Parks and Recreation: with Perdrick L Hapley

In the words of Perdrick L Hapley, “Let’s begin this show by starting it.”  Comparisons between Parks and Rec’s Pawnee and The Simpson’s Springfield have been made a great, great many times on the internet and a key reason for this is Pawnee’s outsized media.  Tonight we open with Pawnee’s newest news program The Final Word with Perd hosted by Perdrick L Hapely, where two talking heads who inexplicably cover Pawnee city politics explain that Leslie has pulled within 15 percentage points of Bobby Newport.  Newport’s campaign is in a tailspin and he’s fired his campaign manager.  Ben and Leslie are beginning to think they can win this thing.

I suppose after Leslie agreed to take a semi-sabbatical last week it was inevitable that we would have an episode focusing even more on her campaign this week.  I’m not sure how I feel about an even closer focus on the campaign.  It’s almost as though the writers over learned the lesson of the successful Harvest Festival Arc.  Continuity and change are things to be applauded in a sitcom but I can’t help but feel that the whole campaign story arc is starting to wear a little thin.

After locking up the police two weeks ago, Ben and Leslie set out to court “The Grey Vote” this week by appealing to Pawnee’s politically active elderly community.  Their plan is to build wheel chair ramps all over Pawnee to catch the town up with 30 year old ADA requirements.  As a mostly wasted Carl Reiner tells us, “Stairs are a young man’s game.”   The only real energy anywhere in this whole plot comes when Leslie rides a rascle into a presentation and up a ramp set up campaign workers we’ve never seen before and likely won’t see again.  But even this almost immediately undercut by the Newport campaign.

That’s not to say there isn’t any funny left in the city council campaign.  After firing his old campaign manager, Bobby Newport (off with a hussy in Spain) has brought in a real campaign manager, Jennifer Barkley, from Washington, played by Kathryn Hahn (Anchor Man, Our Idiot Brother).   Hahn plays the new campaign manager with a smiling intensity, super friendly to Leslie and Ben, while cheerfully informing them that she plans to destroy them.  There’s no malice here, she’s getting $650,000 for six weeks work, doesn’t think much of her client, and only wants to win.

Barkley quickly sets about destroying the Knope campaign, stealing Leslie’s ramp idea and one upping it with stair lifts, then she flips Leslie’s sweet campaign ad from a few episodes back where she, as a child, had better ideas that an adult Bobby Newport, using it to attack Leslie.   When she and Leslie square off on The Final Word with Perd she uses all the classic Sunday morning talk show tricks on Leslie; accusing her of politics as usual, lying to cover up Bobby’s European whoring, and even asking Leslie if she’s pro landmine.  By episodes end Leslie and Ben are feeling a lot less optimistic.

The other half of the episode is far funnier.  Chris has quickly realized the amount of work done by Leslie and has approached Ron to hire a new deputy director to pick up the slack.   Ron insists that the department, which his Libertarian leanings want to keep as small as possible, can handle the workload just fine.  So Chris challenges Ron to prove it by completing one major project.  Ron’s response is one of the all time classic Swanson monologues: “Either we complete a government project, which is abhorrent to me, or we bring a new person into the dept, which repulses me to my core.  It reminds me of when my dad forced me to choose with of my two pet calves to slaughter for my 6th birthday.   I couldn’t choose, so I slaughtered both of them…and they were delicious.”

For his project Ron settles on the Pawnee Water Fountain Hygiene Project, which he promptly puts Ann in charge of after using her whole name, correctly, for the 1st time.   Pawnee’s fountains need special attention because, as a baffled sounding Ann explains, accompanied by a hilarious montage, Pawnee’s residents have the odd habit of putting their entire mouths around the spout and splash guard when they drink from water fountains.   The team converges around a test water fountain that Ann sets up in the office to try to come up with ways to keep people from deep throating the water spout.   This of course quickly devolves into a full on water fight, with Donna spraying Jerry with a hose, April tossing water balloons, Tom hiding under a table whimpering everything “I’m wearing is suede,” over and over and ends with Andy, water balloons strapped to his chest, grabbing Chris in a bed wet bear hug and shouting “kamakazee.”   Displeased, Chris sets up interviews for a new deputy director, quickly finding five candidates he wants to hire and three he wants to be lifelong friends with.

Faced with having to welcome a weird new person into their midst the team presents a solution to the water fountain issue, remove the splashguard, thus people can’t put it in their mouths.   This lead to Ann and Ron awkwardly sitting on a hallway bench as Ron dances around the idea of Ann taking over some of Leslie’s duties.  Ann though, reveals that removing the splash guard was not her idea but April’s, who only passed it off as Ann’s idea so that she could maintain her façade of not caring about anything.   This leads to a sweat scene between Ron and April where Ron asks her to pick up some of Leslie’s duties saying he doesn’t like to see her wasting her brain and ending with “please.”   April agrees “only because you begged.”

  • Perd is in top form tonight, in addition to his line above he gets off a couple of other good ones including “A foot in the mouth, what a funny image.” and “It’s time to move on to our next segment, which is a commercial.”
  • “But I don’t wanna do stuff.  I want to not do stuff, like you taught me.”
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