Parks and Recreation, What Paul Rudd Wants…

Oh, Paul Rudd, are you ever not delightful? Tonight’s Parks and Recreation was primarily about a problem that is only really a problem for fictional politicians, should they “go negative.”   This is something a real politician never worries about, which always makes the issue a little hollow when you watch a fake politician grapple with it.    Parks and Rec overcomes this problem by deploying a healthy dose of Paul Rudd whenever Leslie’s faux dilemma threatens to bog down tonight’s episode.

Rudd arrives in Pawnee this week to play Bobby Newport, heir to the Sweetums candy fortune, Vice-President of Nougut, and Leslie’s opponent in the race for city council.     He’s in full handsome man-child mode tonight, playing the son of one of Pawnee’s most prominent families, a sort of Romney-esque, hair helmeted politician who makes frequent references to his father.   He’s also crushing Leslie in the city council race, racking up a 70 point lead, and running a constant series of clueless political ads, funded by his personal fortune.

Some Sample Lines from Bobby Newport’s Ads:

  • My family owns nine square miles of this town.
  • I like dogs.  This is my Persian greyhound, given to me by the pretender to the throne of Alsace-Lorraine.
  • Some people ask me what I’m going to do if I get elected…I’m pretty sure I’ll figure it out.

So it is that Leslie, new campaign manager / boyfriend Ben, and the rest of her political team come to the decision to put all their remaining campaign funds into one ad to run during the broadcast of the big Pawnee/Eagleton football game.  Leslie and Ben get into an argument over whether to go negative with their ad and end up making two ads that the team will vote on.  Ben’s is the classic attack on the rich daddy’s boy candidate (empty shirt, handed everything), complete with scary voice over.    Leslie’s ad, when not being photobombed by the Bobby Newport campaign bus, is extremely positive, (including an extensive list of things she supports that is sure to turn up in full form on the interwebs by tomorrow) but completely fails to mention she is running for anything or even use the words “city council. “

After missing their broadcast deadline Team Knope ends up posting a video online that is one half fake campaign ad made by a ten year old Leslie and half one of Newport’s  own ads, with the message that a 10 year old Leslie had better ideas for Pawnee than Newport does now.   This leads to another great scene with Paul Rudd as he begs Leslie and Ben to not just take down the ad (“My buddies keep sending it to me and making fun of me!”) but to drop out of the race entirely.   He tries a number of bargaining tactics running the gamut from “I’ll totally put you on the guest list to the victory part” to “Let me win, and I’ll let you do all the work.”    And when none of that works he tries to find out if he can hire the little girl from the video.

The B-plot tonight featured Andy and April getting into a whole series of wacky encounters at the local hospital after discovering that they have (apparently $0 deductible) health insurance.   There were some funny lines and some good physical comedy from Chris Pratt in here (the highlight being a sneeze induced wall headbutt) but the whole thing was pretty inconsequential.

The C-plot meanwhile had Chris giving Ron a sort of mini-audition to replace Ben as Assistant City Manager and designated “No” sayer.   Ron’s love of brutally shutting down government projects was on full display here.  When asked by the head of Public Works where all the water would go now that the town dam project was cancelled, Ron responds “Wherever it was headed already,” with barely contained glee.    Could this be the show setting up the potential endgame of the Knope for City Council story line?   It seems unlikely that Leslie will win her election both because we’ve already seen how much weight the Newports carry in Pawnee and because it would be hard to keep calling the show Parks and Recreation if Leslie leaves the department to be on City Council.   Maybe this will allow them to promote both Ron and Leslie and end the season on an up note after the likely bummer of a lost election.   Chris says the process will take a couple of months so we’ll have to wait and see.  In the meantime, it looks like we’ll have Paul Rudd around to charm the shit out of us, and that’s alright with me.

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