Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Ann's Decision': In the belly of the Douche
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I stand trial for counterfeiting Euros...
Let's be honest: the rest of "Ann's Decision" could have been a test pattern, Jerry painting in silence, Aubrey Plaza staring at the camera without blinking, etc., and the scene with the three guys battling food poisoning would, by itself, have made this one of my favorite "Parks and Recreation" episodes ever. It's essentially a mash-up of two famous scenes from past seasons — Ron flipping the burger at himself after suffering the hernia, and Chris struggling with the flu — but one featuring a masterful trio of physical comedy performances from Rob Lowe, Nick Offerman and (especially) Adam Scott. Ron slapping the phone towards Ben so Ben could dial with his nose is easily the funniest thing the show has done since Andy acted out the plot of "Roadhouse," and may be the funniest thing since the original "Stop. Pooping." scene.
Fortunately, the rest of "Ann's Decision" was quite entertaining, even if nothing else was at the level of Chris contemplating the idea of dating Shauna after dying, Ron announcing that he had voided more than Tom's body weight in the last 12 hours, and Ben being horrified to realize that his beloved calzones had betrayed him. ("As God is my witness, they are dead to me!")
Ann stories tend to be a mixed bag, simply because her role on the show is as the straight woman and Leslie's confidante. (And it's been even dicier of late, since Ben handles both those roles just as easily.) In this case, though, "Ann's Decision" wound up being less about Ann herself than about Leslie's predictable but amusing reaction to the eponymous decision to get pregnant with a sperm donor. And it was also an excuse to revisit a wide swath of Pawnee male loserdom, from Sewage Joe ("If you're looking to buy some weed, I'm looking as well") to the triumphant and somewhat nuanced return of The Douche. Nick Kroll essentially shifted back and forth between Douche(*) and Howard at random, but I liked the idea that what had started out as a satire of bad radio had essentially taken over his career and personality, with only occasional glimpses of the original Howard peeking out.
(*) One minor complaint: I know Leslie was already disillusioned by The Douche (Douche-illusioned?) in "The Fight," but I still have a hard time tracking her reaction to the guy (and to Crazy Ira) now versus how hysterical she found the whole thing back in "Media Blitz." Feels like a gag where the writers at the time never expected to bring back Kroll and Matt Besser, and therefore didn't think through how Leslie Knope might actually feel about this show.
April's story, meanwhile, brought back some more weirdoes of Pawnee — notably "Parks" writer (and Humblebrag inventor) Harris Wittels as the guy pushing for a topless park — while illustrating how April can be just as effective as Leslie, but in her own unique way. It may turn on Andy to see April dressed in Leslie's pantsuits — which, based on his relationship with Leslie to date, says more about seeing his wife role playing than any specific feelings he has about Leslie — but erroneously quoting Eleanor Roosevelt and pretending to be cheerful just isn't her thing, while telling stupid people to shut up very much is.
The solution to April's problem, like Ben realizing he should have JJ cater the wedding, was a predictable one, but the stories leading up to both — as well as Leslie embracing Ann's quest, so long as it's conducted in a thorough Leslie Knope way — were very effective and funny.
But again, all I really needed this week was three men clutching their abdomens and trying to work a telephone.
What did everybody else think?