Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Doppelgangers': Ron vs. Ron

Sam Elliott, Billy Eichner and June Diane Raphael guest star as Eagleton parks department staffers

<p>Sam Elliott as Eagleton Ron on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Sam Elliott as Eagleton Ron on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

A quick review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as we burn widows for learning arithmetic...

"Doppelgangers" worked on the most basic level promised by its title, by providing us amusing mirror universe versions of our main characters from Eagleton. Sam Elliott as the crunchy, Smiths-loving counterpart of Ron was the best piece of casting (who else in Hollywood has both a mustache and a laconic manner to compete with Nick Offerman?), but Billy Eichner and June Diane Raphael were also extremely funny — and all three provided great opportunity for reactions from Ron, Donna and April, respectively — and I like that the episode ended with the possibility of Eichner's character sticking around. With Ann and Chris leaving midway through the years, we're going to at a minimum need some new recurring characters, and it's easy to imagine Craig bouncing off of Leslie, Ron, Tom and the others as well as he did with Donna here.

But boy, did I not enjoy most of the material involving Leslie. Leslie is a tough character to balance — she has to be admirable without appearing saintly, wacky without becoming a cartoon — and though the "Parks" writers for the most part have her nailed, every now and then we'll get an episode (or, in this case, back-to-back episodes) where her craziness goes too far and she just seems unlikable. Last week, it was her gloating about the travails of Eagleton, and here it was her wild overreaction to the idea of Ann moving away — and then taking her feelings out on both the new and the old staff. Even on those occasions when "Parks" isn't super-funny, I take great pleasure out of watching it because I like Leslie and the other characters so much; here, I had to remind myself that I usually like Leslie.

(It also didn't help that this behavior came in an episode where everyone's treatment of Jerry/Gary/Larry again crossed over that very narrow line to where it just seemed mean.)

I've seen next week's episode, and it does much better by Leslie, but overall haven't loved these last two because of how she's been written.

What did everybody else think?

Alan-sepinwall-sm
Alan Sepinwall
Sr. Editor, What's Alan Watching
Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "The Revolution Was Televised," about the last 15 years of TV drama, is for sale at Amazon. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com
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