PARKS AND RECREATION: SEASON FIVE
MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Amy Poehler as LESLIE KNOPE
Rashida Jones as ANN PERKINS
Aziz Ansari as TOM HAVERFORD
Nick Offerman as RON SWANSON
Aubrey Plaza as APRIL LUDGATE
Chris Pratt as ANDY DWYER
Jim O’Heir as JERRY GERGICH
Retta as DONNA MEAGLE
Adam Scott as BEN WYATT
Rob Lowe as CHRIS TRAEGER
Created by: Greg Daniels & Michael Schur
BY KEVIN CARR
With the loss of “The Office” to our airwaves, one of the best saving graces I can think of is the continued popularity of “Parks and Recreation.” As the show gets ready to head into its sixth season on NBC, the fifth season comes to DVD, and it only seemed like a year or two ago I started watching it. When a show is as good as “Parks and Recreation,” time flies through it, and it’s hard to believe it’s actually been around so long.
In the fifth season, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is now on the City Council of Pawnee, Indiana. Her boyfriend Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) has started working in Washington, DC, and he’s brought April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) along with him. This was a risky move for the show because it split up the cast a bit. Sure, it gave an opportunity for some neat location shooting as well as some nice political cameos, but like a romance, it’s hard to make things work when the principle players are in different cities.
Of course, things come back together in the season, and we see some new developments, including Amy and Ben’s wedding, Ron Swanson’s (Nick Offerman) new relationship, a surprisingly lucrative business model by Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and the decision of Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) to make a baby.
Still, my favorite characters by far are April and her idiot-manchild husband Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt). Apart, they’re both funny, but the child-like innocence of Andy and the surly deadpan delivery of April makes a perfect mix of comedy. Together, they play the collective idiot, and they often serve as the best comic relief in the show.
In its fifth season, “Parks and Recreation” has hit a stride. It is strangely impervious to problems that other shows face, like the characters pairing up and having long-lasting relationships. This works not just because of the writing and the actors behind them. It also works because the show is not balanced on the needs of sexual tension. Instead, it relies on the wacky nature of the characters involved and the shenanigans they get themselves into.
The characters (and by that, also the actors and writers) that make the show work. With such a well-developed ensemble, the show can literally be about mundane tasks like garbage collection and mini golf, yet still be hilarious.
Quite simply, “Parks and Recreation” is one of the funniest shows on television today. Here’s to hoping the show can sustain this for another five years.
The Season Five DVD includes a nice selection of bonus features, including the expected TV spots, music video and deleted scenes. However, while I’m not wild about deleted scenes in general, these are gold because (like its sister show “The Office”) they’re generally very funny stuff that just made the episode too long. There’s also several extended episodes available throughout the season as well as an episode-long uncensored gag reel.
The real gems to be found are a series of Andy Dwyer webisodes, Ron’s PSA for bacon and Patton Oswalt’s sci-fi filibuster (which made its rounds on the internet a while back to hyperbole of what Disney should do with its Marvel and “Star Wars” franchises, when we all know full well that the internet would freak out if that actually happened).