Friday, January 15, 2010

Parks and Recreation: "The Set Up": Saving all my love for Justin

I finally got to watch last night's "Parks and Recreation" late tonight. A few quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I watch "Swimfan"...

The big winner of the night was the C-story about Ron needing an assistant, and getting the perfect one in April. Not only does it provide an excuse for why April the "intern" is still hanging around, but it guarantees many more scenes between the delightfully low-wattage pairing of Aubrey Plaza and Nick Offerman - and it further progresses the very charming April/Andy flirtation. And Tom's search for an assistant who would be the exact opposite of what Ron wanted was a lot of fun.

The Ann/Mark story suffered from leaving the two largely on their own, which is tough to pull off when they're the show's two straight men characters. We know from "Practice Date" that Ann can be funny, and they gave Rashida Jones a couple of nice beats to play with the character's absent-mindedness (hanging onto the blood vial, giving Leslie the prescription), but the stars have to be aligned right for her to get laughs. And Mark exists on the show almost entirely to provide a voice of sanity when Leslie or Tom or someone else gets too crazy. Not surprisingly, that subplot's best scene was when Andy confronted Ann about her Justin love, and for a split-second tricked her into talking like she was still in a relationship with him.

As for Leslie's plunge back into the dating pool, I thought "The Set Up" went 1-for-2. Justin Theroux was both very charming as Leslie's ultimate date (and Ann's ultimate man), and also did a nice job with the talking head about Fire In A Can. Will Arnett, on the other hand, didn't quite fit into the show's low-key, naturalistic vibe. He was toned down from the way he plays GOB Bluth or Devon Banks, but there was still something off about him - and more than the script was suggesting. Still, we saw in last year's "Rock Show" finale and then again in "Practice Date" that Leslie's horrible romantic history is a rich vein to be mined by the writers and Amy Poehler (here playing opposite her real-life husband), and if I didn't love Arnett, I liked watching Leslie slowly realize what a bad idea this whole date was.

Overall, a very solid episode. If I were less tired by the time I watched it, I suspect my estimation would be even higher. (Comes a point in press tour in general, and at the end of a press tour day, where comedy starts to be wasted on me, but this still made me laugh a bunch.)

What did everybody else think?

27 comments:

Jeff said...

I actually thought Will Arnett was really good. Some of his lines may not have worked in other actors hands, but the way he delivered them made it work nicely.

There's an extended version posted on nbc.com/hulu that filled out his weirder moments nicely.

Anonymous said...

There's an extended version posted on nbc.com/hulu that filled out his weirder moments nicely.

That must be ondemand too. I was re-watching last night to see if I missed anything and there were scenes I didn't remember watching in the live version.

Andy, Ron, April and Tom were all hysterical. I don't know why, but I loved when Tom told Justin he loved his pea coat and then turned to the camera to tell them he has the same one in extra small. Hee. I also like the Mark and Andy scene "Look who's bothering who now" and the Ann and Andy scene was funny too. This is slowly becoming my favorite show.

Old man said...

THERE IS A DISTURBING LACK OF BENCHES IN RAMSIT PARK! I WANNA SIT MORE!

Billiam said...

"Old Man" just reminded me of that wonderful montage of Pawneed residents confronting Ron. "I made this in one of your pottery classes. It's crap!" And then there was Ron's announcement about needing the taxpayers' money to protect him from the taxpayers.

dez said...

People coming to Ron to ask for ridiculous things was spot on. Sometimes I wonder if one of the writers on this show is a mole at my job!

Marta said...

I loved The Set Up, but I agree that the Producer's Cut fleshed the story out better. I thought Will Arnett was great, but the zaniness of the date was a bit much. The extended version explained that Anne barely knew Chris, and the implication was that she picked Chris at random partly to avoid setting Leslie up with Justin. I think those details helped ground the episode better.

I also think it adds an interesting layer to Anne. She wasn't exactly diabolical in her actions, but she was selfish to Leslie and Mark, and apparently treated Andy the same way when they were together.

All that said, I loved Justin. He was great, his chemistry with Leslie was great, and I'd like to see this Leslie/Justin/Anne thing unfold more.

Anonymous said...

loved it...even though i was dead tired when i watched it.
at the end....did april take jerry's desk?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, you know, that Producers Cut reminded me of something I was thinking about the Office (and TV in general) a while back.

The Office, in the past, has had some great deleted scenes, and when I get the DVD set, they are available as features. I always think "why not integrate the deleted scenes into the cut on the DVD?"

Maybe, when the Parks and Rec DVDs come out, they'll include this Producers Cut version of the episode.

It's also perfect for Hulu... I just wished I had watched it first instead of the regular episode.

compain87 said...

I enjoyed the episode, I really think P&R is my favorite of the Thursday comedies. I am not in the group of people that LOVED Chris Prat from Season 1 but I really like the flirtations going on between Andy and April, its made for one of the funnier back stories for the phenomenal season 2. I loved it when april told the guy the band was number one on itunes and then Andy says to her "i like when you hang out here". I can't wait to see what is going to evolve out of this weird relationship.

Like always Ron Swanson was high comedy. Is his character ever gonna get old? I hope not because he is one of my favorite things about this show. Gotta love the 'stache

Trilby said...

I was watching with my teenage son and neither of us had ever seen this Justin guy before and thought he was "ewwww" so the plot revolving around the two women as rivals for him was just bewildering to us, to say the least. Has he looked better in the past or something? Did his hair ever not have that weird patent leather deep V thing going on? He was just SO not to my taste, I couldn't understand the plot line! What can I say.

To me he looked too skinny, too swarthy (in a bad way), and too hairy, except for on his head.

Some of you seem to find him attractive, so maybe it's just me. But I thought it was another example of TV getting it wrong when they try to show what passes for an "attractive man," attractive to the ladies, that is.

Which brings me to Cheyenne Jackson on 30 Rock. So cute. And so openly gay in real life, I've found out..... Wah!

John the Editor said...

Was it a gag that Justin Theroux's widow's peak was off center? I couldn't take my eyes off it.

srpad said...

I had given up on this show last season but so many people, including Alan, included it on their Best of Lists, I DVR'ed the recent marathon and was hooked. I then caught up on Hulu and this was my first live episode.

This show is really really funny. I also felt Will Arnett was the weak link but that was a minor complaint. Leslie's twin line more than made up for it.

Oh and with the look she had on her face in the scene with Andy, April is offcially in the Thursday "Cute-off" with Erin from the Office and Annie from Community. She has reached the level of "tiny puppy with a scruntched face."

amyp3 said...

Some P & R fanatic should make a compilation of all the bad dates Leslie has referred to. She can now add the MRI guy to the guy who tried to take out her teeth.

And thanks Alan, for mentioning how Will Arnett's weirdness wasn't quite the right sort of weirdness for this show. There's something about his screen persona that can come across as a little too disturbing. Although, come to think of it, he and one of the crazy library ladies might hit it off.

I thought it was another example of TV getting it wrong when they try to show what passes for an "attractive man,"

I find that actor's hairline distracting but hope he'll grow on me as a character. But it's funny you mention Cheyenne Jackson because I don't get the love for him. I'm distracted by *his* baggy eyelids. (Disclaimer: Not that I'm a prize package.)

April's infatuation with Andy continues to be so charming. And I did not she has Jerry's desk now.

amyp3 said...

*realize* - I did not realize she has Jerry's desk now.

Anonymous said...

I really love April and Andy. Their interactions especially his blindness to her crush is so sweet and fun.

Hatfield said...

I just have to say that, as a city employee, whenever they mock the public's dumb complaints they always get it perfect.

ZeppJets said...

This feels familiar- in the past, I recall disagreeing with Alan about (a)how funny Will Arnett is, and (b) how zany a show like this is allowed to be. I thought Arnett was great, and that this overall was one of the funnier episodes of the season.

-"I made this in your pottery class and it's terrible!"

compain87 said...

After watching this episode a second time, the producer's cut on hulu, I realized some of the parts that really got a good laugh out of me where with Will Arnett. If anything the gag with Arnett trying to put the candle out with his finger followed by a pause then a complete outburst was just great. It was a great use of Arnett,but we all now GOB would have pulled off the magic trick though.

Anonymous said...

what no cougar town review? =(

Allison DeWitt said...

I agree Arnett was a little much. Maybe it's too much of the same character he usually plays. He's very good at what he does, but it wasn't my favorite part of the show.

The search for an assistant and the reasons he needed one were perfect. I haven't worked in city government but I've worked in retail. People make insane demands.

Lasse said...

Ron's add just killed me! Job: Assistant to a man. Low pay. Apply at Parks Department.

Funny stuff, and then he added, "please be carefull with it this is my only copy"...

Tina Marina said...

@ Lasse: "This looks like an ad for nothing."

Another great episode in a wonderful season. I was wondering what they were going to do with Ann and Mark's chracters, and I think putting their relationship on the rocky side and bringing out he worst in each character makes each one funnier. Space-cadet Rashida Jones is hysterical.

I though Will Arnett was okay. He doesn't fit into this world as well as Louis C.K. did, but then again, he wasn't supposed to. My only quibble is that somehow Ann thought he was a good match for Leslie when he was clearly insane.

Anonymous said...

I have a real soft spot for Justin Theroux, pretty much anyone who was in Mulholland Dr. gets a lifetime pass from me. And he was much more attractive in that film than P&R
http://cinemafique.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/justin_theroux_01.jpg

Trilby said...

@anonymous^-- Thanks for the link. OK, he looks better there. On P&R I was really genuinely confused as to why the two ladies were sparring over him. The hair was really, really bad.

tgreenfield said...

I thought that the various characters of Pawnee is now the heir to Springfield's once former glory in the Simpsons. I could only picture Jasper and Grandpa complaining about government services when the hilarious lines were delivered by P&R.

Kristi said...

"I want to punch you in the face so bad right now." Best line of the night, delivered to perfection by Nick Offerman. Ron is my favorite character on TV right now!

Jake said...

Will was probably best as Gob Bluth but I really enjoyed him in Running Wilde. He's really exceptional in almost every avenue he's ever done. I even liked him in Todd Margaret. It's exciting to see him back as Gob Bluth for Arrested Development Season 4