I don’t think I truly understood the meaning of the phrase “embarrassment of riches” until I was tasked with recapping back-to-back episodes of Parks and Rec. It pains me that I’ve got to find a way to whittle 3,000 words worth of notes down into a coherent recap; at the same time, both of tonight’s episodes were so funny that I’m tempted to just slap up a list of quotes and call it a night. But I care about you too much, PopWatchers, to do a thing like that. I care about you as much as Leslie and Ann care about each other.
How’s that for a segue? As the title of “The Fight” indicated, tonight’s first episode focused on a tiff between Leslie and her best friend. Their troubles began when Leslie got Ann an interview for a new job at City Hall without first asking Ann if she’d even be interested in it. Things really heated up when both of them — along with the entire Parks department — took a trip to the Snakehole Lounge to celebrate the launch of Tom’s newest venture, a Kahlua-like liquor called Snake Juice. (April, upon hearing the drink’s name: “Sounds like you took a snake and twisted it like a rag until its blood and guts came out.”) Leslie was upset that Ann wasn’t preparing for the job interview; Ann was upset that Leslie had barged in without considering what Ann wanted.
Thankfully, in the morning, cooler (and more hungover) heads prevailed. After Ben went to her house and told her how sorry Leslie was, Ann showed up for the interview after all. She and Leslie made up, then celebrated by going to vomit into wastebaskets together. I loved “The Fight” for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it finally found a way to explain just why Ann the nurse is always hanging around the Parks Department — it’ll make a lot more sense for her to be at City Hall all the time now that she works there three days a week. The long Snakehole scene was also a tour-de-force, especially the montage that showed each member of the cast displaying a different kind of drunkenness — Leslie was hysterical, Tom got even more overly confident, Ben was goofy (“Ba ba booey”), Andy went full Nickelback, April began speaking in rapid Spanish (did anyone catch what she actually said?), and Ron just danced euphorically. I’m happy to report that the good people of the Internet have already made a gif of this last moment.
Episode 2, “Road Trip,” was also pretty great, though overall I thought it wasn’t as funny as the episode that preceded it. Here, Leslie and Ben’s long-simmering sexual tension was put to the test when Chris sent the two of them on a road trip to Indianapolis. Despite Leslie’s best anti-seduction techniques — banjo music, chatter about Johns Hopkins University dorms, inviting a random photographer to come to dinner with them — sparks still flew… then were put out by Chris when he showed up unexpectedly. But not even a strict “no office romances” policy could keep these two nerds apart, and the episode ended with them sharing a passionate smooch. Hooray!
This episode also had a couple of subplots. The one in which Ron taught an adorable, impressionable young girl why government is evil was the stronger of the two. The whole “April and Andy play The Newlywed Game” — sorry, Know Ya Boo — thing, on the other hand, was much more predictable and rote, which are two adjectives I don’t like associating with Parks and Rec. Still, that storyline was the only semi-bum note in an hour of high-quality TV, so I can’t complain about it.
Highlights and extras:
- Ann, upon seeing that Leslie’s brought her a copy of Freedom: “Why am I reading this?” Leslie: “Because I’m almost done with it, Ann, and I want to talk to you about Patty!” This exchange might be one of my favorite jokes ever.
- Did you know that the Snakehole has a website, and that it’s amazing?
- Ron: “I won’t publicly endorse a product unless I use it exclusively. My only official recommendations are U.S. Army issued mustache trimmers, Morton’s salt, and the C.R. Lawrence Fein two inch axe-style scraper oscillating knife blade.”
- Signs the disgruntled former Public Health PR director hung all around City Hall: “Chlamydia affects nearly 100% of Jan Coopers.” “The Department of Health congratulates Jan Cooper, Miss Chlamydia 2011.” “Re-elect Jan Cooper, Mayor of Whoreville.” Anyone else getting shades of Billy Madison here?
- In these episodes, Janet Snakehole, Burt Macklin, The Douche, Jean-Ralphio, and Kyle all make appearances. It’s like catnip for continuity nerds. (EDIT: Oh, and how could I have forgotten to mention ’80s Flattop Perd and Sewage Joe! Thank you, commenters.)
- Drunk Leslie: “No offense, but I don’t remember you having a nursing degree in feelings!” Drunk Ann: “Offense! That’s rude!”
- “This committee would like to ask if you are the kind of candidate who can forgive someone after they behaved like a complete jackass.”
- Another reason to like Ann: She owns a replica of the dress Julia Roberts wore as a prostitute in Pretty Woman. And she looks really good in it.
- Tom: “Everyone steals. My favorite movie is Love Don’t Cost a Thing with Nick Cannon. Which is based on Can’t Buy Me Love, which is based on Kramer vs. Kramer, or something, which I think was Shakespeare.”
- Andy’s a big fan of Ultimate Battle Smoothie on Slurp HD. I would watch the crap out of that show.
- Andy’s guess as to April’s favorite place to “smush her boo”: “At the Neutral Milk Hotel.”
- Before Lauren, the little girl, goes to write a new paper about why government matters, Ron has her sign the two-word paper she wrote in initially (“It doesn’t”). Awwww.
What were your favorite moments from these episodes? And which one did you like more?