Pro: Leslie Knope and company are back on our screens after three long weeks off the air! Con: Turns out that even they can’t make kidney stones and compatibility tests funny.
Let’s break it down…
Raise your hand if you were disappointed by the thought that cartoon villain Councilman Jamm wouldn’t return to the series. Anyone? No? That’s what I thought. It’s hard to imagine why the writers insist on keeping this guy around. At least it made sense for him to keep popping up during the first half of the season, when he was Leslie (Amy Poehler) and April’s (Aubrey Plaza) direct competitor for Lot 48. And the writers composed a perfect exit for his annoying character with Ron’s punch in the face in “Leslie and Ben.” So not only is it frustrating to see this character back in “Partridge” just to be annoying sue Ron (Nick Offerman), but it undermines the brilliance of Ron’s punch to the face. I may be in the minority on this, but not even the flashbacks to every time Ron stated that he wanted to punch Councilman Jamm in the face make up for this simply uninteresting B-story.
I will give the story a little credit for giving Tom (Aziz Ansari) and April the opportunity to step up and help Ron out. Lately there has been a lot of episodes about the team rallying around Leslie, so it’s nice to see them wanting to help Ron (which naturally means blackmailing Councilman Jamm and faking a wrist injury). It also has the benefit of having one of the episodes truly funny moments, that Andy (Chris Pratt) genuinely believes that Tom is hurt. Oh Andy. Never change.
The episode’s title refers to the A-story, since Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie return to his hometown of Partridge, Minnesota for the first time since his great Ice Town twenty years ago. This could’ve been a great story and another opportunity for one of Ben’s classic public meltdowns a la season 3’s “Media Blitz,” but Ben is quickly side-lined by a passing kidney stone. And not even the morphine the doctor pumps into Ben makes this story funnier, because all that happens when Ben is on drugs is that he turns into a generic love-spouting hippie. All Leslie gets to do is scold Mayor Stice (a waste of J.K. Simmons’ talents, unless the show cast him believing that they will revisit the town in future episodes) and steal his key. Not exactly comedy gold.
Lastly, Chris (Rob Lowe) and Ann (Rashida Jones) are full-steam ahead on the baby-making plans. First of all, it is still unclear as to what Chris’s role in all this is. Sperm donor? Baby Daddy? Who knows! Secondly, it’s full-steam ahead except for the fact that this episode does nothing to move this story forward in any way. They get worried that compatibility tests suggest that they may not be the best couple to raise a child together. Then they decide that they don’t care about those tests. Great! So they’re back to exactly where they were when the episode started. Somebody wake me up when Ann’s water breaks.
- Mike Schur has stated on many occasions how much of a West Wing fan he is, and another West Wing alumna appears in this episode: actress Annabeth Gish, who played First Daughter Elizabeth Bartlet Westin, appears as Ben’s sister Stephanie.
- Andy also gets the best line of the episode: “Sometime when I’m blowing my nose I get a boner. I don’t know why. It just happens. Truth bomb!”
- If I had a baby, I to would want it to have Chris’s hair and Donna’s (Retta) everything else.
Your turn! What do you think of April and Tom’s take down of Councilman Jamm? And would you have left the hospital to meet Partridge mascot Fred the Sled? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation airs on NBC on Thursdays at 8:30 EST.