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

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Parks and Rec S05E17

Ben Wyatt, feeding the eagle

Daniel,

Thanks to the NCAA Tournament, NBC postponed new episodes of Parks and Recreation for two weeks. I am not complaining because the NCAA Tournament is probably my favorite event of the year. However, taking time away from the show after it had been on a solid roll with the wedding episodes seemed to suck a little energy out of this episode. My initial impression was that it was “OK,” but I think that it would have been better in a Netflix style binge watching (Arrested Development! Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Mostly, I don’t really care about Partridge. I like Ben’s backstory quite a bit, but I’m not super interested in the rest of the town (although, I liked J.K. Simmons quite a bit as the Partridge Mayor. But, I almost always like J.K. Simmons). The best part of the Partridge storyline was Ben’s morphine-induced ramblings. Adam Scott really sold that well. But, that wasn’t necessarily enough to feel like a great storyline to me. It was funny and warm like most Parks and Rec storylines, but not one of the strongest.

It was hard not to like the Jamm v Swansuck case, though. With such a large amount of great actors and great writing, this show can’t go very wrong with it’s B stories. For example, Jamm was able to give a somewhat meta recap of the “Parks and Rec” gang, including “The nurse won’t have sex with me, and she’s not even queer!” Also, “Lying under oath is perjury. They should know; they did it yesterday.” Even Ron getting served was hilarious. I’m not sure I’ll ever get tired of watching Nick Offerman’s giddy laugh when he finds out something like winning a free dinner at St. Elmo’s Steak House. Simple moments that were hilarious. And for the storyline, it was nice to see Tom, April, and Andy (although Andy didn’t seem to know much about the plot, asking desperately that someone tell him whether or not Tom was hurt) Jamm the councilman.

And the last part of the episode, we saw Chris and Ann struggling about whether or not they were compatible enough to be parents. This part of the episode was fine, but I still can’t figure out how much Chris is expected to be a father to the child. I believe we both expressed confusion about this in past posts, and I’m still not sure what the deal is. It seems like Chris is going to be involved (why would they do the compatibility tests?), but it does seem like Ann will be the primary parent, which sounds like a weird thing. What do you think?

One last thing: April said “turdburger,” and it made me really happy.

We should just go for it…life!
Bryan

Bryan,

I think we had pretty much the exact same reaction to this episode.  While “Partridge” is a textbook example of a pleasant midseason chapter of Parks and Recreation, the show’s three-week absence robbed it of any momentum it might have picked up from the very funny “Bailout”.  I agree that it will likely play better on DVD; however, while “Correspondents’ Lunch” understandably suffered in comparison to the wedding episode, I’m not sure what it says about “Partridge” that it was slightly underwhelming in a vacuum.  I don’t want to understate the charms of an entry that features one of the best Adam Scott showcases of the season in addition to some very solid Ron jokes, a satisfying denouement to the Ron-Jamm confrontation story, and the disturbing results of Chris, Ann, Donna, and Jerry’s compatibility tests, but there did seem to be a lot of squandered potential in the A-story.

I love the idea of exploring Ben’s past and hometown in more detail, but the episode both largely bunted on its main premise — Ben returns to the site of his teenage mayoral fiasco and confronts the townspeople he failed — by keeping Ben separated from most of the action in Partridge, and failed to compensate with many memorable or funny details about the town itself.  I’m always happy to watch J.K. Simmons in anything, but his mayor character, as well as the introduction of Ben’s sister largely failed to leave an impression.  The were some good quiet jokes about the mayor and other Partridge citizens’ frustration at Ben not being able to take in his melted ice-key and WELCOME, ICE CLOWN banner in person, but ultimately this story didn’t tell us a whole lot that we didn’t already know or suspect — Benji Wyatt had a largely uneventful childhood, he had a disastrous, government-bankrupting stint as 18 year-old mayor, and the people of Partridge have never forgiven him for it.  On the plus side, most of Ben’s opiate-addled non sequiturs and one-liners (and, I suspect, ad libs) were hilarious, especially the line you quoted above.

It’s clear at this point that Chris is going to be involved on the parenting side of things.  Although we haven’t gotten all the details, I expect we’ll see him supporting Ann during this process the way he would if they were dating — which, as this episode pointed out, they aren’t, due to “incompatibility.”  In reintroducing the idea that Chris and Ann may not work well together, the show seems to be asking questions less about whether they’re fit to be parents — as Chris says, commitment to the child is the most important thing — than it is about their relationship in general.

I feel like I never gave Miles Davis enough play,

Daniel

  • Leslie quickly backtracks after declaring Ben to be better than Judy Garland, because Judy Garland is awesome.
  • “There’s only one thing I hate more than lying — skim milk, which is water that’s lying about being milk.”
  • “You wanna make a baby, Traeger?  With your hair and my everything else, that kid would be unstoppable.”
  • “I don’t know, those are Jean-Ralphio’s lawyers.  They once got him $60,000 because he got too scared in a haunted house.”
  • “I don’t know how much money I have, but I do know how many pounds of money I have.”  “I’m gonna tweet this to Drake to use as lyrics in his next song.”
  • Chris’s ideal profession for his son: 6-time Tour de France champion.

Written by breklis

April 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm

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