joke by casting the actual players the script mentions rather than distantly visible lookalikes.

The difficulty in reviewing this episode is that it demands detailed appreciation but also a degree of preservation, as the jokes are each precious and shouldn’t be squandered in the dim glow of a lonely computer screen. As such and once again, I will move on before I spoil anything.

Episode 2 of Parks and Rec Season 4 is a ‘Symphony of Swanson’. Regrettably, that phrase was necessary because the episode is a symphony in the true sense of having much light & shade, dynamism, and range. However, in this case the traditional four movements have been replaced by a classically satisfying 3 acts and the music has been replaced by comedy.

After the ominous hinting of Tammy I in episode 1, her tyranny is in full swing by episode 2. We see a new side of Ron, again I apologise for the cliché but sometimes, if rarely, such descriptions are accurate. In addition to a new side we also see considerable back story unfold forming a partially completed origami cube of three-dimensional comedy.

That’s it! I will say no more; just watch them, watch the whole box set, laugh heartily.