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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Parks and Recreation, "Swing Vote"


Season 5, Episode 21 
Grade: C-
Verdict: This episode treads a lot of old ground, and unfortunately that ground isn't even very old. If you've seen the video store episode, which took place earlier this season, you've basically seen this one. Except the video store one was better.

I ordinarily expect to spend Thursdays laughing at Parks and Recreation and feeling disappointed with Community, but tonight they've pulled their own "Freaky Friday" and traded places. This was my least favorite episode of the season, primarily because the entire premise of the episode is something we just saw a few weeks ago. The B & C plots feature Andy's fallout with his band "Mouserat" (this plot is OK, nothing great) and Tom's attempt to break up with his over-the-top girlfriend (bad story, but good riddance for hopefully getting rid of this character).


In the episode's primary plot, Leslie is trying to save something she considers a Pawnee institution, the local mini-golf (or putt-putt, if you will) establishment that relies on government support, but Ron opposes the measure. We saw this exact set-up a few episodes ago with "Bailout," where Leslie fought to save a video store that was going out of business, which Ron opposed. The differentiating factor is that in this episode, Councilman Jamm holds the swing vote that decides the fate of the mini-golf place. Leslie and Ron each try to work their charm on Jamm, who ultimately puts his vote up for sale. Unlike the video store episode, Ron takes victory and Jamm's vote. The episode seems to reinforce the notion that although Leslie and Ron are on very different sides of the spectrum when it comes to political belief, they both have convictions and respect for one another, which make them allies

Andy carries the B plot of this episode, in which Andy catches his band performing without him. Andy attempts to grow off and shrug off the band, but by the end of the episode we find him reuniting with Mouserat. Tom tries to end his relationship with Mona Lisa in the C plot, and this was my least favorite part of the episode. I really hated Mona Lisa in her first guest appearance, and I was hoping we wouldn't have to ever see her again; she's basically a female version of John Ralphio, but not funny. I'm unclear on whether she'll be coming back, as Tom seems over the relationship but didn't succeed in completely shaking her off. 

Unfortunately this episode could be completely removed from the season and it wouldn't make a difference; there were very few good jokes, no plot developments, and a lot of re-hashing. I think the only redeeming moment for me was watching April list her favorite music (Halloween sound effects from the 1950s, for example...). Chris was also pretty good as a sidekick to the mini-golfing expedition, in which he constantly cheers on Leslie and Ron ("Excellent win Ron! Even better loss, Leslie. Ultimately we learn the most about ourselves through the losses.")
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