Parks and Recreation – Anniversaries Review: A Slow and Steady Start
Did you catch the new opening credits? Gone are Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe, and in their stead are Retta and Jim O’Heir. They’re not quite going back to square one—nor will it be like losing Paul Schneider’s Mark Brendanawicz in season two—but it seems fitting that in an episode titled “Anniversaries,” we’re ushered into a seemingly new era of the show. I have no doubt that Parks
will find its groove post-Ann and Chris, but it won’t be a quick transition, especially when Leslie name-drops Ann within the first few minutes.
The crux of the episode deals with Ben and Leslie celebrating their first wedding anniversary. Or at least trying to. In true Leslie fashion, she’s distracted by the continuing discord between the Pawneans and Eagletonians. A large-scale brawl at the dump does sound serious enough to merit blowing off her husband’s lunch invitation. And despite no longer serving on the city council, Leslie can’t help but make it her mission to bring the two towns together in perfect harmony. We should expect nothing less. Caring too much is both her greatest strength and biggest weakness.
Over six seasons, they’ve built up a fascinating world in Pawnee—from the silly to the slightly more serious—and it’s always fun to meet the people who populate the fictional town. Add in the equally crazy Eagletonians, and things are bound to get a little nutty. Case in point: the delightfully deadpan duo (say that three times fast)—Derry Murbles and August Clementine—over at Thought for Your Thoughts
. Even their names are wonderful and kooky. Of course, the radio interview does nothing to assuage Leslie’s fears of a failing merger, and she leaps into action by using Doug and Rosie DeMarco, a couple married for 50 years despite being from Pawnee and Eagleton, as the symbol of a happy union between the rival towns. However, it’s another failed attempt as we learn that their marriage was based mostly on thoughts of impending death and Doug wanting to tick off his parents by shacking up with Pawnee trash. Cue the awkward tap dancing diversion!
I feared that Ben and Leslie would make a big to-do about showing that true love conquers all and things would get too schmaltzy (something akin to the Pawneans and Eagletonians holding hands and singing "Kumbaya"), so I was pleasantly surprised when Leslie formed the Pawnee-Eagleton Youth Committee instead. And I felt just as verklempt as Leslie when she realized that the ‘zzas and BS-ing (brainstorming, of course) actually birthed a fantastic concept: the Unity Concert. It’s a credit to Leslie’s leadership through the years that people like Tom, April and Andy can put their heads together and come up with this idea. Might it also be a harbinger of things to come, like perhaps another attempt at running for public office?
Ben, meanwhile, scrambles to cancel the waffle buffet and Hilary impersonator that he had planned as an anniversary surprise for Leslie, which leads to some great moments with the man formerly known as Jerry, including a couples massage, cooking class and a bit of ballroom dancing. I actually love Larry’s character. He’s a simple, kind man with an easy going personality, and despite being the butt of most jokes at the Parks Department, he takes everything in stride. How can you not love the big guy? Of course, Larry’s successful marriage with the beautiful Gayle remains a running joke on the show, but it’s no less funny when Ben wonders whether a hypnosis accident caused Gayle to fall in love with him. I do wish they’d give him a little more credit though.
It’s also equally hilarious when people continue to try and one-up Leslie’s thoughtfulness, especially when her gift giving is second to none. Despite all of his planning and unwavering commitment to recreate Enchanted
(“Tally ho!”), Ben was outmatched from the start. The surprised face he displayed as he sat, Joffrey-style, in the Game of Thrones throne
, said it all. And while Ben and Leslie seem to be doing well a year into their marriage, I’d like more insight into their work dynamic now that Ben is city manager. I’m not asking for unnecessary conflict, but things feel just a little too perfect right now. Let's shake it up a bit!
As for Ron, he manages to unintentionally involve himself in an issue between quasi-friends April and Donna—namely that Donna always leaves her post at the animal shelter unannounced and April passive-aggressively writes a mean anonymous review on Yelp to show her displeasure. Of course, the main takeaway from this, aside from continuing to build on the growing friendship between the two colleagues (more of this, please!), is that people of the internet should take a page out of Ron’s book and forgo all that anonymous commenting. If you believe in something, sign your name to it. Just another brilliant life lesson courtesy of Ron Swanson.
Notes and Quotes
- Leslie: “Whoo! I’m getting the epiphany sweats!”
- A pizza-stuffed-crust pizza (pizza with crust stuffed with little pizzas with a chocolate crust) sounds divine. How could Frankie’s discontinue it?!
- The magic word is “nutmeg.”
- Ron: “Dear frozen yogurt: You are the celery of desserts. Be ice cream or be nothing. Zero stars.” If only Yelp reviews were as succinct and genius.
- Surprising no one, Craig is a Samantha in the boardroom but a Miranda in the bedroom.