Last Night’s Shows, Today: The Office, Parks & Rec Season Premieres

Earlier this week I took a few minutes and actually created a schedule of shows we want to watch this TV season. Yes, that’s lame, I know this, but I also have a bad memory and wasn’t sure when a lot of the new shows were on. For the most part, we’re well set without many new shows clashing with old faves. The only big problem area is that two returning shows that I really, really dug, Happy Endings and New Girl are on at the same exact time. Someone needs to fix that. Anyway, I realized as I have for the past few seasons that I’m most looking forward to watching existing shows over new ones.

Last night’s a great example of this as the only two shows we really watched were The Office and Parks & Rec on NBC (at 9:00 and 9:30 PM respectively). As you probably know by this point — at least I do because I’ve been writing about it all summer for Spinoff Online — this will be the very last season of the show. The series creator Greg Daniels, who went on to do Parks & Rec has come back to end it and he says they’re going to wrap things up well. The first few minutes of the series showed a lot of this, showing Kelly and Ryan’s exit from the show and FINALLY some of the documentary behind the scenes stuff (which I’ve been wondering about since the series began). After all that, we got to see Andy return from an outward bound experience that had him gain confidence and get a little further away from the Michael Scott mold he filled so clearly last season. His stuff with Nellie was really fantastic.

Overall, I really liked this episode. It definitely feels like they’ve got their feet back under them now that there’s a real focus to the show with its upcoming finale. While I liked the past few seasons, it deed feel like they maybe didn’t have the same focus as the old days, even with larger, overarching stories going on. I’m actually really excited to see how these characters end up and finally find out why they’ve been filmed for so long. I’m not mourning the end of the series, I’m anxiously awaiting the end to see how it all wraps up as I love a good ending.

Ten minutes into watching the first episode of the fifth season of Parks & Rec, I turned to my wife and said, “That part before the theme song was better than the first season put together.” When this show first premiered I was bored to tears, but after the first, shorter season, it really came into its own and has rocked my world since. It’s rare that I give a show a second chance after being disappointed by the first season, but P&R benefited from not really having anything opposite it that I wanted to watch. I’m glad for that now, because this is easily up there on my favorite shows and unlike a lot of other faves, it seems to be getting better as it ages instead of feeling stale or like a rehash.

The first ep kicked off with Leslie and Andy visiting April and Wyatt who are working in DC. Leslie, who won a seat on Pawnee’s city council at the end of last season, finds herself dealing with feelings of insignificance and disappointment which are both real and funny, a tough mix to nail. I wasn’t as involved in the second story which saw Ron taking charge of the department appreciation picnic and focusing solely on the meat portion of the BBQ. There were funny bits for sure, but I think Ron’s character works better when he’s not outwardly being a dick to so many people. It’s funny when it’s Rob Lowe’s Chris because they’re direct opposites, but less interesting when he’s so clearly in the wrong and mistreating the people who work for him. Sure, he learned his lesson, but I think we all saw where they were going about 2 minutes into that story. However, the scene with Ron driving away with the barbecue still attached to his car was worth the price of admission alone. So, all in all, a somewhat uneven episode, but I still had a ton of fun and am jazzed to see where the season goes.

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