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Friday, January 31, 2014

Parks and Rec, Ann & Chris Review: That could have been the end.

There's a crane shot at the end of this that got me more than anything in this episode did. A crane shot that shows Ann's neighborhood connecting to the rest of Pawnee Indiana. I know this show isn't filmed on location. I know that most of it is really in Los Angeles on a sound stage. But now I'm biting my lip because a CGI'd shot made Pawnee just a little more real. And I'm surprised how much that actually means to me.

Yes, Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe have left Parks and Rec. And yes there was a lot of single shot goodbye scenes, a lame "perfect gift" subplot, and Leslie freaking out over not having everything for her last Perkins party. But it all worked. A lesser show would have crumbled under the sentimentality. It's a credit to P&R's savant-like ability to simultaneously subvert and improve upon genre conventions that the "goodbye Chris and Ann" episode is only very good instead of disappointingly saccharine.

That being said, I'd be perfectly happy if that were the end. Just like how Breaking Bad's finale didn't have to be (and wasn't) it's best episode, Chris and Ann did it's job with style. Calling back to why Leslie and Ann met in the first place, to Andy and Ann's first one on one relationship conversation in what feels like seasons.

It's also worth saying that Ron's goodbye was absolutely priceless, I didn't think Jones could emote like that, which brings me to one of my sharper bones to pick with other P&R fans. ANN WAS NEVER HALF AS BORING AS YOU WANTED HER TO BE. Sorry, I get defensive when fans start picking on a Jonah for no reason. In the case of many fan's opinions, Ann was the show's weakest link. I clearly couldn't disagree more. If ya'll really want to complain about a character that has been irritatingly one note from ep. 1 Then let's talk about Aubrey Plaza.

But then I'd still disagree, because the staff always knew how to write for her, Jones's character was never so lucky. Was she going to be Leslie's bestie? It took a while for them to figure it out. Was she going to ever be on the inside of Pawnee's municipal government? That also took years. Even a writing staff on a show as good as P&R lets things fall through the cracks and more often than not, Ann got the short shrift.

But I always felt Jones nailed the "straight man" role and her recent pregnant rants "Let's talk about vomit, kids!" last week were golden. So if you were planning a "good riddance" post or something, I'd choose your wording carefully. Was it Ann the character that bothered you, or Jones's performance?

At any rate, I'm super proud of P&R right now. If you've been keeping score, there have been at least 3 solid possible finale episodes. Leslie's election, Leslie's wedding, and Ann's goodbye could all have been it. If I had to pick one, it would be Ann and Chris. That's how good it will make you feel.

100% unprocessed awesomesauce.

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