07 October 2011
This episode had me from second one. I was already cracking up just from the opening background music parodying that of public radio, as Leslie makes a guest appearance on "Thoughts for Your Thoughts" to promote her new book, Pawnee: the Greatest Town in America. This book A-plot was pretty much just non-stop hilarity: the radio spot; the few pages shown*; the appearance on Pawnee Today and the ensuing scandal. Definitely the funniest episode this season.
However, even though the A-plot was hilarious enough to carry the episode, the other stories suffered what seem to be becoming recurring problems. The Ben/Tom pairing, repeated from last week, resulted in some humorous "nerd" conversation, but never seemed to go anywhere (it ended up Leslie didn't need them to "seduce" Joan after all... like poor Jerry and his errand), and had such a strange, awkward, rushed climax. ("Where the hell am I?") The Ann plotline, too, was uncomfortably lacking in purpose. As April and Andy have married, and the UST between him and Ann has been Rd, the character Ann has become more and more obsolete in any context other than her friendship with Leslie. Even with her formal promotion to civil servant, she feels out of place and extraneous to the Parks Department. It was even more awkward that this story involved her trying to engage in conversation with Ron and April... just: why? Ann explains in a talking head that she's know these people for three years now and they've barely exchanged hellos, but that's hardly motivation enough. April/Ron vs Ann is a pairing comedy gold is mined for, but there's no character-consistent reason to justify this happening. April hates Ann and Ron hates everyone -- unless Ann is a masochist or is "doing it for Lesie," why would she bother? Like the Chris PSA story last week, I just couldn't buy it, and this sort of spoiled the ensuing Jenny/Lester/Steve goof. I do deeply love Ron and April together, though. Oh, his little smile when she made him proud.
Many laughs were had this episode, but Parks and Rec definitely still has some character-kinks to work out.
*I have some screencaps for those of you who didn't have a chance to pause on the pages, but HOLY KNOPE IT ACTUALLY EXISTS!!!!!! I already placed a hold at my local library... where it is suspiciously/hilariously titled Pawnee : the greatest town in American [sic] / written, compiled, researched, typed, collated, proof-read, and run through spell-check by Leslie Knope. Super excited.
-"A non-profit group that puts umbrella hats on homeless people when it rains."
-"But they are lesbians."
-"Usually I only read nautical novels and my own personal manifestos."
-"Mine just says 'Get well soon.'" "Aren't you sick?"
-"You might as well be from China!"
-I noticed early on that Joan seemed to be wearing more makeup than usual... and with the divorce reveal, was shown to be a conscious character choice and not just another example of the media's exploitation of females. Yay, Parks and Rec!
-"Is she gonna powder her vagina?"
-"Nerd culture is mainstream now, so when you use the word 'nerd' derogatorily, it means you're the one out of the zeitgeist."
-"Well, let's just say the message boards are going nuts."