"Yay! Making fun of Jerry's back!" -LeslieBig guys farting in public? Played-out.
Big guys splitting their pants in public? Played-out.
Big guys farting and splitting their pants in public? While in a situation where everyone else in the room is desperate to not laugh at the guy? Brilliant!
Jerry's biggest moment of shame in an episode full of them was not only an explosively funny moment, but a reminder of how well "Parks and Rec" has built up its world and characters. Just as "The Office" season two began giving personalities to Stanley, Angela and Creed, this show has turned Jerry and Donna from glorified extras into characters who occupy their own specific space in the fabric of the show's humor.
I would say the funniest moment of "The Camel" that didn't involve Ron's shoeshine was when Jerry didn't get to make a presentation for his absolutely beautiful mural because everyone was too busy laughing at how he accidentally said "murinal." And everyone's treatment of Jerry as the office joke has continued to be a valuable running gag. But there comes a point where it starts to seem cruel, so an episode like "Park Safety" becomes necessary - and cleverly manages to both have its cake and eat it, by giving us so many opportunities to laugh at Jerry even as Leslie is thinking we shouldn't. I don't know that the tag at the end (where Jerry tells the documentary crew that he really doesn't care, because his mind's already on his glorious, peaceful retirement two years from now) entirely tracks with Mark's point that Jerry was so afraid of his co-workers mockery that he lied about being mugged, but if the show wants us to be okay with it, I can go along, because... the pants... with the fart... etc.
(Also, that story did a nice job of pointing out that, while Jerry's often unlucky, he does bring some of the mockery on himself. Mostly, though, like Leslie, I'm a generally-good person who just enjoys laughing at the guy, so I'll justify it however I need to.)
Jerry's misfortune in turn led to the spectacle of Ron F'ing Swanson speaking Yiddish (and correctly explaining the difference between "schlemiel" and "schlemazel"), and then to him teaching a self-defense class to everybody. Of course Ron would be a black belt in something (my money's on a martial art he invented himself, but is no less effective for having done so), and the class became a nice big pot for the tension between Ann and April to simmer, while Andy remains as clueless as ever. Going into the season, I never would have thought it possible that I'd believe Ann would ever want Andy back, but the show has done such a good job of rehabilitating Andy under Leslie's tutelage, and then April's friendship, that I buy it. This Andy is not the giant anchor who was dragging Ann's life down last spring, and while he's still an idiot, he's a sweet idiot. And we saw in the conversation about the ever-changing band names(*) that there are parts of Andy's world that still really appeal to Ann.
(*) Speaking of which, what happened to Tackle Shaft? Mouse Rat remains a better name, but Andy did act like it was gone when this subject last came up.
Rashida Jones was absent for most of the last two episodes because she was filming a movie, and with Paul Schneider leaving the show at season's end (see below), I know there's sentiment among some of you that Rashida's not really necessary anymore, either. But while Ann isn't the funniest character on the show, she can be funny when needed (the practice date, or here getting excited at the phrase "baby in a straightjacket"), she provides a necessary breath of sanity into this world (the problem with Mark and Ann is that we probably don't need both of them) and a friend for Leslie, and here a romantic foil for April. So I'm not ready to say goodbye to her.
Andy Samberg's park ranger character was a little too broad for this show's buttoned-down style - either make him an idiot or make him have no inside voice, but not both - but his part of the story led to a few very funny moments, like the Rule of 3's variation about which golf cart they were using, or Pawnee Today reluctantly putting up an "Avatar: Did it exceed the hype?" chyron after Leslie and Carl successfully hijacked the planned topic. And I'll always welcome an appearance by Mo Collins as big-fish-in-a-tiny-pond Joan Callamezzo.
In other "Parks" news, Paul Schneider is leaving the show after this season (which I suspected would happen when Adam Scott was hired), albeit in a way that will allow him to come back later. And Amy Poehler is pregnant again, which led to a good discussion on the blog the other day about how the show might hide it. Best suggestion, by far, courtesy of Rob S.: "They can always hide her behind Jabba the Hutt."
(If nothing else, that gives me an excuse to once again link to this, as well as a side-by-side comparison of it with the real credits.)
What did everybody else think?