Wherein I watch all 21 Parks and Recreation episodes that aired in 2012 and list the Top Ten Highlights.
A 2012 story recap before we begin the highlights. Skip if recaps bore you.
- In 2012, there were 12 episodes from Season 4 and 9 episodes from Season 5.
- Leslie Knope went from the underdog running for city council against Bobby Newport to elected member of city council. And she also got engaged to Ben Wyatt, the Michelle Obama to her Barack.
- Ben has gone from the depths of depression (making “claymaysh” videos and baking calzones) to running Leslie’s campaign for city council to running a successful congressional campaign to unemployment. And he quit at the same accounting firm twice.
- Ann Perkins dated a whole bunch of people, including Tom Haverford for a scary length of time. Meanwhile, Tom is becoming a responsible member of society.
- Chris Traeger had a mental breakdown and went through therapy in the most aggressively positive manner possible.
- Ron Swanson like likes somebody. And she’s not named Tammy.
- April and Andy are still married and still cute as buttons. April is maturing! (See point 4 on the highlight list.)
- And Jerry almost died. Dammit Jerry!
What a long way we’ve come in a year. Here are the highlights of 2012:
10. News anchorman Perd Hapley’s new segment “Are you there Perd-verts? It’s me, Perd. Hosting a new segment.”
Perd Hapley is my vote for Most Valuable Bit Player in 2012. This year it was also revealed that Perd is banned from Pier 1 for breaking and not buying. Oh, Perd.
9. Any time Chris Traegar dances
8. Kathryn Hahn’s performance as Jen Barkley
Kathryn Hahn has impeccable comic timing. She is an excellent addition to a strong cast. When compared to the other hilarious females on the show, she stands out with a unique performance style. Hahn is able to transition from sex fiend to egomaniac to voice of reason within the space of three lines. More than anything else, Jen Barkley is a delightful foil to Ben and Leslie. While she is as hardworking as Leslie (and slightly more savvy), Jen is completely indifferent to the outcome of the city council election, which must infuriate Leslie.
7. Andy nailing his gold plaque to the wall and giving himself a concussion
Chris Pratt is a genius when it comes to physical comedy. Every episode includes him jump over something or into something or giving a funny or surprising reaction. If a scene needs emotion, Amy Poehler is guaranteed to deliver. If the scene needs a boost of comedy, Chris Pratt is the man for the job.
In the episode “Campaign Ad,” Andy Dwyer is on a ladder, nailing a gold plaque to the wall. He sneezes mid-hammer, smashes his head into the wall, smashes a big hole through the wall, falls off the ladder, hangs from the hammer, then falls to the ground. It’s a shocking couple of seconds.
6. The walk to the podium during “the Comeback Kid”
Everything that can go wrong does, when Leslie and her campaign team try to walk across a skating rink to her miniscule podium. The red carpet isn’t long enough so they have to shuffle across the ice. People fall; Champion has to get carried, then consequently pees in Ron’s arms. All the while, “Get On Your Feet” keeps starting and stopping. The scene is a funny and touching metaphor for Leslie’s campaign — everyone tries hard but when they fail it’s ok because at least they failed together.
5. Guest stars!
What an embarrassment of riches. There were so many great guest stars this season — including Kathryn Hahn as Jen Barkley, Paul Rudd as Bobby Newport, Louis CK reprising his role as Dave, Lucy Lawless as Diane. And let’s not forget Joe Biden as himself (aka Leslie’s Celebrity Sex List).
4. The evolution of April Roberta Ludgate Dwyer
In Season 3 or even the start of Season 4 could you picture April holding Leslie’s hands and telling her she loves her? And meaning it?! In episode 7 of Season 5, “Leslie vs. April” this is exactly what happens. It is one of the most tender moments of the series and it means so much as a result of how April’s character has grown.
Throughout season 4 and 5, April has matured as a character because she is open to change. When she is taught a lesson, she learns it and doesn’t forget. Example: When her pet adoption project fails, Tom tells her that government work can be frustrating, but if you do even a little bit of good, it is worth it. April doesn’t give up on the pets of Pawnee and formulates a plan for a dog park on Lot 48. No more inertia. All action!
April has also loosened up a lot. She can even bring herself to laugh at Ben’s jokes once and a while. Seeing April/Aubrey Plaza smile is a treat.
3. Jerry’s fart attack
Jerry has a heart attack and farts a lot as a result. This scene is fart jokes at its best. Someone is farting and dying at the same time! Is it funny or sad? Do you laugh? Do you call the ambulance? Do you make fun of Jerry? Do you do all three? The answer is yes.
“Jerry?! Did you eat farts for lunch?” – Tom
2. The episode “The Debate”
“The Debate” was so damn good that it deserves it’s own Highlights List.
10. Buddy Garritty as Fester Trimm from the Gun-believable Gun Emporium.
9. Leslie getting pumped up to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You.”
8. Ron singing to himself while stealing cable.
7. Porn star/city council candidate Brandi Maxxxx dressing exactly like Leslie and constantly comparing herself to Leslie.
6. Legendary Newswoman Joan Calamezzo Newly Single reading the tweet from @munchmeat2015 in broken text-speak.
5. Chris spinning the phrase, “Leslie just farted then barfed” into “Leslie Knope is lit-erally overflowing with ideas for this town. And speaking of methane, have you heard about her plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions?”
4. Tom accusing April of her not caring about things and her responding with, “Yes, I do. I care about Andy and Champion. And I want Leslie to win. And I like sleeping so… Everyone has things they care about.”
3. Leslie’s kick ass speech about how she would never leave Pawnee.
2. Bobby Newport’s reaction to Leslie’s kick ass speech: “Wow Leslie. That was incredible.”
1. Andy’s one man performance of Roadhouse.
But even better than “The Debate” — the highlight of 2012 was:
1. Leslie and Ben’s relationship, culminating in the proposal
The relationship shared between Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt has all the elements of a great relationship. They listen, they respect each other and they love to hardcore make out (especially in the back seat of taxis.) They aren’t afraid to make big, hard decisions (like doing long distance) but they also aren’t afraid to correct each other when one is wrong (which Leslie often is). They also aren’t afraid to show how much they love one another.
And how about that proposal? What a moving performance from Amy Poehler and Adam Scott.
These two fine actors are there at the heart of every episode of Parks and Recreation. But their relationship isn’t just mushiness. It’s often hilarious. And that what makes a strong comedy. Hilarity and heart.
Some honourable mentions:
Most awkard scene award: Ben sucking up to his interns by giving them a pizza break. “Let’s do it to it ma’dudes.”
Best line award: “I’m sorry Marcus, I’m going to have to cancel our bath. Something interesting is happening and I’m going to watch it.” Donna, speaking about watching Jerry lick envelopes.
Most aww-worth moment: The proposal, obvi, but second place is Andy with 5 cats on him.
Best Ron(ism) that was revealed this season: He f*cking loves riddles. 2012 wasn’t a stand out year for Ron. He held steady as moral support for the earnest but slightly-crazy flotsam and jetsam swirling around him. Hang tough, Ron.
What a year! What will 2013 bring? Hopefully a wedding (or two. I’d love to see Ron hitched again.) Ahmergawd, what if April got pregnant? Will Jerry retire? Will Donna start a sex advice column in the Pawnee Journal? Alls I know for sure is that it will be great TV.