Washington, D.C. may not be known for its heart or its humor, but that was before Parks and Recreation came to town for the Season 5 premiere.
But while the premiere mined laughs from the lovable thickness of Andy (anyone know where he can pick up some free pants?) and the never-ending ridiculousness of Tom (sorry, I wouldn't buy Sparkle Suds), it also provided a legitimately interesting character study of Leslie.
This is a woman who has long seen herself as the next Barbara Boxer or Olympia Snowe. Which is easy to dream about from the comfort of Pawnee (Pawnee, INDIANA, people!). But it's far more daunting and depressing to realize how far removed a spot on the local council is from these politicians when you're among them in D.C.
The result of Ben succeeding in such a high profile world, while realizing just how difficult it is to get anything done there, combined for possibly the saddest sight on television: a pessimistic Leslie Knope. It's a troubling image, as John McCain can tell us first hand.
Few other (if any) sitcoms can pull off such a realistic, heartfelt portrayal without losing the laughs.
But even as Leslie's dreams were crashing to earth, she managed to ramble about her town's trouble with raccoons and obese toddlers, while back in Pawnee (INDIANA!), we were treated to Ron's take on "meat virgins," Tom and Anne's faux love for one another and Jerry's desire to just eat some corn on the cob.
Leslie rebounded, of course, thanks to the sweetness of Andy. And the a few shots of Ben's butt didn't hurt, either.
Meanwhile, Chris walked the fine line between absurd and serious, giving Ron what had to be literally the best speech from a boss I heard all night; and the show figured out the best way to use Tom and Anne's relationship, one of the few missteps on Season 4. Overall, it was a terrific half hour of comedy and sentiment.
Matt Richenthal Feelings Update: I'm so glad Parks and Recreation is back.