Friday, December 04, 2009

Parks and Recreation, "The Fourth Floor": Swanson's hungry man breakfast

A review of last night's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I cover my emotions under a very thick layer of Axe body spray...

"The Fourth Floor" was, by design, more melancholy than some recent episodes, but it did the necessary job of humanizing Tom and following up on his final moments in "Greg Pikitis" (when he realized how much he enjoyed his fake marriage, and how sad it was that Wendy was the only thing most people liked about him). Nice to see that Aziz Ansari could tone it down and play a quieter, sadder Tom for once.

And with Ansari not available for comic relief, the laugh burden fell on the able backs of Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. The Glitter Factory scenes(*) were a particular highlight, with Leslie horrified by the reality of stripping, and Ron once again extolling the virtues of strong women and breakfast foods, then dancing around the buffet.

(*) I have a very complicated love-hate relationship with "Unskinny Bop," the first song played in this sequence. On the one hand, like "Jersey Shore," it brings back horrifying memories of a certain time and/or place in my life, and it reminds me of how low humanity's ambitions can sink. On the other hand, it's a damn catchy song, and the perfect accompaniment for both pole-dancing and breakfast buffet-enjoying.

Also, the pre-credits sequence with a terrified Leslie making a trip up to the infamous fourth floor was wonderful. I know we've seen this joke before on "30 Rock" (when Devin demoted jack), in "Being John Malkovich" and elsewhere, but if the execution and the details are there - as they were here with the different lighting, the use of the shaky-cam, the blood stain on the floor, and the perfectly-timed arrival of the popcorn man - it doesn't matter how many times.

The Mark/Ann/Andy non-triangle wasn't as funny as it's been in some other episodes, but that was the only thing resembling a downside this week. Heck, they even threw a bone to continuity fans by having the back of Ron's hair still not filled in after he get shot in the head by Tom.

What did everybody else think?

38 comments:

Chris Littmann said...

I know you already saw this on Twitter, Alan, but figured I'd share it with the folks on here: a GIF of Ron Swanson at the breakfast buffet.

Lane said...

The sight gag of Ron F'ing Swanson carrying Tom like a little baby was awesome

Kelly said...

I giggled insanely when the glitter bomb went off and they cut to a shot of Ron hunched over his breakfast with this terrified/angry look on his face.

jeffrey said...

"My stripper name would be Equality." - best line of the night

medium roar said...

Glitter bomb!

Mary said...

One thing I loved about this episode was how it took things in unexpected ways. When Leslie spied Tom and Wendy leaving the divorce room, I thought, "Oh, here we go...there's going to be a whole episode of Leslie trying to get Tom to admit he's getting a divorce..." but then he admitted it right away. Then when Mark said, "Ok, if you win you get Ann!" I thought, "Oh, here we go...now he and Ann will have this big fight because she heard him say that or whatever," but then she just joked about it. It's not a standard sitcom, and I love that. I also love this: "This is literally the saddest I've ever been in my whole life." "GLITTER BOMB!"

David Thiel said...

No love for "Jurassic Fork?" If that really existed, I'd be there three times a week myself!

Line of the night: "Thank you, Seabiscuit. That will be all."

Verification word: yogrami, the yummy, foldable art!

Anonymous said...

Even when not on the top of its game, this show still hits hilarious buttons with regularity. Ron at buffet table flipping the flap jacks to the music: priceless.

Gotta go make myself some sausage now.

Anonymous said...

With all the comparisons of Parks to NewsRadio, I thought that this episode would be an especially good fit in the style of that show.

Chalmers said...

The pool bet got old, but I did love Andy's hilariously transparent attempts to sabotage Ann and Mark in the office.

Chris Pratt is so good that you buy Andy's failure to recognize the logical weakness of his machinations. Sure, Ann'll believe that Mark is procuring these incredibly personal items through the shoeshine guy who happens to be his girlfriend's ex.

While it's been funny all year, I'm not as crazy about the shows that veer toward a "Here's Lucy" dynamic.

Leslie and the gang go hunting, to a "gentlemen's club," encounter a crazy Venezuelan. These premises overshadow what's been working best this year.

The actors and writing are good enough that there's plenty of humor in the everyday situations (foiling a petty teen vandal, interdepartmental rivalry, waiting on hold).

Anonymous said...

What got me was how right after Leslie said, "I have to take him to place where he can't possibly be sad," the T-Rex flicked it's eye over, as if in response.

I also loved how tightly the small blur spots followed their targets. I kept laughing imagining that strippers were actually wearing them.

Anonymous said...

I know this joke has been done on many shows, movies, whatever, but when Andy walked into Mark's office when Ann was there and goes "the syphillis medicine you asked for has not arrived yet" (paraphrasing) I laughed very loud. Even a down week for this show is great.

LA said...

Chris Littmann - my thanks for that link. Those couple seconds were pure bliss. Ron and his breakfast food kill me.

Brian said...

I'll have to rewatch when I get home tonight but I thought it was "Cherry Pie" that was playing rather than "Unskinny Bop" (most of those Poison songs are interchangeable, so I could be wrong).

I loved Ann's gritting of teeth over the whole "split up the tab evenly" thing as that drives me nuts too.

Anonymous said...

I was going to post that it was "Cherry Pie" as well. It was right before the commercial break. I remember the cut in the music was pretty funny. Also, "Cherry Pie" isn't Poison, it's Warrant.

Another great episode.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It's "Unskinny Bop," trust me. (Sadly.) And "Cherry Pie" is Warrant.

Zack Smith said...

I can't believe no one has quoted my favorite Ron Swanson line: "Damn the man." Also, paraphrasing: "I believe she might make a perfect partner for spooning."

As one with a similar love of breakfast foods, I can only say Ron F-gin Swanson: MAN'S MAN.

I sort of love the fact that Jerry has been going to Jurassic Fork three times a week for 15 years. Just another weird, sad layer to him.

Now that Andy is (apparently) over Ann, could he get April away from her gay boyfriend and her gay boyfriend's boyfriend?

Alan Sepinwall said...

It's entirely possible "Cherry Pie" was playing when they entered the club. But when the show came back from commercial, and up through Ron's assault on the breakfast buffet, it's definitely "Unskinny Bop."

Brian said...

I guess Poison and Warrant are what are interchangeable in my head. I'll defer to your hair-band mastery (is is "mastery" if you are ashamed? *shrug*) although I'm almost positive "Cherry Pie" was played at some point in the ep.

Other great line from Tom in reference to the glitter: "my crotch looks like a disco ball".

Mike C. said...

Ok, for me personally, the breakfast buffet sequence was even funnier then the shoe shine moment, and that's saying something!

I know you were going nuts about the Liz Lemon credit sequence last night Alan, but to me Ron Frakkin Swanson was the star of the night in my eyes.

And then for the cherry on top, they show him guarding his plate with his coat after the glitter bomb!

Comedic Genius Nick Offerman!

Bravo Parks and Rec for making up for a weak Community and The Office last night.

Jenn said...

Donna's reactions kill me. She is hilarious without saying anything.

Does anyone know if Jurassic Fork was filmed in a Rainforest Cafe restaurant? It looked just like RF, but with dinosaurs instead of various jungle animals.

Jenn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

"I feel like she might be the perfect spooning size for me . . . I'm gonna take a leak."

Among the funniest lines from Ron F'n Swanson.

Anonymous said...

For people enjoying Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) in "Parks and Recreation", it is worthwhile to track down episodes of Comedy Central's "American Body Shop". He was brilliant in that as well. He is featured prominently in the episode about Charles Manson and the one about the break dance contest.

Matt said...

Ron Swanson's line about being attracted to powerful women at the top of their field - "Your Steffi Grafs, your Sheryl Swoopses" - killed me.

Jen said...

@Zach Smith,
As a fellow (albeit female) lover of breakfast foods, I have to say that Ron F'ing Swanson: Ladies' Man also applies

I cannot get enough of this show. I said on the Modern Family post that that show is remarkable for its ability to find something funny for each character to say/do in an episode that is very true to character. I'm glad to see that Parks and Rec now that it's found its footing has also been able to do that.

Tina Marina said...

Nothing is funnier than seeing Mark Brandanawitz in "The Assassination of Jesse James" unexpectedly. Especially considering that his character, who would be the deadpan bright spot on an average sitcom, has been somewhat left by the wayside and overshadowed by the genius of Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, and Chris Pratt.

Ann and Mark seem to be operating totally outside of the madcap universe of the Parks and Recreation crew. Do you think they're trying to slowly fade out those chracters? Because while I like the expansion of Jerry and Donna (and the newly restrained, more straight-man-like Leslie), I don't think that's necessarily a good idea. Both Paul Schnieder and Rashida Jones have been quite funny in episodes past.

LoopyChew said...

"I wanna go to The Glitter Factory!"
"Well, drop out of school and start doing meth!"

That killed me. Also, of course, Ron Bleeping Swanson at the breakfast buffet.

Cee said...

Does anyone know where they shot the Jurassic Fork scenes? Because I want to go to there!

renton said...

Don't know where the Jurassic Fork scenes were shot, but the Rain Forest Cafe have a Dinosaur theme restaurant in Orlando and (for some reason) Kansas City, Kansas called T-Rex.

It's VERY similar to Jurassic Fork.

Brad Dourif said...

I loved Rons face when Leslie dropped the Equality as a stripper name-line.

Anonymous said...

I feel it must be noted that "Lady Red Light" by Great White was the third and final song played during the Glitter Factory sequence.

Kristi said...

Ron Swanson is close to overtaking Jack Donoughy as my favorite character on TV right now.

Ian C. said...

Alan, I'm glad you mentioned Ron's hair growing back. That was definitely a nice touch of continuity.

Besides what else has been mentioned, one thing I enjoyed was Ann being uptight about having to pay more than her share on a split check. I think I've found myself on both sides of that situation.

Anonymous said...

episode was renamed "Tom's Divorce" from original title - The Fourth Floor

Mike said...

"Jurassic Fork" was shot in a downtown Los Angeles cafeteria. More info: http://bit.ly/631V0E

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me the name of the song that is playing when Tom, Leslie, and Ron are standing outside The Glitter Factory. I am not talking about "Cherry Pie" or "Unskinny Bop." This song is playing very faintly in the background, and sounds dampened, as it would sound if you were standing outside a club and the music was coming from inside. I am going nuts trying to figure out the song so it would be amazingly cool if someone can identify it for me. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I figured it out. It's "cradle of Love" by Billy Idol.