Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation
Episode 13: Emergency Response
By: Carlos Uribe

Parks and Recreation is a show about Pawnee's parks and recreation department and a town councilwoman named Leslie Knope.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Andy is a nice guy. He might not be the smartest character on the show and he's a little naive but he always means well. He has wanted to be in law enforcement for a while now and this is the episode where he applies to be a cop. He's worried about the written test but he believes he'll do fine in the personality test. The opposite ends up being true. He manages to get a perfect score on the written test. He's the first person in the town's history to do so. He could be a huge asset to the police force because he's clearly dedicated to knowing the law. The problem is that he doesn't do well on the personality test. He fails it and it's indicated that he's not going to get on the force. As soon as that police officer told Chris, I couldn't help but feel crushed. Being a cop would make Andy so happy that I really want this job for him. It is an interesting turn for the plot to take because it's been moving Andy towards being a cop. The question is where does it go from here. Will Andy give up or will he decide to try again? I'm hoping that Andy will be able to find the job of his dreams because he's a character that deserves to be happy with his life. This was a small plot in the background of the episode as it took place only over a few scenes. That was an interesting choice for the writers to take. A lot of other shows would have dedicated more time to this since it's a big plot point for this story arc but there was a lot already going on in this episode and it only needed the few scenes it got to properly tell it's story. That it ends with Andy failing the personality test on an episode with “To Be Continued” clearly indicates that this will probably carry over into next week.

Why does that “To Be Continued” exist? It's simple. Leslie and Ben are at a gala to raise money they need in order to build the park. Leslie is simply so happy to be with Ben that she can't wait until they get married. Ben's solution is to use the gala to tie the knot. Everyone is already there and dressed up so it's not like this impromptu wedding doesn't come without any justification. It is a bit left-field twist and I'm not sure it's the wisest plot move. I want Leslie and Ben to get married but I think this is the plot rushing it for the sake of it. It's hard to feel excited when it simply came out of the middle of nowhere. To pull of a plot twist like this, there needs to be something that at least hints at it. There is no reference that I picked up on when they're wedding is going to happen or anything that prepared me for it. The narrative momentum exists but only barely simply because it does feel like it was added to try and fit it at the end of February sweeps. It is possibly the only weakness in an episode that is otherwise pretty amazing. Why? Because the actual plot was hilarious. Leslie finds out that the planning committee will approve her park over the fast food joint if she can get the funds for it. She only has a week. Ben manages to come up with the idea of a black-and-tie gala as a fundraiser. Leslie runs with it. Of course, this wouldn't be a plot if there weren't complications. Leslie is taken away for an emergency preparedness test by the state that she has to attend. This leaves Ben and almost all the other characters to try and set up this gala-which comes with it's own set of problems since it was put together very last minute.

The emergency preparedness drill is simply hysterical. There's a part where Leslie has actually prepared fake news segments to try and set the mood for the “disaster” the town is facing. She has a binder with a lot of responsibilities on how to save the town and best contain the situation. There's some good character work here as well such as when Chris gets “infected” and then “dies” without freaking out due to his therapy. When Leslie (and Ann with Chris) finds out that Congressman Jamm specifically chose this date for the test to mess with Leslie's gala as well as to cause the test to be more insane then normal, she decides to fail the test on purpose. This allows her to get out and rush to the gala only find out that Ben managed to overcome all the obstacles. It's a great way to show that the other characters have been able to learn from Leslie's efficiency and get the job done. Overall, it was hilarious.

Emergency Response is a pretty amazing episode of Parks and Recreation. The whole emergency drill was fantastic while the drama at the gala and the few scenes at the police station were comedy gold. The only misstep it took was with the whole end twist that provided the episode with a cliff-hanger but its not enough to bring down this episode.

Other Notes:

The closing tag with Leslie's impersonations of news anchors is great in that it allows the show to show-off Amy Poehler's talents and Leslie's commitment to being prepared for the drill test. On the other hand, I would have loved to have the closing tag show more of Andy's personality test.

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