Parks and Recreation: The Campaign Continues

I’ve never seen Cougar Town.  I couldn’t get past the title, or the terrible, ruined faces of Courtney Cox and the woman who used to be Drew Carey’s platonic friend.  Or the hyper aggressive stylings of Busy Phillips.   The “My Dinner with Andre” episode of Community almost got me there, but in the end…no.   Anyway, I bring up Cougar Town because it’s my impression that it is the drunkest sit-com on television.  And if that’s true Parks and Rec comes a close second.  Some of the best episodes of Parks and Rec have featured some or all of the gang getting hammered.  There was the time Tom and Donna invested in the Snake Hole, April’s 21st, and who can forget the time Tom debuted Snake Juice.

Swanson Dance

Tonight Parks and Rec returned to that well (drinks!) again.  After an interview with Indianapolis’s biggest morning show is cancelled, Tom, Ann, and Leslie escape a wound tight Ben to go have a few margaritas and flaming tequila shots.  Predictably Ben calls just as everyone’s gotten their buzz on to say that the interviewers plane has been delayed and they can still do the interview at the airport.   Since no one can drive they pile into the hot tub hummer limo that Tom has once again rented for one of Leslie’s campaign events.  At the airport they meet Will and Grace and Illinois State alum (go redbirds!) Sean Hayes, host of the Indy morning show.   In a real stretch for Hayes, he’s totally bitchy about how much Pawnee and its airport suck, but he does keep the flaming turned way down.

Hayes is utterly uninterested in Leslie and her platform and instead only wants to talk about Leslie’s affair with Ben.  Up until this point Leslie has kept her drunkenness limited to stumbling over a few words, but goaded on repeatedly about her relationship with Ben she accidentally admits to having a few drinks before the interview.  Hayes immediately keys off this and begins calling Leslie sad and drunk and bizarre.   Leslie tries to storm off, but of course gets hung up on her chair and mic wire, stumbling around protesting that she’s  not drunk.   Sigh.  Listen I’m completely tired of the Knope for City Council campaign.  I can’t help it.   All of these episodes have followed basically the same arc.  Leslie encounters someone hostile to her campaign, does something dumb, then gets it fixed with the help of her loving friends from the community.  Tonight it’s the luggage guy from the airport who hides Hayes’ bag thus ensuring that the tape of the disastrous interview will never make it to air.   Of course the gang has to ride all the way to Indianapolis to discover this, after which they and Ben cut loose in the back of the Hot Tub Hummer Limo with a bottle of champagne.    The limo driver does get in a good line when they tell him they need to go to Indianapolis, “No one’s ever used the hot tub limo for transportation before.”

In the B plot the redemption of April Dwyer (nee Ludgate) continues apace.  Andy, having passed his women’s studies class heads out to dinner with Ron and April to celebrate and in his usual puppy dog way invites his professor to join them.  She is an attractive middle aged brunette and it’s immediately apparent that she and Ron are going to bang.    But first we have to go through a whole dance of April seeing Chris eating alone at the bar, being invited over by April, taking a liking to the professor, and then being rejected by her, right before she heads off to her place with Ron.  We do get some great Ron Swanson Food humor though.  “Honey, I will have that third steak after all, so can get that started now, please and thank you.” and “Anyone want to head over to JJ’s for after dinner omelets?”

So, everybody loves Leslie, Ron loves meat, Chris is lonely and April’s not that disaffected.  The whole episode just felt like wheel spinning to me.  In fact it sort of seemed like an episode that was aired out of order.  I don’t have an solid evidence of that but the whole thing just felt like it was filmed to be slotted in where neccessary.  No plot is moved forward, nothing from recent episodes cropped back up (except for Tom and Ann’s relationship which I think we’re all still just pretending isn’t happening), it just felt like a place holder.  After tonight Parks and Rec goes away for a while to make room for the return of Community (woooo!) and I can’t help feel that it’s just in time.  A little time away will give us all some distance from Leslie’s interminable campaign and will hopefully make everything feel a little lesss familiar when it returns in April.  This week it also came out that they have filmed two endings for this season one where Leslie delivers a victory speech and another where she delivers a concession speech, so at the very least we will be spared a cliff hanger and the continuation of Knope for City Council.  Hopefully the season will ramp up and end strong as we head into the election.



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