Spoilers for tonight's "Parks and Recreation" - once again the highlight of NBC's Thursday comedies - coming up just as soon as I go to Arby's and watch "Frontline"...
First, I have to say that the scene pictured above, in which Ron "emitted a noise" that horrified both himself and Andy, nearly caused a medical crisis in the Sepinwall household, as it sent me into a laughing fit that gave me a case of the hiccups so extreme I briefly became worried that my throat was closing up. The combination of Nick Offerman's usual deadpan minimalism with Chris Pratt's goofy exuberance with an incredibly disturbing situation led to something that made me laugh as hard as I have in a very long time. Profoundly, profoundly silly comedy, that was.
And the rest of "The Camel" wasn't too shabby, either, as it offered an at times sweet, at times ridiculous look at the creative process being undertaken by a group of very uncreative people. Everyone got a moment to shine, whether it was Tom falling in love with his shapes or poor Jerry's beautiful (and perfect for the purposes of the project) painting being laughed at because he made the mistake of saying "murinal" (and because he's Jerry, the office punching bag).
The entire thing felt like what I imagine the group writing process on certain sitcoms can be: everyone pushing for their own joke, even if no one else gets it, and the most inoffensive, non-specific idea (in this case, Mark's painting of the man on the park bench) having the best chance at succeeding, because it's the safest bet. (In this case, Mark's writing in anticipation of the network notes.)
The ensemble is really gelling right now (it was nice to see the entire staff bond over how ridiculous the camel turned out to be), and "Parks and Rec" is becoming the kind of show where I imagine I'll enjoy even the less-funny episodes just because I enjoy the characters. But an episode like "Camel" had people I like to spend time with, and it had laughs, including a few huge ones in and around Andy's shoeshine stand.
What did everybody else think?