The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Merry CongratuChristmas

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Parks and Rec S05E09

Daniel,

I know you didn’t, but if you had gone to Hogwarts Academy, which house would you have been in? What a solid icebreaker.

So, I really liked this episode. It seemed to be the a fantastic “filler” episode. It didn’t progress the main plot of the park on Lot 48, but it moved forward some character development and was wonderfully delightful. I love episodes that showcase Ron Swanson’s inner giddy, little girl. Watching him be so excited to be invited to the Indiana Fine Woodworking Association awards ceremony, which was another fantastic addition to the Pawnee community was great. Hopefully, we will see the MC of the awards ceremony again down the road as a semi-recurring character. However, I am a little disappointed we didn’t get to see the winner of the main event “Best Desk.”

We also got another episode with Tammy. I love Tammy, and I think they do a great job of not overexposing her (as a character. They totally overexpose her in an clothing sense). This episode felt fresh because it was a return to the Tammy vs. Leslie battle, keeping Ron out of it for the most part. It even drove Leslie to reconsider her stance on using the “b-word.” Amy Poehler and Megan Mullally were up there with Chris Pratt on the physical comedy department. It was pretty awesome.

I think the show is handling the relationship of Ron and Diane very well (like it does with basically all the relationships on the show). It feels real and is still really funny. I really enjoy the callback to Duke Silver as Ron’s way of opening up to Diane (in a deeper way than knowing about his enjoyment of artichokes and plums). Diane knows Ron is opening up because he “got it warm all up in his jazz” in front of her. Do you think we will be seeing a lot more of Lucy Lawless as Diane this season? Or do you think she will still be around every few episodes?

As for the rest of the crew, they all ended up at the lovely Gergich family Christmas party. This was really nice ensemble B-story. We learn even more about how perfect Jerry’s life seems to be. He has three beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife, tons of friends, and a very nice house. And, he is just about as happy a man as can be. Jerry’s eternal optimism is awesome. It’s this dynamic that makes stuff like “Jerry Dinner” hilarious. I love how much everybody rags on him, but it doesn’t seem terrible because of how awesome his life is.

I thought there were some really nice beats in this story, including basically everything Andy said (Who’s Jerry Filter?) or how he looked (there is a moment when April is pretending to be pregnant to get into the party, and it looks like Andy really believes her).

I’ll let you tackle rest of the Christmas party, including Chris and Ben’s hang out session (it looks like they may be turning a corner with Chris. Maybe they read last week’s entry from me) and anything in the episode that I missed.

Everytime I eat more than 80 sushis, I barf.
Bryan

——

Bryan,

I think I would have ended up a Ravenclaw if I had gone to Hogwarts.  I’m not heroic enough for Gryffindor, not evil enough for Slytherin (plus I’m probably a mudblood), and not hardworking  and earthy enough for Hufflepuff.  In other words, I probably wouldn’t have been a very major character in the Harry Potter series.  There’s no way I would have broken into the exclusive Harry-Ron-Hermione Hero Clique,* so I probably would have had to sit around in the background pining for Cho Chang.

*There’s like 600 people at that school!  Why do those three get to save everybody all the time?

Oh, right.  Parks and Recreation.  Our last episode of 2012 was indeed a wonderfully delightful exploration of how much these people care about each other.  Leslie’s manically celebratory appearance in the cold open, complete with Congratu-Christmas carol, kicked off a series of explicit and slightly subtler moments of characters looking out for their friends (and Jerry).  Amy Poehler was in terrific form, practically bubbling over with excitement over Ron’s woodworking award nomination and the general existence of Diane before using that energy to battle Tammy 2 at her Basic Instinct-craziest.

pnr merry congratuchristmas

While Leslie has literally been known to shout her feelings from the rooftops, the less expressive characters (i.e., everyone) tend to let quieter, more everyday actions speak for them, whether it’s Ben hanging out (and keeping a watchful eye on) Chris at Jerry’s party, Ron making Diane the Duchess to his Duke (and earning her the enmity of a roomful of women), or Tom, April, and Andy giving up their Jerry Dinner money to help pay for Jerry’s post-fart-attack medical bills.  I loved the way the latter storyline functioned almost like a reverse-It’s a Wonderful Life, with the Jerry Dinner crew realizing how happy everyone is without all their mean pranks and sniping.

I haven’t been quite as down on Chris as you have this season — I thought his whole existential depression arc got most monotonous at some point during season four — but I think it’s been a smart move to allow him to confront his greatest fears both off-screen (through his therapy with Dr. Richard Nygard, who he sees 15 times a week) and on-screen in recent weeks.  While we’re seeing a shift back to the poised, crisply enunciating, hyper-positive Chris of old, the show has found a way to make his journey there a believable process full of quiet beats like Chris dressing up as his greatest fear (old Chris) and erratic lapses like the happy/sad episode at Leslie and Ben’s engagement party.  At this point, the writers get to have their cake and eat it too with Chris — he’s capable of the same peppy interactions we’re accustomed to (cue Ben: “So many hugs…”), but we also get to witness some breakthrough moments like tonight’s encounter with Millicent Gergich and her younger-Chris fiancee.

So is it funny?  This week’s Ben and Chris story didn’t have me rolling in the aisles, but Rob Lowe’s performance had a great sense of hard-earned serenity, conveying that bittersweet mix of loneliness and joy that’s always appealed to me about Christmas/winter holiday-themed entertainment.  Chris has been through an emotional rollercoaster in the last year, and watching him get through the obviously difficult task of seeing a happy, engaged Millicent again while still appreciating the company of Ben (and a glass of regular, full-fat eggnog) provides the episode with a lot of warmth.  I think there’s a lot of potential for humor in Chris’s enthusiastic discovery of ordinary human pleasures and experiences.  As with most characters, what’s funny about Chris’s stories comes from a mix of familiarity, new territory, and sharp details.  Hopefully in the coming year we’ll get a good mix of all three.

I’m also curious to see how the titular relationship progresses over the rest of the season.  Diane is probably the most serious girlfriend Ron’s had during the series’s run (Tom’s ex-wife Wendy being her only real competition), and he’s opened up to her (relatively speaking) to a degree that’s definitely out of his comfort zone.  I assume we’ll see Lucy Lawless only periodically over the rest of the season, although I’d be up for an entire episode of her beating up Tammy 2.  Parks and Recreation has a pretty high-speed plot for a sitcom (e.g., Andy and April’s wedding), which keeps things nicely unpredictable.  We’ll see what the new year has in store, but I think we can expect some more sweet, funny, and honestly observed moments in this relationship arc.

Until then, I think you might be allergic to sushi.

Daniel

Ya heard these words?:

  • Ron on his Best Chair nomination: “It’s been a real whirlwind!”
  • Leslie would totally be seeker on Gryffindor’s Quidditch team.
  • “Ron, guess why my thumbs are up!”  “No.”
  • “Wow, look at this room — so much wood, ready to be worked.”  This is probably Tammy’s most subtle line of the episode.
  • “Shouldn’t you be at the library, forcing people to borrow books?”
  • Does April have an iron deficiency, or does Ann have man-strength?  I’m going with the former.
  • “…and I said, ‘Wood I’?”  This is probably my favorite joke of all time ever.
  • “I’m a middle school Vice Principal.  I deal with hormonal psychopaths all the time”
  • “I felt like my heart was whitewater rafting during that story.”
Ann Perkins

Ann Perkins

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