April 19, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 18: Animal Control
- Posted by Sage
Hey there, cats and kittens – I know that I am unforgivably late with this Parks review, since my backlog now includes the double eps that aired just last night. Luckily, “Animal Control” was classic Pawnee comedy, focusing on a few funny situations and none of the ongoing story arcs of this season. We’ll make this quick.
A hale and hearty welcome back to Harris and Brett of Pawnee’s Animal Control department! Though Andy Samberg’s Carl from seasons past couldn’t stay with us, I’m more than satisfied with his stoner replacements, who display the same lazy ingenuity we’ve come to expect from the most advanced of potheads. Say what you will about the result, but I bet you wouldn’t have even TRIED to fashion a Flintstones-style work whistle out of a dead crow. 99% perspiration, so they say.
This episode featured a few of my favorite Parks character teams, including Leslie and Chris, who commit to overhauling the Animal Control department after visiting Brett and Harris’s Hall of Horrors (and Possum/Cats). It takes an eternal optimist like Chris Traeger to make Leslie Knope look like a realist. But getting maimed by a animal trap will put anyone in a bad mood, so Chris finally agrees that it’s time to find a replacement. Leslie refuses to bow to the Councilman’s boy’s club tradition of taking turns making governmental appointments to whoever is owed a favor, but, in a not-so-shocking turn of events, is unable to find anyone in Pawnee qualified for (or even not dangerous IN) the job. Candidates include Jerry Gergich, who talks himself into a Parks department pay cut; Orin, who plans on controlling the animals with his mind; some lady who was only advised to apply by therapist Dr. Richard Nyguard (cue a delighted Chris Traeger grin) to face her crippling fear of animals; and Harris and Brett, who decide to move on when they realize how physically close they have come to local law enforcement.
Leslie feels powerless to object to Jamm’s appointment without a viable candidate to oppose him. So, in true Knope fashion, she runs with the decent idea she comes up with, without considering the other people involved. April loves animals, Leslie loves April = April should have the job. As April is being interrogated at her nomination hearing, Chris tells Leslie what she doesn’t want to hear, but knows to be true: April isn’t ready. I breathed a sigh of relief when Leslie’s scheme failed, because I really want April to pursue vet school. While her compassion for animals will surely mean that the world will not yet learn a 5th way to skin a cat, it hardly qualifies April for the job of pest population control. That story would probably end with April taking all the rats and raccoons home and raising them with Andy instead of destroying them. But it is April who comes up with the best solution: have the Parks department absorb Animal Control. Leslie names April the Deputy Director, and seals the deal with a plaque she had made during April’s first week on the job. And this is why we forgive Leslie for throwing April into the deep end to avoid losing to Jamm and his cronies. Who but Leslie would have seen any potential for leadership in Season One’s April Ludgate?
Speaking of fostering potential, Andy is out with Ben and Tom, pounding the pavement to solicit all of Pawnee’s biggest businesses for donations to the Sweetums Foundation. Today’s target is Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas is back!), fragrance mogul and all-around rich sociopath. Dennis is more concerned with “hunting” drugged Russian foxes and possibly a little Indian guy dressed in the Ralph Lauren 2010 collection than giving away any of his money. But Ben and co. are working on wearing him down, stroking his ego by comparing him to sports stars and enduring his constant bullying. The “scent artist” behind Spasm, Butterface, Ooze, Moneyshot, and Blood Spurt is a total asshole, and Andy is the first member of the team to run out of schmoozing energy and tell it like it is. As usual, Chris Pratt’s delivery was inspired. He blurts out, to his face, that Dennis is a dick like the words have a mind of their own. Poor Andy thinks he’s cost the foundation a huge contributor. Look, I’ve worked for non-profits for my entire career, and there have been moments when the staff has been bending over backwards to meet a donor’s seemingly arbitrary demands and we’re left wondering if it’s all worth it. MAYBE they could have talked Dennis into a donation if Andy hadn’t have said what he said. Or maybe they would have wasted even more time trying to convince a guy who was just fucking with them all along. Either way, Feinstein is off the call list and it’s Rent-a-Swag who commits portion of its proceeds to all those “poor homies.”
Category Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,Animal Control,Ann Perkins,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Colton Dunn,Dennis Feinstein,Donna Meagle,Harris Wittels,Jason Mantzoukas,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,Jon Glaser,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Recreation,Rashida Jones,Recap,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford | No Comments
April 7, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 17: Partridge
- Posted by Sage
We’re back, finally! The world has been sans new Parks episodes for a few weeks, and it feels like AGES since we’ve had a Ben and Leslie-centric storyline. Wasn’t it satisfying to get in some QT with our favorite newlyweds this week?
In “Partridge,” Leslie accompanies Ben back to his hometown – the one he bankrupted as teen mayor – for a ceremony where he’ll finally receive the key to the city. Okay, first of all – we KNOW how embarrassed Ben still is about the Ice Town debacle. The snafu was what led him down the path of hopping from town to town, fixing finances and refusing to engage for fear of being counted on and screwing up again. Until Pawnee and Leslie. Without Leslie, Ben would never set foot back in Partridge, at least not without a disguise of some kind. I’m not saying that she twisted his arm, but that she gives him perspective. She reminds him constantly of everything he’s achieved and, more importantly, that she’s so proud of 18-year-old Ben for TRYING. It was when he first told Leslie about Ice Town that she started to see him as more than “Mean Ben”. Here was someone who cared so much about his town that he decided to give up his teen years – the time when we’re all the most selfish – to try to make it better. Leslie was powerless to resist a kindred public servant, especially one with that adorable of a butt.
…which is why she is INCENSED that the whole ceremony was just a ruse to get Benji into town so that they could make fun of him again, to his face. Parks is an idealistic show in a cynical world, and in this episode, cynicism got its ass handed to it. Complaining is easy. Sitting in a crowd or behind a computer and criticizing people who actually act is entirely without risk. We’re all guilty of it. The people of Partridge showed up to a civic event JUST because involved humiliating someone. Not many would describe Pawnee as a “classy” town, but Leslie’s right. She’ll sit in town meetings that last for hours, because what she hears is “people caring loudly” at her – people who show up to be a part of the future of their town, no matter how kooky their ideas might be. And Ben’s able to let it all go, because he’s got Leslie in his corner and a new home. But more importantly: BEN WYATT ON MORPHINE.
“You’re like a flower or no, like a snugbug.”
“We should just go for it, you know? LIFE.”
“Nah, I’m goody goody. You just do your thaaaang, baby smurf.”
Gold, all of it. I ship Morphine!Ben and Flu!Leslie hard.
So, we can’t change the past. All we can do is move on and do better and acknowledge all those times we dreamed/threatened about punching someone in the face.
Ron Ulysses Swanson is being sued by cartoon villain Councilman Jamm for the dental and emotional damage he did by throwing that haymaker at Leslie’s first wedding. He calls Tom, April, and Andy as character witnesses. Sweet, simple Andy is incapable of lying, even about his own shortcomings. But Tom and April (especially April) are evil geniuses, who do their duty to Ron by painting a picture of a sentimental vegetarian who’d never hurt a fly. The only truth in that is that Ron IS a big softy. He’s wanted to punch Jamm out for years, but the only thing that could drive him to ACTUALLY do it was Jamm threatening the happiness of his best friend. I know.
I referred to Jamm earlier as a cartoon villain, and here’s why. All of the other characters who have been obstacles to Leslie & Co. have been working for their own wants. Joan wants to famous. Lindsay Carlise-Shay wants to forget that she didn’t grow up in a privileged town like Eagleton. Bobby Newport just wants his dad to be proud of him. Sure, Jamm wants money. But he also wants to stick it to those meddling Parks kids, because he finds their camaraderie and decency so annoying. He’s getting a huge comeuppance at the end of this season and I can’t wait to see what it is.
Anyway: Ron, much like Dexter Morgan, has a code. Plenty of shows and commercials have lots to tell us about what it is to “be a man.” They’d have us believe it mostly means pretending to enjoy listening to your wife and doing anything you can to get a look at some yabbos. To Ron, it means eating animals and drinking old scotch, yes. But it also means playing fair, supporting your friends, and owning up to all of your words and actions. He even respects the guy who served him his papers. As Brad said about Max on Happy Endings last week in a meta-moment - “What a fresh character!” Tom and April come clean to the deposition, but still manage to come up with a scheme to Jamm Jamm and protect Ron. Sorry, Jamm. You’re not going to get between these guys.
Category Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,Ann Perkins,Annabeth Gish,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Donna Meagle,Jason Schwartzman,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,JK Simmons,Jon Glaser,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Recreation,Rashida Jones,Recap,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford | Comments Off
March 19, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 16: Bailout
- Posted by Sage
I’ve often wished that science would clone the swaggie perfection that is Jean Ralphio Saperstein. But until we get over our stupid ethics (playing god, schmaying god), twin-sister-from-the-same-mister Mona Lisa is the best we’re going to get.
I’ll leave the Freudian analysis of why Tom was so ready to give the D to the female version of his best friend to the professionals, but I WILL say that Jenny Slate is always a complete delight. She’s also the object of my most ardent jealousy, getting to work with Ben Schwartz on this season of House of Lies too. (By the by, are we supposed to be shipping Marty and Jeannie there? Weird. I digress.)
They’re family, yes. But Jean Ralphio thinks she’s…well, I’ll let him tell you:
Mona Lisa’s got all her brother’s style and complete ignorance of societal norms, PLUS a fairly violent streak. While Tom has stopped letting Jean Ralphio peer pressure him into all the things, he hasn’t developed that tolerance to the influence of his twin. Mona Lisa wraps Tom around her well-manicured, terrifying finger. Even Chris’s parenting can’t sway him into giving up a few torrid weeks of public sex and Pitbull concerts. Or public sex AT Pitbull concerts? I bet they get that a lot.
But Chris is satisfied enough with his sack-of-flour experiment to get over his hang-ups about “negatively affecting any living thing” and deliver the good news with his most joyous “Ann Perkins!” Now, when Ann popped the question, that question was about being her sperm donor. When Chris comes to give his answer, he tells Ann that he’s ready to raise a child. And she’s thrilled. Chris and Ann are not just having a baby, you guys. They are making a family. My shipper heart! Let’s raise a glass of your cheapest wine, because I honestly can’t tell the difference.
Hold up, though. Does Leslie even know about this? As far as we’ve seen, the only people Ann has told about asking Chris to be the father of her child are Ron and April. Is she afraid that Leslie wouldn’t approve? Or, more likely, that Leslie would have involved herself in some kind of scheme to get him to accept? I can’t wait for her to find out.
Leslie was distracted this week by the tribulations of the Pawnee Videodome and its owner Dennis Lerpiss, played by our second guest star and fellow Bored to Death (RIP) alum Jason Schwartzman. The indie-centric video store is failing because, as Joe Mande kept reminding us, everything is online. For free. All the time. Leslie can’t stand to see the neglected store go under, even though she can’t bring herself to be interested in bleak foreign films or Japanese slime candy. What she loves about it is that Dennis hosts screenings and discussions where the few Pawnee film buffs can get together and talk movies. Leslie is a modern lady with plenty of use for virtual expression. But she’s also a community builder who feels the loss of face-to-face communication those advancements create. Her solution, to Ron’s dismay, is to use government resources to have the store declared a historical landmark and give Dennis a chance to make it more accessible. And that’s how, to Ron’s delight, Leslie ended up inspiring the creation of Pawnee’s first porn emporium. It’s wildly successful. You gotta give the people what they want.
And what Ann wants, second to Chris Traeger’s fastest swimmers, is for April to like her. April’s faux-disdain of Ann is a holdover from her crush on Andy and how insecure it made her feel. By now, she’s only going through the motions. Ann’s ready to crack right through that thinning ice. She starts with a healthy does of blackmail, holding her recommendation of April to vet school hostage. Then she moves on to a heavily scheduled day of BFF activities. But what gets April to finally come around is that Ann shares her anxiety about Chris. She confides in her. She gives her that friend privilege. And that’s what April responds to. April may be uncomfortable with sincerity, but she despises pretense.
Aw, my girls. Well done. Let’s have a best friend singalong! Donna’s invited too.
Category Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,Ann Perkins,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Bailout,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Donna Meagle,Jason Schwartzman,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Recreation,Rashida Jones,Recap,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford | 8 Comments
March 3, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 15: Correspondents’ Lunch
- Posted by Sage
Strap on your adult diapers, you guys. In the episode that immediately followed the tear-a-minute Ben and Leslie wedding, Pawnee’s journalists and politicians are sharpening their barbs and getting ready to roast each other at the annual Correspondents’ Lunch. Leslie is far too confident about flaying her nemesis, the Pawnee Sun, with jokes, so I’d bet an autographed portrait of Scott Caan that something’s about to go wrong.
I wish that NBC had scheduled “Leslie and Ben” to stand alone and doubled up “Correspondents’ Lunch” with another episode the week after. But, le sigh, if NBC ever took our advice about scheduling and promoting its programming, it wouldn’t be dead last every week and thus lose the failure status it’s so aggressively cultivated in these last few years. Anyhoodle, this ep was a fun return to form for Leslie and team and did advance the Chris/Ann baby-daddy plotline in a satisfying way.
Chris Traeger’s reaction to Ann’s hastily blurted sperm request was proof that she asked the right guy. Chris was flattered, surprised, and humbled. I had thought that the writers were setting up a rekindling of Chris and Ann with the way his admiration of and respect for her had clearly been growing after their breakup. But those sly foxes were working up to this. Chris truly thinks that everything about Ann Perkins (“Ann Perkins!”) is wonderful. Who would be a better mother to his child? Ann’s maturity is a nice contrast to Shauna’s aversion to labels, which was so frustrating to him. Maybe this will lead to Chris/Ann getting back together (and to planting ficuses anywhere these two consenting adults want); but, in the meantime, I love the idea of these two creating their own little non-traditional family.
Meanwhile, Leslie is gearing up her zingiest zingers to take down the vultures at the Post-esque Pawnee Sun (they of the classic headline, “Knope Grope Last Hope.”) She inadvertently exposes a Murdoch-style hacking scandal when she deduces how the Sun‘s Kim Terlando managed to steal all her jokes AND get the scoop on other City Hall business. Terlando also got a little more than she bargained for, apparently having to sift through emails like “Top Ten Ben’s Butt 2012 Slideshow,” which was only meant to be seen by Ben, Ann, and the folks over at Huffpo. Maybe Beslie will consider putting their Lord of the Rings RP fetish letters in longhand now. I’m pretty sure they didn’t have Outlook in Middle Earth anyway.
We got a little nod from Team Parks to the whole “Are women funny?” business, the question that just won’t die and which Amy P. twice described as being “boring.” Leslie tries to quickly drum up some new material for her speech at the lunch, and, of course, turns first to her solver, Ann. Ann doesn’t exactly have the stage presence of a seasoned performer, in fact she’s spent the last few days lit-rally running away from Chris in the halls. She gives Leslie a rambling joke(?) about Councilman Milton having a green tie just like a dinosaur (what?) and Leslie disappointedly responds, “Oh, Ann. You’re too beautiful to be funny. You never had to compensate for anything.” The less attractive people? Not off the hook.
Chris’s face though!
Category Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,Ann Perkins,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Correspondents' Lunch,Donna Meagle,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Recreation,Rashida Jones,Recap,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford | Comments Off
February 26, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 14: Leslie and Ben
- Posted by Sage
“So how does it happen, great love? Nobody knows… but what I can tell you is that it happens in the blink of an eye. One moment you’re enjoying your life, and the next you’re wondering how you ever lived without them. “
The heartfelt and off-the-cuff ceremony Tom Haverford conducted for Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt was lovely and all, but it would have been even better if he had kept just one quote from the modern classic Hitch in there. After all, nobody knows more about the matters of the heart than that guy.
In fact, Ben’s gorgeous self-written vows are practically a paraphrasing of this little truth nugget. Ben is the Hitch of our small-town story, someone who just going about his business, not expecting to get smacked right in the face with true love. And that makes Chris Traeger our Kevin James? Or something. I haven’t worked it all out yet.
Anyway, I cried. You cried. Even Ron cried, possibly into a vat of hot, liquid metal. “Ben and Leslie” was 22 minutes of television to heal the evils of a world gone mad and mend all our broken spirits. It was a bombardment of effortlessly moving moments. Just as you crested one wave of feels, another broke right over it: Leslie calls her wedding dress “the most beautiful object” she’s ever seen and thus, “the Ann Perkins of dresses;” Donna sings Leslie down the aisle; Chris gives Ben the mounted letter commemorating their assignment to Pawnee, where they “both found home”, and so on. Over and over again, we’ve watched the group rally around Leslie, occasionally to protect, usually to support. This time, it was to celebrate her. It’s all about the bride and you know it.
Leslie is a force of nature. She’s driven, Type-A, and egotistical in the best possible way. It takes someone who demands that life bend to her to accomplish so much and connect so many people in the way that Leslie has. And everything she’s got, she’s got to share. So there’s just no question that her friends are going to scavenge through the “jewelry and nails” tray at the pawn shop or interrupt Ethel Beavers’ hot date to pull this wedding off. Because of his simplicity, Andy can often be the most insightful member of the group. Before he re-dedicates Lil’ Sebastian’s memorial song to the happy couple, he honors Leslie for being the reason that each one of them was not only in the room that day, but also in that place in their individual lives.
I’m still reeling from the exhausting and nasty attempts at comedy that were on parade at Sunday’s Oscars. What’s getting even older is the implication that people (like yours truly) who don’t find these boring, offensive jokes recycled from the trashcan in the Two and a Half Men writers room funny don’t understand comedy or are just plain humorless. Nein. It’s just that, if comedy is your job, I expect you to put a little work in. Luckily, some people are. Parks, Community, New Girl, and the dearly departed Ben and Kate have all succeeded in making nice funny. Take a line like this one, when Leslie is insisting that Ron give her away: “I lost my father when I was 10, I don’t have any brothers, and Ken Burns never wrote me back.” This is writing, you guys. In 20 words, this joke tells a story, gets a laugh, and put a big ol’ tear in your eye. And another, this one courtesy mostly of our actors: During the ceremony, April mock-complains about the schmaltziness of the proceedings, and Ben turns around and gives her this LOOK, as if to say, “I love you, you little brat.” And she smiles. And it was just such a tiny, exquisite moment about how all of these people accept each other for who they are. It gave me chills, I swear.
This episode was written to serve as the series finale if NBC didn’t come to its senses and order a back nine. And it would have been a great one. But thankfully, Parks lives to fight another day and to further ruin our lives with words and faces like these.
Category Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,Ann Perkins,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Correspondents' Lunch,Donna Meagle,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,Leslie and Ben,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Recreation,Rashida Jones,Recap,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford | 4 Comments
February 17, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 13: Emergency Response, Producer’s Cut
- Posted by Sage
This is Willa Tremaine reporting to you from Head Over Feels, where we’ve just watched the extended producer’s cut of another classic episode of Parks and Recreation. If you’ve only seen the version that aired on NBC Thursday night, proceed immediately to Hulu and enjoy the episode plus some killer extra scenes. Now, back to our regularly scheduled recap.
It’s the moment of reckoning for this season’s great white whale, the Pawnee Commons Project. Despite Jamm’s best efforts to bribe the planning commission with Paunch Burger’s Greasy Lardbombs™, the group is still behind Leslie’s proposed park. The problem is that the park isn’t fully funded – there’s a $50k hole. Leslie mopes about the seemingly insurmountable gap while she and Ben head troll Macy’s (a rare obvious product placement for this show) with Tom to register for their wedding gifts. Ben comes up with a plan: they’ll register for the park instead. Beslie are purer of heart than your recapper, because I would be Harlem Shaking down the aisles with Tom and pointing that little gun thing on everything that wasn’t nailed down. Also, how does planning a gala fundraiser preclude you from having a wedding registry? I’m really upset about this, because I have more fantasies about registering than my actual wedding.
Team Parks Department kicks into action, as they are wont to do. Put together a black tie gala in one week? They won’t even break a sweat. “Breaking a sweat” is probably on both Tom and Donna’s “Oh No-Nos” lists. But crisis comes in the form of well, a fake crisis. Leonard Chulm, head of the Indiana Department of Emergency Preparedness (hey, Matt Walsh!) rolls into town to throw a emergency preparedness drill at Pawnee and (quelle surprise) Emergency Czar Leslie. We’ve got an outbreak of avian flu, ya’ll. I hope you’re prepared to bathtub-drown all the birds in town.
On any other day, Leslie would HAVE this. She’s prepared for every scenario, with binders and fake news casts at the ready. But passing the drill will likely mean losing Pawnee Commons forever. This is Lot 48. It represents every dream Leslie has ever had for herself and for Pawnee. She cannot let it end up in the hands of Jamm, ghost or otherwise.
“Wait, maybe this IS a nightmare…nope, can’t fly away. This is real life.”
So she makes the call: to save the town, she must destroy it. She puts her containment and recovery plans into reverse and quickly ensures that the entire town is soon struck down by bird flu. And if all our citizens are as over-therapized as Chris Traeger, they’ll be pretty psyched about it. (“I’m dead!) Off to save the gala – suck it, Jamm!
But if we’ve learned anything in the past few seasons of Parks besides some awesome nicknames for food, it’s that Leslie’s friends can be counted on to rise to the occasion. Under the inspiring leadership of one Ben Wyatt (“Get some chairs from…somewhere.”), the gala has already come together perfectly. All that’s left for Leslie to do is put on a super hot red dress, give an inspiring thank you speech, and introduce Mouserat. We will build it, the park!
Leonard Chulm’s entire purpose is to make sure every town in Indiana has the right protocol in place to survive a disaster. But protocols and processes are nothing without ingenuity and people who can think on their feet. Leslie has grown from a person who will blindly follow a prescribed plan to the letter to one who is ready to toss the rule book out if necessary, and even if she wrote it herself. And in what WOULD have been the episode’s twist had NBC not PUT IT IN THE PROMOS, we find out that Leslie might even be willing to do that with my – I mean her – dream wedding. I hear you, Les. I too, hate the feeling of not being married to Ben Wyatt. At least you can do something about it. Mazel, you crazy kids.
Category Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,Ann Perkins,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Donna Meagle,Emergency Response,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Recreation,Rashida Jones,Recap,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford | 2 Comments
February 10, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 12: Ann’s Decision
- Posted by Sage
Even the truest love doesn’t always last forever. But we will hold on the misty, watercolored memories of perhaps the most delicious, yet least practical ship on Parks. Ben/Calzones has come to a tragic end.
The bitter breakup comes courtesy of the catering finals Ben has orchestrated to pick the menu for the wedding of the millennium. His judges lineup features veggie connoisseur Chris Traeger, meat specialist Ron Swanson, and Instagram king Tom Haverford. Andy isn’t invited, but we’re not sure if it’s because of his unsophisticated palate or tendency to use frisbees as plates. Everyone but Tom tries the delectable cheesy-meaty-saucey pastry appetizer that puts its creator on the top of Ben’s list. After all, serving calzones at his wedding is the closest to actually MARRYING a calzone that Ben will ever get, at least until those GOD DAMN LIBERALS get their way. But the next morning finds the boys lumbering and rolling around Chris’s office like they just walked off the set of The Walking Dead. Food poisoning. Ben is jilted. Doublecrossed. Forsaken by his beloved. (“The calzones…betrayed me?”)
They know that the calzones were the culprit, because Tom refuses to eat food that requires him to exert any effort. (“Drizzle it on for me! I’m not your maaaaaiiiid.”) After a long and painful recovery, the boys find themselves back at JJ’s for a return to solid food. Ben realizes he’s been overthinking it – why pick a fancy caterer over Leslie’s favorite food in town? Looks like Beslie will be serving their guests a waffle tower instead of a wedding cake. PLEASE, oh please let them have a waffle tower. (Note to self: find waffle tower photo to pin to “Future Wedding to Ben Schwartz” Pinterest board.)
After the madcap shenanigans and Salt N’ Pepa singalongs of the rotating bachelor party, it’s good to see that Parks has no intention of abandoning this male-bonding theme anytime soon. They’re adorable, even when grossly ill. (“I cracked the bottom of the toilet bowl.”) And this light, silly storyline was the perfect complement to Leslie and Ann’s big life decision arc.
The writers have done an admirable job this year of fixing “The Ann Problem.” It’s never bothered me as much as some other fans who I’ve read, but her stories this season have been the most compelling that they’ve ever been. And, more importantly, they feel organic and not forced. Also, this Ann-finding-herself theme has always felt like a meta-acknowledgement of the issues that the show has run into trying to integrate that character into the Parks Department.
I LOVE this single mom plot, because it gives Ann an opportunity to drive it and not always be reacting to the other characters. AND, it makes for some funny and interesting Leslie/Ann interplay. I feel like I learned a lot about both of their characters this week. It’s pretty cray-cray to compare this Leslie to the one-note Leslie of Season 1. She fully supports any woman’s right to create “the family that she wants,” but still believes, deep down in her heart, that a family created from a loving, monogamous relationship is still better than the alternatives. (“The body is Ann’s, and the woman in charge of it is me.”) She may not have even known that about herself until she’s faced with Ann’s no-nonsense, no-waiting plan to have a kid. Stupid Hot Ann’s not doing this because she feels sorry for herself. It’s something that she wants in her life, regardless of relationships. For Ann, waiting for a guy to come along so that she can finally have a baby would have been like Leslie waiting to have a boyfriend before she pursued her career.
Ann does agree with Leslie that she should know more about the biological dad of her future kid, so she side-steps the sperm bank and does some research. The top 3 come in to Ann’s office under the pretense that she’s interviewing them for her blog. (I assume that Leslie worked some of her questions on to the list. I too would not allow myself to be inseminated by a man before knowing his favorite season of Friends, even though any answer is the right answer there.) We’ve got Dr. Harris, who’s a little mean (“The chairs in MY office are leather.”); high school basketball star Pete, who’s a little too clued in (“When will the women in this town stop scheming for my sperm!?”)…
…and Howard Tuttleman, who may be juuuuuuust right. Operation: Baby Douche, engage.
Douche, how little we knew you! Turns out Howard studied semiotics at Northwestern, before creating his satiric second persona and becoming Crazy Ira’s morning radio co-host. But his dual personalities are now fused, and no one can tell where Howard ends and Douche begins! Considering the Pawnee alternatives, Howard isn’t a bad choice. But his Douche-side can’t resist revealing the truth about Ann’s plan on the show, with plenty of bodily function sound effects thrown in. Leslie realizes that she’s imposing her own priorities on Ann, and she needs to make up for butting in and telling Douche the truth. Her apology comes with all the humiliation Crazy Ira and the Douche can throw at her, i.e. Leslie going ass over tincups in a baby pool filled with Jello while doing a truly terrible Bill Cosby impression. Friendship rule: you always forgive the people who are willing to embarrass themselves to earn it. And that’s a Leslie Knope specialty.
Category Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,Ann Perkins,Ann's Decision,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Donna Meagle,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Recreation,Rashida Jones,Recap,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford | 3 Comments
January 27, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 11: Women in Garbage
- Posted by Sage
If there’s one thing Leslie Knope can’t resist, it’s waffles. If there are two things, they’re waffles and making out with Ben, on his face. And if there are THREE things that Leslie Knope can’t resist, they are: waffles; making out with Ben, on his face; and knocking down gender stereotypes.
Leslie is used to just ignoring some of Pawnee’s more archaic guidelines (i.e., she really shouldn’t be reserving any conference rooms without permission from her husband or father). But after meeting with Pawnee’s first ever female City Council member Paula Hork, she learns two things: 1) it’s time to correct the underemployment of women in all areas of city government and 2) there is probably a calendar of her own menstrual cycle somewhere in City Hall. Leslie picks up the ball and brings the Equal Gender Employment Commission plan to Chris, who, of course, thinks it’s the greatest idea in the history of ideas. He asks every department to send two people to a meeting. And they do – they each send two men. The Pawnee man-pigs think that Chris (“Oh no, it’s just a very beautiful man.”) and “the girl who brought the snacks” are enough of a female contingency, thank you very much. After listening to some ancient lawmakers wax poetic about the frailty of women, Leslie challenges the worst offender of employment inequality, the sanitation department. She and April take over a garbage collection route to prove that women are up to the task. Chris brings his maybe-kinda-sorta girlfriend Shawna Mulwae-Tweep to cover it for the Pawnee Journal.
“Are you posing? Because I don’t have a camera.” “Google Earth. Always takin’ pics.”
Leslie’s proving her point by being ahead of the regular timing for the route. April gets to dig through the trash of all her high school enemies. (“She has to use prescription-strength deodorant. This is the best day of my life.”) Arguably having a less awesome time are the misogynistic sanitation dudes, who are being taken to school, and poor Chris Traeger, who is completely at sea in Tweep’s twenty-something world of group hangs and no labels. The garbage dudes make a last ditch effort to hold on to their manhood by sending Leslie and April to move a giant bakery freezer that apparently the regular route guys couldn’t budge the week before. Of course, they don’t tell the girls that, so Leslie is ready to make it happen. (“Easy, breezy, beautiful. That’s the CoverGirl slogan. I didn’t mean to say that.”) They could call them on it, but April wants to WIN, not to tie. So Leslie calls in the ladies from the soup kitchen to take the donation. With all this combined lady power, the freezer gets onto the truck and the sanitation guys start hiring female workers. Joan of Arc would be proud.
Just like Leslie, Tom is doing his best to hang with the boys. His Rent-a-Swag customers are obsessed with basketball, so he recruits (or tricks, whatever) Andy and Ben into teaching him the basics. (Necessarily side flail: BEN’S BASKETBALL OUTFIT. The goggles. The gym socks. I cannot breathe.) Tom isn’t exactly a quick study (“Did I do basketball?”), and the guys get humiliated by some middle-schoolers in a 3-on-3.
Ben shows a depressed Tommy a video of Kevin Durant and Russel Westberg talking to press after a loss to show him that the best pros know how to come back after a defeat. Tom completely ignores that advice, but has his own epiphany. He uses Kids 46 News to position Rent-a-Swag as THE place to get your post-game press conference fashions.
And on more shaking up of traditional gender roles, Ron is playing babysitter to Diane’s little girls, Zoe and Ivy. He’s covered in stickers (courtesy of Leslie, obviously), his shoes are painted red, and his office now looks like something a Justice threw up. Diane asks if he can handle it for another day. After scouring the building for Ann (“I thought your last name was Hanson for some reason.”), Ron ropes her into helping out. Trouble is, beautiful Ann is a complete awkward turtle around kids. (“Hey, dudettes. So, you guys like Coldplay?”) But once she pulls out her medical supplies, the girls are enthralled. Somehow, they lock themselves into the conference room alone, and Doctors Ivy and Zoe perform surgery on each other’s infected hair. Ron has a meltdown and inadvertently reveals his true feelings for Diane. Yes, it’s true: Ron loves Mommy.
His fears of ruining the relationship are unfounded, as Diane remains the COOLEST CHICK EVER and takes the girls’ scissor adventures in stride. She’s so touched by Ron’s concern, that she makes a declaration of her own: Mommy loves Ron. Ron loves Mommy. Ron and Mommy 4-Ever. And Family Love Michael too, why not?
Category Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,Ann Perkins,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Donna Meagle,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Recreation,Rashida Jones,Recap,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford | 8 Comments
January 21, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 10: Two Parties
- Posted by Sage
The wedding of the century is almost here, and the girls and guys of Pawnee are sending their friends Leslie and Ben into marriage with style. Well, they’re trying to, anyway.
Maid of Honor and beautiful nurse, Ann Perkins, has bought up all the penis-shaped novelties in three towns. She booked Babe Lincoln, professional historical stripper. But planning a party in honor of the ultimate planner is completely stressing her out. Meanwhile Chris Traeger, literally the Best Man anyone has ever had, is supporting Ben’s choice to have a beer and boardgames bachelor party. And maybe some Homeland on the DVR, if we have enough time.
**Head canon sidenote: before coming to Pawnee, I don’t think that Ben Wyatt would have called Chris Traeger his best friend. Old Ben drew a line between work and his personal life, and Chris’s status as his coworker would have trumped any familiar relationship they had. Also, thanks to Pawnee and Leslie, Ben’s come to appreciate the unique weirdness in everyone he meets. Thus, the coworkers become true bros. Head canon sidenote complete.**
But the boys can’t compete with a nationally ranked Settlers player and Tom Haverford isn’t going to let Jello Shot’s night go down like that. Andy, Ben, Chris, Ron, Tom, and Jerry move the festivities to Essence, Eagleton’s new “molecular mixology” bar, where Ron is served his drink via a whiskey-infused lotion hand massage. Turns out, none of the married or formerly married among them ever had a true bachelor party. So, new plan: this night is now about all of them, and each bachelor boy gets to pick one thing they want to do.
Female friendships often take center stage on Parks, so it was a complete joy to watch the boys bonding in this one. Again, Parks avoids the worst of tired and sexist sitcom tropes: These bachelor parties are about the guys celebrating their friends, not mourning their single lives. Tom gets his vaporized drinks. Andy gets to catch a touchdown pass thrown by the Colts’ Andrew Luck. Jerry gets a couple of ice cream cones and called by his actual name. And, of course, Ron gets a steak. With a rasher of bacon on the side. Chris is thrilled just to be the facilitator, but Ben wants to find some way besides a Best Man trophy to thank our lonely fitness guru. Then Pawnee reporter extraordinaire/former hole in the Beslie ship Shauna Mulwae-Tweep shows up, wanting to do a story on the rotating bachelor party. Ben hardly thinks it’s news, but Shauna disagrees. She thinks that people want to read about “a group of good friends, having fun, doing nice things for each other” and that she wants to write about it. (Ahem – practically Parks and Rec‘s reason to exist and brighten up our sad, desperate lives.) A light comes on in Ben’s mind, and he takes Shauna to Chris’s office to get the story – over lunch.
Let’s be real: this episode was all about the boys. I was disappointed with the girls’ storyline, mostly because my hopes for the return of my personal hero Drunk!Leslie were foiled. Of course it’s in character for Leslie to let work ruin her bachelorette party, but her lack of concern for Ann and the rest of her ladyfriends was a reversion to the Steamroller!Leslie of seasons past. None of them want to see another Paunch Burger location in old pit surely, but was it really worth digging Wamapoke artifacts out of the dirt in the middle of the night using penis hats for shovels? Just…Ann worked SO hard! And, sue me, I wanted the girls to have a little fun. On the bright side, now that this story has happened, hopefully the writers won’t let any Pawnee business get in the way of Ben and Leslie’s actual wedding. DON’T YOU DARE TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME, SCHUR. I NEED THIS.
Category Comedy, Parks and Recreation, Recap, Sage's Post, Television | Tags: Adam Scott,Amy Poehler,Andy Dwyer,April Ludgate,Aubrey Plaza,Aziz Ansari,Ben Wyatt,Chris Pratt,Chris Traeger,Donna Meagle,Jerry Gergich,Jim O'Heir,Leslie Knope,Nick Offerman,Parks and Rec,Parks and Rec Recap,Parks and Recreation,Parks and Recreation Recap,Rashida Jones,Retta,Rob Lowe,Ron Swanson,Tom Haverford,Two Parties | 4 Comments
January 10, 2013 by HeadOverFeels
Posted by Sage
To those of you who are considering tuning in for 1600 Penn: A) What are you THINKING? and B) No.
Instead of supporting NBC’s headlong, willing nosedive into mediocrity, log into Netflix Instant, find The West Wing, and push play on Season 1, Episode 1. You won’t regret it.
I’ve had The West Wing on my queue for quite a while. As one of the few and rabid fans of the unfairly maligned Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, I knew that Aaron Sorkin’s most critically acclaimed series would fast become a favorite. Also, I have had a serious thing for Bradley Whitford and his dimples for YEARS.
I was right. I’ve marathoned Seasons 1-4 in just 2 months. True, it’s been described as “white liberal porn,” and not for nothing. But I’m white, I’m liberal, and I am EATING IT UP. And I need more people to talk about it with! So let my 10 reasons convince you, and then come and talk to me about your thoughts on C.J./Danny and the President’s secret plan to fight inflation. Thanks.
1. JOSH LYMAN
Hold on to your panties, ladies of DC: motherfuckin’ Josh Lyman is in the house.
Josh is President Bartlet’s Deputy Chief of Staff, but very much the chief of my heart. This asshole runs Washington like he’s the Fraternity President, everyone else is a freshmen, and it’s always pledge week. Everyone wants to get with him, but his heart truly belongs to his woodland nymph of an assistant/life partner, Donna Moss. (More on that later.) I am LIVING for him.
The West Wing lore has it that Josh is based on Rahm Emanuel, so, by the transitive property, I must be in love with him too.
2. CLAUDIA JEAN CREGG
Before I started my marathon, my friend Julia gave this lady the best possible introduction – she told me C.J. was a Leslie Knope level of awesome. And goddamn, was she right.
C.J. Cregg (codename: The Flamingo) serves as the White House Press Secretary, and the way she handles a roomful of rowdy reporters will make you weep and then build a shrine to her. Also, she’s played by Allison Janney, who’s never done anything wrong in her LIFE.
3. DONNATELLA MOSS
Donna Moss, my precious flower.
Donna (Janel Moloney) is so badass that she leapt from recurring supporting cast to the main credits between the first and second season. As assistant to Political Sex God, Josh Lyman, she’s the most organized, compassionate, well-adjusted person in the entire White House. Donna puts other people before herself, always, which is why she sticks around supporting Josh when she’s competent enough to take her career anywhere. (I believe she does, in later seasons.) She’s basically a blond, midwestern angel with a pocketful of sass. God, everyone on this show is so sassy.
4. Every other major character
Toby Ziegler says, “never write a concession speech.”
You’ve got Chief of Staff and Presidential BFF Leo McGarry (John Spencer), who is all wise and supportive (and sassy). Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), Communications Director, whose cranky exterior often cracks to reveal his love and respect for his coworkers. (And sass.) In the first four seasons, ageless sorcerer Rob Lowe plays Sam Seaborn, your brilliant and slightly naive Deputy Communications Director. (With a heavy dash of sass.) The Body Man is Charlie Young (Dúle Hill), who is closer to the President than almost anyone and activates all his fatherly instincts. (Though, of course, Charlie IS known to occasionally sass him.) Your Commander in Chief is Josiah “Jed” Bartlet (Martin Sheen), an intellectual Democrat from New Hampshire. He’s almost perfect and you’ll want to campaign for him for the rest of your life. (P.S. He can be totally sassy sometimes.) And finally, Stockard Channing is the POTUS’s sexy, brilliant, fiesty, and (you guessed it), sassy wife, Doctor Abbey Bartlet. Rizzo herself is your First Lady. Is that a dream come true or what? Sass!
And if you DON’T like a character, don’t you fear. Wait a few episodes and Sorkin will have dropped ‘em. Not written them off…just…dropped them. *coughMANDYcough* There’s something charmingly ruthless about it.
Category Sage's Post, Television | Tags: 1600 Penn,Aaron Sorkin,Abbey Bartlet,Allison Janney,Bradley Whitford,Charlie Young,CJ Cregg,Donna Moss,DonnaxJosh,Dule Hill,Janel Moloney,Jed Bartlet,John Spencer,Josh Lyman,JoshxDonna,Leo McGarry,Martin Sheen,Richard Schiff,Rob Lowe,Stockard Channing,The West Wing,Toby Ziegler | 28 Comments