Saturday, November 19, 2011

Do I Like Parks & Recreation? I only SUPER do

Leslie: Due to my campaign, the romantic aspect of our relationship is over. And I'm totally fine with that. But Ben and I have so much in common we're amazing friends. And friendship is better because friends help you move, they drive you to the airport. Boyfriends just . . . love you and marry you.

I never got into The Office, haven’t seen many episodes, though I appreciate a line from an event with Steve Carell-—“If you don’t know a Michael Scott, you are a Michael Scott” —and I’m not a particular fan of Amy Poehler, so I didn’t rush to watch Greg Daniels and Michael Schur’s not-Office spinoff, Parks and Recreation starring Poehler.

But I have slowly come around to watching it most weeks, and the recent episode “The Treaty” is such inspired, smart, sparkling lunacy that I am now the recent convert who must convert everyone she knows. It’s for your own good! Watching this episode will pick you up when you are feeling down and restore your faith in humanity!!

A Relationship/Model U.N./& High School

Parks & Recreation
is one of those comedies which—when it’s hot-—can convincingly offer an A, B, & C story in the commercially allotted 21 or so minutes. I’m highly impressed by that narrative agility (How different from the one--story classics of The Dick Van Dyke Show, the early attempts of 2 stories like The Mary Tyler Moore Show.)

Here’s a little set up you need to enjoy "The Treaty":

General series premise: A crew is making a documentary of the city workers in the Parks Department of Pawnee, a fictional town in Indiana. So there is direct address to the camera, which should be a tired conceit after The Office and Modern Family, but somehow it’s still fresh here.

Story A: Leslie Knope (Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (the unassumingly charming Adam Scott) fell in deep, deep like, finally dated, and then broke up when Leslie was approached to run for public office, because she thinks having an office romance won’t be good for her election.

Leslie and Ben are still struggling with how to be apart in this episode, and it plays out with hilarity as they go make the Pawnee High School Model United Nations Club awesome so it doesn't get canceled.

Leslie represents Denmark, Ben, Peru, and while they start as allies they devolve into crazy screaming teenagers, perfectly capturing how the horrible hurt of a broken relationship can manifest in crazy ways (here the crazy is funny instead of scary).

Story B: Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), who is Leslie’s boss, tries to rehire Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) who left to start his own entertainment business, which failed.

Story C: City Manager Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) launches an “investigation” into why the daughter of one his employees stopped returning his calls.

They are all good, but the Leslie//Ben stuff at the model U.N. is successful lunacy. I had to watch it twice to pick up all the allusions and get all the lines. And I’m on the side of fans who think that nitwit Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) unknowingly negotiated for liens from Kenya (not real lions).

After you watch the episode, pop over the Sepinwall’s for great commentary and comments.


clairehelene7 said...

Yay! Parks & Rec is my favorite show on tv right now. So glad to hear you're a recent convert.

M.A.Peel said...

Hey Claire, hope the series continues as good as it is. I loved Adam Scott in Party Down, and here too!