NOTE: This episode aired last week, though our regular television reporter was indisposed at the time of airing
NOTE 2: Full spoilers for this episode of Parks and Recreation are present in this review
It would appear at this point that Parks and Recreation is really starting to wrap things up. Using the final episode of Andy’s fictional kids’ show as a device to create a clever meta episode of sorts, Parks and Recreation directly addressed the sadness and difficulty that comes with letting go of a fine television series. It’s outwardly silly, but the superb underlying emotion behind every great moment in “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show” is just too heartwarming to ignore for longtime fans of Parks and Recreation.
Ultimately, there isn’t much to say about this episode itself, especially since so much of it simply involves an inside look at how Andy has enjoyed his small bout of fame as Johnny Karate. Each of the familiar Parks and Recreation personalities participates somehow, often as fictional characters that exaggerate their true-to-life personas. Ben is mocked for his intelligence as Professor Smartbrain for example, while Ron teaches kids the value of building things as… Ron. Yep, makes sense.
Oh, and Garry being a character called Mailman Barry that only exists to be abused by the children is pretty fitting as well. We already saw a glimpse of this, but it was still very funny the second time.
We also see that April was very much a part of the series, and handled exotic animals. This led to a very funny scene of Andy and April realizing that a poisonous bird-eating tarantula has gotten loose, leading to an apparently recurring special sketch called, “Find the loose animal in the studio.” Are you truly surprised?
The episode even featured a random, yet hysterical guest star in wrestling/action movie star, John Cena, whom Andy subdues and puts over a dunk tank for (apparently) being responsible for stealing Johnny Karate’s guitar. It was pretty random, but the way that the episode featured a sugary Cena becoming the brunt of Andy’s antics was great stuff. It was made all the funnier when the tarantula is found near Cena right at the end of the episode, who subsequently freaks out, and, you can see where that’s going.
The icing on the cake came from faux interviews with characters such as Andy’s bandmates in Mouse Rat, which cheekily talked about him as a rising star in the world of childrens’ entertainment. Even better were some of the fake ads for things like Paunch Burger and Ron’s Very Good Building Company that were inserted amongst the real commercial breaks that the episode took. It made everything feel all the more strangely immersive, on top of providing some highlight laughs in what’s already a gut-bustingly funny episode, even for Parks and Recreation’s huge quality standard.
The best moment of the episode came when April temporarily walks away from set, with Andy forced to pursue her, giving her a surprisingly wise speech about moving on to bigger and better things. It was a beautifully emotional moment that still didn’t take away from a proudly silly episode, and gave some further closure to Andy becoming Johnny Karate right as the show was announced to end by NBC. By the end of that, it truly feels alright, and that’s very worthwhile for fans to hear as much as April.
“The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show” unfolded like some kind of exceptional sketch that just happened to feature the Parks and Recreation characters, and as a complement to the show’s penultimate episode that followed it on the same day, it proved to be one of the series’ overall best, thanks largely to its creativity and wit. The special feels real and credible, while still existing in the crazy world of Pawnee quite noticeably. Even as it will no doubt have viewers doubled over in laughter, it still provided some good emotional moments, and plucks at the heartstrings of fans better than the already great episodes of Season Seven have so far.
So long, Johnny Karate. You’ll be missed as much as the rest of them.
- The meta direction of being a Johnny Karate episode throughout
- Hilarious faux commercials
- Andy's heartfelt speech to April