|By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons|
We can’t believe we’re in season five of this show. This is one that started out horribly, but then became one of the funniest, most character-driven shows on television. One of the things we like about it is that the female characters aren’t stereotypes. They are well-rounded, likeable, and funny women. Even better, Leslie has better hair this season. It’s a more natural look rather than that platinum color that really aged Amy Poehler. The season opened with Leslie and Andy visiting Ben in Washington D.C., as well as apply for a federal grant to clean up the Pawnee River. Andy points out that the Capitol looks like a boob.
Ron is left in charge of the parks department, so he has to organize a barbeque Leslie usually throws for employee appreciation. Ron becomes obsessed with the idea of teaching everyone how to truly appreciate meat. He brings a live, cute pig named “Tommy” to the barbeque and plans to butcher it in front of the kids. He writes his own permit. It’s a piece of paper that says, “I can do what I want.” Ha. Health codes have something different to say, so Ron has to go out for meat. The guests get hungry waiting, and Rob gets so annoyed that he drives away. Chris gives Ron a talk, and Ron makes things right.
We find out that Ann and Tom broke up a long time ago, but they are still living together and pretending to have a successful relationship. They want to prove the naysayers wrong and win a $1,000 bet with Donna. She lets them out of it. Thank GOD that relationship is over. It was a funny concept to have them hating each other, but in such a bad personal place that they would try that. But the joke has run its course. We loved Chris downing a box of “nature’s candy” (raisins) and Ann getting revenge on Tom for ruining all her clothes.
After Leslie’s grant request doesn’t go as planned, Ben takes her to a cocktail party where she can meet all the politicians. The whole thing just makes Leslie feel like a failure, even getting to meet heroes Olympia Snow and Barbara Boxer. She goes into a coat closet where John McCain tries to comfort her, but she doesn’t even turn around to see who he is. McCain is always good in cameos like this. He was funny on SNL. He’s a reliable comedy guest politician, natural and likeable. It’s always nice to see a Republican other than Arnold treated well on TV, if only for a change of pace. We were sad Leslie didn’t turn around and look at him. She would have been excited.
Leslie returns home, worried that Ben is going to prefer Hot Rebecca, an imaginary woman with all the qualities and tallness of most beautiful, capable D.C. women. Andy gives her a pep talk, and Leslie decides to clean the river herself. Gross. Overall, this was a decent premiere, but it wasn’t as funny as we are used to with this show. This is partly because a lot of it took place out of town. The gang works better together. It’s also partly because the show had to recap what everyone’s been doing this summer rather than get into any really funny situations. Still, we're glad this show is back. After the more-than-solid last two seasons, this one's not getting dropped.
Episode grade: B