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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: Parks and Recreation, "Partridge"

Season 5, Episode 17
Grade: B
Verdict: I think the most important thing we should all take away from this episode is that it's pronounced "Kroger," not "KrogerS." Other than that, the episode was solid as usual - loved the Ron lawsuit and Anne/Chris plot, but I felt the Ben and Leslie story was a bit middling and predictable.

If you've been following Parks and Recreation for a while, you might remember the episode when the press finds out Ben was a teenaged mayor if his hometown and brought it to financial ruin. The writers pick up that thread this week, and Leslie and Ben visit Ben's hometown of Partridge, Minnesota. Ben bankrupted the town years ago by trying to create a winter sports complex called Icetown, skyrocketing unemployment, but Partridge is ostensibly is extending an olive branch and offering him a key to the city. This plot progresses somewhat predictably, and so things of course are not that simple. Complicating the issue, Ben suddenly has kidney stones on the day of the ceremony, and Leslie has to accept on his behalf.

In the most entertaining part of this episode, we focus on a legal battle between Ron Swanson and Councilman Jamm. The councilman is suing Ron for punching him int he face at Leslie's wedding. Tom, April and Andy  lie under oath to help Ron win the case, but Ron forces them to testify truthfully, regardless of the potential financial damage. In the C-plot and my second-favorite part of the episode, Anne and Chris take a compatibility test to see whether they'll work together as parents. They score badly and learn the differences in their approaches to raising a child.

Parks and Recreation has been on fire in regards to sharp, witty writing, and this week is no exception. I laughed throughout and found really small, clever moments to appreciate. Unfortunately the primary plotof this episode is a bit dull and predictable, and that keeps this good episode from being a great one.

Mild spoilers: This show excels at creating enemies. Councilman Jamm and the town of Partridge are awful, but in a way that we've all seen and can really believe. Leslie and Ben battle one monster, while Ron and co. battle another, and we see a commonality in the plots. Both characters take the high road, suffer for doing it, and commit a little bit of crime/treachery at the end to give the bad guy his comeuppance. I like that this show isn't afraid to show the characters doing things that are a little bit wrong or underhanded at times so long as their intentions are in the right place. There's an honesty about that that I can appreciate.

I also think the Chris and Anne parenting plot has done a lot to reinvigorate Anne's character. Although, as I mentioned, it KILLED me that she pronounces it Krogers! And Anne is totally the kind of person that would do that without noticing. I doubt the writers actually thought that much into it. They most likely just wrote it down incorrectly. But it was still like an awesome inside joke, to me.

My last piece of criticism for this episode is, again, about the Leslie & Ben plot. I didn't really understand what the point of introducing Ben's sister was, unless it was just a soft intro that will serve a purpose later in the season. She's kind of devoid of personality and has no impact on the plot. If she wasn't in the episode, it still would have been exactly the same. In a way I suppose that's a very real and grounded approach to showing some of Ben's family (particularly compared to our last introduction to them), but we're not watching this show to catch realistic glimpses into everyday, mundane details. We like the funny.

Favorite quote: "There's only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk. Which is water that's lying about being milk." - Ron Swanson
Favorite moment: It's a tie between the lies April, Andy and Tom told about Ron and the montage of Ron mentioning he wanted to punch the councilman over and over... both excellent, classic Parks and Rec moments.
Least favorite moment: Some of Ben's hallucinations and babbletalk in the hospital weren't very good. Apart from the last one, which was hilarious: "I'm feeding your eagle. He's starving."

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