'Parks and Recreation' premieres season 5 Thursday

By Mark Rappleye

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 18 2012 3:24 p.m. MDT

Senator John McCain and Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in NBC's "Parks and Recreation" during an episode titled "Ms. Knope Goes to Washington"

David Giesbrecht, NBC

Thursday, NBC's “Parks and Recreation” will return for a fifth season with an all-new episode, “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington.”

“Parks and Recreation” stars Amy Poehler, formerly a cast member of NBC's Saturday Night Live. Poehler plays Leslie Knope, the deputy director of the parks department in the fictional, small town of Pawnee, Ind. The show also stars Nick Offerman and Knope's boss, Rashida Jones as her best friend, Adam Scott as her boyfriend, as well as Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Jim O'Heir and Retta as members of the parks department or city management.

Fans of the show might be disappointed with the new season's premiere episode. Fresh off her victory in a campaign for city council, Knope heads to Washington, D.C., to visit her boyfriend who accepted a position there at the end of season four. Viewers do not yet get to see how the show will balance being called “Parks and Recreation” while its main character no longer works in the parks department.

While Knope is gone, her boss Ron Swanson (Offerman) steps up to take charge of the “thank-you” barbecue for the parks department staff. This portion of the episode seems like a cheap attempt by the show to exploit Swanson's famous antisocial, insensitive and often belligerent demeanor by making him forget all the character development he has gone through in the last four seasons and again become irritated and impatient with his staff and coworkers.

Also out of character, the episode includes the aftermath of the drunken promise between Anne Perkins (Jones) and Tom Haverford (Ansari) to move in together. The two developed a rocky relationship during the last season which does not make sense for the show, except as an attempt to boost ratings by shocking viewers with character twists.

“Parks and Recreation” may have been funny early in its series with workplace humor similar to the infamous “The Office,” but in the last couple seasons it has strayed from its workplace roots, and, if its season-five premiere episode is any indication, has likely jumped the shark for most viewers.

Compared to many other comedies currently on television, the show might not be the worst choice for an adult looking for a little humor to fill his evening, but it does include many sexual references and innuendos as well as other humor that would be inappropriate for children or families.

Some might still find it funny despite its illogical character development, often cheesy humor and slow moving plot, but overall it gets a thumbs-down for family friendliness.

"Parks and Recreation" premieres Thursday, Sept. 20, at 8:30 p.m. MDT on NBC.

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