If Parks and Recreation keeps raising the bar like this in terms of how exciting, funny, and romantic a sitcom can be, how are we ever going to be satisfied by any other series on TV?
Let’s break it down…
Only this series could find the comedy in a black tie cocktail party and the avian flu. And not only does it find the comedy, but it’s the perfect showcase for Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). Yes, it shows off her innate positivity and hopeful nature, as she sacrifices her wedding registry to host a fundraising event for Pawnee Commons. But the fact that she cannot help set up the event because of a state emergency training test for the city, a test she would normally anticipate and overcome with aplomb, provides an interesting challenge for Leslie: Does she sacrifice her town’s reputation for the sake of her park?
At first it seems as though she is going to miss out on her own event to pass the preparedness test for her town, which would have been an understandable, but ultimately safe ending to the episode. That’s why it’s so much more entertaining that Leslie decides that she cannot let Jamm win, since he scheduled the test the same day as her fundraiser, and tanks the test. Of course, her motives are still honorable, since she’s determined to see her fundraiser go off without a hitch. What makes it fun is seeing her revel in announcing to Jamm that he has been killed by the avian flu (along with the rest of the town).
Even the little runners in this A-story are funny and still reveal a lot about Leslie’s character. Leslie’s instructional videos that she has made in advance of this test are gold, creating fake newscasts about disasters striking the city and giving her characters names like Jessica Wrabbrit. And it’s so true to her character to see that despite having almost no resources to make these videos (signs are made out of taped-together sheets of computer paper), Leslie makes them with such care. She even matches the cuts with the microphone between herself as an interviewer and as the interviewee. These details make all the difference.
Unfortunately, Andy’s (Chris Pratt) story isn’t as happy as Leslie’s is. As nice a guy as Andy is, that can’t make up for not knowing that you shouldn’t give your gun to a high school kid. It’s not too surprising then that Andy fails the personality portion of his police exam. Thankfully there’s still hope for Andy, since he aces the written portion of the exam. It’s refreshing to see the that the writers might explore Andy more in the future beyond his lovable lunk-self and maybe even give him a little more dimension.
Now let’s break out smelling salts, Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie fans, as I anticipate that next week’s episode is going to be the most swoon-inducing yet: Ben and Leslie are getting married at the fundraiser! What makes it even more romantic (in a non-saccharine way) is that they decide to get married that very same night simply because they don’t want to wait anymore. Their only requirement for the perfect wedding? All their friends and fellow Pawneeans must be there to celebrate with them. I honestly cannot wait for this event. I just hope they figure out a way to get J.J.’s Diner to make enough waffles for everyone on such short notice (especially since Leslie will eat at least half of them).
- Unfortunately, despite last week’s forward movement for Ann (Rashida Jones), this week she’s back to simply being Leslie’s sidekick. Ann really only has one good moment in the episode, stealing one of the curly fries from Jamm’s Paunch Burger presentation. Is there really nothing else that Ann can do in this series?
- Ron (Nick Offerman) needs to have his own talk show. Now. Preferably a show about his opinions on the world. What is his take on terriers? “Any dog under 50 pounds is a cat, and cats are pointless.”
- This is a common refrain, but poor Jerry (Jim O’Heir). I’m definitely on Jerry’s side in this episode. No one could call Jerry and tell him that the drill wasn’t real? Although seeing him trip as he scrambles to protect his wife and daughters is pretty funny.
- Finally, this episode has two excellent cameos. The always welcome Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins) barely has three lines this whole episode, but the sight of her passed-out body is more than memorable. And Veep’s Matt Walsh plays the perfect straight man with just enough of an edge to make his appearance interesting.
Your turn! How will you be celebrating Ben and Leslie’s upcoming nuptials? And how much do you wish you could read “Mission Im-Pawnee-Able: Knope Protocol,” even if it is just an emergency preparedness manual? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8:30 EST on NBC.