Friday, April 30, 2010

Parks and Recreation, "94 Meetings": But a rich ain't one

A review of "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I alter a gazebo...

Ron Effing Swanson hates meetings. I know that. You know that. April Ludgate certainly knows that. But you can only put off the thing you hate for so long, and "94 Meetings" had a lot of fun with the idea of Ron trapped in a hellish day of meetings (and dragging April, Andy and Ann along with him), while at the same time doing some nice character work on both the budding April/Andy romance and the sweet, paternal relationship developing between Ron and April.

The meetings were a nice mix of the absolutely ridiculous (the purple bikini man, the guy who yells at 5-year-olds for lack of talent), eminently reasonable ones made absurd (Andy being unable to say yes to the woman) and unlikely left turns (Ann spending her day diagnosing moles). And perhaps the funniest part of all was Ron describing the situation as "a blood-saked, nightmarish hellscape. However, to Leslie Knope...," followed by the abrupt cut to a giddy Leslie declaring, "Oh, how fun!"

Leslie's own plot, however, didn't quite click for me, in part because they didn't tie the gazebo situation strongly enough to Leslie's fear of Mark and Ann getting married, in part because the show has been a little vague about where Leslie stands on that relationship, anyway. We've mostly moved past the idea that Leslie is crushing on Mark, but when she claimed to feel nauseous over news of a possible engagement, I began to wonder if she still had feelings for the guy that she's suppressed all this time for the sake of her friendship with Ann. Instead, it turned into a commentary on Leslie's fear of being a single person in a world of couples, but the idea was introduced too late in the episode, I think, for it to have worked.

On the other hand, Leslie chained to the swinging gate? Oh, how fun!

And any episode that can give us both Ron whittling a duck and an introduction to April's parents (who couldn't be less like her) and sister (who couldn't be more like her) is an overall winner.

What did everybody else think?

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you may still be right about Leslie's fear of Mark and her friend getting married. She may have said that fear of her being single in a world of couples to keep her from admitting her feelings for Mark which she's a bit confused about since hearing the news of Mark wanting to marry her friend.

Schmoker said...

More laughs per minute than any show on TV right now. The guy who yelled at five year old girls basketball players "Because THEY SUCK!" was beyond hilarious. And the stuff with Anne being annoyed by people asking her medical questions (then giving in and diagnosing everyone) was equally funny.

Gigantic props to the show for letting Ron absolutely lose it with April in a decidedly non-funny way, because stuff like that only makes the funny funnier, and it made the final restrained scene between Ron and April very touching.

Matthew said...

What, no shout-out to Ron's "secret identity"? Had that been previously revealed?

LOVED April's sister. Great casting.

Matt Mitovich, FANCAST.com

DirtyKash said...

For me, best episode of a very strong season. I'm giddy that Ron is in fact a singer named "Duke Silver" and that April's mom has all of his albums. I'm thinking this could come back sometime in the future with all sorts of embarrassment at Ron's expense.

Loved when Ron said he needed anyone with a pulse and a brain to pitch in only to immediately send Jerry packing. Poor Jerry.

George said...

Was April's mum Canadian?...don't even care, the Ludgate household was hilarious, and of course April's mum loves Duke Silver.

The reappearance of Shauna Mawae-Tweed [sic?] and Jessica Wicks lends credence to Pawnee as a city, and that was a nice callback to the Sweetums episodes.

It was a fairly average episode, all in all, but I'm worried about Ann. She's barely there most weeks and now the pit is filled it seems they are really stretching to find ways to bring her to the City Hall, God knows what they will do when Paul Schneider leaves the show. I know Leslie and Ann are friends, but how often do you visit your friends in their 9 to 5 workplace?

I like Rashida Jones, both here and in The Office, but Ann is virtually irrelevant now.

I need more Aziz Ansari, Tom 'the Gold digger-digger' Haverford is pretty awesome at the moment as is Ansari's rapping alter ego RAAAAAAAANDY!

You'd think Leslie would have moved on from Brendanowicz with Dave the Cop (great) and Justin (not so great), and it feels forced, I like that she saw any potential Mark/Ann marriage as a loss of two friends, but I think thay're just trying to fabricate drama.

Poor Jerry, doesn't even get to help out!

To be honest, this episode will only be memorable for the Ron/April reunion.

Too Late said...

I don't think Ann spending her day diagnosing moles is an unlikely left turn. I know nurses who don't like to say they're nurses for exactly that reason. "I'm a nurse" equals "please tell me what weird things are going on with your body."

I want to know why April's parents call her Zuzu. Is their favorite film It's a Wonderful Life?

Jobin said...

The second Andy got a crazy look in his eye and said "Bert Macklin" I think I jumped off the couch in celebration. I'd love a "CSI: Pawnee" spin-off with Mr. Macklin of the $%^&*% FBI on the case!

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't think Ann spending her day diagnosing moles is an unlikely left turn.

I just meant that it's not where Ron might have expected those meetings to go when he recruited her.

Alan Sepinwall said...

What, no shout-out to Ron's "secret identity"? Had that been previously revealed?

Yes. Duke Silver has been a running plot element this season, going back to his first appearance in "The Practice Date," where Mark sees Duke in concert.

Chalmers said...

While the gazebo storyline did meander, I thought this was an outstanding “welcome back” episode. They advanced several of the relationship storylines, introduced April’s family, mined the season’s most reliable humor sources (Ron’s contempt for the citizenry, “I’m a gold-digger digger,” “You can go home early, Jerry”), and continued the brilliant “world-building,” referencing previous shows. Andy even called back his FBI persona from “Greg Pikitis.”

The final Ron/April scene was both a grace note and a gasp. April’s nonchalant reveal was played beautifully.

But in an episode where two non-employees got called into duty, where was Donna?

The Seventh Soldier said...

@Matthew

Duke Silver came out early in the second season, in the episode where everyone in the office was trying to find out everyone else's secrets - this is also the one where we learned about Tom's green card marriage - and has been a relatively frequent call back throughout the season.

And it is awesome.

Marsha said...

If they had only nicknamed April "Zuzu," Dayenu.

If they had only coined the word "Ga-Zoinks-Bo" and had Leslie dictate her own tabloid-esque story, Dayenu.

And, heaven help me, if they had only given us "March-tember One-teenth," DAYENU!

aimee said...

I thought this episode was hilarious. I actually had to pause because I was laughing so hard I was crying when April told one of the meeting people that "Ron Swanson is...currently dead." April is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Given Ron's approach to his job, "more Ron Swansons" was probably not the right expression to use, though I loved April Swanson. In more than one way, April is the closest thing the show has to a Jim Halpert. At least until "Galentines Day", Mark always seemed to be designed as an anti-Jim.

Speaking of Mark, I'm a bit apprehensive about his exit, and wondering how the writers will keep us sympathetic to Ann. Right now whenever the plot turns to their relationship, my mind keeps thinking, "Don't break his heart, Ann."

Based on April's pit video, I had assumed that Natalie would be her older sister. Not what I expected at all. Her parents, on the other hand, were very close. I realize it would've spoiled the later moment, but plotwise I wonder why Mrs. Ludgate did not seem to recognize Duke Silver.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping the tagline would be "Just as soon as you remove your groin from my desk"

Another brilliant episode to a brilliant season.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I thought was stupid in this nearly flawless episode was giving April an identical sister. Seemed like a halfass attempt to get laughs from the viewers of the rest of NBC's Thursday lineup.

blinky said...

Hate the show. I have tried many times and I HATE the show. Make it stop.
Why anyone thinks Amy Poeller is funny is beyond me. I guess it pays to be pals with Tina Fey.

Anonymous said...

I usually don't even bother trying to pick up on possible tag lines, but I was SURE you would use "just as soon as I spend a minute in my cologne cloud".

Fidelity Castro said...

Wow, thanks for your comment blinky. No one cares what you think. I thought the moment with April's sister was executed perfectly, it was such a spot on impression I had to watch it several times. And I think Mrs. Ludgate didn't freak out about Duke Silver being at her door is April probably told her that Duke Silver was her boss, and the general double life situation there.

Anonymous said...

why didn't April's mom seem more excited to meet Duke Silver?

Anonymous said...

Actually April's mom did seem overly excited to meet Ron, so I'm assuming April had already told her that her boss is Duke Silver, but to never bring it up.

Anonymous said...

Okay, maybe I'm really dense, but at the beginning of the episode Ron tells Leslie there are 93 meetings. But the episode is called 94 meetings. What was the 94th meeting supposed to be? Ron and April's parents?

Anonymous said...

What was the 94th meeting supposed to be?

The "one more" with April, in which she tells Rons she quits.

barefootjim said...

I laughed for about five minutes at the throwaway line by the beauty queen golddigger about how she met Newport at the hospital because "his blood dudn't work."

Zack Smith said...

April's mom probably was excited to meet Duke Silver, but she seems like the type to be excited over meeting ANYBODY.

Anyone else notice this episode had a title card? I wonder if this will become a regular thing. Sitcoms typically don't give episode titles (on the air, anyway), and only a handful of dramas do this.


I wanted to see more of the party. The wedding picture was one of the best murinals...uh, murals at Town Hall yet.

Poor Jerry.

The Ann and Mark thing would have made more sense if we'd seen more of the characters hanging out outside of the workplace. Leslie's worries are logical, but not fully developed in the context of the show. And she's already moved on from Mark with two pretty cool guys, so he's not worth getting hung up over (no offense to Paul Schneider, who is a good actor and awesome person).

Aw, Andy's still fighting his feelings for April!

Ron Swanson: Nothing needs to be said. I hope Ty Burrell enters his name as lead actor at the Emmys, because for supporting, Nick Offerman has it tied up. Piven be damned!

Anonymous said...

I missed this show, so glad its back! I think Andy could do absolutely anything and he'd crack me up. But the biggest laugh for me was when Leslie chucked the keys at Tom. Didn't expect it and loved it. I really enjoy all the relationships between all the characters on the show. So much fun to watch. 30 Rock use to be my favorite Thursday night show, but P&R tops it now.

Col Bat Guano said...

Nobody wants to comment on the new mural Leslie was standing in front when she explained who Trumbell was? Every one of those has been comedy gold and this one was no exception. I would love to see them online.

"Unfortunately, they were both horses."

Andrew said...

The legendary Duke Silver is a saxophone player, not a singer. (He may sing, but he's known for his smooth saxamaphone stylings.) That is all.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to have a new episode of Parks. I was starting to wear out the video of the cast's appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

The calendar is a pretty amusing read in itself. For example: "Complaint: Park bathroom sinks don't work as bidets (no name given)." There are so many recurring peripheral characters (Dennis Feinstein, Jessica Wicks, Nick Newport Sr., Shauna Malwae-Tweep, Councilman Howser, etc.) that I'm not sure if I should recognize any of the names on the list.

Media Mindset said...

How can this show not be more popular, it's excellent. I did a post on my own blog about it too, hopeing to get some more people watching it.

"I saw your penis"...lol

Chalmers said...

I'm not sure if they're all there, but the Murals of Pioneer Hall are online.

http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/exclusives/murals/

Also, I can't let a rundown of recurring peripheral characters go by without Joan Colamezzo of "Pawnee Today."

Tom said...

Of NBC's four Thursday comedies, this is now the one I look forward to the most. So glad to (presumably) have a run of new episodes.

Alan works Jay-Z into a Parks and Rec review. Well done, sir.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ann. There is no such thing as a "benign melanoma."

Anonymous said...

Among the abundance of funnies, Ron's "please take your balls off my desk" was KING..

par3182 said...

loved the use of the title card, leaving us wondering what the 94th meeting was going to be

so glad to have the show back - the meetings being scheduled for march 31st just rubbed in how freakin' long it's been since the last episode

i was also sure you'd be going with "just as soon as I spend a minute in my cologne cloud".

David Willis said...

Oh, show. I loved this ep.

Marchtember Oneteenth was pure brilliance. As was April's credible shoptalk about making an end run to the commissioner.

Poehler's pregnancy was painfully obvious in several scenes, but I will gladly handwave that away because the show is hitting its marks so well.

mrt said...

Media Mindset said...
How can this show not be more popular, it's excellent.

I have a couple of thoughts to explain the ratings.

First, it's on NBC...

Second, the first few episodes of Season 1 were terrible. I would imagine many people either tuned it out, or never tuned in because of this (I know I watched the first episode and didn't come back until a friend suggested I do so during the middle of this season...I've since gone back and watched all of Season 2).

Third, and probably most controversially, it's still not that great of a show. It seems to have become trendy to call P&R the best comedy on television, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because the Office and 30 Rock aren't as funny as they were in previous seasons, maybe it's because a certain segment of the television viewing public likes to have "favorites" with low Nielsen ratings and limited appeal to the public at large. Anyhow, P&R is a decent show, but isn't even close to the show that the Office and 30 Rock were in their heyday. With one notably exception (Offerman as Swanson), the cast is pretty average. I've found myself mentally tuning out of episodes where Offerman gets less airtime. Anyhow, like I said, it's still a solid sitcom, and better than most of what's out there, but it's still amazing to read reviews where people talk about laughing for all 30 minutes or the "brilliance" of the writing and performances.

Swedge said...

This was the best of NBC's four comedies last night. I wouldn't say it was hilarious, many of the jokes weren't that funny, such as the Leslie/Gate gag. But it was a very enjoyable, pleasant half hour. It was a place I wanted to visit. At least this time.

Anonymous said...

This episode made me actually laugh out loud ten times. I love this show!

Anonymous said...

I thought the most brilliant part of the brilliant episode was that her name is April and she doesn't know how many days March has.

Anonymous said...

Haha..great episode. AND April's sister was hilarious and adorable?? hoping they'll be writing her in again!

Tyler said...

"Thirty days hath September, April, March, and November" Hilarious! Best episode of anything I have seen in a while...definitely worth not studying to watch this!

Erik said...

Decent episode, but I'm getting less and less enthused about Parks & Rec with every episode. For me it's all about Ron, April and Andy, and this episode's Ron-April plot should have been great. I loved the idea and April's reactions (Aubrey Plaza is perfect in every scene), but I didn't feel they really communicated Ron's anger and annoyance at the meetings, and it didn't feel organic for him to blow up at her.

It seems to me that the show has lost its way a little bit. Several other commenters have noted that Mark and Ann feel superfluous, and I don't really know what Tom wants now that his marriage is over. Ron and Leslie only seem to want the status quo (when Leslie should really be trying to get elected for something very soon - perhaps running in liberal opposition to Ron's libertarian campaign), and the April-Andy storyline is beginning to drag. I appreciate that they at least had Andy acknowledge the situation, but it's beginning to feel like the Andy-Erin saga on The Office, where it's drawn out a little too long. Maybe the producers really think the age difference is inappropriate (I don't) and don't want to go down that path, but then they need to address it very fast without killing these characters that offer the only real heart to this show right now.

In more concrete complaints, I didn't care for the Gazebo-plot at all. I thought the idea of the mural was stupid (I've never liked those murals and I absolutely hate those jokes where the camera pulls out to show the context - there was a really horrible one in the Arrested Development pilot that I've never really been able to forgive) and it annoyed the hell out of me that Newport, Sr., was supposed to be 85 when the actor clearly was under 60. Was there a point to that?

It's still a very funny show, but for me, it's not nearly in the same league as Community, which for me is probably the second best show on television right now (after Breaking Bad, obviously), and it's not even consistently better than The Office, which makes up for its many flaws with an abundance of heart. I really hope the writers have a solid gameplan for season 3, because while they've proven they can bring the laughs with this season, they haven't really been able to make the whole more than the sum of the parts yet, and I really fear the show's going to become as irrelevant as 30 Rock if they don't begin to bring some more story and heart to the table.