Friday, November 13, 2009

Review of last two Parks and Recreation Episodes

Mural: C+
This week in which both the office and Parks were very slowed-down episodes where nothing really happened in terms of character development (I don’t consider impending bankruptcy much because I don’t believe it will amount to anything serious on the Office). This wasn’t too much of an episode for action. It was just a set piece that let the characters’ quirkiness come out. The plot was that all the characters each had to design a new mural for city hall and the episode’s best strength was how committee members who initially didn’t care about it started getting into the competition. April appeared a little more enthusiastic than usual, Donna (a side character) had the most bizarre entry of the competition, and the other uncredited member of the department Jerry had far and away the best picture but lost points becasue everyone hated him. Tom went from initially disliking the picture he contracted out to an art student becaue it didn't include enough naked ladies on it to loving it because it had shapes. It was a relatively nice way to spend a half-hour but it was mostly forgettable. The episode’s biggest sin was a lack of ambition.
The B-plot was so dumb, I barely can bring myself to repeat it: Ron makes a semi-orgasmic moan while Andy is shining his shoes which embarrasses both of them. Even if you are warming up to this show, you have to take a step back and admit that that was just a misguided idea.

Ron and Tammy: A-
The idea that Leslie Knoepp is crazy and the world just sort of brushes her off as a little overenthusiastic about what she does is fine, but to actually pair her against someone who’s just as crazy was gold. That other person is Megan Mullally who guest stars as Ron Swanson’s bitchy ex-wife, Tammy. The plot is that the parks department needs to fight the library system for the rights to develop the plot and Tammy’s been appointed the new director of the library department.

Up until now, Tammy has only been alluded to and like Maris Crane on Frasier, she’s already been pretty hard to live up to. Megan Mullally pulled it off: She was vindictive and crazy in this episode but only revealed herself to be that way in the third act of the episode. That was the beauty of the whole thing: When Leslie meets Tammy, Tammy seems perfectly pleasant and sweet and tricks Leslie into feeling out of place when she overreacts to a $3 library fine. Tammy generously agrees to give Leslie the plot because, as she says, the two must stick together as women in government. Leslie feels so pleased by Tammy’s offer that she thinks it’s a good idea to get Ron and Tammy on good terms. The two appear to hit it off again immediately, at least on a pure carnal level, but we soon find that Megan has ulterior motives. The other major twist is that Ron isn’t so much hateful of Tammy’s guts so much as he is desperate to resist her charms and too weak to do so. It’s a doozy of an episode and even more so if you love Ron Swanson. For me, he’s never been the most appealing part of the show so others might rate it higher but I did think it was a strong episode overall (and gave it the second highest grade that I gave).

The b-plot was pretty decent and the question of whether Mark is really a jerk was given a satisfiable answer on the basis of how he didn’t try to be a jerk to Andy even though Andy is hilariously dillusional.Also of note: the episode had a GREAT Anne Moment, where Anne is too engrossed into group think to disagree that having a library next to her house would be a bad idea.

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