Last night’s “Parks and Recreation” may have been one of the sweetest episodes of television this season. All the warm and fuzzy magic that once belong to Jim and Pam on “The Office” now belongs to Andy and April, while the will-they/won’t-they sexual tension that characterized the early seasons of “The Office” has been transplanted on to Ben and Leslie. “Parks and Recreation” can take advantage of both halves of the Jim and Pam equation at the same time, though with Andy and April it has the added advantage of two of television’s more unique characters. In fact, if you consider it, many of the character types on “Parks and Recreation” are unique to the show. Certainly Ron, April, Tom and Jean Ralphio, while Leslie and Andy are original variations of more traditional sitcom characters.
Right now, Ben is floating without Leslie to anchor him, but as the the achy exchange between the two at the end of last night’s episode demonstrated, there’s still an abundance of romantic chemistry between the two. I’m not sure, however, if the show could ever sustain the existence of two blissfully happy couples, so if Ben and Leslie ever get together, it may mean the separation of April and Andy. I don’t think my soul could take that. They play off of each other so well, and this season has provided an entirely new dimension for April: She glows. She fucking glows, people.
I liked that Michael Shur toned down Tom Haverford last night and allowed the character to be likable again: I kept thinking that he and Jean Ralphio would find a way to save the company through that “perfect” party, but I’m glad they didn’t. Entertainment 720 has served its purpose. Tom needs to find another entry point into the “P&R” universe.
Robert Pine, who played Herb Scaifer — the leader of the Reasonabalists — provided the biggest laughs last night: The “volcano mouth” line and his exchange with Chris provoked such an extended giggling fit that I had to pause the show to recover. But it was the heartbreaking moment between Ben and Leslie and, especially, the heart-swelling moment between Andy and April at the Grand Canyon that provided last night’s real emotional wallop. Who knew you could take something as lame as the bucket list conceit and turn it into something so touching?
Parks and Recreation. Grade: A-