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“Parks and Recreation”: Johnny Karate

For a show coming to an end this season, Parks and Recreation sure didn’t act like it during the first nine episodes. But it actually felt like we were being prepared for the end this week with two celebratory farewell episodes. Even so, only Parks could figure out a way to do something entirely unique and completely genius.

Parks dedicates the first 30 minutes to a full episode of “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show” — we’re talking commercials, disclaimers, opening credit sequences, the whole lot. It’s a brilliant creation from a show that’s saying Hey, we know we’re almost done, but we’re not going to stop being inventive or stop having fun, and for die-hards like me it’s a laugh factory.

The evolution of Andy’s kids show has been a fun story to follow and this week was his last episode, so he’s brought in his whole support team and they’ve surprised him with a full-blown farewell featuring Duke Silver, John Cena, an honorary police badge and impending knighthood. Sure, it’s a pat-on-the-back kind of episode, but it’s tons of fun and who really cares anyway?

The commercials take on a life of their own, ones about the Ron’s Very Good construction company, the Wamapoke casino, Paunch Burger, and a juggernaut company made up of Verizon/Chipotle/Exxon Mobil. The only ads missing were ones for Tom’s Bistro and Dennis Finestein’s cologne.

April gives the episode its heart. Although she found a job she loves last week, she’s only now realizing that moving to D.C. means taking Andy from his dream. She’s torn up about it and doesn’t have the heart to do that to her husband, but leave it to him to say something super sweet to cheer her up. Plus, I don’t see a reason why his show couldn’t work in D.C., except for that he wouldn’t have any friends to volunteer for all of the empty roles.

“Two Funerals” sets a different tone with story lines about finding a new mayor and Ron mourning the death of his barber — neither as strong as Johnny Karate. But it opens the door for next week’s finale. Everyone’s going their separate ways, especially now that Donna and Joe are moving to Seattle. But the two big things from the episode are this: Tom and Lucy are engaged (!!) and Garry’s now mayor.

Tom’s engagement was a long time coming, but it got what it deserved. He and Leslie team up to make an impressive action movie sequence for a proposal inside of a jewelry store. But Tom backs out of it at the last minute in favor of something sweeter and, surprisingly, less like him. But perfect. Oh, so perfect.

As happy as it made me feel for Tom, the end of the episode left me a little queazy. For the first time, the reality that the show is ending caught up to the plot. At least they lent us a helping hand to guide us down the red carpet to that show, and they did it in a way only Parks could — with a hot air balloon powered by creativity.

My favorite thing: Paul Rudd is back as Bobby Newport! And, oh yeah, Bill Murray’s here, but he plays a dead mayor.


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