Fair warning – this is pretty much going to be a Parks & Recreation love fest, so read on if you either like the show too or are willing to put up with my stream of consciousness / constant praise. Hell, Parks & Recreation makes me almost wish I worked for the local government, although it also makes the Midwest look kind of cool so I think we can all see a pattern forming here – TV makes things shiny and fun, but I digress.
Although I’ve enjoyed the show since season one, I can certainly see what others mean about the show finally hitting its stride. My qualms with the show have never really deterred me from being excited for a new episode, but when it’s good, it’s really good. The last episode, “Flu Season” (3.2), was especially hilarious and in my opinion, best utilized each character including the often wayward Ann and newcomers Ben and Chris. It exemplified an ensemble comedy at its best with all the right ingredients like sarcasm, physical comedy, and heart.
The premise is simple enough – there’s a flu epidemic in Pawnee and a few of the main characters end up in the hospital. By expanding the storyline to encompass the hospital Ann has something to do and someplace to be that fits with the plot. It also creates some fun and heartfelt moments. But for all its simplicity, the plot is really what forces the characters to interact and come to seemingly natural conclusions about each other and their relationships.
- Ron actually visits April in the hospital despite his aversion to relationships and caring. He even brought he some get well gifts.
- After her shift ends, Ann flips her shit and apologizes to April about her misguided kiss with Andy last season and lets her know that she kind of hates her too. After Ann leaves April admits that’s the most she’s ever liked Ann.
- Andy really cares for April and finally gets the chance to let her know it when he visits her at the hospital.
- Ann witness a rare side of Chris – the ‘microchip has been compromised’ side. She’s secretly relieved to learn that he’s not perfect.
- Ben realizes that Leslie is pretty amazing. She wows him when she’s able to deliver an outstanding speech at the Chamber of Commerce meeting despite being delirious with a fever.
- Tom continues to successfully mix business with pleasure by skipping the presentation prep in favor of visiting the local spa, hilariously named ‘SPAWNEE’. Despite acting like a slacker its evident he does care about Leslie and about the success of the Harvest Festival, just in his own way.
- Ben and Chris also come to the mutual decision that they should stay in Pawnee for a bit longer, you know because of the Harvest Festival and *cough* *cough* Ann and Leslie.
- Rounding out the relationships, Ron and Andy bond over male activities and interests such as eating red meat, playing and discussing football, and talking about types of governments.
Besides building on the various character dynamics, the show continued to develop character quirks that are both endearing and humorous. Like for instance we found out that Leslie is quite the waffle lover. Andy continued to entertain himself, and us, by inventing what he so aptly named the ‘Super Straw’. Ron Swanson giggles. Large teddy bears are always awesome and even April can’t seem to resist their charm. Chris doesn’t exactly handle getting sick well. And Tom kindly informed us that every Thursday night is ‘Ladies Night’ at the Snakehole Lounge.
Of course the episode also featured some fantastic writing lending itself to quite quote worthy dialogue.
- Ann: “Yup, nurses and janitors are totally interchangeable.”
- Leslie: “No I can’t go home. I have to get ready for the chamber of secrets.”
- Andy: “Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the thing up here and it says you could have network connectivity problems.”
- Tom: “See, I never promise Leslie anything. That way, I never disappoint her. I try to be considerate.”
- Leslie: “Do you want me to write you a rap? I’ll write you a rap. No, you know what? You’re never gonna be able to pull it off. You’re too white. How about a show tune or something?
- Andy: “They have one that’s called the meat tornado. Literally killed a guy last year.”
- Chris: “My brain is on fire. I’m dying.”
- Leslie: “Can I get some money for the cab that I took over here, please? / Ben: “Sure, how much?” / Leslie: “I’m not sure. I looked at the meter, and it had Egyptian hieroglyphics on it.” / Ben: “Wow.” / Leslie: “Do you know the exchange rate?”
- Leslie: “The floor and the wall just switched.”
- Ann: “Three. Two. One. And my shift’s over. What the [bleep] is your problem.”
- [Andy kisses April’s forehead while she’s sleeping.] Andy: “Gross. Your forehead is all sweaty. That’s gross. But I still like you. Okay. Oh, that’s disgusting.”
Also despite being sick Leslie still manages to get the requisite Jerry dig in.
- Jerry: “Leslie, you look tired, and you’re all sweaty”
Leslie: “You look tired, and you’re all sweaty all the time. What’s your excuse? You want to go there, Jerry?
But for all of its funny and wacky moments, I think what really sets this show apart from most is that it can still be comedic without making the characters into buffoons or failures. It’s endearing, we’re not laughing at them, we’re laughing with them, well except for maybe Jerry. But in the end, the Chamber of Commerce meeting was a huge success and Leslie was able to exceeded her goal of getting 80 local businesses to participate in the Harvest Festival.