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Parks and Recreation Special Review- Leslie Knope’s Response to COVID-19

PARKS AND RECREATION SPECIAL -- Pictured: "Parks and Recreation Special" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

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The amazing cast and creators of Parks and Recreation returned with a half-hour special to help raise money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response fund.

We got to see our favorite characters deal with quarantine and social distancing measures, and it was everything we could’ve dreamed of and more. Not only did the entire main cast return, but several fan-favorite guest stars made an appearance.

The episode starts out with a message from Bobby Newport, a.k.a. Paul Rudd, explaining the mission behind the special and what we can do to help. He was as charming as ever. Bobby Newport has always been a reflection of Americans who are completely out of touch with the world around them, so it’s not surprising he has no idea what COVID-19 is. Hopefully, someone will explain it to him.

Leslie Knope, on the other hand, is well-aware of COVID-19 and the affects it’s having on the world. She’s closed all the parks in her jurisdiction and is taking her job very seriously. She’s the perfect person to count on at a time like this. She’s even set up a phone tree to make sure all of her best friends are being checked on during this time. Whether or not they want to be checked on is a different story, but it’s impossible to say no to Leslie.

Everything about this special was so perfectly in character. The different ways people were experiencing the quarantine made perfect sense. The magic of Parks and Recreation was always its distinctive characters, and it’s refreshing to see how well it holds up five years later. Time flies, but it feels like we never left Pawnee.

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Most of the episode takes place in a video-call format, which lends really well to filming an episode about quarantine while everyone’s actually in it. They had to be a bit creative to explain why the show’s married couples weren’t in the same room, but they pulled it off.

Andy locked himself in his shed and refused to ask for April’s help getting out. That’s very typical Andy Dwyer. Bert Macklin would never accept defeat. I wish we got to see more of April in the special, but a thirty-minute time slot kept most characters’ appearances pretty short.

Chris Pratt also reprised his role as Johnny Karate, beloved Pawnee children star. We may not be able to karate chop the virus away, but at least he’s still trying to motivate the kids! Johnny Karate assured us that things will get back to normal eventually, anywhere from a week from now to a couple of hundred years or so. Hopefully, the former.

Parks and Recreation explained that Ann and Chris were quarantined in separate parts of their home because Ann had gone back to work as a nurse. The healthcare system needs all the help they can get, so it adds up that Ann would be back out on the front lines. Chris is quite literally the healthiest man alive, but he wouldn’t want to risk exposure for him or their children. Especially since he’s now been selected for testing to help build the vaccine. His red blood cells are apparently so large they can be seen with the naked eye, so if we could bottle his immunity, we’d all be set. Sadly, Chris Traeger isn’t real, but maybe Parks and Rec is onto something about Megan Rapinoe…

Ben and Leslie’s separation was a bit harder to explain, but it ended up being boiled down to Leslie’s need to work during this pandemic. She does her video calls from the office whenever she gets a break, while Ben’s at home with the kids. Unfortunately, this isolation has taken a toll on Ben. That’s right, he’s making more claymation.

Requiem for a Tuesday was a cry for help if I’ve ever seen one, so it’s safe to say the quarantine was affecting his mental state. He comes around by the end of the special, but Leslie might need to keep an eye on him! It was genius for the writers to bring back claymation and The Cones of Dunshire to show how Ben’s doing. His short film is one of the most referenced jokes from the show’s seven-season run, and it was inevitable that all of this time alone would make Ben revert back to his most useless habit. We’ve all found ourselves reaching new levels of boredom the longer quarantine goes on, but I beg, please do not make a claymation film.

Tom and Donna’s parts in the special showed the two are still treating themselves the best they can in a pandemic. They’re pretending to go on a beach vacation now, but I’m sure they’ll go on a real one as soon as this all ends.

Ron ran away to his cabin with Dianne and the kids when Tammy II shows up. It’s convenient that Ron and Tammy II’s actors are married in real life, so they were able to be a bit more creative with that storyline. Their violent relationship has always been horrifying to watch, but it’s nothing if not hilarious. And Ron’s right, the wolves should be scared if she’s loose in the woods.

We also got to see brief appearances from recurring characters like Joan Callamezzo, Perd Hapley, Jean-Ralphio, and more. It’s nice how many actors came back for the special on such short notice.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Parks and Recreation special without Li’l Sebastian. Ron got the whole gang together (virtually) to surprise Leslie with Mouse Rat’s hit single, “5,000 Candles In The Wind.” The tribute song would make anyone cry (unless you’re Ben), and it certainly warmed Leslie’s heart, as well as the rest of ours.

Parks and Rec came back exactly when we needed it most. It was such a special show, and hopefully, this won’t be the last time the cast reunites. Under better circumstances, another reunion special would be a great idea. We miss you, Pawnee!

Oh, and as for Jerry’s appearance-

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Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin

Pretty Little Liar: Summer School Review – Sweet Sixteen (203)

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Pretty Little Liar: Summer School Review - Sweet Sixteen (203)

There was nothing sweet about Mouse’s sweet 16 on Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Season 2 Episode 3. 

At such a tender age, these girls have survived one serial killer, only to be preyed on by another, seemingly more deranged, one. 

My whole heart hurt for Mouse as she realized that the location where Lola dropped her off for her surprise party was a trap set by Bloody Rose Waters, considering how depressed she was when she thought her friends weren’t prioritizing her birthday.

All sweet Mouse wanted was to feel special, but instead, she was fighting for her life at every turn—and thanks to some quick thinking, managed to make her way out of the abandoned restaurant after Bloody Rose set it on fire. 

All those months of therapy went down the drain in a flash as the trauma returned upon the realization that it was happening again—their biggest fears were manifesting. Not to mention poor Imogen is going to struggle between distinguishing reality from her nightmares/hallucinations as Bloody Rose exists in both.  

The final girls needed to once again prove that they could survive a serial killer. 

Throughout the episode, I kept trying to figure out who could be behind Bloody Rose. While there’s always the possibility it is actually Archie’s mom, I’m inclined to believe it’s someone who knew what happened to them and wants to continue preying on them. 

Pretty Little Liar: Summer School Review - Sweet Sixteen (203)

Credit: PLL Summer School/Max

However, all of the topline suspects were at the roller rink for Mouse’s actual surprise party—that she sadly didn’t get to enjoy—including Imogen’s crush, Johnny, Noa’s juvie friend, Jen, Tabby’s new work crush Christian, and Kelly and Gregg. 

There were a few people missing, including Henry and Sean, which I found suspicious. I don’t actually think Sean is behind any of it, but I can’t shake the feeling I’m getting about Henry, especially as it would make sense for the killer to be someone all too familiar with what happened to them last year. 

Then there’s Ash, who wasn’t at the party but did come to Mouse’s rescue, once he found out about her other “surprise” party from Lola. He seemed very much in the dark the whole time, so I think we can rule him out. 

I’m not counting out Kelly’s mom, Chip’s mom (who has a reason for wanting revenge), and Dr. Sullivan herself, who knows the liars’ deepest darkest secrets and can frankly use them against them. 

Murder and serial killers aside, Tabby and Imogen both confided in their new crushes about their trauma and PTSD—and much like in the original, the guy seems like they will be a source of support, which is nice. Everyone needs supportive partners, especially when you’re being hounded by a psychopath.

Faran owned her power after a terrifying experience at the pool, and while being intimidating might warrant some haters—especially the dude she fired—it was also warranted as he was negligent on the job twice, and it almost led to a terrible accident. 

And I’ve got to ask, what’s with all the douchey dudes in Millwood? For every good one, there are several around to make derogatory and misogynistic comments for absolutely no reason.

What did you think of the episode? Is Bloody Rose taking things too far? How will the liars ensure their survival this time around?

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Chicago Med

Chicago Med Review – Get by with a Little Help From My Friends (912)

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Chicago Med Season 9 Episode saw a lot of people overwhelmed by work and life in general. 

It all started with Sharon Goodwin, who is coming to the realization that her life is going to be a lot different now that Bert is experiencing memory loss. 

The incident that kickstarts everything involves him forgetting to turn the stove off, but as Cruz informs her, it had a good outcome but may be the first of many. As Goodwin’s ex-husband is treated for smoke inhalation, she struggles to figure out how to manage it all. Eventually, when Bert has another meltdown, she realizes that she’s the only person that can calm him down. Even when he’s disoriented, he recognizes her and feels comfort when she’s around, which again, puts an immense burden on her. 

As he pleads for Sharon to take him home, she agrees to be his caregiver, a situation that Dr. Charles informs her cannot be permanent. But it’s easy to see why she feels responsible—this is the man she’s loved her whole life who still needs her. It’s almost like he’s regressed to an infant mentality, not really understanding the what and why behind what’s going on. Bert is doing a fantastic job portraying all of those emotions and vulnerabilities on screen, providing audiences with a heartbreaking look at the disease.  There’s no reasoning with him, all she can do is provide care, though hopefully, not at the expense of her own mental health and sanity. 

Newcomer Jackie, played by La Brea’s Natalie Zea, arrives in the ED for her second shift in a row, when Maggie immediately notices something is off. Jackie isn’t her usual self, and paired with the stress at home and the blood dripping from her arm—a cut she claims to have sustained earlier in the day while leaving the house—there’s definitely room for worry. 

A quick diagnosis from Dr. Charles reveals that the cut may have been self-harm, as he suggests Jackie is distracting herself from the daily pain she witnesses in the burn unit. This is proven to be true after Jackie loses a patient, runs off to the bathroom to cut herself, and then collapses in Maggie’s arms, revealing scars from previous cuts. Intervention becomes necessary at that point, even though to Jackie, it feels like the ultimate betrayal, but eventually, she comes around to see that Maggie was simply acting in her best interest. It’ll be interesting to see if Med finds a permanent place for Zea on the team as I think she’d make a great addition—plus we all know Maggie needs a new friend around. 

Dr. Marcel also wasn’t spared from the harsh realities when his celebration over his young patient Colin’s new liver quickly soured when he realized the child had an infection. While he tried his best to advocate or Colin, knowing that the boy might not live to see another donor match, he ultimately had to make the hard, yet right, call and give up the organ to someone who could survive the surgery. It’s not the outcome anyone wanted, including Colin’s disappointed father (this is why as a doctor, you never make any promises), but due to the illness, he wasn’t strong enough to move forward. The final gut punch was Colin asking if he was going to die, making Crockett question every decision he’s ever made. 

Hannah teamed up with Ripley—while also sealing their romantic fate—to help his childhood friends, Lynne and Sully, welcome their new baby, born prematurely at 30 weeks and not breathing. Thankfully, they were able to save the child, which was comforting considering everything Sully is already going through. They need a shred of happiness. 

Archer also got a little scolding from Sharon, who didn’t take kindly toward his harsh attitude toward the new intern, reminding him that this is a teaching hospital after all. Turns out, when Archer wants to, he can be a great mentor—and that’s something some students need when they are letting their fears and doubts cloud their judgment and get the best of them. None of us are born with the knowledge and skills—it takes patience and practice.

Thankfully, in every situation, the good outweighed the bad as everyone was supported by loved ones—friends, family, and staff who truly cared about their wellbeing. 

What did you think of the episode?

If you are having a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis, call 988. 

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Chicago P.D

Chicago PD Review – Voight Becomes the Victim (1112)

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Chicago PD Season 11 did not come to play! Through the course of 11 seasons, fans have seen it all—and been through it all with the detectives working in Intelligence, but Voight getting taken by the serial killer he’s been obsessively chasing down takes the cake!

The Sgt. Voight somehow got outplayed—and it’s equal parts disappointing, concerning, and intriguing. These writers know what makes good TV. It’s also a change of pace to see someone like Voight end up as the victim. We always see them in these powerful positions, dominating crime scenes, dictating how situations will turn out, and demanding that criminals and suspects be held accountable, but now, we’re seeing him on the other side.

Voight has gotten what he’s wanted for some long—facetime with the serial killer terrorizing the streets of Chicago. It’s likely not the way he wanted this to unfold, or how he imagined the situation would go down, but it’s the unfortunate twist that it took as the suspect realized that the cops were on his tail and needed to regain control of the situation.

What he failed to anticipate is that Voight’s team was following a lead that he thought was no longer viable. Right before Kiki’s tragic death—and it pained me to hear that she didn’t pull through after being filled with so much optimism about the future just mere moments before she was gunned down—and before she could reveal who her informant was, she mentioned a key piece of information that was enough for Hailey Upton to go on. Upton located Kiki’s John, who previously told her that someone in his family was a serial killer, which is how she knew so many of the personal details of the case that weren’t made public. 

While Bobby wasn’t immediately comfortable with sharing, he eventually disclosed the name of his cousin’s husband, who blabbed about his love of torture when he was intoxicated, allowing Upton to pinpoint lockup keeper Frank Matson. 

He was right there, in front of them, the whole time, with access not only to all the victims upon cross-referencing, but to intel, cameras, and everything in between. It only makes sense that this person was close to it all having been able to get away with so much. Hiding in plain sight truly is one of the best ways to pull off a crime of this nature. 

And, now, he’s moved in on Voight, who found himself drugged with some kind of paralyzing agent after his trip to the bar. I wish that before he fell unconscious, he gave anyone on his team a ring to let them know he wasn’t feeling well, but, he tried his best, even locking the door after himself. Matson, however, was one step ahead—as he had been this whole time—breaking in, before creepily checking Voight’s eyes and pulling his frozen body to another location.

Once Hailey arrived to check in on Voight, she knew something wasn’t right. And once again, Matson takes the lead in an investigation that’s now racing against the clock. 

The team is currently searching Matson’s place, as his poor wife seemingly didn’t know anything was wrong, though, I’m willing to bet his daughter has some insight. The girl looked like she wanted to spill.

But Matson has proven time and again to be pretty crafty, so tracking him down might be very difficult, especially with Voight’s life on the line adding additional pressure. 

Will the team be able to pull it off? I’ve not heard any murmurings of Jason Beghe leaving the series, so odds are they will get to him in time, but the case, which has already taken an emotional toll on him, might leave a permanent mark. To be honest, all I want to see is Voight get his revenge and justice as Matson burns in hell—and as we race toward the season finale, this seems like a really fitting plot to finish on, all while lending itself to Upton’s inevitable exit.  If there’s anything to convince you that a career change is healthy and necessary, it’s seeing your boss almost get murdered by a serial killer. And, as we’ve seen with her vulnerable chats with Petrovic (who I am now convinced will join Intelligence after commenting on the “family vibes”), Upton isn’t in a great headspace to begin with so she’s going to need to take a step back and find something that allows her to move forward without all the baggage she’s been carrying from her childhood and divorce from Jay.

Also, with Chicago PD Season 11 Episode 12 being Jesse Lee Soffer’s (remember him?) directorial debut, I have to give him a shout-out for a job well done. The episode kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time—and that’s not an easy feat for a show 11 seasons in, but no one knows these characters better than the man who spent so much time on the show! 

What did you think of the episode? Did you expect Voight to become the next victim? Share your thoughts now! 

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