Parks and Recreation Season 5 Review “Article Two; Jerry’s Retirement”

Parks and Recreation Season 5 Episode 18 & 19 Article Two; Jerry's Retirement (8)

In recent weeks, Parks and Recreation has kind of floundered about as it tried several new things. Those storylines remain in development, but tonight’s double dose provided a healthy helping of some things that Parks does quite well. While some of the naysayers that have recently emerged will want to say the show has gotten stale, it’s difficult to imagine a show executing on this high a level. Even shows with long histories can’t call back to things with half of the skill and amusement of a typical Parks episode. It’s an amazing skill to possess. And one that was on full display tonight.

“Article Two”, in particular, fired shots as several bullet-riddled targets. Pawnee government’s outdated (and occasionally racist) ideals were on full display as Leslie made an attempt to update the charter by ridding it of some of the more obsolete statutes. Needing to have a foil for Leslie to fight, the show tabbed Patton Oswalt and really turned him loose. Sure, not all eight minutes of Oswalt’s off-the-cuff Star Wars rant made it on to TV, but his battle with Leslie highlighted exactly why Patton Oswalt is a brilliant comedic actor. He ends out outdoing Leslie (a rarity), but Leslie still steals the moment by having the man with no life (“Is he a ghost??!!) join one of the many circles Leslie belongs to. As ever, Leslie proves herself to be a thoughtful, caring, excessively generous person. Paying $500 for a decommissioned waffle iron is the only chance you have to match her.

Back at City Hall, we did get to witness Chris and Ron renew their friendly rivalry. The show always does a nice job of lending credence to all the different views their characters express. In the end, April is the real winner, but Ron and Chris to come to an understanding regarding motivating workers. Many shows would dismiss one idea in service of another, but Parks doesn’t want us to see either of these guys on different sides of the coin. It only wishes to highlight the differences between the two men. With politics always at the fore of the show, it could easily lose credibility if it obviously tilted one way or another. Instead, the show’s acknowledgement of various points of view allows it to serve as an example for our times. They may relentlessly lampoon the political process, but I wish those in charge could take a few lessons from Parks and Recreation. I imagine the country would be a far better place.

Another common source of Parks comedy was on display in “Jerry’s Retirement”. The idea of Jerry as super family man but inept office worker is a well we’ve gone to before. Regardless, the execution of the episode made the moments incredibly enjoyable. It’s an outstanding way to add color to a character that could easily be an abhorrent sitcom character in the wrong hands. By allowing Jerry to have a wonderful home life, the show creates a fascinating dichotomy. Jerry may be the office clown, we’ve seen time and again that the members of the office are jealous of Jerry’s wife. Some, like Ben, believe there is a trick involved, but Jerry’s well-adjusted family happiness is a great way to give a victory to the show’s perpetual loser.

While’s Jerry story came to an end (though he’ll occasionally pop up as the office intern), the Ann and Chris storyline continued to make progress. I’ve never found myself understanding exactly what was happening, but the show continues to plow ahead, and the performances by Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones make up for some storyline deficiencies. I don’t think we need to revisit their relationship, but it is a logical route to take. It’s worth watching to see how the storyline develops, because it’s current weaknesses are pretty glaring in an otherwise wonderful show.

The past three episodes (counting last week) have signaled a fantastic return to form by the show. With the season finale rapidly approaching, it’s nice to see Parks and Recreation get back on track.