By waiting until January to shoot its farewell season out of a cannon, “Parks and Recreation” gave us four, or so, additional months than the usual layoff to wonder three things in particular about the seventh season: what’s Ben celebrating, what’s with the triplets, and what’s the world like in 2017?
Some professional television people snuffed out the first answer pretty quickly. Pawnee is celebrating its bicentennial and Ben is the “Man of the Year,” being responsible for the city’s economic boom.
The first two episodes of of seven back-to-backs, “2017” and “Ron & Jammy,” hushed up about the kids, which I hope continues.
As for 2017, the lovely faces of the Pawnee Parks Department we have mostly separated. The department itself is never mentioned, because nobody works there anymore. Leslie’s brought April and Terry (the artist formerly known as Jerry and other -erry names) into the National Parks Department, and Andy as a part-timer because he’s managing his own brand as Johnny Karate. Ron moved to the private sector to start his own company. Ben never worked for the Parks Department, but he’s still in City Hall. Tom’s a business mogul. Donna’s getting married and working in real estate. On top of it all, at least for these two episodes, “Parks” has drawn up a scenario pitting them against each other. It’s Team Leslie (Leslie, obviously, April, Andy and Jerry) vs. Team Ron (Ron, Tom and Donna).
It’s within this turf war, however, that we find the root of what we’ll be watching for the next seven weeks. The Newport’s are selling a significant amount of land and Leslie wants to make it a national park but Ron wants to purchase it to make it available commercially. Common sense probably sides with Ron, but this is Leslie Friggin’ Knope we’re talking about. We’re here to be inspired! So for the next seven weeks, Leslie’s going to make her pitch for a national park, and she’s already made a good one. All of it’s going to happen much quicker than Harvest Festival.
Elsewhere, what’s happening with Andy and April is really exciting. Worried they’re being boring old people, they’ve found a broken down, haunted house to buy — the kind of lifestyle move I’ve been waiting on for them. Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt always work so well together, and it’s no different when they break out into an intense make out session on their new kitchen table, in front of the previous owner.
In “Ron & Jammy,” April faces an identity crisis. She’s starting to worry that she isn’t doing something she’s passionate about in the national parks service. It’s reasonable, after all she used to just be an Internet-savvy intern. Then, she kept getting promoted. Enter a hilarious sequence with April and Ben in a mortuary as she looks into the thing she wanted to be when she was 10 years old. Later, there’s a touching moment between the two, who’ve actually shared quite a few over the years even if April’s blocked them out of her memory.
“Ron & Jammy” is really funny. The first time we see Jeremy Jamm there’s some double take action because he’s turned into Ron. Why? Because he’s dating Tammy and she’s literally molding him into her pet Swanson. The best thing to come out of this week is the Tammy intervention with Leslie and Ron. Spray her perfume, slap Jamm in the face. We all know, deep down, there was a little bit of Leslie getting a thrill out of slapping him over and over again. It was awesome. So too were Ron’s hand-crafted Tammy blinders and the role playing.
My favorite thing: So much nudity. Andy is pants-less at the bicentennial celebration and Tammy’s completely naked in a library. It’s a classic moment when Leslie gets shushed by someone and then understandably responds, “Do you not see what’s going on right now!?”