Friday, February 05, 2010

Parks and Recreation, "Sweetums": What's crackin', DJ Roomba?

A review of last night's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I drop in a token and look at a duck...

"Sweetums" lived up to its name, not only in its high-fructose antics like the parks department turning the office into a rave after having too many NutriYum bars(*) or Tom introducing his co-workers (and the audience) to the hilarious splendor of DJ Roomba, but in its level of genuine sweetness.

(*) The actual NutriYum commercial reminded me very much of the sort of thing that Troy McClure would have done on "The Simpsons," and I mean that in a good way.

This season has made it clear that Ron F'ing Swanson(**) not only appreciates Leslie for making his job so much easier, but likes her as a person. So it was interesting to see her push her status as Ron's work wife too far (to his mind), then funny to see Ron try to prove her wrong (the hand-crafted harp, complete with photographic evidence, was a highlight), and then ultimately for him to realize(***) he was over-reacting, and to give a very Swanson-esque apology, complete with the terse, factual closing line, "That is the end of what I have to say."

(**) If you haven't seen it yet, the NBC promo department put together this awesome Ron-centric trailer for the show. Enjoy.

(***) He realized this after Leslie made what's at least the second "Dead Poets Society" reference on an NBC Thursday comedy this season, after the "Community" episode that introduced John Michael Higgins. I would like to hear more of a eulogy that begins, "Oh captain, my captain! Ron Swanson: a swan song."


The Leslie/Ron story also returned to a goldmine for the series: the civil servants having to deal with the insane questions and complaints from their constituents. (And this time, Ann had to suffer through it with them, in a pretty good comic outing for Rashida Jones, who also got to spray Leslie with water, Jim Halpert-style.)

Tom's story was impressive in that it made me feel sorry for him (for his inability to tell Wendy how he feels) at the same time he was being an inconsiderate jerk to all the co-workers who showed up to help him move. The episode was awash in Tom Haverford d-baggery, from his fashion show in the teaser (with the LED belt that said variations on "What's crackin'?") to his Canadian DVD edition of "Deep Blue Sea" to him having a box containing nothing but pocket squares.

We also got a continuation of the running gag about the Parks department's hatred of the library (and vice versa), and more movement on the Andy/April quasi-romance, with April feeling squeezed between her judgmental gay boyfriends and Andy's cheerful obliviousness.

Finally, in case you missed the news last week, NBC gave the show a very early renewal for next season. The ratings still aren't very good, so it's nice to see the network rewarding the show for raising its game and being so consistently good this year.

What did everybody else think?

39 comments:

Jobin said...

In my opinion, probably the funniest episode in the show's history, top to bottom. There wasn't really one crazy gag that stood out, but from beginning to end, I was just dying. Ron Swanson + any type of food = comic gold.

Lane said...

I call it the turf & turf.

Greg said...

I don't think there's a better character on TV right now than Ron Swanson, and there may not be a better comedy than Parks & Rec. This show has shown so much improvement over the first season, it's almost unbelievable.

Yet when I try to get my friends to watch it, they offer lame excuses, claiming not to like one character or another (though they all love Ron). But I think these characters all work great together, so it's a little sad that the ratings are so low. I wish more people would give this a chance, because it's just fantastic right now.

Mike C said...

Another great episode. All the stuff with Leslie's alcohol reference card was gold. "What I'm getting from this is that the dealer has the advantage."

Anonymous said...

Ron Swanson is overrated in these parts. He's good but he's not even the best part of the show. Can I get an amen? No? Ok, whatever.

Emily N. said...

Really good episode. I loved the commenters at the public forum: The lasagna and muffins lady and the "Then why did Jesus make sugar taste so good" guy. And of course Ron Swanson's take on the whole thing: "The whole point of this country is if you want to eat garbage, balloon up to 600 lbs & die of a heart attack at 43, you can. You are free to do so! To me that’s beautiful."

Lis said...

I am SO happy to hear about the renewal! Thanks for that update.

This has become my new favorite show on television; this one was zany but in the sweet way you described, Alan, and while I was vaguely worried about how they were going to keep Ann & Andy around organically, it has been pitch perfect. Love.

Jen said...

The tag at the end with the Ghost of DJ Roomba following Jerry down the hallway has had me laughing all morning.

But reading over all the things that happened in this episode, I can't believe this show is only a half hour long. They're able to do justice to so many characters and plot lines in a way that few shows are able to do (Modern Family is another that comes to mind, though recently I don't think they've been as good at it).

Wrong Turns said...

"I'm going to take the cardboard from the boxes and breakdance on it." -- Andy

Zach said...

Ha I forgot about the Dead Poet's Reference. Throw in How I Met Your Mother and that's 3 comedies to use it this season.

Episode was great like usual, loved the scene when everyone started running through the doors. Dakota! Denver!

Just finished the Community post and want to draw a parallel. I know people have issues with the Jeff-Annie age difference, but what about Andy-April. Thought there was a big age difference there too? Just something I picked up. Solid ep though

Anonymous said...

"My friend thinks you're cute. Give him your number, so he can have it." -- best line of the night for me! Who knew Rashida Jones facial expressions could be so hilarious?

Sam said...

Andy had me laughing the most with his spot-on Dave Matthews impersonation, and this pretending-to-be-out-of-control roller blading bit.

njames said...

I hate to be a pooper of parties, but the show wasn't renewed early just because. It was renewed early due to the show's production timing issues. That said, I think the critics loving this season probably didn't hurt either.

http://iamnoahjames.com/2010/02/01/another-nbc-renewal/

Bryan said...

very funny - I don't know what NBC can do to get the ratings up- it's a shame they are not better than they are- but I really think, even after all this time people still consider it Office-lite. My family and I tried to watch the first 4-5 eps last year and were so turned off I didn't try to watch it again until last month (and that was because of Alan continually giving it high praises.)

I still can't get my family to watch it though and this morning at work I had 2 people say the exact same thing. They tried to watch it last year, but quit, and then haven't gone back.

Alan Sepinwall said...

What NBC needs to do, frankly, is to accept that the ratings for "30 Rock" will never be higher than they are right now, and consider trying one or both of "Parks & Rec" or "Community" at 9:30 for a while. Because the only thing separating "30 Rock" and the 8 o'clock shows in the ratings is having "The Office" as a lead-in. When NBC double-ran "30 Rock" at 9 & 9:30 a few weeks ago, all three comedies got virtually identical demographic ratings.

Quooble said...

I'm not sure how quoting Whitman is a Dead Poets reference any more than it is a Star Trek reference, (as Kirk has used the line as well) or anything more than a simple grab from a popular, even cliche, poem. Am I missing something that is clearly establishing this is referring to a film?

But enough of my lit-pedantry. Good episode.

Hatfield said...

Yes, and they also need to renew Community, and soon. These two shows are the funniest hour of television, hands down.

The lasagna and muffins lady was indeed hilarious (and the civil servant in me never tires of how well they mock citizen complaints and questions on this show), as was Ron frantically searching under his chair for a candy bar. But I think I laughed the hardest at Andy's "I think it's sweet that your grandparents still make love" line to April. I had to pause. It's really impressive that on a show with this many funny people, Chris Pratt and especially Nick Offerman can stand out so much.

I'm very glad Alan's glowing reviews finally convinced me to check this out.

chalmers said...

A small dose of good news on the ratings front, as "Parks" hit a season-high, basically holding on to the entire community audience.

I've bugged anyone who'll listen about how much the show has improved, usually to no avail. A lot of the humor refers back to previous shows (the evil Library, "What's Crackin").

However, the DJ Roomba scenes were so funny and don't require any backstory, so hopefully new or returning viewers will latch on to that and stick around.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the ratings aren't great. This show has been the most pleasant surprise of the season for me. I thought it was okay last year and really only watched as a lead in to The Office. Count me as one who thinks The Office has played itself out. P & R is a much better show at this point. I think NBC's recent issues may have contributed to P & R's renewal. NBC is desperate for quality programming and can't afford to dump a quality show. I think the ratings will come as long as the show continues to crank out top notch episodes.

njames said...

I 100% agree with you, Alan, about something else coming after The Office. That hour-long 30 Rock night proved your point beautifully.

However, I don't think this will happen. NBC HAS to know that 30 Rock would die somewhere else. In fact, I think they KNOW that 30 Rock is ratings-dependent, since they used to let The Office run a full hour at the beginning of a season before bringing Rock back in October. That way, people spent a month with NBC from 9-10p - which would mean they'd be likely to stay with 30 Rock.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

The Tom Haverford opening, DJ Roomba, the public Q&A... the hits just keep coming. Bravo, Parks!

LA

Anonymous said...

I do find it odd that the weakest link in the cast is still Rashida Jones, given that this show was originally supposed to be a spinoff of the Office and she was really good in that show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I do find it odd that the weakest link in the cast is still Rashida Jones, given that this show was originally supposed to be a spinoff of the Office and she was really good in that show.

In terms of laughs, I would say Paul Schneider consistently provides fewer than Jones (who was funny in this episode and even funnier in the one with the practice date), but it's not really a fair way to judge either one. Mark and Ann are the straight men (or straight man and woman) on the show, and if it makes them seem less interesting than wackier characters like Ron and Tom and Andy, it also makes a lot of their antics possible, because they have two convincingly normal people to play against.

Anonymous said...

Incredible Episode.
DJ ROOMBA is gonna be huuuuge
http://yfrog.com/5mdjroombaj

Hatfield said...

And, to be fair, Mark's defeated "I hate having a pickup truck" was very funny

King Killer Dave said...

Am I the only one who wants the Ron Swanson Swan Song to show up on the Bob Loblaw Law Blog?

Anonymous said...

Wondering who made the harp? http://offermanwoodshop.com/

belinda said...

Hee! Thanks for the link. Awesome.
"Sounds like I'm in a spa!"

I really liked how they played with the dynamic between Leslie and Ron - not unlike the hunting trip, but different enough it reveals more about each character (and being hilarious). It's just so great! :D

I love the development on April's crush on Andy as well, and how her boyfriend and his gay bf of course thinks Andy is lame. As for the age difference, I guess they're about 10 years apart or so - though Andy is mentally the same, if not younger than April, which is probably why it doesn't feel creepy at all.

Tom's end scene with Wendy was heartbreaking - and even more so because it's Tom.

Finally, DJ Roomba? WANT.

Jordan said...

Totally agree with Allen that Paul Schneider is the weak link laugh wise in the cast. I'll even go more than that and say that he's a weak link, period. I've never thought he adds much to the show. And yes, I get that he's playing the straight man against all the wackiness. But many times I find his character to come off very unlikeable, and might I say dickish. It also doesn't help that he totally comes off a bad, unfunny Jim Halpert 2.0.

Speaking of which, this cast has to be really short overall. I recently watched Away We Go. And Schneider has some scenes with John Krazinski, and is considerably shorter. He seems tallish on Parks and Rec. And Jim seems tall on The Office, but not gigantic. So that begs the very important question. Is the cast of P&R super short, or the cast of The Office really tall? This needs to be figured out.

Jordan said...

Forgot to ask Alan and anyone else if Mark Brandonowitz feels as jerky and offputting as he does to me at times. And if so, if this is what the writers are going for. Because I really don't think they want him to come off the way he does. Yeah, he's the straight guy. But shouldn't we want Anne to be with him, or for Leslie to maybe get with him? Cuz I don't at all. Not nearly as likeable and comes off too much abover everyone else for what I perceive they are trying for with his character. Quite frankly, I'd like to see him go on a boat with Jim & Pam and drift away, never to be seen again. Cuz besides his blah inducing weekly performances, the rest of P&R is pure gold.

KLR said...

Anybody up for an alternative viewpoint or dissension in the ranks? I've watched 3 eps of this, quite enjoyed the war with the library, and didn't much care at all for this or the hunting trip. Perhaps they need more intense confrontation in the scripts; or more sympathetic characters.

Or jokes. The whole plot line with the shoe shine guy and the young girl was just brutally tedious. Same with the moving subplot. The business with the candy bars was a bit more fleshed out, but I suspect some of you are gunning for this show since other quality programs are going down the drain, and you can't imagine or face up to the notion of a comedic vacuum in prime time. It can happen.

Anonymous said...

Every episode brings its LOL moments, but I sit with baited breath for any scenes with Tom Haverford. He KILLS me with his wannabe "playa" attitude. At the same time, he projects a sweetness and vulnerability, which is a tribute to Aziz Ansari's comedic and acting abilities. Long live "P&R" -- I want to see more Tom!

Boudica said...

As a public librarian, I have to say my favorite moment was the library scene. I have been catching up on P & R episodes over the past few weeks. I didn't realize what I was missing! Aren't all kids named Denver and Dakota nowadays?

Nicole said...

KLR, I'd say that most of us probably find it funny because it's, well, funny. Not because we're in denial or because no other shows are especially laugh-worthy at the moment. If it doesn't work for you, that's completely understandable, but I think it's kinda genius.

KLR said...

Hi Nicole. Tried again and didn't bother to watch the whole ep. I can't even remember what the plot precis of the episode was...it doesn't bother me that P&R is cut from the same cloth as The Office, but that show at its best delivered laughs in extremely subtle ways - just a lift of an eyebrow, say, or even the delivery of a line over a speakerphone. The P&R actors aren't so gifted, perhaps, or the potential isn't being written into the scripts.

Finally remembered which P&R ep I watched - something about the Amy Poehler character being implicated in sex scandals. If you can't remember the plot of something 16 hours later...jeez.

Glad you all are enjoying it, though.

Anonymous said...

Holy Toledo. NSFW picture of Offerman and Mullaly. http://nymag.com/arts/tv/features/63637/

TB said...

Thank you NBC for Parks & Rec and Modern Family. They make my week. I can't recall two more sharply written comedies hitting their stride at the same time.

Alex said...

I was really bummed when I learned that there is no Canadian version of Deep Blue Sea with 22 extra minutes. That's one of the finest movies ever made.

Anonymous said...

Come on--is no one going to talk about the actual dancing that went on during the 'office rave'? It was SO hilarious to see them voguing, the big lady doing that arm and neck side-to-side dancing and everyone participating including the quiet, chubby older guy (can't think of his name) throwing his arms up in the air? Tom doing a hang-man dance and that computer screen acting as the rave lights. I just kept watching it again and again while uncontrollably laughing. They were ALL BOGEYING!! So funny, so funny!

-April