"Guys love it when you can show them you're better than they are at something they love." -LeslieIn this very good LA Times story, Mike Schur and Greg Daniels talk at length about the series' growing pains, and the ways in which they feel "Parks and Rec" is different from "The Office." Watching the very entertaining "Hunting Trip," another difference came to mind:
Leslie is very good at what she does.
Now, obviously, Michael Scott is a brilliant salesman, and can occasionally back his way into some clever managerial strategy, but for the most part, he's all hat and no cattle. He talks about being great at things that he's absolutely awful at (comedy, most notably), and the difference between his perceptions and the reality of the situation drives a lot of that show's humor.
Leslie has her own moments of self-deception (the quote above, to name one), but at the same time, she doesn't mess around. She says she's a good hunter, and she is. She can out-shoot, out-drink and out-anecdote any man on that trip - so much so that it starts to become annoying to Ron. And when Tom the unlicensed hunter turns out to be the one who shot Ron, Leslie immediately knows she has to take all the blame, and manages to play into the park ranger's sexism (in one of the better Let's Watch Amy Improvise For Multiple Takes sequences they've done) until the guy buys her story and goes away. And in doing so, she again wins Ron Effing Swanson's respect.
That's another key "Office"/"P&R" split. Ron could very easily be the Dwight stand-in, as they share a knack for saying insane things with conviction, but he's also sensible, and popular, and a good judge of character. He's his own man, incredibly funny at times - as we see when Ron is loopy on a scotch/painkiller combo and refusing to let Leslie and Ann make him puke - but also very likable.
Ron's hallucinatory freak-out was one of several bits of great physical comedy in "Hunting Trip," an episode that also saw Donna tackling Leslie for allegedly wounding her beloved Mercedes, Andy giving piggyback rides around City Hall, and Andy stumbling around the office while playing Marco Polo with April. (And kudos to whoever came up with the inspired idea of making April interested in Andy.)
There was nothing this week quite as hiccup-inducing as Ron's shoeshine or Ron talking of his love of pretty dark-haired women with breakfast food, but overall "Hunting Trip" was another strong entry in this great second season of "Parks and Rec."
What did everybody else think?