Leslie Returns to Parks Department: Pros & Cons

Parks and Recreation was on Thursday night and that's reason enough for shouting YAY. Oh come on, I know I'm not the only one out there who feels like I have syrupy waffles coursing through my veins after 30 minutes with the fine people of Pawnee. And oh, the delights of Thursday night's Parks and Rec . The most Pawnee farmers market ever was complete with patrons flabbergasted by the sight of produce and a sexy stall of Charbodies. While staring at some broccoli, one citizen commented, “Look at this tiny tree! Can you eat this?” And then her husband, picking up a piece of cauliflower sadly, “This one is dead.” I died. So simple, yet such a perfect joke.

Last night’s episode was chock full of the bright and charming humor that have come to define the series. Vegetable puns, nipples, the whine and cheese club (I want in!), the return of Billy Eichner, Andy singing to little kids about boogers, and Ron calling an iPod a rectangle for his records — the only thing missing was more Donna and Tom time. I always want more Donna and Tom time.

Interestingly enough, the weaker points of the episode were the moments that featured the key players: Leslie, Ben, Ann, and Chris. They were all a little “meh,” and Ann’s typical pregnancy hormone rage felt a bit trite. In any case, Leslie returned to the Parks Department and I have some mixed feelings about that very premise:

The Pros

It's Classic Parks and Rec! One of the most charming aspects of the show is how it makes Small Town, USA problems super important, nearly earth-shatteringly so. Leslie's charge against Charbodies and their not-so-vegan advertising actually made me snort with laughter.

Leslie is also the heart of the show. She's the reason all of these wonderful weirdo characters come together. Without her at the helm, would Parks and Rec really be Parks and Rec? If television writers break a show's universe/jump the shark, it's hard to come back. Remember when Will and Grace weren't friends towards the end of the series? WUT WAS THAT? Terrible. That's what.

The Cons

It feels like a safe move. Leslie's City Countil campaign in Season 4 was one of the series' finest because it was a departure from what the show had done every previous season. It was also the season that had the most solid ensemble work. When Leslie signed back on to the Parks Department, as much as I was like 'oh good they didn't make her do something insane," I was a little disappointed. I would have been interested to see how Leslie would have dealt with not having her next steps planned. Failure can be freeing. And the show has always dealt with Leslie's shortcomings with grace. Amy Poehler is as equally vulnerable as she is powerful in the role. The woman just (finally!) won a Golden Globe, use her immense resources.

I was also a little disappointed that even with Leslie back aboard the SS Parks Department, the gang was all over the place.

If the writers are reverting back to the show's original premise, then do it right, and have the whole team tackling the Farmers Market fiasco together. Also, wasn't it a little strange that the second to last episode of Leslie and Ann together barely had Leslie and Ann together?

Ah, to next week's tearjerker we go.

Images: NBC; royhale/ratchetmusicandcartoons/Tumblr