“Ron and Tammy”
November 5th, 2009
“Now listen to one of mine.”
There’s nothing special about “Ron and Tammy,” except that it’s probably the funniest Parks and Recreation to date.
There’s a guest star, yes, but not one who feels overly forced into the story or on who the show relies too heavily. There’s no special event taking place in the context of the episode to make things more exciting than usual, and there’s even a B-Plot that has nothing to do with the A-Plot. And if you were to write down the plot of the episode without any context (which would read “Leslie and Ron feud with Library Services over an Empty Lot”), you would probably think this episode would be downright dreadful.
But what makes this episode so special is that this episode is less an aberration and more a sign that the momentum just isn’t going to go away, and that this sitcom has finally found its groove. The episode’s situation is one of the show’s funniest, and it features some of the best lines in the show’s short lifespan, but it feels like the show could have just as funny a scenario in the future without any trouble. It is an episode that not only convinces you that it is great, but also that the show behind the episode is just as strong if not stronger for having spawned it.
If you are for some reason still one of those people who never gave this show a chance, you need to watch this episode not because it is singularly great but because it is symptomatic of a broader greatness. You’ve been listening to the other guys, with their offices and sketch comedy shows, for long enough: tonight, listen to the genius of Ron F**kin’ Swanson.
May 14th, 2009
When The Office ended its six-episode first season, it really didn’t have anything to wrap up or even celebrate: “Hot Girl,” the season finale, was noteworthy for its first real sense of Pam’s jealousy of Jim dating anyone, but it was just another episode of the series in a lot of ways. Since Parks and Recreation is not only from the same creative minds but is also getting exactly the same six-episode first season leading into a normal second one, it’s hard not to compare “Rock Show” to the finale that came before it.
I’d say that Greg Daniels and Michael Schur have learned some lessons since then, as this is without question a more suitable finale, but intelligently not one that pretends this was a normal season or that we really know these characters. While the party at the center of the episode was successful in its efforts to display some humorous sides to the show’s funniest characters, and the various musical interludes let us enjoy the hilarity of Chris Pratt’s Andy, for the most part the episode shed some light on the three people who are probably the closest to being real characters, giving them each an added touch of humanity that will serve the series really well as it moves forward.
It may have taken six episodes to get there, but I think we’re to the point where Parks and Recreation has put its cards on the table, and earned its spot in NBC’s fall schedule on its own merit as opposed to that of its big brother.
“The Mole is Revealed”
August 11th, 2008
While I was without internet for most of yesterday, a frustrating scenario that messed up a lot of things, I was perhaps most upset that I had to miss out on blogging my initial reaction to last night’s Mole finale. I’d call it a cross between entertained and saddened, enjoying the reveal while remaining quite sad that there will likely never be another one like it.
The Mole hit this summer with very little buzz and, for the most part, ratings failure. And yet, for fans of the series, it was right in line: no, Jon Kelley was no Anderson Cooper, and I do kind of miss the old music, but for the most part as a “game” The Mole was right where we wanted it to be. The personalities may have gotten a bit out of hand, but chalk that up to the newfound prevalence of the “Be a Jerk” strategy in reality television as a whole, something that didn’t exist to the same degree in earlier seasons.
And, right in line with those expectations, we have a finale that fits: we have the Mole we suspected, the winner we wanted, and the reunion that feels like these people loved playing the game and loved even more to watch it back on a television and see all of the ridiculous things they said about people. There’s plenty of close calls, plenty of foot-in-mouth behaviour, and little enough drama for this to feel like the celebration it should be.