It’s under a week until The Edge‘s upcoming social, our Parks & Rec-athon at Union Films! To celebrate, some of our writers have come together in celebration of the legendary CBS comedy, with the painstaking task of choosing their favourite episodes. No mean feat, considering the caliber of content delivered by Leslie Knope and co. – as long as we forget that rather-iffy first season. Take a read, see if you agree with our picks!
‘Flu Season’ (Season 3, Episode 2)
Possibly one of the funniest episodes in Parks and Rec history, ‘Flu Season’ follows the gang as they all fall stupidly ill with the flu. Leslie, being the workaholic perfectionist that she is, refuses to acknowledge her illness and pushes forward with her plans to give a presentation about the upcoming Harvest Festival to the Chamber of Commerce (which Leslie, in her bunged up delirium, calls the ‘Chamber of Secrets’).
Meanwhile Ann, worried that her boyfriend Chris might be too perfect, gets an all too graphic view of how imperfect he can be when he also, miraculously, gets the flu. Rob Lowe’s improvised performance in this episode is hilarious, as his otherwise super-fit and health conscious character falls into a complete physical breakdown.
An endlessly quotable episode (Andy’s “Leslie I typed your symptoms into the computer and you might have network connectivity problems”), this is a great opener for anyone new to Parks and Rec.
words by Anneka Honeyball
‘The Fight’ (Season 3, Episode 13)
‘The Fight’ is an episode of Parks and Rec that perfectly highlights the show’s strength when it comes to improvisation. Some of the most ingenious scenes in this episode – which are equally some of the best in the whole show – were created in a weekend Amy Poehler called “the most fun she’s ever had”. Poehler, who writes this episode (there’s no end to her talent), gives us a comedy device which never gets old – get every character smashed, so we can see them at their most hilarious.
Tom has created a new drink/poison Snake Juice, and gets all his co-workers smashed at the party celebrating its creation. Leslie and Ann row over Ann potentially joining the Parks and Rec department; Andy and April spice up their marriage with role play as FBI Agent Bert Macklin and aristocratic widow Janet Snakehole; and Ron does some of the best drunk dancing I’ve ever seen. This is seriously the best Parks and Rec episode of all time, for five minutes of improvised material alone.
words by James Barker
‘Li’l Sebastian’ (Season 3, Episode 16)
Season 3 of Parks and Recreation is when the show really started to kick off. Leslie and Ben have an established romantic appeal with the high hopes of ambiguity to keep it fresh and entertaining; Tom, Ron and Chris’ character development arcs are swinging high; and as the season begins to wrap itself up, we’re about to get another glimpse into the mystical fascination of Li’l Sebastian, previously seen in Season 2’s ‘Harvest Festival’.
Or so we thought. Spoiler alert: He’s dead.
But still, as one door closes, another opens apparently – and for our lovely Parks and Rec department, that opening comes in the form of an abundance of gripping, life-changing career opportunities, all of which are thrown onto the group in the final five minutes. A daring move on writers Michael Schur and Greg Daniels’ parts, especially considering the pair had no idea how the arcs would eventually resolve themselves at that point. Leaving the episode, and the series, on a note which had a pretty hefty implication that somehow Ben and Leslie wouldn’t end up together after all – now that’s just cruel. But we can find it in our hearts to forgive them because, after all, not only did they later give us one of the best romantic arcs and proposal scenes of television history, but Mouse Rat are back with the ballad to end all ballads – ‘5,000 Candles In The Wind’. Elton John’s got nothing on you, Andy.
words by Sophie Trenear
‘The Treaty’ (Season 4, Episode 7)
The episode ‘The Treaty’ is a lowly series 4 contender that gets a little neglected, which is understandable when you’ve got the luxury of flicking through a considerable tome of hilarious episodes, scenes and quotable moments. The premise is simple enough for anyone that isn’t Andy to understand: Leslie is running Pawnee Central High School’s model U.N., which is a great opportunity to inspire students and bolster her campaign for city council. Then, back at the Parks and Rec department, you’ve got Ron and Tom, interviewing an eclectic bunch of Pawnee inhabitants for Tom’s replacement.
But you’ve also got this unresolved quarrel between Leslie and Ben concerning their friendship/relationship that is just blown to despotic proportions as their countries, Denmark and Peru, become embroiled in, ultimately, a domestic feud. Ben and Leslie are at their most hilariously geeky and awkward, confronting their feelings to the camera in several asides but never to each other.
Andy is the unsung hero of the piece, with his arsenal of lions obsession, his bad spelling and his worrying grasp of recent history. Of course, Ron’s angry march around city hall isn’t too bad either, his face as steady as his arms are profusely swinging by his sides.
words by Tash Williamson
‘The Comeback Kid’ (Season 4, Episode 11)
Not only does ‘The Comeback Kid’ make me cry with laughter, Ben’s newly found unemployment is a frighteningly realistic interpretation of myself; even when I actually have work to do. Especially doing so in a Letters to Cleo shirt.
The episode itself focuses on Leslie’s campaign, the one in which she decides to run herself – with the help of the park’s department of course. As hilarious as the hockey rink calamity is, ‘The Comeback Kid’ is my favourite episode thanks to Ben and Ben alone. I wish I could go back and watch this episode again for the first time; I don’t think I have ever laughed as hard as I did watching the infamous ‘Requiem for a Tuesday’, rendering me unable to hear ‘Stand’ by R.E.M. without giggling to myself. Which is hard, since R.E.M. are one of my favourite bands (Another reason why I am Ben and Ben is me).
Even reading calzone on a menu when I’m out at a restaurant renders me incapable of actually asking for one. Particularly without fondly reminiscing over Ben’s fabled fast food empire called the Lo Cal Calzone Zone…but little did Ben know that the calzones would eventually betray him.
words by Sophie McEvoy
‘Two Parties’ (Season 5, Episode 10)
In this fun and really rather endearing episode, Ben and Leslie each have their respective Hen/Stag-do’s – albeit with very different results. Ben’s stag do starts with a suitably nerdy game of ‘Settlers of Catan’ before Tom convinces the group to go to Essence – a bar that specialises in ‘molecular mixology’ – which to Ron’s straight-faced dismay, provides many “wrong ways to consume alcohol”. During their time at Essence, it is revealed that none of the guys ever had a Bachelor party, leading the ever-enthusiastic Chris to lead them on a remarkably improvised tour of the Bachelor Parties they never had. From an Ice Cream Parlour to the Colts stadium and a Steakhouse, Chris proves himself to be the best best man ever and in the process, the guys end up doing some really lovely stuff for each other.
Meanwhile, Leslie’s Bachelorette party certainly starts well (“Anything that can be penis shaped, will be penis shaped”), but soon veers way off course when Councilman Jamm teams up with Paunch Burger to try and claim Lot 48 for one of their branches. Desperate to use the lot to create a Wamapoke playground, Leslie drunkenly litters the pit with what she hopes will pass as ‘sacred’ Wamapoke artefacts to ward off construction. Of course, Leslie being Leslie, she soon realises that she’s made a huge mistake and ends up leading her hen party into a midnight digging session to try and retrieve all the artefacts before morning.
An episode full of bromance and penis-related puns, ‘Two Parties’ is an underrated gem among the Parks and Rec seasons.
words by Anneka Honeyball
But why take our word for it? Check out Amazon Prime, trawl YouTube for clips, buy the boxset – or, best of all, come along to our social this Wednesday for one big binge-watch of the series. TREAT YO SELF!
Join the Facebook event for our Parks and Rec-athon on Wednesday 26th October, here.