The beauty of an effective comedy series is in the relationships it builds, as characters come into your home week after week until they’re almost part of your family. That is part of the charm of “Parks and Recreation,” a typical workplace comedy featured on Streampix that also resembles co-creators Greg Daniels and Michael Shur’s other shows, including the former’s similarly mockumentary ‘The Office’ and the latter’s Golden Globe-winning ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
This season has marked any number of milestones for the series—including its recent 100th episode, star Amy Poehler’s Golden Globe and a seventh season renewal—but last Thursday’s show struck a real emotional chord as the farewell for original cast member Rashida Jones’ Ann Perkins and Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger.
“Ann and Chris” opens with Poehler’s Leslie Knope planning to make good her “pinky promise” to Ann on the show’s very first episode to turn the ditch where her then-boyfriend, Chris Pratt’s Andy Dwyer fell and supposedly broke his leg into a park. She’s also planning an Every-Holiday party to help say farewell to her “best friend” Ann since “I might not be seeing you for a few years,” including an Easter Bunny and numerous themed buffet tables.
Meanwhile, Chris’ colleagues, including Aziz Ansari’s Tom, Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson, Adam Scott’s Ben Wyatt, Jim O’Heir’s Jerry/Larry/whatever and Pratt’s Dwyer, try to find him the best going-away gift. “I don’t see the problem,” deadpans the mustachioed Ron. “I shook the man’s hand…twice.”
At the same time, Leslie and Ann have met resistance from both the Pawnee raccoons and the town’s Public Works Department, which she effectively bribes with some hazelnut chocolates and then stocking his refrigerator with free soda. Aubrey Plaza’s April Ludgate, now married to Pratt’s Andy, Ann’s one-time boyfriend, is the only cast member who seems pleased that her rival will be leaving town, sneaking a furtive hug before snapping, “Get off me wench,” when Leslie returns. Chris insists that The Wallflowers’ “One Headlight” is a dance song and proves it with some wacky moves at the party.
The guys in the office present their farewell present to Chris, a box carved with all their initials, which prompts him to moisten up. “Salt water will warp the wood, so keep your tears in your eyes where they belong,” somberly intones an unsentimental Swanson.
Leslie tells Ann she will miss her during “every single viewing of ‘Tootsie’… You taught me how to balance my life, how to be patient, and more patient… You taught me I can’t pull off a tulip skirt.”
“It’s just not your shape,” deadpans Ann. The two then repair to the abandoned pit that launched their friendship, as they break ground on the park Leslie promised her five years before.
Leslie admits to Chris she approves of the pair’s relationship: “If there is no one actually good enough for her, you are pretty damn close,” then offers a mix-CD for the ride, which features Sarah McLachlan. “Things are going to get emotional,” she promises, as the two pull away to the tune of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” on the soundtrack, wrenching out feelings that a great TV sitcom— think the gang in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” shuffling off single-file as they turn out the lights in the newsroom, or Bob Newhart waking up next to Suzanne Pleshette in the extended dream sequence which ended “The Bob Newhart Show.”
“There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food ,” says Offerman’s Ron Swanson in his typically pragmatic manner, and the only consolation is that this isn’t a series finale, or even a season closer, but parting is such sweet sorrow anyway.