Release Date: September 4, 2012 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 471 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 140 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles and Captioning: English and Spanish Subtitles
Special Features: Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; Webisodes; Campaign Ads and Videos; Odds and Ends
Leslie and the rest of the employees of the Parks Department in Pawnee are back in Parks and Recreation - Season Four! Budget cuts had them down and out for a while leading into the third season, but they're still here and thriving on what little (if any) money they have left for yet another year of fun in the department. Leslie, though, is looking further ahead than just the department, and now, she has her eyes on the biggest prize of them all: becoming a city councilwoman! The fourth season takes viewers on Leslie's journey to make it into that office, along with the help of her friends and co-workers (even Ron Swanson!), and chronicles the stumbles and roadblocks in the campaign...and trust me, there are quite a few stumbles and roadblocks! And you can see it all in the 22 episodes of the fourth season of the series, now on DVD.
The season begins with "I'm Leslie Knope," where Leslie must choose between Ben or her chance to run for public office. But does she really only have to choose ONE? Ron's ex-wife, Tammy One, is back in "Ron and Tammys." In "Born and Raised," Leslie finds herself in a Sarah Palin-esque moment when she falls prey to "gotcha" journalism. A battle of the sexes (then, perhaps, a blending) breaks out when Ron and Leslie take their wilderness group trips in "Pawnee Rangers." Tom emcees an event for Leslie's campaign in "Meet 'n Greet." In "End of the World," everybody is contemplating the meaning of life after a local group predicts the end of the world.
Leslie gets involved with a local high school's Model United Nations in "The Treaty," but you know it couldn't possibly work out. In "Smallest Park," Leslie decides to manipulate a new park project just to spend time with Ben. Leslie's antics with Ben are caught (and she has to defend them) in "The Trial of Leslie Knope." In "Citizen Knope," Leslie has difficulty dealing with her suspension from her job...so she forms a citizens group to fight City Hall from the outside. In "The Comeback Kid," Leslie has big plans to relaunch her campaign. Leslie and Ben disagree on the tone for Leslie's first campaign ad in "Campaign Ad."
Leslie's campaign hosts a casual bowling party in "Bowling for Votes," but Leslie finds this difficult from so many angles. Another "Galentine's Day" (as Leslie prefers to call it) has arrived in "Operation Ann," where Leslie decides to find Ann a new man. Leslie's old boyfriend is back in Pawnee in "Dave Returns." In "Campaign Shake-Up," Leslie's opponent hires a powerful Washington campaign manager; meanwhile, Leslie is trying to get the endorsement of the president of Pawnee Seniors United (played by Carl Reiner). Leslie gets a chance to be interviewed by a popular radio show host in "Lucky." In "Live Ammo," Leslie convinces a Councilman to save the Parks Department from planned budget cuts...but this may have consequences for her campaign.
In "The Debate," Leslie and Bobby Newport face off in their big political debate (which means more in Pawnee than a presidential debate, it seems). In "Bus Tour," everybody is out for last minute votes, but things get complicated when Bobby Newport's father suddenly passes away. The season ends with "Win, Lose or Draw," where Election Day has finally arrived...so what now?
1. "I'm Leslie Knope" (21:30)
2. "Ron and Tammys" (21:34)
3. "Born and Raised" (21:33)
4. "Pawnee Rangers" (21:32)
5. "Meet 'n Greet" (21:30)
6. "End of the World" (21:37)
- Producer's Extended Cut (27:20)
7. "The Treaty" (21:32)
8. "Smallest Park" (21:33)
9. "The Trial of Leslie Knope" (21:32)
10. "Citizen Knope" (21:32)
11. "The Comeback Kid" (21:09)
12. "Campaign Ad" (21:39)
The packaging for this season is the same as the previous two releases (with different artwork, of course). Once again, the discs are packaged in a digipack inside of a cardboard sleeve (the digipack slides out through the top and bottom). They've gone with a red, white, and blue color scheme for this set in honor of Leslie's campaign, which is greatly emphasized in this season. The cover art has a large photo of Leslie, along with smaller photos of the cast members to the side. On the back, there are a few snapshots from episodes, along with a large photo of Leslie (similar to the one on the cover) and a brief description of the season. Inside, you'll find the four discs, each which have the series logo on a blue background. Episode descriptions are also given on the digipack.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very simple once again, with the main menu giving options of Play All, Episode Index, Bonus Features, and Setup. Additionally, there is a Previews option on Disc 1. The artwork on the main menu is similar to the cover art and even has the same photo of Leslie on it. And the theme song continuously loops in the background...trust me, it gets very annoying. Choosing Episode Index will take you to a menu where you'll find two or three episodes listed per screen. The episodes are presented with a photo snapshot, the title, and options to view Deleted Scenes or Producer's Extended Cuts (for episodes which have them). These same options can be found on the Bonus Features menu, along with bonus features which aren't episode specific. Finally, Setup allows you to turn on the subtitles (English or Spanish). Each episode has chapters placed at all of the commercial breaks.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on this set is excellent. Like most recent TV series on DVD, everything on here really does look about the same as it does on TV. The video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with no flaws worth noting, and the episodes contain Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The only thing that could make this any better...as I've mentioned before...is a Blu-ray release. Each episode contains English and Spanish subtitles.
The set contains quite a few special features, though it seems that they are not as numerous in the past. They begin with a few commentaries, with episodes and commentators as follows:
"Flu Season" - Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Michael Schur
"Ron & Tammy 2" - Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Retta, Jim O'Heir, Michael Schur
"Harvest Festival" (Extended Producer's Cut Version) - Retta, Jim O'Heir, Harris Wittels, Daniel Goor, Dean Holland, Michael Schur
"Camping" - Tom Magill, Shana Hagan, Doug Smith, Josh Swoveland, Paul Boydston, Alisha Baldwin, Michael Schur
"The Fight" (Extended Producer's Cut Version) - Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Michael Schur
"Li'l Sebastian" (Extended Producer's Cut Version) - Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Retta, Jim O'Heir, Dean Holland, Daniel Goor, Michael Schur
All of the first 19 episodes of the season contain deleted scenes, which last several minutes per episode. The last three episodes do not, but these episodes all have extended versions which are several minutes longer. There are a lot of good moments in these deleted scenes, so they are certainly worth watching. Runtimes for the deleted scenes are as follows:
1. "I'm Leslie Knope" (5:49)
2. "Ron and Tammys" (7:49)
3. "Born and Raised" (6:11)
4. "Pawnee Rangers" (3:47)
5. "Meet 'n Greet" (4:53)
6. "End of the World" (1:46)
7. "The Treaty" (4:50)
8. "Smallest Park" (4:18)
9. "The Trial of Leslie Knope" (5:26)
10. "Citizen Knope" (9:28)
11. "The Comeback Kid" (2:28)
12. "Campaign Ad" (5:18)
Disc 1 presents us with a few webisodes, which are a hallmark of many of the current NBC sitcoms. Essentially, these are just short "episodes" made just for internet viewer over a particular theme. The series here is called Road Trip, and it is about a road trip that April and Andy take to the Grand Canyon...in less than 10 minutes total. The episodes here include "The Spider" (2:18), "Four Corners" (2:24), "Calling Leslie" (1:53), and "Building a Home" (2:06).
"Leslie Tribute Video from Tom" (1:09) is essentially a video for Leslie's campaign from Tom, talking about the "all-American" traits of Leslie.
There are a few campaign ads for Leslie's city council campaign on Disc 2. Among these are "Ben Campaign Ads for Leslie" (1:15), "Bobby Newport Campaign Ads" (2:38), and "Leslie Positive Ad" (0:48). These are all very fun to watch, and are perfect to see just in time for the political season which is approaching.
Disc 3 contains "Catch Your Dreams" music video (4:31), which is even more campaign material for Leslie's political campaign. Just like it sounds, it is a music video used for her campaign.
Disc 4 begins with "Gag Reel Uncensored" (17:03), which begins with a disclaimer that the outtakes are "incredibly offensive," and that is no exaggeration. This begins with a made-for-DVD news segment from the fictitious in-show news segment "Final Word with Perd." The outtakes for this show are some of the best I've seen for any show, but the language is pretty rough...Amy Poehler, in particular, has a very dirty mouth.
"The Swanson Zone" is a series of short segments featuring Ron Swanson, which appear to be made for DVD (they somewhat look like webisodes, but they aren't advertised as such). The segments include "Ron Canoeing" (1:35), "Ron Cutting Wood" (2:03), and "Ron's Bobblehead" (1:26). These are essentially how-to videos on the particular topic (yes, the third one tells you how to make a Ron Swanson Bobblehead, though I'm not sure the "advice" will take you very far), and are incredibly dull...but that incredible dullness is what makes them so great, because Ron isn't the most exciting person (I'd love to see something like this with Jerry in the future, perhaps on vacation at his timeshare in exotic Muncie, IN).
Finally, Disc 4 ends with "Odds and Ends," a hodgepodge of special features which don't really fit into any other category. "Andy's Testimony" (4:17) is an extended segment where Andy testifies about the relationship between Ben and Leslie. "Congratulations Amy" (1:46) is a congratulatory video to Amy Poehler upon receiving the Power of Comedy Award. "New Year's Eve" (0:24) is just a very short promo from the cast wishing fans a happy New Year (I'm guessing this aired on New Year's Eve last year by the title). "People's Choice Awards" (2:11) is a short segment where the cast decides to show off their best talents and let the people "decide." It is a very odd segment, honestly. Finally, "The Voice" promo (2:32) is a promo where Ron Swanson decides to get a new chair for his office...the same one used by Cee Lo Green on the voice. To avoid talking to people, he just uses the button to turn around. Things work out well until Cee Lo comes into the office and demands Ron return his chair to him.
The special features on the set are decent, but it seems to be an NBC trend now to not include any commentaries or interviews at ALL on their sets. It is a bit disappointing, really.
Hmm, I'm not really sure what to take away from this season. I love the political campaign story arc, I really do, but at the same time, I wasn't expecting it to be drawn out the way that it was. Literally, the entire season was all about her campaign, and we saw very little of what was truly going on in the department of parks and recreation. Each week, I was wondering when we'd get back into that, but we never did. On the other hand, though, the way that Leslie ran her campaign for city council really did seem fitting for the series. It was very much like the character I would expect of her to overdo the entire thing, and she did just that. So maybe it wasn't totally a bad thing.
This DVD set is a fine set, even though it is absent of any interviews and/or commentaries. In the end though, I think that this is a title worth including in the collection of any fan of the series, even those displeased with the story arc of this season. The characters are still all here, it is just that the series becomes much more about Leslie's campaign than her job. So pick up this set and help support your neighborhood parks department...or at least Pawnee's.