Parks and Recreation, "Live Ammo": the never-ending campaign

Quick Take: Parks and Recreation, "Live Ammo"
"This strip mall has surprisingly decent chi." - Chris 

Review: Parks and Recreation, "Live Ammo"
(S0419) In a recent story about the cast of Happy Endings, Andy Greenwald argues that all sitcoms, at their core, are comedies about family.  "The characters bicker, but really they love, just like families or particularly liberal cults," he says. Part of the point he makes is that successful comedies don't necessarily have to "do" a whole lot. Simply hanging out with a bunch of characters who genuinely love each other can be an extremely rewarding experience in itself.  "[Sitcoms] should always be about the guys and the girls. Never the pizza place," he says.

Parks and Rec, as much as any show in recent memory, is about family. Sure, no one in the Pawnee Parks Department is related, but these people obviously love each other. Unfortunately, it feels like a lot of the fourth season has been about the (metaphorical) pizza place, and the focus has strayed from the guys and the girls. 

Parks and Rec is a show that can be extremely funny and heartwarming when the audience is given the opportunity to just hang out with the characters that we love. Plot-wise, the stakes don't need to be high. Hell, the show is about a branch of a small town government bureaucracy, so the stakes shouldn't be high. 

The show's focus on Leslie's (Amy Poehler) very high stakes City Counsel campaign has lead to some missed opportunities to simply hang out with our Pawnee peeps. The seemingly never-ending campaign has caused the writers to pay short shrift to potentially awesome character moments like Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Anne's (Rashida Jones) bizarre love affair and the blossoming of Chris (Rob Lowe) and Ron's (Nick Offerman) equally unlikely friendship.

Take last night's episode, "Live Ammo", for example. For my money, the funniest moment of the night comes in the cold open, when Anne shows off Tom's apartment to Leslie. The pad is a woman's dream come true. There are plush blankets draped over nearly every piece of furniture, a refrigerator stocked with coconut water, a cheese platter complete with Adriatic figs in the kitchen, and unisex cologne and chocolate covered almonds in the bathroom. I might be a little biased -- Tom is one of my favorite characters -- but I could hang out in his crib all day. But as soon as the opening credits roll, it's back to the campaign.

My hope is when the smoke clears, and Leslie mops the floor with smarmy Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd), Parks and Rec can get back to the business of being a show about a family, not a show about politics.  That is if NBC pulls its head out of its ass and renews it already. Come on, NBC, what are you waiting for?!

By Lucas High

About the author

Lucas High is a man on a mission. That mission: to watch television for a living. Drop him a line at, on Facebook and on Twitter at

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