Parks and Recreation: Pawnee Zoo (season premiere)
by Kona Gallagher, posted Sep 18th 2009 1:10AM
(S02E01) Parks and Recreation started out kind of slowly for me in its first season, but by the time we got to the finale, I was totally hooked. Going into the season two premiere, I had a good feeling they would keep up the momentum. This good feeling was confirmed in the cold open, when Leslie (Amy Poehler) started rapping the DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince classic, "Parents Just Don't Understand," nearly unprompted, accompanied by Tom (Aziz Ansari) on beatbox. All of a sudden, I loved this show.
What's beginning to make this show great (other than late 80s rap, of course) is that Leslie is finally becoming more than a one-dimensional figure. For whatever reason, she fell into the same trap that Michael Scott was in when The Office premiered. When a character is nothing more than a bumbling fool, he or she quickly becomes boring.
In this episode, however, Leslie grows a backbone, and it's nice to see. The old Leslie Knope would have bumbled her way through her talk show appearance, causing great embarrassment to herself and Pawnee. The new one, however, has had enough of the crap and is taking a stand. She shows more self-awareness than she ever had before, and isn't afraid to show it. She firmly believed performing a penguin marriage would be adorable. That was the beginning and the end of her motivation, and she stands her ground.
She also seems to have matured a lot in relation to Mark, even admitting to Ann that he's not actually her ex, since they just slept together once, six years ago. When she tells Ann she's fine with her dating Mark, she actually seems genuine about it, which I find interesting. Yes, Leslie is growing and becoming a more self-confident woman, but you just don't give up an unrequited love like that, do you? I'm interested to see how it plays out.
Speaking of Ann, I was happy to see her actually embrace Leslie as a true friend, and not just some weird woman whom she tolerates. I wasn't thrilled, however, to see the return of Andy. When Ann said he was off climbing mountains in Kansas, I had hoped that meant he would be gone for at least a little while. Yet, here he is: living in the pit. I really find his character boring, so unless they do something spectacular with him, that storyline is going to wear away at all of the good will I'm feeling toward this episode.
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