Quick spoilers for tonight's episode of the obvious frontrunner for this season's Most Improved Series award, "Parks and Recreation," coming up just as soon as I breach a Jaeger secret...
There were times in the brief, steep learning curve first season of "Parks and Rec" where Chris Pratt felt like the only reason to watch the show. Yet here we get an entire episode with no Andy, and yet the episode was completely satisfying - funny when it needed to be, sweet when it wanted to be, and a nice use of the rest of the cast, and of guest characters like Dave and minor players like poor Jerry.
It's a mark of how well the writers and Nick Offerman have established Ron (Bleeping) Swanson in a very small amount of screen time that it would be so funny to see his alternate persona as laid-back jazz cat Duke Silver, who just wanted to "make sonic love" to his audience. And the constant one-upsmanship between Ron and Tom was good for both Offerman and Aziz Ansari.
As I mentioned once or twice during the first season, I keep wondering if Rashida Jones is inherently funny or if she's just a really good straight woman with impeccable taste in material. But she was absolutely funny here, role-playing as the worst first date of Leslie's life. And where some of the "We'll let Amy improv for 10 minutes and cut together the best material into one long run" scenes from the first season felt out of character, Leslie's list of dating disasters worked here, because she's become ever-so-slightly more self-aware.
Though "The Office" was, with Jim and Pam's wedding and the one-hour length, a more memorable episode tonight, "Parks and Rec" has, on average, been the best part of NBC's Thursday lineup since this season began. Based on the two underwhelming "30 Rock" season four episodes I've seen, I'm expecting that streak to continue for at least another few weeks.
They figured the show out. And it's really good. And I hope like hell that the ratings improve, soon.
What did everybody else think?