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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Parks and Recreation: "Win, Lose, or Draw"

The best part of “Win, Lose, or Draw” (besides Mike Schur coming out as a fan of the Oxford comma) was when Ben told Leslie that he had never written a concession speech. It felt like a little wink to the obsessive fans of the show, who had surely seen all the interviews in which Schur and star Amy Poehler had insisted that the show had filmed versions of the ending for both possibilities. In truth, there was no way Leslie was going to lose.

One other thing Schur always says when he is interviewed is that he loves change, making him something of an anti-Swanson. “Win, Lose, or Draw” certainly set up some intrigue for next season. Ben has impressed Jen Barkley so much she offers him a job working on a Congressional re-election campaign. After some sweet discussion of what it will mean for them as a couple, Leslie insists Ben take the job.

The rather slight Andy and April plot seemed shoe-horned into the episode just to introduce the out-of-leftfield-but-not-really idea of Andy following his unrealized dream of becoming a police officer. It seems clear that Parks and Recreation doesn’t want to become one of those shows where the later seasons (and please, please, let there be later seasons) become sort of tinged with melancholy as you realize all these people are still stuck at the same place. Think of Sam Malone being single when Cheers ended, and how sad it is that Jim still sells paper at The Office.

It will be interesting to see how the show evolves now with Leslie in the City Council. It looks as though the show will try to avoid becoming the local-government equivalent of those teenager shows where everyone winds up going to the same college. Leslie probably isn’t going to hire all her friends to work on her staff, though they might try that with a few castmembers.

But speculation can wait. For now, here’s three cheers to my favorite show on television, one that even in an episode necessarily more focused on plot and drama, can give us such comedic gold as Bobby Newport believing it was illegal to vote for himself, Tom dreaming of playing baccarat with Drake and Blue Ivy Carter, and Andy trying to fix the office computers the same way he fixes his Xbox.

The show gets the emotional stuff right too. How great was it to see Leslie placing her photo on the wall of city councilmen? They may be best at combining the two. I really cared for Leslie as she cried with joy at being able to vote for herself in an election, and then I cracked up when Bobby Newport pulled the curtain and asked for help voting because he’d broke his pen.

Thank you, Parks and Recreation, for another incredible season of heart-warming comedy. Please, NBC, don’t take this show away for a long time.

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