Parks and Recreation, "Go Big or Go Home": redemption, thy name is Knope

Quick Take: Parks and Recreation, "Go Big or Go Home"
“Fish meat is practically a vegetable.” - Ron Swanson

rec it

Review: Parks and Recreation, "Go Big or Go Home"
(S0301) It has been an excruciatingly long eight months since the second season of Parks and Recreation ended with the government of Pawnee, Indiana being shut down and the Parks Department being closed.  The cast and crew didn't expect to be bumped back to midseason, so when Amy Poehler got all knocked-up again (easy, Will Arnett, easy), they filmed the first few episodes of Season Three immediately after production ended on Season Two.  Unfortunately, NBC decided that Outsourced (*shudder*) deserved Parks and Rec's timeslot on NBC Thursday and the future of Leslie Knope and company seemed in doubt.  But alas, good prevailed over racially-stereotyped evil and Parks and Rec presented its highly anticipated third season premiere and it quickly jumped back into form.  

With the long hiatus between finale and premiere, we were treated to a "Previously on..." montage that reminded me of those catch-up shows that ABC used to show before LOST premieres.  I half expected Michael Emerson to provide the narration, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

The department is reinstated (not sure if that's the term I'm looking for, but we'll go with it for the time being) and Leslie gets to perform her own Blues Brothers act and get the band back together.  What has everyone else been up to?  Let's find out with bullet points!

  • Ron (Nick Offerman) chopped wood in flannel shirts because that's what mustachioed men do.  We soon learn that he has also continued his relationship with Wendy, Tom's ex-wife (of the Green Card variety)
  • Tom (Aziz Ansari) worked at Lady Footlocker where he still feebly hit on women by handing out free sports bras. The perks didn't hurt either as he was able to purchase the far more comfortable women's sneakers with his store discount.
  • Donna (Retta) is in phone sales and gets pretty hardcore with rubber nipple negotiations.
  • Jerry (Jim O'Heir) continues to show off the artistic side he displayed in "The Camel" by painting a very pretty landscape until Leslie "saves him" from having to do that anymore and throwing the painting into a lake.
  • Ann (Rashida Jones) has been continually turning down the advances of state auditor Chris (Rob Lowe), despite her obvious attraction to him physically.
  • Andy (Chris Pratt) bombarded April (Aubrey Plaza) with phone calls and texts to clear up the misunderstanding revolving around when Ann kissed him, but she never responds.  It turns out she was in Venezuela, where she met a new boyfriend named Eduardo.
  • So Jake and Elwood are together again at last, but the financial situation the department was left with hasn't changed much.  The main duties of the department will now be to maintain the city's parks.  The only money going to any social programs is for the creation of two youth basketball teams because the show takes place in Indiana, and Indiana loves their basketball.  (Unrelated, but I've never seen Hoosiers.  What's wrong with me?!)

    The basketball teams are coached by Ron and Andy respectively.  Ron harnesses his inner Bobby Knight (right down to the red sweater) and coaches his team like a drill sergeant.  Andy, on the other hand, acts a few degrees less mature than the ten-year olds he is coaching.  The game goes predictably in Ron's team's favor until Tom -- who is refereeing in his Lady Footlocker uniform -- sees Wendy come to support Ron's team and goes on a Mickey Gordon power trip and begins calling foul after foul on Ron's team.  Soon enough, Ron can't take it anymore and has his team walk off the court, but not before throwing a chair just like Knight did in 1985.

    Leslie, meanwhile, comes up with a plan to use Ann as sexual bait to get Chris to allocate more money into the Parks Department budget.  Ann is game, but the plan goes awry when Ann finds Chris to be a pretty great guy and she doesn't necessarily want to use him.  So Leslie shows up to be a little more forceful on the subject.  Unfortunately, Ben (Adam Scott) the other state auditor arrives at the restaurant too because he correctly surmised that Leslie was up to something.  Eventually (at The Bulge, no less), Leslie is able to convince Chris to really think about helping her department, but not before casually mentioning that Ann had been set up as a plant.  Chris is humiliated and leaves.

    The next day, Ann comes to see Chris and apologize for what she did.  She also admits that she really likes him and asks him on another date, which he accepts.  (Mark Brendanawho?)

    When Andy approaches Leslie about advice in courting April away from Eduardo, she suggests that he "go big or go home" (a perfect plan for Andy since he doesn't really have a home himself).  She takes her own advice and creates a presentation which she gives to Chris and Ben in which she proposes that the Parks Department host a Harvest Festival like Pawnee used to until a previous budget cut forced it off the yearly agenda.  She explains that with ticket sales and corporate sponsorship, the festival should more than make back its operations costs.  And if it doesn't, she and the rest of the department will accept the department being shut down entirely.  An excited Chris and a humorously nonchalant Ben agree.  And like the Pit and Lot 48 before it, this Harvest Festival looks to be our "Big Project" for season three.

    "Go Big or Go Home" was a flat out great episode.  It might have been a blessing in disguise to immediately jump into production of Season Three just as season two wrapped because it appears the momentum that made Season Two so compelling has remained high.  Though with the talent surrounding this show, that shouldn't be surprising anyway.

    Lingering thoughts about "Go Big or Go Home":

  • “Well the real Cinderella didn’t have hippo feet.” - Tom
  • Poor Tom, squeezed in the back seat between Donna and Jerry.
  • New credits!
  • If someone can get me a full-size poster of The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness to hang on my wall, I'd be forever in your debt.
  • “Crying: acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon."
  • Tom doesn't even have a tip-off to start the game.  He just rolls the ball into the middle of the court and lets the teams fight for it.
  • “The stripey thing?” - Ron
  • “Ice Town costs Ice Clown his Town Crown....they were big into rhymes.” - Ben
  • By Mike Proper

    About the author

    I work hard.  And I play hard.  

    Actually, I don't work that hard.

    Also I Tweet. Twitter.com/MikeProper

    More From Mike Proper

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    2 Comments
    On: Thursday, January 20, 2011
    Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

    And the perfect episode for Mike Proper to make his 2011 return as well !

    I actually did a little research and could not find the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness poster for sale anywhere, sadly. 

    On: Monday, January 24, 2011
    Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

    Mike, just caught up on this ep. "Flat out great," could not agree more. 

    There's a sensibility and chemistry to this show that is just off-the-charts great. I'm loving Adam Scott and Rob Lowe as part of the cast, and have high hopes that this season is going to rank high on the Comedy Pyramid of Greatness. 

    Also: how great was the Andy gatorade self-dunk after his coaching "victory"?

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