TV: Parks and Recreation (Season 6)

The latest season of Parks and Recreation isn’t its funniest, but this comedy is such a well-oiled ship, and has built up so much goodwill for me over its run, that I’m more than happy to continue tuning in every week. (Or, you know, whatever random schedule NBC decides on.)

Ousted from her position on the City Council, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) moves into the next phase of her career, and works to oversee the Pawnee-Eagleton merger, a legacy of her short tenure as an elected official. Her tireless efforts also get her noticed by the National Parks service, who look to elevate her to a new position.

Leslie’s career decisions provide a throughline for the season, and of course she’s surrounded by the usual shenanigans from her friends. The show writes off Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) and Chris Trager (Rob Lowe) — at just the right time, I think — leaving more heavy lifting for Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, and Nick Offerman, all of whom are in fine form as usual. (I thought Ben and April had particularly good years.) The smaller cast also leads to well-deserved promotions for Donna (Retta) and Larry (Jim O’Heir), although the show’s tradition of Larry-bashing has really gotten to be a tiresome black eye on the series. I also got burned out on shouty Eagletonian Craig Middlebrooks (Billy Eichner) pretty quickly; a one-note joke that overstays its welcome.

Beyond those flaws, though, Parks and Rec is still one of the best comedies on TV: smart, clever, funny, and with more heart per episode than most comedies manage to deliver in a season. While one wonders if this might have been a good note to go out on, I’m very intrigued by the show’s planned direction for season seven. Count me in!

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