‘Parks and Recreation’ Review: “Bailout”
After a couple of weeks off, it's good to have 'Parks and Recreations' back, and we're hoping that Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt can have as perfect (or at least as awesome) a marriage as the Taylors did on 'Friday Night Lights.' If any show should skip a infidelity subplot, it's this one.
Unfortunately, this episode keeps the two apart for the entire episode as it splits up the crew with it's A, B and C plots. Tom is having trouble being a boss to his employee at Rent-a-Swag, Mona Lisa Sapperstein (Jenny Slate) -- AKA Jean-Ralphio's sister -- so Chris pretends to be Tommy's dad to see if he can be a father to help him decide if he wants to give sperm to Ann. Leslie want to bail out a video store run by Dennis (Jason Schwartzman), but when Ron Swanson hears about this government bailout he protests her actions, while Ann forces April (who wants a recommendation to Veterinarian school) to be friendly to her for a week.Sadly, Ben Wyatt is Gergiched this week as even Jerry gets a better moment (Jerry reveals he's not used to talking at great length so he starts babbling after a couple of sentences).
Watching this episode after the latest 'Community' shows the sharp divide between the two shows. This has jokes that are actually funny and the show develops interesting conflict by creating a dispute between two characters we have an affection for. Seeing Ron and Leslie (or April and Ann, or Chris and Tom) come head to head leads to great moments. And Ron and Leslie's fight over the video store -- which Leslie wants to make more commercial so the owner turns it into a porn shop -- is a perfect butting of the heads. This also leads to a public forum -- and someone making fun of Craig T. Nelson's comments about food stamps -- which is filled with great stupid jokes. Ron gets to win this one, even if Leslie is able to work out something in her favor. The episode also allows Nick Offerman so many moments to shine, including one of his best in-character laughs yet. It's like the producers know they should have at least one.gif-able Swanson moment a show.
And though Ann Perkins is still one of the weakest links of the show, playing her off of April is always a lot of fun, perhaps because it generally brings out the humanity in April. Their duet of "Time After Time" (with a Donna assist) is a great little moment, and it works because you can see Aubrey Plaza's April wrestling with giving in or making fun of it. Even if her character will probably never change, and even though this is a device used repeatedly throughout the show's run -- like Ron Swanson showing he cares -- it almost always works when April reveals she's not a complete sociopath.
If this episode has a low point, it's that there's not much more to Mona Lisa, who eventually starts dating Tom because she's attracted to authority, other than that she's the female Jean-Ralphio. But that's more than enough to make for a couple good minutes of laughs.This episode felt like it could have been put in any part of the season, as only the revelation that Chris will donate sperm (and maybe not in a cup) is the only big development, and that will open some interesting questions (will the two pair up, will Ann tell Chris that it's her baby first?) but if this was mostly plate spinning, it shows that few sitcoms are as gifted at plate spinning as 'Parks and Recreations.'
Finally, it's hard to decide what was better: "Lights, Camera, Perd!" or "Dong Swanson" in the Leslie Knope-based porno 'Too Big to Nail.'