I really can't overstate how much I love the fact that Parks and Recreation stays true to character timelines, and how terrific the writers are at creating a believable relationship between Leslie and Ben (which is why, when we see Ron's over-the-top relationship with the Tammys, the juxtaposition is so freaking funny). Just last week I was already mourning the loss of Bleslie (yes, I just made that up), much like you do when you find out a longtime couple you were fairly good friends with called it quits in what seemed like a completely out-of-the-blue decision. These past few episodes, we really weren't shown what was going on in Leslie's mind during the breakup because it is literally part of her job and candidacy to set her feelings for Ben aside in order to fulfill her duties. Sure, "The Treaty" and "End of the World" gave us little glimpses of Leslie trying to make sense of it, but it wasn't until last night's "The Smallest Park" where she was finally honest with herself, Ben and, in turn, us.
Another thing about "The Smallest Park": It was hilarious, in no small part thanks to a well-drawn B plot featuring Pawnee dream team Andy, April and Ron. Let's talk about that and grade everyone!
Chris Pratt landed every single scene he was in last night -- it got to the point that the very sight of him in a new classroom had me giggling, especially the laser class. I was hoping that the show would recognize that taking a college class can be insanely expensive, and the writers delivered... as did Andy, who is too proud to take money from April's parents and will instead beg for money in the street like a drug addict. Also: Why isn't there a class on women's lasers? Sexist.
Best Line of the Night: Tough call, as everything in the callback at the end was hilarious, as was the tiny shot of Andy's Fairway Frank newspaper clipping at the very beginning of the episode (has that been around all season, and I just completely missed it until now?). I'm gonna go with: "I barely haven't even ever seen a gortar."
This wasn't an April episode, and she nearly got her husband's hopes up. Still, when I re-watched her scenes for my second viewing, seeing her sink into a humiliated hand-over-her-face position during Andy's laser class improved her grade. She also had a pretty hard sell with those $50 candy bars.
Best Line of the Night: "I want to be burned at the stake."
I felt like some of Ron's scenes and lines were a little bit forced last night, but the fastest way into my heart is with Ron Swanson feminism enthusiasm. I know he hates getting all sappy (in the form of not actively routing against his coworkers), but the Ron Swanson Scholarship part had a great mix of sweet, generous and hilarious, especially when you factor in his first day of school.
Best Line of the Night: "One thing I promised myself when I buried gold in my backyard was that I'd never be a hoarder or a miser about it."
I've got no beef with Ann as the voice of reason for Leslie, but honestly, she's quickly becoming vestigial on this show. Sure, she's the one who brought Leslie and Ben back together... and that's why she gets the plus in her grade. As for Chris, he was basically the very opposite of Ann in his complete lack of awareness and antagonism.
Best Line of the Night: Chris doesn't get one. As for Ann: "She once made me eat an entire cheesecake at a potluck so that she didn't look bad."
Another episode, another comment about how I didn't get enough Donna and how I can't stand Jerry being a punching bag, even if he does have a satisfying home life.
Afterthought: I love typography jokes, but are they accessible to everyone? I honestly have no idea. "I think that Comic Sans always screams 'fun!'" made laugh out loud, but if Parks & Rec had more jokes like these, it would have worse ratings than even Community. (Ugh, sad! Sorry. I love Community.)
Considering that the majority of Tom's screen time usually consists of wacky ideas, this venture was pretty forgettable. That's not to say I didn't smile when he was playing with a Rubik's Cube that featured a photo of his face in the opening of the episode. And his Jerry lines were better than the standard anti-Jerry lines, with gems like "My number 4 Jerry!" and "I guess I'm Jerry now."
Best Line of the Night: "The only good font is The Sopranos one, where the R is a pistol."
Leslie/Ben: B- for the first 20 minutes of the episode, then A+ for the last few
Okay, raise your hand if you teared up at the very sight of that tiny finished park. I'm genuinely excited to see how their relationship plays out, which goes to show how excellent this show really is.
Best Line of the Night: "There is another option; We could just say 'screw it' and do this thing for real."
Honorable mentions: Two nameless ladies get highlighted today: The woman teaching Andy's guitar class, who, for what it's worth, would make an "incredible brunette... Ron Swanson," and the elderly woman at the public forum who doesn't like basketball courts because they attract certain undesirable people... okay, I'll just come out and say it, she doesn't like --
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