Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Pawnee Commons' - A Wreston development
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I tour the country performing a spoken-word opera about pear-shaped women...
"Parks and Rec" doesn't often bother with finding links between the stories in each episode beyond, "here's what these people are doing while Leslie and [select one of Ben, Ann or Ron] is off doing that." But "Pawnee Commons" did a nice job of presenting three stories that were about the same thing, and that were funny about it in different ways.
For Leslie, Tom and Andy, "Pawnee Commons" is all about the struggle to let go of childish beliefs and/or personae. Leslie has spent her whole life despising Eagleton and all the people in it, so it's hard for her to imagine that Wreston St. James is as perfect and benevolent as he seems. Andy seems to believe, as one commenter astutely put it last week, that becoming a police officer will make him a superhero, and he has to come to grips with the idea that the job has a lot of drudgery, and the good moments don't involve taking down Judy Hitler, but maybe helping a little boy find his mom. And Tom is desperate to put Tommy Timberlake and all the Entertainment 720 nonsense that went along with it as he tries to make Rent-A-Swag into a real business.
But the stories don't all play out so that the lesson is exactly the same. Leslie has plenty of good reason to hate the snobs of Eagleton, and is given even more when two of Wreston's underlings bring that prank diorama in to show her and Ben. Amy Poehler is often at her funniest when Leslie is at her most petulant, and her ongoing frustration at the opulence of Eagleton was terrific. Even better was the righteous fury in her voice as she told Wreston's underlings, "You have five seconds to get out of here or I will rip your throats out." And though Leslie's inability to apologize to anyone from Eagleton reminded me a little of the old "Happy Days" running gag about how Fonzie could never say "I was wrong," the way it kept going and going turned it into its own thing, and nicely fit in with how Leslie later just kept spraying and spraying the shaving cream onto Wreston's head.
The Andy/April, story, meanwhile, gave us one final adventure for Burt Macklin, FBI, which was ridiculous in the details as always. (Burt's retirement ceremony, and the notion that he had been undercover for 40 years and never met his family, was particularly demented.) But much as I always love Macklin, it was, indeed, probably time to say goodbye to the guy, and though "Parks and Rec" doesn't need to suddenly turn into "The Wire,"(*) I do think Andy needs to start to grow up a little, whether it's about his interest in policework or something else. April has started to mature, while Andy has, if anything, regressed mentally over the last few seasons. Chris Pratt makes a hilarious overgrown 8-year-old, but this show does a good job of balancing the silly and the sweet, and it becomes harder for the sweet to work if any one character gets too silly.
(*) Even if I'm positive Mike Schur wishes it could.
And the Tom storyline very smartly balanced the need to have characters grow and change in season 5 with the recognition that there are things we like about them that we don't want to get rid of. (In that way, it was almost a meta-commentary on the challenge of writing a sitcom in the later years.) The Tom of Entertainment 720 can't function as an adult businessman, but the Tom who's pinching every penny also can't make this particular business work. The tag with the remodeled store nicely split the difference: it looks much better, but mostly because Tom brought in all the fancy furniture we know he has at home.
Very satisfying all around, and that's without even mentioning Ron's attempts to tutor Chris at woodworking.
Some other thoughts:
* I will never not enjoy Leslie's appearances on Wamapoke County Public Radio, with my biggest laugh from that segment coming from Derry Murbles' need to both explain to his listeners who Batman is and to describe him as, "a strong gentleman who fights crime nocturnally."
* Wreston was played by Brad Hall, the latest "SNL" alum (albeit from the historically-ignored Dick Ebersol years) to stop by Pawnee. Hall doesn't act much anymore — nor does he have to, what with being married to Emmy Winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus — and his only acting credit between 2005's "Must Love Dogs" and this was in a straight-to-video 2010 movie called "Love Shack."
* DJ Roomba! Now playing "Heigh Ho" to get the crew working.
* Janet Snakehole and Judy Hitler are locked in a room overnight and told only one can leave alive. Who wins?
* I want to hire the guy who made the Leslie and Ben balloons to come to my kids' next birthday party. That is all.
What did everybody else think?
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
Let Streaming Genie help you.