"How a Bill Becomes a Law" did not feel like a standard Parks and Recreation episode -- and I mean that in a good way. The jokes were a little more advanced, and instead of relying on what we already know the characters do so well, the writing centered on the new roles and relationships we've been seeing in Season 5. Turns out, the episode was written by Dan Goor, who also penned such Parks & Rec greats like "Hunting Trip," "Freddy Spaghetti," "Harvest Festival," "Li'l Sebastian," and "The Trial of Leslie Knope," (to name a few), so they guy clearly knows what he's doing. The episode felt tight, the subplots hit their marks and we're actually starting to see some real character development play out on-screen. Let's get to grading. Please and thank you.
Ron and Andy: A
An excellent mix of adorable, realistic and hilarious, this whole subplot was one of my favorites in a long time. As I say pretty much every week, Chris Pratt is ridiculously funny, but we also got to see Ron participate in government in his own way without it being the same song and dance we've seen a million times from him. I love the addition of Lucy Lawless, and the fact that her character is a middle school vice principal who doesn't fool around. The princess stuff was fantastic, and the reveal that Andy wrote Ron's office address in pink chalk of the pothole definitely was so sweet.
Ron's Best Line of the Night: [Trying to pretend he doesn't want to impress Diane by letting the girls cover him in makeup]: "Why would that matter?... shut up!"
Andy's Best Line of the Night: I liked the gum in his hair, but the obvious choice is "Ron and Dianne sitting in a tree. K-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i... do you hear that bird?"
Leslie and Tom: B+
Much as I loved Leslie's perm (R.I.P.) and Pawnee and D.C. clocks, the funniest moments of the bill storyline came from her and Tom's reactions to the other councilmen (who I'll get to in a few). Still, the perm was really very funny (and from certain angles, did make Leslie look like a young beautiful Strom Thurmond), I appreciate that the Pawnee Porpoises came to Leslie during her weekend river cleanup (continuity!), Leslie's porpoises noises were fun (I laughed out loud when an on-air ad told us we could already buy the freaking shirts) and the writers proved that Tom can make us laugh while acting like a real person... even if he can't pronounce "anchovies" to save his life.
Leslie's Best Line of the Night: "Ann has told me repeatedly not to get a perm... but Ann's not here, so when the Ann's away, the mice get perms."
Tom's Best Line of the Night: "I'm not eating racist salad."
Chris, Donna and Jerry: A
What more could I ask for? Chris is getting real help, Donna spent the whole episode reading 50 Shades of Grey, Jerry ran 9-1-1 and had to deliver a face-up baby over the phone (I loved that Ron knows how to, by the way) and the whole 3-1-1 idea didn't feel forced at all. Yay!
Chris's Best Line of the Night: "Thank you, Chris! You're welcome, Chris! I sound insane, I'm gonna go talk to my therapist."
Donna's Best Line of the Night: "I don't know, try to help. Now hush. It is heating up in this piece."
Jerry's Best Line of the Night: [With the most distressed look on his face] "Oh, that sounds awful!"
Ben and April: A-
Is anyone else feeling sexual tension between these two? Maybe just a little bit? I mean, they're not going to hook up or anything, but I do like that the writers are walking the line between "totally platonic," "professional" and "just a tiny bit flirty," but this could also be all in my head, as I have been reading a lot of racy Star Trek slash fiction lately. I love April's new work-appropriate attire, the road trip was obviously fun (Ben's '90s movie soundtracks!) and I'm glad the subplot ended with the two deciding to fly to Pawnee next weekend to see Andy and
Chris Leslie. And seriously, how good is April at acting like a serial killer in front of the cameras?
Ben's Best Line of the Night: "I'm excited to bond a little with April. She's like the little sister I never had... because the little sister I do have is normal and not terrifying."
April's Best Line of the Night: "Oh my god, that is so interesting to me because I am a map salesman."
Honorable mentions: Always a pleasure to see first-rate newswoman Joan Calamezzo, even if her cameo was brief. The concerned look on Autumn's face lands her a shout-out, because she revealed in one quick notion that she has indeed given someone a perm that they regretted. Councilman Jamm is a totally Dumb Dumb Stupid and I hate him, but he does look like a close relative of Jean-Ralphio, adds dentists to the list of people we don't like in Pawnee and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of him bragging about having Irritable Bowel System. Old Councilman Milton and his gross Caesar salad and de-integration platform ("You're Outta Here!") was just plain great. (I hope to meet Tim, Mary, Jack, Tim, Marie, Tim, Mary and Tim one of these days.) And, of course, the best inanimate object of the season thus far: Benji's Cool Times Summer Jamz Mix.
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