Parks and Recreation 1.2 “Canvassing”
After the supremely awkward denouement that was Leslie’s first town hall meeting at the end of this episode, I am definitely warming up to Parks & Recreation. To facilitate that meeting, Leslie et al spent the day canvassing, which my husband can tell you is basically the worst job in the world, during which time idealistic Leslie found out that not everyone likes parks. Sure, pedophiles do, especially if the park is more than the required 1000 feet from their home and extra-especially if there’s going to be a pool in which the kids can swim, but sometimes mothers of children don’t like them because they’re too noisy. And those park haters are exactly the kind of people who show up to voice their opinions at town hall meetings.
Seeing how poorly that meeting is going, Leslie starts filibustering to run down the clock and avoid a potential park-killing vote. Tactics used? Reciting the history of Pawnee, which involves a good slaughtering of white settlers by the local Native American population, planting Intern April in the audience as the voice of the local pro-park youth and, eventually, reading aloud from The Phantom Tollbooth. Let me just say this: if every episode contains a joke involving the brutal and deadly culture clashes between Native Americans and white settlers, I will be a happy camper. So far, we’ve gotten one in each episode (the score is Natives 1, Settlers 1), and I for some reason think these jokes have been the funniest out of everything. It’s really hard not to find the phrase “until he was twisted to death” funny when you’re me.
- Leslie and Ann returning to Ann’s home to find her injured boyfriend Andy playing Rock Band with Mike and Intern April . . . who should have been out canvassing.
- Intern April hiding under a tee-shirt while playing Rock Band, as if it were an invisibility cloak.
- “I want my daughter to succeed passionately. That’s why I always encourage her to be a wife and mother.” – Leslie’s mom, who is also in local government and is way better at it than her daughter will ever be.
- “Nikolai, do you want to swim in the dirt?” –Leslie
- “Fillibuster! Boom!” – Leslie
- “You know, normally I don’t agree with Leslie about anything, but this book is awesome.” – Tom, holding up The Phantom Tollbooth
30 Rock 3.18 “Jackie Jormp-Jomp”
And so Liz begins her suspension from work, and she cannot wait to get back. In fact, all she does is spend her days annoying the hell out of her building’s various Polish doorpersons by yammering on and on about TGS and the crazy times she has there . . . until she meets an out-of-work Wall Street exec who teaches her how to let go of the work-defined identity she has cultivated and fill her days with booze, facials, shopping and lunch, brunch and dinner dates. It’s basically like living in Sex and the City, and despite her attempts to resist, Liz somehow finds herself completely in love with their culture, per a brilliant sequence where she insists she’s only going to have one drink with them, and suddenly finds that she’s spent the whole day eating, drinking, relaxing and shopping, all before she’s finished telling them she won’t stay. When she completes her sensitivity training and is reinstated at work, she suddenly feels overwhelmed by the prospect of going back to a job-defined existence and quickly sexually harasses Mr. Weinerslav (“It’s pronounced weiner slave.”) in order to return to the safe comfort of her new divorcee friends.
Jack: There is no solace in their luxury, only deep despair.
Liz: How do you know so many Indigo Girls songs?
And, of course, Jack is right, because Liz’s new friends turn out to be a fight club, where one night a week they beat the shit out of each other just to feel alive. They even make Liz fight her way out:
“This is very disappointing!” – Liz
Meanwhile, with Liz gone from TGS, Pete and Jack are trying to hold things together, especially in light of the new sexual harassment policy and Sheinhart Wig Company’s refusal to release Jenna’s Janis Joplin/Janie Jimplin/Janet Jopler biopic, now known as Sing ‘Dem Blues, White Girl: The Jackie Jormp-Jomp Story. In order to have any hope of reviving Jenna’s career, Jack makes her attend the Kids’ Choice Awards (where she must begrudgingly set aside her feud with Raven-Symoné for one day) and they learn during a hilarious In Memoriam montage that, somehow, the entertainment world thinks Jenna is dead. Jack sees this as an opportunity to revive her career and market the movie, because every studio in the country would clamor to release someone’s final film. He asks Jenna to help him fake her death by staying out of the public eye.
“Oh, I can play dead. I watched my entire church group get eaten by a bear.” – Jenna
The new sexual harassment policy insists that employees declare relationships with other employees to their superiors, so Kenneth announces to Jack his intentions to marry Daphne, one of the Tracy Jordan dancers. Only Kenneth has never talked to Daphne and he is shocked/heartbroken/terrified to see DotCom turn up at the office, hand-in-hand with Daphne to declare their relationship to Jack. (At least Kenneth got to declare that he was sexually harassed by Meredith Viera, who made him eat an unripened banana in front of her and told him that pretty boys like him don’t need to read things. Man, I love the imagined life of Meredith Viera on this show.) Taking power into his own hands, Tracy puts an end to the feud between DotCom and Kenneth (for no one shall be denied extra mustard on his watch!), he fires Daphne, and the other dancers refuse to come to work in solidarity, leading Tracy to hire a bunch of female impersonators to dance on the show that week, which will be dedicated entirely to the memory of recently deceased Jenna Moroney.
Jenna is thrilled at the prospect of a show dedicated entirely to her, and watched gleefully from the sidelines. That is, until she notices that her real birth year, not the actress year, is listed on her memorial head shot. Unable to bear the thought that people would know she’s actually forty, Jenna sneaks onstage to cover up the year with her hand while singing live, in an Easter-like resurrection miracle. “Sorry, Jack! Totally worth it!” she calls out between soulful notes from her undead vocal chords.
I was very fond of the Jenna and Liz storylines in this episode, but the Tracy-DotCom-Kenneth piece didn’t really add up to anything. But I guess that’s what happens when you put Tracy in charge of something – the pieces just don’t add up. Firing Daphne didn’t really solve anything, and led us to a sight gag that never came to fruition. We should have seen those dancers again, in full force, preferably in a highly choreographed dance number in memoriam of Jenna, but we didn’t. Alas.
“Heavy is the head that eats the crayons.” – Tracy