Parks and Recreation Season 5 Review

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The fifth season of Parks and Recreation didn’t disappoint, even if it began to show its age.

The first four or so episodes of this season had me worried. They weren’t bad, just subpar. Ben was in Washington, away from Leslie, and I think that was the only real problem. All the character moments were well done, but the separation after a summer of separation might not have been the best choice.

But with Halloween Surprises seeing Ben propose to Leslie, the show quickly picked up steam and found its direction. This also dove right into the first true classic of the season, Ben’s Parents.

After the holiday break we got the second classic, Two Parties, which brought all the male characters together for the best bachelor party episode of a comedy I can remember. Leslie and Ben’s engagement was a driving point for the middle of the season, culminating in the beautiful wedding episode Leslie and Ben, the highlight of the season.

Granted, having the wedding in the middle of the season was a gift and a curse. The way it was done was perfect and couldn’t have been better, but it sucked the drive right out the last third of the season.

The writers tried to make up for this with Ann’s decision to become a mother, but Ann isn’t the driving force of Parks and Rec. and kind of never should be.

We did get the late classic, Jerry’s Retirement, that said goodbye, sort of, to the parks department’s biggest buffoon. But besides that, the finale was kind of lackluster, along with much of the last leg of the season.

But even lackluster episodes of this show can pack a substantial number of laughs into 22 minutes. Even the weak episodes were still consistent and funny. That is to say, there was not a bad episode in the bunch, just “not as good” ones. While this may be signs of the show slowing down, it is also signs of just how strong this series is.

How could it have been better than season four? It was probably the best single season to a comedy in the last decade. It’s incredibly difficult to go up from there. Now let’s talk about character development.

Obviously, the best parts of the season focused on Leslie and Ben’s romance. But Leslie’s duties as city councilwoman were another highlight, continuing the sharp political satire that only this show can pull off.

Second to Leslie, Ann had a pretty big season. As I mentioned before, she decided she wants to become a mother, leading to an entertaining search for a father. But in no way did I expect her to pick Chris. They are a fun couple to watch and I can’t wait to see this develop in season six (which has yet to be confirmed… *shakes fist at NBC*).

One underlying romance was Ron’s with Diane (Lucy Lawless). Of course the reveal in the tag of the finale that Diane is pregnant was shocking. But their romance was barely shown all season, as good as it was. If this story is going to work next season, Diane will need to be around much more often.

Andy had some career struggles this season, trying out for the Pawnee police and failing. At least April was always by his side. Acting wise, Chris Pratt deserves an Emmy nod for this season. He continues to be a standout character on the show and he is as good, if not better, than the guys over at Modern Family.

Tom also had career issues in season five as he came back from Entertainment 720 with Rent-A-Swag. It became difficult not to admire his ambitions, especially since the developing chemistry between Tom and Ron this season was brilliant. Of course Ron would want to help a man who is making himself.

So that should cover it. Season five of Parks and Rec. didn’t quite hit the heights of season four. But then again, nothing has this year, and nothing likely will for a while. The show is still delightfully lighthearted and smart as a whip. The characters moved forward in interesting ways that felt natural. What more could you ask?

Looking to the future, maybe season six should be the last. With a slight dip in quality like this the writers may be looking for a way out. And with one last season the show could still go out on top. Parks and Rec. isn’t exactly a ratings success at NBC (yet The Big Bang Theory is, Christ America…), so maybe they can talk to the writers and figure out a solid way to send this classic comedy off right. We sure wouldn’t want to see it end up like The Office. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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