Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation
Episode 18: Animal Control
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!

I could not stop laughing at Ron Swanson this week. He gets sick this week but he doesn't want to go to the hospital. He wants to deal with this cold as he would any other: like a man. He'll show up to work bundled up in clothing and drinking alcohol. Ann is concerned about him so she basically drags him to the hospital against his will. I basically mean that literally as she only gets him in the building because he fainted. He gets tested but he quickly leaves when he's given penicillin. The drugs to make him feel better but he's not happy when Ann tells him that he has to eat more bananas. The idea of eating the fruit completely disgusts him but she gets him to agree when she tells him that he has a girlfriend and her two kids to think about now. He has to be healthy for them. He eats the banana but he's only able to digest it when he sticks it in a Paunch Burger. It was simply a basic plot that was hilarious. I loved how Ron tried to fight the cold, how he redacted almost all of his personal information, and his refusal the ask the doctor any questions. His actual ignorance of what cholesterol was simply killed me. Those were all great moments that were hilarious but they were all easily topped by the end. I don't think I've ever laughed as hard as Ron trying to get himself to eat a banana. There might be nothing more sacrilegious to the man. It helps that the plot has a nice emotional beat to it when it comes to pulling Ron's feelings for Diane. It's a bit undermined because we haven't seen Diane in a while so it's kind of hard to remember she exists. Out of mind, out of sight can easily apply to television characters. It's hard to remember that he loves her when she's barely even referenced. Still the ending works and it's hard to complain when the series finally matched the cold opening of putting a cute puppy in the same room as Ron 'Freakin Swanson.

Ron Swanson was great but the Sweetums charity plot worked as well. Ben tries to get a donation from a wealthy perfumer, Dennis. He brings along Tom because that's his connection to Dennis. Andy tags along as a learning experience. The three go meet this potential donor only to find that the major obstacle to getting Dennis to donate is his personality. Dennis doesn't like the idea of donating his money to charity because he feels like he's giving away his money and getting nothing in return. When Ben tries to correct him by bringing up the good press it can bring, Dennis only acts like he's interested in what they have to say. He takes them to smoke cigars and drink but he's really not interested to hear their proposal but to have a good time. When he's rude to Ben, Andy calls him a “dick”. Dennis kicks them out as he can't believe someone would call him out on his behavior. An attempt at an apology only falls apart when they realize he never planned on actually giving the charity any money. He was only stringing them along for his own amusement. Ben gets to call him a “major dick” before they flee from Dennis' office. A problem with the plot is that I find Dennis to be just like Jean-Ralphio if the character had money. He feels almost like a carbon-copy rather than a unique person. The only difference is Dennis seems less accepting of his bad personality. Don't get me wrong: this was still a funny plot but it was definably the weaker amongst all three.

The main plot of the episode is the animal control one. Leslie and Chris go into the department to inspect it only to find that it's being horribly mismanaged. When Chris gets injured, the two animal control employees quickly find themselves fired. This opens up an opportunity to hire a new head for the department. Leslie is ready to find a suitable candidate to run it but she quickly runs into a couple of obstacles. The first is that she finds it's tradition amongst the city council to take turns to pick department heads. This might not be a problem except it's Congressman Jamm's turn. Jamm doesn't plan to pick a qualified head but rather one of his customers. It's revealed later in the episode that Jamm literally offered this guy the job in exchange for being allowed to fix his teeth. Leslie decides to fight this system by offering up her own candidate for the job. This is where the second obstacle comes in. Nobody who applies is qualified for animal control. The only two people who have any experience in animal control are the two idiots they fired. It really is funny but it's easily matched by the candidates they actually interview. I think my favorite was the girl whose terrified of animals who only sought the job because her therapist urges her to face her fear.

The plot then takes a promising one when Leslie gets the idea to promote April by putting her in charge of the department. She has to get April to agree to the confirmation hearing. The actual confirmation hearing becomes hostile towards April as they bring up personally scandalous e-mails. When Jamm tries to question her qualifications, April retorts by stating that neither is Jamm's guy. She has the bright idea that the council should combine the animal control department into the parks department so that it would have the proper leadership and budget to do it's job. The council quickly votes on this idea with even Jamm voting for it. It's not that April won him over but he was simply sick of being on the losing side. April might not have made director but she still gets to head the animal control sub-department. She's made Deputy Director by Chris and Leslie. The good news is that this doesn't require a confirmation hearing so the job is all hers. I'm interested to see where the writers are planning to take this but I'm a bit concerned that they are stretching all the characters a little too thin. Parks and Recreation remains one of the best comedies on the air so I have every confidence in their ability to juggle all the pieces-but that doesn't mean that they should keep adding them.

Animal Control is a pretty great episode of Parks and Recreation. The Ron plot might not have had a lot of depth but it was simply hilarious. Like seriously, someone should make a gif of him eating that banana. The Dennis story could have worked a bit better if Dennis had felt more like his own character than a Jean-Ralphio clown. The animal control plot did work really well as it set up that April will now be in charge of it. Overall, Animal Control is a delightful episode that really made me laugh. Now if you excuse me, I've gotta add a banana to the list of potential food items to send to NBC in case I need to save this show.

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