Friday, December 11, 2009

Parks and Recreation, "Christmas Scandal": No-Mole-Butt

A review of "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as the department deputy directs itself...

Though I ultimately enjoyed "Christmas Scandal," I thought the main plot about Leslie being embroiled in Councilman Dexhart's scandals didn't really work. The central conceit of the series is that Leslie treats her mundane, small-town civil service job as if it were a high-stakes national politics job, while everyone else sees their world for what it is. "Christmas Scandal" was the exact opposite of that. There were certainly some funny moments as Pawnee turned into a scandal factory - complete with its own tabloid and the cable access show turning into a cross between Nancy Grace and Fox News, and with Leslie dropping trou to make the problem go away - but it was all so counter to what the show is about that I was distracted by it.

What worked for me was the subplot that spun out of Leslie's problems, with the rest of the parks department (plus Mark) discovering how hard it is to fill in for all the things Leslie does in a given day. Ron running a public forum was a natural winner ("You don't have to know my last name"), but the problems all the characters had, and the joy on all their faces (and on Leslie's face) when Leslie returned to work in the tag, said everything about how important Leslie is to this place.

And that, in turn, makes me mostly okay with Leslie's decision to not go with Dave to San Diego. I'll miss Louis CK - who had another great talking head as Dave got confused by the documentary crew's question about loving Leslie - but he has an FX show coming up, so he couldn't stay around forever. And while Amy Poehler showed just how much Leslie had fallen for the guy with that wonderful smile she flashed him at the end of their lunch date, I also believe that she cares more about her job than anything else, even if it means saying goodbye to a really good guy like Dave.

All that, and movement on the inspired Andy/April relationship, compensates for the misconceived A-story.

What did everybody else think?

30 comments:

Michael said...

To be fair to the A story, when the sleazy politician explained what the true scandal was (four women in the hospital where his illegitimate child was being born) I was rolling.

Thought for sure that your "just as soon as I" would work in going to two maternity wards at the same time.

Chazz Goodtimes said...

An up and down episode for me, and a little disappointing coming off last week's episode which I believe was the best of the series to date. I like the potential of an Andy / April pairing, but her flirting with him almost felt like she was breaking character. I'm curious to see how they handle her ambivalent attitude with a genuine interest in Andy going forward.

Anonymous said...

Love Andy/April, they are great.

Didn't get my signature Ron Swanson line this week though, but still, it is amazing how fast this show has grown on me this season. I'm loving it.

TC said...

How old is April supposed to be? I had always thought she was 18 or 19ish, but she looked a lot older (in a good way) last night.

ScottyG said...

Tom's "Blood Diamonds" line had me on the floor!

Mimi said...

April was either 19 or 20 in the episode where she posted herself drunk on YouTube (the one with the gift baskets and Leslie trying to get into the boys club) so she's 20 or 21 this year. I think she might be 21, wasn't she drinking at Tom's sad-dinosaur party?

Imamarilyn said...

Loved all the tasks that Leslie performs in a day. And that case of beer for Sanitation was really important and the guys just didn't get it. Cute.

Chalmers said...

Ann wouldn't let April drink at the Halloween party, so I guess she's still under 21.

I also enjoyed the anticipation and result of the guys' failure to by the case of beer for Sanitation.

I agree with Alan's view of the show's premise and bringing back that TV host made me miss Tom's hilarious performance on her show.

Even with a so-so A plot, the show is clicking to where there were still numerous funny moments. The ending typified the Season-Two shift in Leslie's character and the show.

That episode should blow the "female Michael Scott on the government payroll" criticism out of the water.

Chris said...

"It was just farts". Jerry with the best line of the show!

Wordnerd said...

Pretty funny. And to this Louisiana girl, the fact that they used a David Vitter look-a-like for the sleazy politician had me rolling on the floor.

Sharon said...

I don't think that the focus of the media attention was on Leslie or her position - she was just swept up in the larger story of the city councilman's sex scandal, which was apparently not his first. Maybe that wouldn't be big news in a larger market, but here in south central PA, if a city councilman were involved in a sex scandal, our local TV stations would be all over it, so that didn't really ring false to me.

Matt said...

I really loved that the whole story happened because the politician's scandal was as sleazy and involved as the Parks Department's way over-exaggerated joke. That inspired lunacy gave the whole episode a lot of leeway from me.

Mo Collins is hilarious, and I really like that they're starting to "World Build" almost like The Simpsons with the same sleazy politicians, the Glittery Factory, Pawnee Today, etc.

Kelly said...

I loved this episode. From the sanitation guys refusing to empty the bins and raccoons rifling through the garbage to Leslie dropping her pants to prove her lack of a mole... I laughed hysterically.

And how they waited to light the Xmas tree until Leslie arrived? So sweet...

But my favourite part (as usual) was Ron trying to lead the meeting ("You don't need to know my last name...")

seaver78 said...

For once my two biggest laughs did not involve Ron Swanson.

Haverford's Blood Diamonds and Andy's "Does he already have assless chaps?" had me pausing the DVR.

Anonymous said...

Signature Ron line - "We can't have kids around here, the raccoons will hunt them for sport."

Anonymous said...

"What are you, Lutheran? I love Lutherans."

In the span of a week, April and Erin, the two most minor characters from last season, have become the Jim and Pam of their respective shows. Sorry, actual Pam.

Anonymous said...

April Ludgate is 20 years old. She likes people… places… and things!

Brian said...

Favorite Ron line was in the tag: "Oh thank God. There's a bunch of messages waiting for you about a bunch of things I don't understand."

Offerman just kills it every ep.

Jerry said...

That was a particularly classy & clever way to bow out Louis CK too, considering that his sitcom had been picked up by FX and he'd no longer be available for featured appearances, much less any 'romance' arc for Leslie.

At least for as long as his show lasts. If it doesn't (and I hope it does), it leaves plenty of doors for a return later on.

BGF said...

As soon as Andy started living in the pit behind his ex's house, this show left the plane of reality it started from. So I don't have any problem with this world having its own Springfield-like tabloid underbelly. It's more like Newsradio than The Office, and I prefer it that way.

Jim said...

My favorite part was the community complaints Ron had to field at the forum -- the one guy who had moved past swine flu and was now worried about turtle flu; and the woman who was outraged that she found a sandwich in the park ... and it didn't have mayonnaise on it!

steph said...

i love april ludgate. every glance the camera catches is hysterical or sweet.
what do i have to do to get a daughter like her one day? (hmmm this is strangely maternal given i'm 24. maybe it's cause everyone else in their office is so much older and it shows?)

Cee said...

My favourite part of the episode was Mark not taking Tom's advice about the diamonds, and giving Ann the laptop bag she really wanted. So sweet.

LoopyChew said...

The moment that had me pausing was April excitedly chomping on a nacho, about to watch the spectacle that is Ron Bleeping Swanson about to give a presentation on something he wasn't prepared for. The crunching sound was obviously foleyed in, but the look of glee on April's face just sold me completely.

belinda said...

I was completely fine with the slightly ridiculous plot A, if only because I was so satisfied with how everything played out from there. (even though I'm sad to see Louis CK go. I hope he drops by again!)

And it's great that it didn't turn into an episode where some people in the office weren't behind her and thought she did it or something.

How strange that P&R would turn out to be the strongest of the thursday night comedies (which in itself is a pretty strong lineup for the most part) for me.

Anonymous said...

Why was it important for us to know that Leslie can surf? Foreshadowing?

I want to see the rest of Pawnee City Government Follies.

Andrew said...

I realize this episode was written months ago but no one mentioned the timing of tiger and excessive media coverage on affairs.

Commish Rawls said...

dammnit sepinwall. you use the word "inspired" like Ted Danson uses the word "heaven". Everything is inspired, this parking space is inspired, this gum, its inspired.

cool it a little bit with that.

Also I'm on to you weatherman.

Hatfield said...

The woman complaining about the sandwich, and Ron's reaction, made me feel like I was being filmed at work in City Hall. So perfect!

Tara said...

I rewound Tom's Blood Diamond line about six times - hilarious! This show has surpassed The Office and 30 Rock as my favorite comedy.