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'Parks and Recreation' launches its final season

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in "Parks and Recreation." Photo Credit: NBC / Ben Cohen

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The final season with this seven-week run, set in 2017, as Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) becomes Midwest Regional Director of the National Parks Service. Her and Ben's (Adam Scott) triplets have been born, and the gang has joined Leslie, including Tom (Aziz Ansari), Andy (Chris Pratt), April (Aubrey Plaza), Jerry (Jim O'Heir), Donna (Retta) and, of course, Ron (Nick Offerman).

Doing what? We shall find out together. (NBC declined to send out review screeners.)

MY SAY There will be plenty of time to celebrate the end of this classic, but maybe not as much time as fans would like. The series will be double-pumped on Tuesdays until the grand finale on Feb. 24.

But NBC has had enough, and -- to its credit -- has done enough, too. After all, six seasons have come and gone, yet most members of the Republic are still unfamiliar with Ron Swanson or his timeless pearls of libertarian-ish, meat-eating wisdom ("Capitalism: God's way of determining who is smart and who is poor...").

"Parks and Rec" never caught on in the same way that a similarly spirited megahit like "Modern Family" has, which is an understatement because it never really caught on at all. But "why didn't it catch on?" -- I suspect -- is the wrong question. "What did the show contribute?" is the right one.

That "what" is considerable, maybe even a book, but the shorthand answer goes something like this: "Parks and Recreation" was full of love, for the characters, the actors who played them, the audience, and for fictional Pawnee, which was a proxy for all upstanding Midwest values that weren't so upstanding they were beyond ridicule. "Parks" also matched word to character with such precision that words would become them. Who else but Tom Haverford would have said "oh, I'm wearing an ascot? I didn't notice." Who but April Ludgate would have opined, "I hate talking to people about things."

"Parks" was brilliantly written, and similarly acted. The core cast was and is a marvel, but those who have passed through as well -- like Ben Schwartz and Jenny Slate as the psycho Saperstein siblings, or Billy Eichner, as emotionally fragile Craig. In fact, Eichner was essentially discovered by "Parks and Rec." So was Chris Pratt -- Andy -- and we know the impact it's had on his career.

But hey, it's too early for the crepe. The obit is premature. Thirteen episodes to go and they will all be -- my crazy fearless prediction -- terrific.


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