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<I>Parks and Recreation</i>: Who Made the Comedy Grade This Week?

There's a debate at the TWoP offices about whether Parks and Recreation is too nice, too pleasant and just plain obnoxious in that "Kumbaya" naively optimistic kind of way. If you've read anything I've ever written about this show and my unceasing love for it, you'll know which side I stand on, but I think it's an interesting point, especially without absurdist 30 Rock and often-dark Community (if last night's premiere is any indication) airing alongside the series. Our Pawnee friends go through waves of highs and lows -- my fellow LesliBen shippers will agree -- and right now, things are just very good for the group of characters we've come to know, love and root for. Parks & Rec has no intention of being like Breaking Bad in trying to get us to root against the protagonist, but instead tells a story of an odd collection of people navigating themselves through an even stranger small city. The surprises aren't in everything working out okay in the end, but rather, in how the gang is going to solve their problems and who they're going to pass along the way. It's almost like a legal procedural (hence all of the West Wing comparisons last season), but with way more calzones.

Anyway, "Ann's Decision" was really funny and had lots of great callbacks, as always, so let's get to it.

Leslie and Ann: A-
The premise of Ann wanting a baby so shortly after realizing that she even likes kids was a bit of a stretch, and I thought it was strange that no one pointed out how Ann dating herself was clearly costing her a lot of money (two meals every time?!), but otherwise, I loved this storyline. If there was ever any question about Parks & Rec being a feminist show, I would point here, as the topic was handled delicately and hilariously, its only fault not being the presence of Channing Tatum (who would actually be kind of amazing on this show, playing a character and not just himself). Other little bits, like Ann going skydiving, Leslie revealed to be a skilled ice skater (though she didn't take advantage of her expertise during "The Comeback Kid"), all of the sweet comments Leslie said to Ann about her beauty and wit, the tragedy that they're both heterosexual, Leslie's invitation to the Jell-Olympics and the uterine cartoons were a lot of fun, too.
Leslie's Best Line: "My God, I have driven Ann right into the belly of the Douche."
Ann's Best Line: (On what she'd like at the sperm bank) "Some sperm?"

The Sperm Donors: A
I'm a sucker for these revolving door type-jokes, but I thought this segment was pretty fantastic. We know all of these characters well by this point, and everyone hit their marks perfectly. The surprises worked, the rhythm was great and I love that we got to learn just a bit more about the guys of Pawnee.
Sewage Joe's Best Line: (By the way, I was just saying in last episode's post how much I missed him!) "If you're looking to buy some weed, I'm looking as well."
Knuckle Hair Dave's Best Line: He doesn't get one, he's just a dick.
Dr. Harris's Best Line: "Small office, mine's way bigger."
"Pistol" Pete Disellio's Best Line: "I see what's going on here. You want my sperm... When will women in this town stop scheming to get my sperm?" (So good!)
Howard Tuttleman's Best Line: "I'm gonna scan a quick pic of them boobies for a deposit in El Banco del Spanko -- that was The Douche talking. Douche Nation. You guys know where the library is?" (To be fair, I think I typed out literally everything he said in this episode.)
Councilman Milton's Best Line: "I just wanted to toss my name into the ring in respect to this Indian woman's vagina."

Andy, April, Jerry and Donna: B
The best thing about this plot is that Andy got to have a smart and subtle idea without it being an amazing accomplishment. Honestly, I feel much more chemistry between him and April than I do between Leslie and Ben (they even topped our "Couples We Want to Hang out With" list) these days, though maybe that's because they're more into PDA and the best LesliBen stuff is off-camera. But I digress: this plotline was perfectly fine and made me laugh, but I feel like the writers took April's character a few steps back all for the sake of a joke about Leslie's pantsuits... not that I'm totally complaining. And that B would have been a B- if not for Andy having Fruit Roll-Ups on his fingers at the second public forum meeting.
Andy's Best Line: "Fleetwood Mac Sex Pants -- new band name, I call it! Oh, you know what, maybe just 'Fleetwood Mac.'"
April's Best Line: "This suit makes me want to scold a Catholic child. I don't know who Ann Taylor is, but I hate her and I want to kill her."
Jerry's Best Line: N/A
Donna's Best Line: "This one is terrible, but it is slightly less terrible than the rest." (Slim pickings.)

Ben, Chris, Ron and Tom: B+
I appreciate that the best of the wedding stuff we've seen so far is from Ben's perspective, since it gives him something to do while Leslie balances the rest of her life -- though, I would like to see at least one day of Ben at his new collection of jobs. In any case, the food poisoning was hilarious and extremely satisfying, what with the calzone thread coming back up, the decision to have JJ's Diner cater the wedding of the millennium and the scene with Ben dialing Tom's extension via his face. And I love that Tom considers himself a "foodie" because he Instagrams pictures of food, as well as the way that Ron pronounced "toilet bowl." Oh, and I guess Chris and Shauna are still seeing each other? Sure, why not?
Ben's Best Line: "The calzones... betrayed me?! Never again guys, as God as my witness, they're dead to me."
Chris's Best Line: "I was dying earlier today and then I died. Now I'm dead."
Ron's Best Line: "I have voided more than Tom's body weight in the last 12 hours alone. He might have just disappeared off the earth."
Tom's Best Line: "Number 3's told a story. A story from a book I wouldn't read, but I would watch the movie of."

Honorable mentions:

First of all, Lance Armstrong... I think. Where do we stand on him? Then there's Leslie's Team Anniston patch and the Sweetums Candy-Flavored Condom, the people are the public forum, including but not limited to: scaredy-cat Walt; local hero and topless park pioneer Harris; petition signer Farts McCool; and the guy who doesn't want April to use numbers when telling him how much the park is going to cost him. Of course Jean-Ralphio gets a shout out, and I wish him luck on his catering company and his definitely soon-to-be guilty charge of counterfeiting Euros. Props are also necessary for Crazy IRA (who's gonna be a creepy uncle one of these days), Breasty Bertha, the sound guy at the radio show, whoever allowed The Douche to get license plates that say 8008IES (or some variation thereof), and Councilman Howser, who is not the or a douche. And hey, it's only a matter of time until we see the businesses next to JJ's, right? Correct me if I'm wrong, but has the show ever taken us inside TrampStamp Tattoos, the ChloroTech Cadmium Refinery or that Galaxy place?

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