January 21st, 2011
11:33 AM ET
As Leslie Knope said, "We're back!" - and not a moment too soon.
After a few months (even longer for us viewers), the government shutdown in Pawnee, Indiana ended, and the gang was back together on Thursday night's season premiere of "Parks and Recreation."
It was hilarious to see what they had been up to in the meantime (especially Tom Haverford getting a job at Lady Foot Locker, where his friend Jean-Ralphio works). And poor, beleaguered Jerry was actually enjoying his time off before Leslie showed up to "free" him, tossing his painting into the lake.
Even so, the parks department isn't having a very easy time of it, both personally and professionally. Leslie is frustrated that the budget isn't there for her to "be out in the streets, planting trees and cracking skulls" as she likes to do (for better or worse).
Meanwhile, Tom took out his anger at kids' basketball coach Ron for dating his ex-wife, Wendy, as referee (well, he had the uniform already) of a game between the department's two - count 'em, two - teams.
When Ron and Wendy get ejected, coach Andy (of course) pours Gatorade all over himself in celebration. (And can I just point out the brilliance of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness? We missed you, Ron.)
Complicating things even further is the most welcome new addition to the cast: Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger. His persistent "asking-outing" of Ann Perkins (!) is rewarded with a date, and he's never had a bad one yet.
The ulterior motive is devised by Leslie, who asked Ann if she "would be cool doing things a prostitute does, minus the money." Ann simply has to work the parks department's budget casually into conversation on a first date. Of course, Leslie shows up in the middle of it, and the trio end up at a gay bar, with Ben tagging along (the Shepard Fairey-esque "Knope" poster hanging proudly on the wall there).
To Ann's surprise, she really likes Chris, but things go south quickly when Leslie blabs the real motivation for the date.
Of all the crazy kids we want to see get together here, though, Andy and April are at the top of my list, but April has since moved on to her Guatemalan boy-toy after seeing Ann kiss Andy in the finale. Not that Andy would ever be discouraged, but when April told her boyfriend in Spanish that he was seeking a sex change, Andy was excited to hear that he should follow his heart.
At the same time, Leslie threw a hail Mary to increase the parks department's budget: a return of the Pawnee Harvest Festival. But if it fails, they're fired (I'm assuming they thought this episode was going to air in the fall).
I'm overjoyed to see Leslie, Ron and the rest back every Thursday night. What did you think of the season premiere? Share your thoughts with an iReport or in the comments below.
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