Posted by: ckckred | May 18, 2012

My Thoughts on the season finales of Parks and Rec and Community

The two of the best sitcoms on television, Parks and Recreation and Community, just ended their seasons.  Both have been renewed by NBC, and both have gotten critical praise.  And I’ll recap both shows in one post.

A quick note: This post WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!  DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE EPISODES!

Ben, Leslie, and Ann check the results for the election.

The major overall storyline for this season of Parks and Rec was Leslie’s campaign.  We know Leslie is the best qualified candidate for the job, but she had to face Bobby Newport, a spoiled overgrown kid of Sweetums.

This season, Parks and Rec has emerged as a satire of politics.  It doesn’t take as hard hitting subjects as other shows, such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, but on local things.  Many episodes take concern on problems that mostly American towns would face, like senior centers and fall festivals.

The episode “Win, Lose, or Draw” saw Leslie face Newport in the closest election since Bush v. Gore.  We had many subplots, such as April and Andy trying to recover the Park’s department’s files, Ron (unwillingly) giving out advice, Chris getting out of his depression, Tom and Ann come back together, and, in a classic Jerry move, Jerry forgetting to vote.

But what really helped carry the episode was Ben’s dilemma between Pawnee and Washington.  Adam Scott’s been great on Parks and Rec, and definitely deserves an Emmy nomination.  Leslie was forced to pick between what she wants, which was to stay with Ben in Pawnee, or let him do his dream.  In the end, she decided to let him do his dream.

Michael Schur mentioned that the crew did multiple endings, but ultimately chose Leslie winning.  It was a smart decision, and fitting for the series.  Though some of the episode felt a little crammed, it was terrific overall, and makes for one of the best of the season.

Jeff, Pierce, and Dean Pelton.

As for Community, NBC put all three final episodes of the season last night.  By the time the writers must have made the episode, they must have been sure the show would have been canceled, and wrote the last episode to be a fitting finale.  Fortunately, NBC did have the brains to renew the show (but not high enough to cancel Whitney).

As for the three episodes, the first part, “Digital Estate Planning,” was the weakest of the trio, but nonetheless a good episode.  Community is great at concept episodes, and a video game-themed episode is certainly very stylistic.  I especially liked Giancarlo Esposito’s (he played Gus Fring in Breaking Bad) role as Pierce’s half brother, whom I hope to see next season.  And their were big laughs when Annie accidentally kills the shopkeeper in the game, and Shirley tries to cover it up by killing his entire family and burning their house.

“The First Chang Dynasty” is stronger than “Digital Estate Planning,” and seems much like the paintball themed conclusion last year.  The “Greendale Seven” (Jeff, Abed, Troy, Annie, Shirley, Pierce, and Britta) attempt to save the kidnapped Dean from Chang, who has declared himself the “Napoleon” of the school with his twelve year old army.

The movie parodies the Ocean’s films, and pretty much every heist movie.  It was hilarious to see the plan go down, with Shirley as a chef, Troy and Abed as two stereotypical Italian plumbers, Jeff as a rock and roll magician, and Pierce as a swami (the last one made me laugh so hard).

As for Dean Pelton, we learn that the entire plan was a cover-up for him to escape, and plus we get to see Jim Rash dance with glow-in-the-dark paint.  And in the end, Chang is foiled, Pelton’s reinstated, and the Greendale gang is put back in, while Troy relunctantly joins the air conditioning business.

It seems like a tearful goodbye for Troy, and worked very well (it would have been better if they played the final episode the next week).  I liked John Goodman’s appearance as the vice-Dean and air conditioner head.

But it really was the final episode, “Introduction to Finality,” that was the best.  It wasn’t the funniest episode of the season, but it was the most emotional and real Community‘s ever felt.

The episode revolved around the characters facing their personal demons after the entire season.  Pierce and Shirley argue about who owns their sandwich shop business, Abed suffers another full mental break down and morphs into his evil Abed character from “Remedial Chaos Theory” (you know, the alternate timeline that never happened), Britta gets emotional about her parents, Troy tries to cope at air conditioner school, and Jeff decides whether to help a friend or have his old life back.

In the end, it all turns out right.  Troy comes back and gets together with Britta, Abed turns “lame” again, Pierce and Shirley settle their dispute, and Jeff realizes what Greendale means to him.  At the beginning of Community, the show painted him as selfish and arrogant, but he really does care about the study group, even Pierce.

The touching montage at the end nearly made me tear up (fitted with the show’s theme song), and may as well been one of the best episodes of television I’ve seen all year.  Community‘s one of the best on television, and it’s a shame that not more people watch it.

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