After a poor first season, "Parks and Recreation" rebounded with a very strong sophomore outing and was one of last year's best comedies. Could it get even better?

After a poor first season, "Parks and Recreation" rebounded with a very strong sophomore outing and was one of last year's best comedies. Could it get even better?

Well, after an unjust midseason return, I'm happy to report that the third season's first few episodes are just as good as the best stuff from Season 2, if not better.

Last season ended with state auditors Ben (Adam Scott) and Chris (Rob Lowe) closing the parks office because of budget cuts, and this season picks up when the office has reopened a couple of months later.

In an amusing sequence, Leslie (Amy Poehler) gleefully rounds up her crew, and they head back to work kind of. Because of a funding shortage, they'll be acting merely as paper-pushers. And running a two-team basketball league for kids.

The league offers some particularly great laughs as the series' two best characters - Chris Pratt's Andy and Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson - serve as coaches. Ron takes a full-on Bob Knight approach, while Andy is completely disorganized.

But by far the most surprising aspect is reoccurring guest stars Scott and Lowe. If you enjoyed these characters last season, you'll love them here. Lowe probably isn't for everyone, but I find him utterly hilarious as the "most positive person ever," and Scott's straight man plays nicely off him and the rest of the cast.

Later episodes are just as hysterical as the first, with Ron and Andy teaming up again, the parks office getting attacked by the flu, and the return of Ron and Tammy - this time with (spoiler alert) cornrows.