"Article Two" and "Jerry's Retirement" are easily two highlights of the fifth Parks and Recreation season -- though for the sake of transparency, they aired at a time when I really needed a laugh.
Even then, though, I don't think either episode suffered from its optimism or positivity, but rather, they both set up great tropes and interpreted them in the swift way Parks & Rec so often does -- look at Ann and Ben's storyline in "Article Two," for example. Anyone who's seen the Bullet episode of Full House could quickly identify that Ann was in a bidding war against Ben for the used JJ's waffle iron. Instead of having to sit through a predictable reveal, we instead find out immediately that the other user's name is "Tall Tyrion Lannister," and Ann quickly figures out who her competitor is, leaving for a much funnier and less foreseeable plot. It's little things like that that make this show so fun to watch. (Not that I don't enjoy a good trope -- I've been watching a lot of Duck Dynasty, and it's like a course in classic sitcom studies, despite being a "candid" reality show. It's not exactly good in that way, but it's fascinating and oddly and perhaps intentionally filled with yukky nostalgia.) I also appreciated that Patton Oswalt's Garth was never horribly humiliated, and instead got to be fun, candid and committed throughout his "competition" with Leslie. I would say Oswalt should always be on this show, but I also feel that way about his character on Justified, and I would prefer both series share the wealth and ridiculous Star Wars references.
On that note, Garth filibustering about Star Wars, which has an extended cut right here was pretty fantastic, obviously. I unfortunately don't know much about Star Wars, but my fiancé was hysterically laughing and I got joy from knowing it was funny. But then, I'm a Game of Thrones devotee and was able to enjoy all of the references to that show, and I do worry that viewers who went into "Article Two" without knowing Star Wars or GoT felt more isolated than entertained. Hopefully those viewers felt like The Office's Michael Scott when he sincerely said, "I love inside jokes. I'd love to be a part of one someday," and moved on. That seems like the most realistic outcome, right? I had similar fears after the font jokes on "Smallest Park," but it seems like the writers give us the benefit of the doubt that we can enjoy comedy and not feel angry or isolated when we don't understand something, whereas Community in its prime would devote entire episodes to be complete parodies that would be amazing when you were familiar with the work, but when you weren't part of the zeitgeist, left you feeling completely in the dark with no context whatsoever and barely any ability to enjoy the episodes. But I digress. I'm just trying to say this show is funny. Let's grade everyone.
FutureMrsTigerWoods and Tall Tyrion Lannister: B+
In addition to what I've already said, I will just add that I was hoping for maybe a bit more, but it was fun to see Ann and Ben paired up in honor of Leslie's overbearing-but-appreciated thoughtfulness. The competition theme in this episode was strong, and this was a fine addition to it.
Best lines (gonna switch up my usual format a bit):
Ben: "Well imagine being married to her. It's like being smothered with a hand-quilted pillow filled with cherished memories... I can't believe I'm complaining how thoughtful my wife is. Sorry honey, I love you."
Ann, on the Leslie breakfast doll: "What should I do with this?"
Ben: "Uh, just burn it, and bury the ashes, and pray it doesn't haunt you."
Leslie, Tom, Andy and Garth: A-
We've already done the "Pawnee's old laws are ridiculous" storyline in "The Trial of Leslie Knope," but I like this angle on it, and Oswalt was great. I'm proud of Leslie for thrice being named the Historical Society's Employee of the Fortnight, and cracked up when we saw the chicken under her skirt and the fox hide casually around Andy's neck. The resolution with asking Garth to join the Historical Society was so sweet, and paired well with him volunteering to represent Ted and then feeling relieved that he didn't have to in the end since he doesn't actually know how to swim... oh, and clearly Andy jumping naked into the lake was excellent.
Garth, on his Wolverine pajamas: "I won them, madam, in a raffle."
Tom: "One time my refrigerator stopped working. I didn't know what to do! I just moved!"
Leslie: "He has that look in his eye that Ben gets when he plays Risk."
Andy: "All my favorite foods have butter on them; pancakes, toast, popcorn, grapes -- Oh! Butter is my favorite food!"
Garth: "Wee! Look at my hoop, Leslie! [...] Goodness how delicious, eating Goober peas!"
Tom: "He hasn't gotten an email in... 12 days! Is he a ghost? The only one he gets are spam -- and he responds to them! I think I'm gonna be sick!"
Leslie: "Man, this guy has no friends."
Andy: "I don't know, it seems like he's friends with that mule."
April, Chris, Ron, Donna and Jerry: A-
CTMTS turned out to be better than I would have expected to -- I'm so glad that Jerry got both a moment in the sun and a moment of hilarious failure, and that April manipulated the whole conversation just so that she could steal $20 from Chris and have a nice lunch with her husband. The "I don't want to seem overdramatic..." gag was really funny, too.
Ron: "Normally, if given a choice between doing something or nothing, I choose to do nothing -- but I will do something if it helps someone else do nothing. I'd work all night if it meant nothing got done."
Chris: "Ron Swanson and April Ludgate! Literally my two favorite people in the catalogued universe."
Donna: "He was so happy when you told him he was doing a great shop that he spent 20 minutes on the phone telling Gayle about it." (Aw.)
April: "It's my favorite kind of battle: Two men enter! One me leaves!"
Honorable mentions: Poor-spirited Theodore, for giving Indian Tom 25 cents for his car and smashing an egg on Leslie's face; All menstruating women who should be confined to bathtubs; Pawnee Police Office Clyde, who put me in the major mood for a Danish; H_Lerpiss, who was access to a bunch of guns, and just came into $500, which can buy a lot of nitrus (I love how often this character is around these days); JJ_Diner, who has impressively made over 1,003 eBay sales; Roz Leslie's mailwoman, who is celebrating a very joyous anniversary; and Game of Thrones for the following lines:
Donna: "Hell yeah, have you seen those Dothraki? They can get it. Everybody on that show can get it."
Ben: "Oh, okay, I don't even have time to tell you how wrong you are... actually, it's gonna bug me if I don't. The Lannisters, while very wealthy, do not possess the magical abilities of, say, the warlocks of Qarth, for example."
Re-watch the whole episode here, in all its glory. Click here for my "Jerry's Retirement" review:
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