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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review: Parks and Recreation, "Leslie and Ben; Correspondents' Lunch"

Season 5, Episodes 14-15
Grade: A
Verdict: During their vows, Ben and Leslie tell one another "I love you and I like you." I can't think of a more fitting review of this week's hour-long block. Two unrelated episodes are aired back to back; the first, I loved; the second, I really liked. Because we see Ron Swanson punch a man in the face, this set of episodes automatically gets an A.

Last week's episode of Parks and Recreation ended on a cliffhanger. In the middle of a gala, Ben and Leslie decide they want to get married then and there. It turns out throwing a wedding with only a few hours to prepare is easier said than done, and we spend "Leslie and Ben" watching the characters struggle to fulfill their various missions to pull off the affair. This is a mild spoiler if you haven't seen any photos or promos for the episode, so if you're worried about that, please look away: after failure after failure, the gang succeeds on a much smaller scale, and Ben and Leslie get married with only their closest city hall friends in attendance.

This show is about creating small, quirky, endearing moments; each of them is a brick in the show's structure. The truth is, it's never really about the plot or what these characters are doing. It's always how. "Leslie and Ben" showcases some of our favorite Parks & Rec moments and reminds us of those amazing running jokes we've been treated to all of these years. Favorites include Lil Sebastian, cast iron waffle rings, and DJ Roomba, to name a few.

I know the focus here is the love between Leslie and Ben, but for me, the love between Leslie and Ron was what really tugged at my heart strings. I'm sure many people would argue that this show is a love story between Leslie and the city of Pawnee or something like that, but for me this show will always be, at its core, Leslie and Ron. Leslie's speech to Ron while he's in jail about why she needs him to walk her down the aisle, not to mention Ron's basic, emotional speech to Leslie before they actually do walk down the aisle, gave me chills.

The second episode in the hour-long block is a lighter episode, but it's still full of laughs. In "Correspondent's Lunch" we get back to regular life in Pawnee; Ben and Leslie's marriage is barely mentioned apart from the in the cold open. In this episode, Leslie battles the Pawnee Sun for hacking into her email, while Ben starts his new job at the Sweetums Foundation. Anne decides to ask Chris to be the sperm donor father of her baby, and Andy struggles with depression after failing his police officer exam.

We don't often see Anne Perkins interact with Ron. These two characters are basically polar opposites. I LOVED that about this episode; particularly at the end when she tries to tell him how much his advice helped and he shoos her out of his office. There really wasn't much about this episode I didn't like; it just followed such an iconic one that it was hard for it to compare.

Favorite moment: Leslie & Ron.
Least favorite moment: I thought the charity-picking scenes were a little boring, but I'm really just splitting hairs here
Favorite quote: "Close only counts in horse grenades. It's a saying. Because if you'replaying horseshoes and you throw a grenade at a horse, it doesn't have to be that close and you can still blow the horses legs off. It's from the movie Seabiscuit." - Andy
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  1. Good review! The Leslie & Ron relationship is spot on.

    The wedding episode was written as a series finale (before NBC decided to give them the full 22-ep season), so it was interesting to see where they were going to leave the characters. Glad there's still going to be eight more episodes.

    The great thing about this show is that they're always willing to progress the characters forward, never getting too comfortable with the status quo.

    1. Thanks Jon! I totally agree. I think they learned their lesson with the office about using will they/won't they relationships to keep a show interesting - it's refreshing that Ben and Leslie marrying wont really slow thr plots momentum


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