Parks and Recreation is back! Bully.
BBC 4’s double-bill premiere of Season Three on the 11th February 2014 brought back our favourite cast of the hilariously absurd Pawnee Government Parks Dept. employees (excluding Mark Brendanawicz, but he has a fuddy duddy anyway so good riddance).
Joining as official regulars this season are Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), the budget-cut-suits from Season Two. As a result they have undergone the Parks and Recreation loveable character makeover. ‘Go Big or Go Home’ sees Chris developed from the overly-chirpy caricature of the previous season, into a optimistic and decent guy with an emotional childhood back-story, and when, in ‘Flu Season’, his ‘micro-chip’ body crumbles under the flu, we all share in Ann’s relief that he’s not all dull and perfect Ben Wyatt’s cynical pessimism is also explained through a childhood incident, and the clashes (and sparks?) with Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) opens up some very interesting story-lines for season three.
Aside from Ben and Leslie’s with competitive, sexy, and endearing back and forth, it appears that season three is being set up as the season of love. Let’s start with Andy (Chris Pratt) and April (Aubrey Plaza). After the mishap in the season two with Andy kissing Ann, it initially appears that he has missed his chance with April after she returns from Venezeula with a weird Enrique Iglesias wannabe boyfriend. Eduardo, the only reason we do not hate him is that he is clearly no more than a minor speed-bump on Andy and April’s road to Kanoodle Town. These two episodes make it very clear that romance is still very much on the table for these two, through a couple of very sweet and touching moments.
Unfortunately, less interesting is the budding romance between Chris and Ann (Rashida Jones). Although, as previously mentioned, I do love Chris, this feels like another clumsy attempt (after the failed romance with Mr. BranDULLawicz last season) to pair Ann up with another oddball like Andy, in an attempt to shoehorn her relatively boring character into the show as something other than Leslie’s best friend. Nevertheless a venture that I admire, as Leslie and Ann are ‘literally’ the best couple on TV, better than Ross and Rachel (Friends), better than Meredith and Christina (Grey’s Anatomy), better even than Jim and Pam (The Office). Therefore, if we have to experience a few disastrous Ann relationships in order to keep the Brovaries together, so be it. Plus, the hilarity of fluey Chris (please refer to: ‘Stop… Pooping’), keeps hope alive that there will be opportunities to laugh through the pain of the Chris/Ann match.
Also, I did not particularly enjoy watching the Ron-Wendy-Tom-Lucy love square manifest itself in a temper tantrum during the basketball competition in ‘Go Big or Go Home’. Ron Swanson does not throw chairs, Ron Swanson is a man goddammit! Luckily, this thread disappeared in ‘Flu Season’ with Tom (Aziz Ansari) back on top-jacuzzi-schmoozing form and Ron (Nick Offerman) revealing the elusive Swanson Smile (quite possibly the most beautiful sight in the world) over Anti-Communist steaks with Andy. So, hopefully the love-square storyline will stay buried for a while, or at least resurface in a less annoying way.
Apart from the love stories, these episodes had a great many laughs (Swanson Pyramid of Greatness and the return of ‘The Bulge’, to name but two), and some great budding story-lines such as the Harvest Festival, Leslie’s new pet project. I realise I have not spoken about Leslie much, but fear not, she was as a fabulously funny as ever; deliriously insisting on making her Festival proposal whilst suffering the flu is easily a Top-Ten Leslie Moment.
8/10 – Final Verdict: Stay tuned for the sadly short, but surely brilliant Season Three. Any faults mentioned above will hardly be noticeable through your tears of laughter.
Next episodes air Wednesday 19th February 22:00pm and 22:20pm on BBC 4.