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‘Parks and Recreation’ Review: “Anniversaries”

Parks and Recreation Anniversaries
NBC

Parks and Recreation‘ is back from its brief Winter Olympics hiatus with an all-new episode! In “Anniversaries,” Ben tries to outdo Leslie’s anniversary plans, but she’s too busy struggling to keep the people of Pawnee and Eagleton happy post-merger. Meanwhile, now that April is Donna’s supervisor, April’s having trouble figuring out how to reprimand her friend and colleague. Also: Ron applies the logic of Yelp to snail mail! 

Good news! Tonight’s episode is utterly delightful from beginning to end. Since Leslie always surprises Ben with an anniversary gift (which always inspires him to make the dumbest surprise face), Ben decides to one-up her and surprise her a day earlier — but she’s too busy trying to hunt down a Pawnee-Eagleton couple who’ve been married for 50 years to prove to the combined towns that they can happily coexist.

So Ben spends the day sharing all of his surprise plans with Larry (I guess he’s just Larry now), and it’s wonderful. I’m really just partial to the idea that Larry gets a win sometimes, since he’s always put-upon by everyone and often shunned. It’s nice to see him get a special day, even if it was meant for someone else.

Meanwhile, April is now Donna’s boss part-time over at the animal adoption shelter, but Donna keeps running off to go shopping without telling anyone, and April isn’t sure how to be a boss to someone she’s considered an equal for so long. Instead of confronting the problem head-on, as Ron suggests, she leaves an anonymous Yelp review to call out Donna’s laziness. There’s some superbly clever writing this week as Ron is inspired to take the idea behind Yelp and use his Swanson sensibilities, typing letters on his typewriters and mailing them to various local businesses (and Canada — just Canada in general) to let them know why they suck, in Ron Swanson terms. Of course all of this leads to Ron imparting his wisdom to April when a local business owner confronts him for one of his letters — don’t proclaim anything you won’t sign your name to. We get a cute (but funny, always funny) wrap-up with April and Donna, which leads to …

Leslie’s new idea! A committee that focuses not on the old, but the new: the youth of Pawnee and Eagleton, with Andy, Tom, April, Crazy Craig (yes!), and his young friend Madison coming up with a great idea for a music festival to unite the two towns — or at least help them forget their gripes for a few days. I assume this also means we’ll get a pretty amazing episode focusing on said festival relatively soon, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the death of Lil’ Sebastian (RIP).

“Anniversaries” is packed to the brim with laughs, and that end credits bit delivers in spades, with Leslie revealing her surprise gift: a replica of the throne from ‘Game of Thrones’ — and Ben’s dumb surprise face is so, so worth it.

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