Happy 100th episode Parks and Recreation! This has been one of the most optimistic and hilarious sitcoms in a long while. Television has been better with it on the air. 100 episodes is quite the milestone, especially for a show that has often been on the brink of cancelation. Usually, the 100th episode of a show is the opportunity to go big, with guest stars, major revelations, and memorable moments.
“Second Chunce” didn’t feel like anything more than an average episode of Parks. Sure there were a few returning characters, including Jean Ralphio, Kristen Bell’s Ingrid, Shauna Malwae-Tweep, and Kathryn Hahn’s Jenn Barkley. There were big revelations like the discovery that Chris and Ann are having a boy. Tom started a new career in which he tries to bring businesses to Pawnee. And Leslie finally makes the decision to dream bigger than city council. (Plus, there was that little trip to Paris that is definitely something you’d see in A Very Special Episode.)
However, none of it felt special enough to signify a pretty amazing milestone that many great shows never reach. Imagine what could have been had the episode had the presence of a Hundredth Episode. There are 100 episodes worth of amazing characters, from the long gone Mark Brendanawicz to Paul Rudd’s Bobby Newport, that haven’t made an appearance in a while (Not to mention Lucy Lawless’s Diane).
Something really pivotal could have happened, instead of Leslie deciding not to run again for City Council and to finally take the big step forward she so deserves. She could have made the decision to run for Congress or to make a huge life defining moment. Deciding to make a decision later isn’t big enough. Tom making a career change isn’t really something people were clamoring for at all. We already knew that Ann was having a baby, so the gender wasn’t as jaw dropping as they may have hoped. Really, what did this episode have that couldn’t have been done in any other episode?
While there are a few bits that are funny, from Andy falling asleep throughout the day because of his extreme jet lag to Leslie’s poor banner making skills, it was an overall dry episode. Most of the jokes were repeats of what we’ve seen for many episodes. Ingrid is supernaturally good at everything. (She sings opera! She knows celebrities! She’s rich! She’s respected!) Councilman Dexhart is a sexist pig and nobody cares even a little bit. Shana Malwae-Tweep is desperate for a man. It’d be nice to see something fresh.
Although the 100th episode was a bit of a disappointment, I’m still extremely glad that Parks had as many episodes to build these amazing characters and fill television with a different kind of comedy than the cynical fare that’s so common these days. Here’s to hoping for a hundred more.