New year, same great comedy from “Parks and Recreation“. After a sizzling first half of season 4, the ‘Parks and Rec’ story picks up where we left off – Leslie getting back into the race for city council and bringing her friends along for the ride! The first new episode of 2012 doesn’t disappoint, setting the stage for plenty of laughs along the Leslie Knope campaign trail.

Check below for the complete review…

The Players:

  • Director: Mike Scully
  • Writers: Tucker Gates
  • Cast: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, Adam Scott, Aziz Ansari, Jim O’Heir, Retta, Aubrey Plaza, Rob Lowe, and Chris Pratt

Episode: “The Comeback Kid”

Leslie enlists everyone in staging an attention-getting event, while Ben explores new hobbies.

The Good:

  • Ben: Totally loving laid-back Ben. Even if it looks as though his unshaven, just kickin’-it style will last just one episode, it was fun while it lasted. I could totally get down with more Calzone cooking, claymation making and alt.-rock band t-shirt-wearing Ben. Adam Scott was plain awesome in the episode.
  • “Letters To Cleo“: Ben was wearing a Letters To Cleo shirt. That made my episode right there. No better time to pop on Aurora Gory Alice for some classic, early ’90s alt. rock.
  • Ann: Sometimes sweet Ann gets lost in an episode, so it was nice to see her log some lead time helping Leslie get her campaign re-boot off the ground.
  • Ron: Ron Swanson’s back and forth with the cop about various traffic laws was brief, but no less funny.
  • Chris and the Herb Smoothie: Not a bad name for a band. But seriously, it was a highlight watching Chris trying to help Ben – clearly showing signs of depression – what with the fast-food Calzones and unkempt hair. Still, nothing wrong with Ben’s idea for the Low Cal Calzone – Zone.
  • Ice Rally: The finale was great, loaded with brilliant physical comedy from the ensemble and many laughs. The red carpet fiasco was a personal highlight. As was the non-dunk.
  • Tom: Tom was mostly in the background, but his breakdown on the importance of red carpet was a-plus.

The Bad (but not that bad):

  • Andy and April’s New Three Legged Dog: Whatever. It was kind of funny. I guess Champion should stick around.
  • Ben, Campaign Manager: We all knew he’d get on the Leslie campaign train sooner or later. I really want more hipster Ben and his stop motion film work and being all jobless, but his return to being well-groomed and sans cool t-shirts was inevitable.

Overall:

Hiatus complete and ‘Parks’ returns with a booming triple to left field. It was a very good, very funny episode. It’s all about Leslie’s campaign now, and “The Comeback Kid” sets the table nicely for the remainder of the season. Paul Rudd will be showing up soon as Leslie’s political opponent, so that should provide a nice jolt to a show that doesn’t even need a jolt of any kind.

I am anxious to see if every episode will be campaign-themed related, but I figure that wouldn’t happen. That might get old real fast. But with all the main characters working on Leslie’s bid for public office, the campaign narrative will always be a major detail.

And again, whoever dropped the Letters To Cleo t-shirt into the mix should get numerous pats on the back today.

Rating: 9/10

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

What did you think of last night’s episode?