“Parks and Recreation” is back with the premier of season four – smack dab in the middle of a creative hot streak for the NBC comedy. And from the get-go there is no signs of a letdown, picking right up where the season three finale left off, with Leslie Knope discussing the possibility of her running for city council. But the whole run for office/secretly date Ben, her boss, thing is going to be tricky. Then there’s Ron Swanson, quickly cashing in “128 personal days” to escape the return of first ex-wife Tammy One (played by Patricia Clarkson). Just in the first few minutes it’s easy to realize the new season of “Parks and Recreation” is going to be awesome!

The Players:

  • Director: Troy Miller
  • Writers: Dan Goor
  • Cast: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, Adam Scott, Aziz Ansari, Jim O’Heir, Retta, Aubrey Plaza, Rob Lowe, and Chris Pratt

Episode: “I’m Leslie Knope”

Leslie has a big problem: break up with Ben or follow her dream of running for political office. Oh, and Ron is dealing with the return of his first ex-wife, Tammy One. There’s also the mystery of who is sending naughty photos to the women in the office.

The Good:

  • Ron Swanson: The man goes full-tilt Grizzly Adams in his quest to escape ex-wife Tammy One. It’s all “hunting, fishing, or drinking” as he tells Leslie who has joined Ron in the woods, trying to avoid having to decide between Ben and the city council. Ron + beard equals excellence.
  • “If I could go back in time and cut your eyeballs out, I would.: Lewd photos are being emailed around the office and Rob Lowe’s Chris is having none of it. One episode in and Rob Lowe is already killing it as the quotable Chris.
  • Leslie and Ron: Hiding in the woods, their special relationship made for some prime humor and a touching pep talk from Ron, perhaps giving Leslie the last push to follow her dreams. One of the better, if not the best, parts of the season premiere.
  • Tom Brings Gifts: Now that Tom Haverford is making things happen with Jean-Ralphio and their new venture, Entertainment 720, he has more time to drop by the office to check in with former co-workers. And pass out free, Entertainment 720 branded stuff – junk. He also wants to recruit Andy, but Andy ends up as Leslie’s new assistant. Nice!
  • Ron’s Backpack: Not quite sure what exactly is in it, but if I’m bailing into the woods to escape a crazy ex-wife this is the bag I want to have with me. That it was stowed in the office ventilation shaft – for just such an occassion – was a nice touch.
  • Jerry’s Penis: It is big. That is all.

The Bad (but not that bad):

  • Aubrey Plaza’s Haircut: There wasn’t a lot to not like, so I went with Plaza’s haircut, which looks shorter to me. I don’t like it!
  • Leslie Dumps Ben: It’s a bummer, but the show would ultimately suffer if they stayed together.


In the end, Leslie decides she has to follow her dream of running for office – even if that meant jettisoning her relationship with Ben. It was actually quite touching to watch Ben help in her decision. They make a cute couple, but their ‘love’ must be put on hold. It will be interesting to see if the relationship is touched on again down the road, or if the Leslie-Ben thing will just fade into a memory.

The debut of season four had plenty of memorable one-liners, touching moments and just a bunch of funny from start to finish. The show closes with Leslie’s announcement: “I am Leslie Knope, and I am running for city council.” And so the stage is set for what looks to be a home run season for “Parks and Recreation.”

Rating: 8/10

“Parks and Recreation” airs on NBC at 8:30 pm (ET/PT) on Thursday nights.

What did you think of last night’s episode?