Last year Parks and Recreation turned in an amazing season of television, with nary a week episode in its abbreviated run. Like it or not, that means they've got their work cut out for them this year, trying to live up to that precedent.
Season four picks up where the finale left off, with Leslie reeling from the bittersweet news that she's being courted to run for city council. While this is a dream come true for it, it means she will have to end her relationship with her boss, Ben, lest it turn into a political scandal. Of course, Leslie's not the only one in a crisis. Ron is on the run after his first wife, Tammy I (Patricia Clarkson), has come into town presumably to deliver him the news that he's being audited by the IRS. Elsewhere, former Parks Department employee Tom Haverford is busy trying to start up his entertainment company, but it seems that he and his business partner Jean-Ralphio know how to do little else but give the appearance of being successful, which just involves spending a whole lot of money.
The premiere episode doesn't have Parks at its best quite yet. While there's plenty to laugh at and Leslie's at her most adorable, it's not until the second episode, which pits Ron against all of the Tammys in his life (both ex-wives and his mother), that the show really feels like it's back at home. It's still not clear how Leslie's campaign and the various career changes for the other characters will impact the show going forward but as long as the series continues to maintain its emblamatic charm, we're in for another good year.
The third season of Parks and Recreation premieres Thursday 7:30pm on NBC.