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Parks and Recreation – London, Part 1 & 2 Review: Leslie Knope Appreciation Society

It’s hard for me to dislike an episode of Parks and Rec. I liken it to an adorable puppy. I’m predisposed to like it, even if it pees on my carpet or bites my finger. 

With that said, I don't love the season six opener. I think there are moments of charm and a few laughs, standard features of this show, but something about the hour-long (or 40-minutes, if you want to be exact) episodes doesn’t do it for me. I know it’s stupid to complain about more Parks and Rec, but I think the comedy format just works better in half-hour installments, don’t you?

Of course, after missing this show for months, I’m still appreciative of its return to my television screen regardless of its format. 
But let’s talk more about the A word. And by A word, I mean “appreciate.”

Leslie’s still in the midst of the “Recall Knope” debacle, and she’s feeling no love from the citizens of Pawnee. Of course, in typical Leslie fashion, she’s got a multi-phase plan to get everyone back on her side, but it’s tough when Phase 26 (No Problem Too Small) has her fixing petty problems like a slug infestation. (For the record, apparently coffee grounds deter slugs.)

Thankfully, it’s April to the rescue. Taking a page out of the Phase 13 (Think Outside of the Box) handbook, she has nominated Leslie for an International Coalition of Women in Government award, which Leslie wins, earning them a trip to London. It is worth noting how increasingly adorable this mentor/mentee relationship between Leslie and April has become. Leslie is such a positive influence in April’s life, and with confirmation that Ann’s days in Pawnee are numbered, I hope the writers continue to give them more to do together, if only to see April squirm when Leslie tries to be affectionate. 

In the meantime, it’s off to Hogwarts London Town for our gang. Transatlantic field trip! 

Before the awards ceremony, however, Leslie gets rattled by Kathryn Pinewood’s allegations that she’s gallivanting through Europe instead of dealing with things back in Pawnee. Her frustrations all come gushing out during her acceptance speech, which was unfortunately webcast in Pawnee during a viewing party organized by Jerry. Your efforts are appreciated, but damn it, Jerry! 

I’m surprised it took Leslie this long to explode on the ungrateful pee-pee-heads of Pawnee, but as Ron reminds her in a heart-to-heart later in the episode, she doesn’t need to start chasing applause and acclaim because people like April respect her. It’s a sweet sentiment, especially when we get to hear April read her nomination letter about Leslie (“her true purpose on earth, her true meaning, is making people’s lives better”), find out where Leslie has sent Ron for his wedding gift (to the Lagavulin distillery in Scotland), and see her blissful reaction about Chris and Ann’s baby, who may or may not be named Olive. Or Chickpea. Pawnee might take everything she does for granted, but she’s beloved by the people who matter to her.

It’s difficult to say how this recall will go (Pawnee would be stupid to follow through with ousting Leslie from office!), but I doubt Leslie or any of her friends in the Parks Department will go down without a fight.

And that’s something we should all appreciate.

Notes and Quotes

-- Diane: “Just kidding. It’s Elizabeth.” As if we needed more confirmation that Ron and Diane are perfect for each other, she jokes about her middle name being Tammy right before their impromptu nuptials at City Hall. She’s definitely a keeper!

-- Leslie, upon hearing that Ron and Diane are about to get married: “I just...I’m having so many thoughts and feelings that I’m paralyzed right now.”

-- I need help with crossword clue No. 35: “Who’s the worst,” eleven letters, starts with an L.

-- If I had to choose, I’d definitely go on the Bridget Jones bus tour. Does that one go in front of Colin Firth’s house?

-- Ron’s disdain for Europe doesn't surprise me, but I absolutely love everything that comes out of his mouth, especially: “Enjoy the fact that your royal overlords are a frail old woman and a tiny baby.” Honorable mention: “Look, a clock! We don’t have that in America.”

-- April’s fascination with Khongordzol, the Mongolian mayor/police chief/wolverine wrangler, makes me laugh so much. It’s random, yet totally in line with her character.

-- Who else thinks Heidi Klum’s guest appearance feels like a wasted opportunity? Heidi can play sassy so well, as evidenced by her stint on Project Runway, so seeing her as the bland Ulee Danssen from Silkeborg feels almost boring. I do like her goat cheese statue, though.

-- Ben and Andy meet up with the wealthy Lord Covington to expand their after-school music program, but it’s just a clever ploy to keep Andy in London for a few months while Chris Pratt films Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, I enjoy their explanation for the sudden change of Andy’s physique – not drinking beer and losing 50 pounds in a month. Is that even possible?

-- Not enough Donna! Frankly, this show never has enough Donna. But I love the scene where she plays mentalist and deduces how long Ann has been pregnant by her drink and outfit choices.

-- We finally figure out who the mysterious owner of Tommy’s Closet is, and it’s not Jason Statham or LeBron James. It’s actually the Fonz! Better yet, it’s Dr. Saperstein (Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa’s father), played by the brilliant Henry Winkler. I didn’t think I could love this family any more, but it has happened. His delusions about his children are comedy gold! And as bad as it is for Rent-a-Swag’s future, I hope the good doctor comes back to wreak a little more havoc on Tom’s life.



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