I review a whole season rather than individual episodes, so there is a chance of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the whole season yet, stop reading now!
Parks and Recreation manage to perform a fine balancing act for their fifth season. On the one hand the series changes: removing itself from purely the Parks Department and following Leslie to the City Council. On the other hand, it begins to feel like rinse and repeat, placing the same characters in similar situations we have seen before.
Luckily the Leslie side of the season adds enough variety to make the show feel fresh. City Council means bigger and different issues, like falling foul when trying to teach senior citizens about safe sex or remove outdated laws. It also introduces a great new character as a rival to Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope: Jon Glaser’s Councilman Jamm. He is revolting, obnoxious and sleazy and a perfect foil for the clean cut Leslie. It is a new dynamic and one that really works for the show.
The issue of familiarity is with the other characters. They all get development but nothing too radical. Chris Pratt’s Andy and Aubrey Plaza’s April are still married and still “wacky,” Aziz Ansari’s Tom gets involved in another business venture, this time one with slightly more success, while Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson might actually have found love (with guest star Lucy Lawless). It all feels different but strangely the same.
This isn’t necessarily a huge issue though. As familiar as the situations and characters are, they are still as funny as ever. Watching Ron refuse to go to a doctor, regardless of how ill he is, highlights everything great about Nick Offerman’s character. Aziz Ansari manages to make Tom lovable while being one of the most irritating characters and Chris Pratt is still the MVP of the show, demonstrating why he is now one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. It is simple, if the show isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
And it isn’t broken. Although it may not be as funny as the last season, there are still great moments and memorable episodes. There is still Parks and Recreation magic within these characters, although it is starting to feel like that magic has a limit.
Overall, Parks and Recreation makes some changes but also plays on the strengths that made the show successful enough to continue for five seasons. There are great new additions but it is still characters like Ron Swanson and Andy which make the show so watchable and funny.
Best Episode – Animal Control: Ron’s attempts to not go to the doctors are classic Swanson.
Best performance – Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson
Should there be another season? – Yes, but for the first time, slight cracks are beginning to show.
Season Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)