I got to see tonight's very funny "Parks and Recreation" back at press tour when my mind was still fresh, so a review coming up just as soon as you guarantee fridge space...
I talk a lot in these reviews about the tone of "Parks and Rec," and about how the show needs to be rooted in a very mundane level of reality for most of the comedy to work. Some characters, like Andy and Ron F'ing Swanson, get to bend those rules a little, but we have to believe in Leslie's behavior, or else... well, you saw most of season one, didn't you?
So the series employing a farce structure for an episode like "Leslie's House" could have been disastrous, since farce typically involves a heightened level of reality. ("Frasier," much as I loved it, was always more than happy to trade believability for a good joke, so that show's periodic farce episodes fit in nicely.) But what makes "Leslie's House" fit into the framework and tone that this season has established is that it's a very Pawnee kind of farce.
Yes, Leslie's dinner party spirals out of control, thanks to her fixation on creating the perfect evening for Justin, and thanks to her moral weakness in letting the rec center teachers provide all the food and entertainment. But I believe that Leslie would try too hard, because we've seen so many examples of that in her work life, and I believed that the rec center teachers would get sucked into things based on the way small town politics and gossip works. Once Leslie had her moment of weakness and called the cooking teacher, it was only a matter of time before the bartender, belly dancer and even the accounting software guy would find out and try to pitch in. There was never a moment in Daniel J. Goor's script where it felt like things were spiraling too far out of control, too quickly, just for the sake of a laugh.
And I loved the idea that Leslie would then insist on a disciplinary hearing even after she had paid to keep all the rec center teachers employed, just so there would be an official government document in which Justin said the party was great. In a way, that's just as much an abuse of power as the party itself, but it's also an incredibly Leslie thing to do, and a nice punchline to the story that kept them from dragging the party on too long.
"Leslie's House" also offered some nice movement on the Ron/Tom/Wendy triangle, and on the Andy/April/April's gay boyfriend and his boyfriend triangle (quadrangle?), and it gave Paul Schneider some rare funny moments as Mark tried to cope with his jealousy of Justin. (Andy's jealousy was, of course, funnier, because Andy is the more innately broad and silly character.)
All that, plus Ron Swanson bringing his own plate of deviled eggs to a dinner party and making sure no one else gets to have any. As we know by now, Ron + breakfast food = gold.
What did everybody else think?