A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I know how many pounds of money I have...
"Partridge," like most of this season's episodes, had a pretty straightforward split between three stories. In this case, one worked very well (Ron vs. Jamm), one was a mixed bag (Ben returns to his hometown) and one didn't really work (Ann and Chris's compatibility problem).
Let's go in reverse order. It really feels like the show took an enormous leap from "Ann wants a sperm donor so she can raise a baby on her own" to "Ann intends to raise this baby with Chris" without stopping to explain. And, yes, it's a bit different if it's Chris — whom Ann knows, like, and has romantic history with — versus a random donor, but that it hasn't been discussed at all makes this entire mini-arc feel a bit half-baked.
Ben's return to Partridge, meanwhile, generated some big laughs out of Ben being high on painkillers, but overall seemed to need more time to properly tell the story.(*) Ben's Ice Town Clown failure is one of his defining moments, and something that fueled one of the show's funniest episodes ever, "Media Blitz." Ben going home to face the music is a big deal, but because he was sidelined by his kidney stone problem, it ultimately wasn't a Ben story at all, but a Leslie one, and not a particularly revealing one. Leslie loves Ben, Leslie stands up for Ben, J.K. Simmons gets to be sarcastic, and... scene.
(*) Since the wedding episode, NBC has shifted "Parks and Rec" (and "The Office," and possibly some of the other comedies that were still in production in 2013, but that I don't watch anymore) into the same format that most of the FOX and ABC sitcoms use, where instead of a few acts and a short tag scene, we get an entire act (albeit a brief one) after the final commercial break. Apparently, the research says this is a way to keep people from changing the channel right before the half hour, but it means that all these shows have trouble building any serious comic momentum, because they're constantly going to commercial break. "Suburgatory" has often struggled with this, and "Partridge" seemed to tonight.
Jamm's lawsuit against Ron wasn't anything groundbreaking, but it made good use of the things that make each character funny, whether Ron's paranoia (some of his money is kept in Palladium) and hatred of healthy food (skim milk is "water that's lying about being milk"), Andy's complete lack of guile or April's eagerness to lie about everything. I especially liked the montage of Ron telling people how much he'd like to punch Jamm, which felt like a concise version of what a Ron-centric version of the last 5 seasons would look like.
What did everybody else think?