After having spent the last two months in the hellscape that is the real world, it's due time to return to someplace better. Happier. More whimsical. Someplace with miniature horse celebrities, offensive City Hall murals, and an inscrutable aversion to calzones. Tonight, we enact our wishes by heading back to Pawnee, Indiana, with the return of Parks and Recreation's fifth season.
But our extended stay in this nightmarish non-fictional locale we call our lives for the past six weeks might have removed us just a bit from the Pawnee mindset. What exactly was going on back before we bade farewell to Leslie, Ron, and company? What sort of adventures will we be gearing up for through the rest of the season? Which characters have risen to glory, fallen from grace, and embarked upon notable new adventures? Here's a quick walk-up to prepare for Thursday night's new episode.
Where We Left Off: Things were on the ups for the Parks Department's key players. Not long before the hiatus, Leslie was taken by surprise when her boyfriend Ben, situated indefinitely in his government job on the East Coast, returned home for good and asked her to marry him. The proposal sparked tears of joy, both onscreen and off, launching Councilwoman Knope on another exciting journey. The only problem that remains for the happy couple is Ben's professional slump... but investment in Tom Haverford's budding preteen suit rental company does suggest promise.
Romance has not been stingy in Season 5 — perpetual loner Ron Swanson, soured on relationships thanks to two violent failures in the realm of matrimony, had taken up with a strong, confident, compassionate high school principal and single mother, played by none other than Xena Warrior Princess (whose real name is Lucy Lawless, but we like to pretend she's actually Xena Warrior Princess). Last we saw, the two were going strong (despite the efforts of Tammy 2).
And that's pretty much it for everyone. Chris is still tending to his psychological tsunamis, April and Andy are still overgrown lunatics (though not without hints of growth!), and Anne is... um...
What to Expect from the Rest of the Season: A Knope/Wyatt wedding is bound to make television history, if only for the mounds of chaos it will doubtlessly employ. Meanwhile, with Ron and Diane exploring a genuinely healthy relationship, might we be seeing some changes in the demeanor of the fervently mustachioed Parks Department director? Plus, with Andy on a lasting quest to become a police officer, and April slowly warming up to the idea of adulthood, the pair is sure to showcase some genuine big changes before the coming of May.
Best Moment of the Fall: For many, the surprise proposal from Ben to Leslie stands as one of the most heartwarming moments on Parks so far (although I maintain that April's admission of love and admiration for Leslie back in the Season 3 episode "Andy and April's Fancy Party" ranks as No. 1 in my book).
Most Improved Character of the Season: We've got to give this one to Jerry — a rare look at his life outside of work gave us new affection for the doting husband and father of the most horrifyingly beautiful family in the world.
Least Improved Character of the Season: With the often obnoxious Tom actually working toward a tangible goal, the sometimes grating Chris in a struggle for self-betterment, and Anne actually making an effort to come to terms with her identity, we found ourselves pretty satisfied with a lot of the less enjoyed supporting players. But damn it if we aren't just a bit sick of Jean-Ralphio.
5 Reasons to Keep Watching: To have a weekly reminder of humanity's capability for goodness; for new bacon-centric recipes (courtesy of Ron Swanson); to keep up to date with the contemporary lingo (I bet you've said "chicky chicky parm parm" about 500 times since seeing that episode); to be able to contextualize all the Parks and Rec GIFs that your coworkers will undoubtedly send you throughout the day; oh, and because this might happen again.
Catch the new episode Thursday night at 8:30 PM.
[Photo Credit: NBC]
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Woodworking awards, a holiday party thrown by Jerry, the return of Tammy 2 (and maybe another much-beloved character, hint hint) — the Parks and Recreation mid-season finale has everything I could ever want (and maybe a little bit more). No more waiting, let's get to it!
Jingle Bells, Jingle Yay, Jingle Good For You
Ron has been nominated for an Indiana Fine Woodworking Award! While you might not be able to tell from his stoic expression and relaxed posture, Ron is very excited. Good thing Leslie is full of enough outward enthusiasm for the both of them — and, like, a whole busload of kindergardeners on a sugar high. And Leslie can't wait to celebrate with Ron at the awards ceremony, whether Ron wants her there or not (which he doesn't).
You see, things are going well with Ron and Diane (Lucy Lawless), and he can't wait to share what may end up being the best night of his life with his new warrior princess — er, I mean, leading lady. For Ron, this will be a night filled with the smell of cedar, the taste of good whiskey, and, perhaps, the sound of applause, as he is recognized for a craft of which he is actually proud. There's only one thing that could screw this up. To be continued…
Every time Jerry does something stupid and someone in the Parks Department laughs, they put a dollar in a box. At the end of the year, they take the money and go out to dinner. I present to you: The Jerry Dinner. It's mean, but also brilliant. This year, Tom, April, Andy, and Donna have raised $516 $517 $518, and they're ready to feast. Until, that is, Anne points out that what they are doing is deplorable.
With Ann's scolding words, a seed of doubt takes root in Donna's mind, one that sprouts as the gang-o-bullies makes their way to Jerry Dinner. Finally, unable to stomach one more Jerry Story ("My favorite was when he ate a bowl of glue," says April) and overcome with guilt, Donna decides to turn her car around and pick up Jerry. He will be the guest of honor at this year's Jerry Dinner.
But as the gang's car rounds the bend to Jerry's house, what to their wandering eyes should appear but a driveway full of cars and a home full of cheer. Jerry Gergich is hosting a Christmas party! And a bustling one at that. Chris, Ben, Ann, and tons of friends we couldn't even imagine Jerry having are sipping eggnog and munching on hors d'oeuvres under the mistletoe. The crew, now hungry for lack of Jerry Dinner, wants in. But ho! Not so fast. Ann is guarding the door like a righteous, angry troll and she requires a hefty toll to partake in A Very Gergich Christmas. The meanies must win back their good favor in the eyes of God and men by doing something nice for Jerry. Donna, who ended Jerry Dinner, can go inside. Everyone else is left out in the cold to think about what they've done.
Leslie Knope: Emotional Guardian
Tammy 2! Tammy 2 could screw up Ron's perfect night! Even as Ron prances and dances — no exaggeration here — giddily around the ballroom, a bone-rattling chill sweeps in and the smell of decaying library books grows thick in the air. Tammy 2 (Megan Mullally), clad in a low-cut red dress with nothing underneath (thanks pixelated screen!), has arrived to chip, chip, chip away at the ideal night Ron has built for himself. Leslie Knope, self-proclaimed Emotional Guardian of one, Ron Swanson and newfound appreciator of Diane, is on the case. She won't let a horny librarian get in the way of Ron's happiness!
Unfortunately, in tagging along to the awards ceremony and standing up to Tammy 2, Leslie shows just how close she is with Ron, and it's making Diane nervous. Diane can handle an aging harlot like Tammy, but she worries about Leslie's intimacy with Ron. After all, Leslie knows that Ron, "secretly loves artichokes and plums." While Ron is off hiding from Tammy, Diane slips away from the ceremony.
You're Jerry's Beautiful Wife… And You Look Like That
Inside the Gergich abode, merriment abounds. Jerry and his shockingly beautiful wife (Christie Brinkley) sing carols with their gorgeous daughters — seriously, what is in the Gergich ladies' water? — while Ben marvels at Chris' new positive outlook on life. Chris, now seeing his therapist 15 times a week, is able to handle such crippling blows as accidentally drinking non-non-fat eggnog and running into ex-girlfriend Millie Gergich, new fiancé in tow, without batting an eye. Way to go, champ! Keep up the good work.
Outside in Loserland, the irrational Jerry haters are coming to their senses. They discover that, thanks to their "Jerry Filter," they have missed years of nice emails from Jerry — including an invitation to his annual Christmas party. Tom, April, and Andy reach down deep inside their hearts to find the small pocket of goodwill they feel towards Jerry, and decide to donate their Jerry Dinner money to the Jerry Fart Attack fund. Welcome to the party, kids.
Ladies and Gentleman, But Especially Ladies
While Leslie staves off the wild, feral beast that is Tammy 2, Ron seeks out Diane. He takes her to Cozy's Bar, where he explains that, while he values Leslie as a dear friend, he would rather go to Europe than have a romantic relationship with her. He would, however, go to Europe if Diane wanted to — but not France. He draws the line at France. To prove to Diane that he is invested in their relationship, he decides to share with her something even Leslie doesn't know.
Everyone, help welcome Duke Silver to the stage.
Best line of the night: "Smart, funny, independent, and sexy? Diane Lewis? More like Diane Sawyer!"
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: NBC]
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It's ladies night at TV Tidbits again! The women of Hollywood are making moves, signing deals, and making cameos all over the place. Sure, Cee Lo Green's in there too, but something tells us he would approve of being surrounded by so many awesome ladies making big-time industry power plays. From Kaley Cuoco to comedy lady heroes like Megan Mullally, Rachael Harris, and Angela Kinsey, we say roll that beautiful bean footage television news cycle!
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Tammy 2's Back with a Vengeance: That's right, Parks and Recreation fans, Megan Mullally, real-life wife of Ron Swanson Nick Offerman is making another scene this season. Mullally will reprise her role as the second ex-wife of Ron in the ninth episode this season, titled "Ron and Diane." Seems like Tammy 2 isn't comfortable with the idea of Ron's potential love interest, Diane (Lucy Lawless), getting all that comfortable. Here's hoping she leaves Ron's mustache alone. [TV Guide]
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[Photo Credit: DailyCeleb]
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