Parks and Recreation 1.4 “Boys’ Club”
This was probably my favorite Parks and Recreation episode so far. It stands as the first that seems to really have a plot (save for the pilot) and had some stand-out humor, which, surprisingly, didn’t come in the form of a joke about the brutal slaughter of Native Americans and/or settlers. Weird.
Someone sends the Parks Department a gift basket that would have a total value of more than $25, so Leslie sequesters it so that no one will be tempted to violate the ethics of local government. (The same is true of swag given to journalists. If it’s over $25, it looks like a bribe.) But when Leslie and Ann infiltrate the Tuesday night after work boys’ club hosted by Mark and the other city planners, she finds she enjoys socializing with the boys and some brews and doesn’t want the night to end when the beer does. So she steals some wine from the gift basket to keep the party going. And the cheese. The next day, she’s filled with remorse for breaking a rule and taking unethical actions and starts using her “confessional” time in the documentary to voice official apologies to all women in government for letting them down (funny!) and asking her boss Ron Swanson to discipline her. When he refuses, considering the rule insignificant, Leslie writes a full confession of her actions in an email and sends it to everyone in local government, along with a link to the Pit’s new social networking website, put together by Intern April, to remind everyone of the good work she’s doing.
“Maybe in your world it’s not a big deal. You’re a white Protestant man with a full, rich mustache.” – Leslie
Only April, a 19-year-old minor, has posted a video of herself drinking the gift basket wine on the Pit’s website, thus getting Leslie in, theoretically, enough trouble to incur fines for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and the potential loss of her job. She goes to her disciplinary hearing, which Leslie draws out with her commitment to truthiness and extreme details of the situation until Swanson steps in and says he’ll reprimand her and prevent people from drinking on government property. Not because he cares for Leslie, but because he actually hates government. His idea of a perfect government is just a guy in a room who gets to decide who to kill. And that man would be determined by, possibly, some sort of athletic contest. And he could demand women to pleasure him at his behest.
There’s also an adorable/funny subplot in which Chris Pratt’s character, invalid Andy, decides to do something nice for Ann, who works so hard to take care of him. While she works a double shift, he decides to clean up the house for her, which he achieves mostly through the use of a grabbing stick and his incredible ability to vacuum while resting his weight on crutches, hopped up on painkillers. Andy even hauls all the trash from the house out to the Pit to dump it, taking time to greet a neighbor who’s doing the same thing. But the icing on the cake is his demonstration of his cleaning process, which, since he can’t stand in the shower, involves filling a kiddie pool with soapy water and covering his leg casts with duct-taped plastic bags, resting naked in it while listening to some tunes he wrote for Ann on his boombox. He even washed his shorts! But then a neighbor comes by and takes Andy’s boombox, crucial because he intended to play that song for Ann when she walked through the door later that day, and so Andy springs from the pool, nude and draped in plastic bags, and hobbles down the street to get his boombox, the image of which is one of the funnier things I’ve ever seen. He does, however, make it home in time to groom himself and cook dinner for Ann, making him totally one of my new favorite losers with hearts of gold. (I hope he one day does this whole scenario for his fiancée, Anna Faris. She would find it hysterical.) Someone, indeed, is getting gently laid tonight.
30 Rock 3.20 “The Natural Order”
I really enjoyed 30 Rock‘s take on an age-old comedy trope of “living in each other’s shoes to see who’s right.” This was already broached this season when Tracy and Jenna trade places to see who is worse off in America, black men or white women. This was a much more old-timey take, made bearable and funny by 30 Rock‘s hilarious dialogue. In an effort to get Tracy to learn to come to rehearsal on time (is that what ANTM‘s Aminat was talking about?), the TGS staff goes out of its way to set his clocks forward and behind, which goes so far as to have him take his son to a cello lesson at midnight that was supposed to happen two days ago . . . or something.
“White oppressors, answer my question. What time is it really?!” – Tracy
And so he plays the race card (“Don’t accept it! Don’t accept it!”), which Liz refutes by challenging Tracy to actually earn the right to not be treated like a child by proving he can be professional. So Liz demands he show up on time for rehearsal, have his lines memorized and that she will send a regular towncar to pick him up instead of “one of those Duck Boats.” When he amazingly does prove he can be treated like everyone else, he suggests that Liz also receive no preferential treatment as a woman, forcing her to load 50gallon water cooler jugs by herself, which clearly ends in more water being on the floor than in the watercooler. (I’d like to note that I have the tiniest upper body in the world and I can change a 5-gallon watercooler tank. The trick is to leave the cap on and then pull it off when the spout is already partially in the socket. Some water will spill, but not a lot.) Tracy’s decree extends to the writer’s room, where the guys no longer hold back farts and insist that Liz accompany them to Lutz’s UnBachelor Party at a strip club, and pay for it, because that’s what a dude boss would do. Liz, however, gets the last laugh here by making Tracy stay behind to read and approve script revisions, since he’s equal, which drives him to the brink of madness, as does Liz having to watch a stripper take off Lutz’s shirt (“That gland thing is not a joke!”). They call a truce, and all goes back to the way it was before.
Meanwhile, Jack’s mother is in town to remember the anniversary of the night when Jimmy Donaghey walked out on her and Jack for good. Or at least that’s what Jack thinks. Really, she’s there vacationing with her four-years-her-junior boyfriend, whom Jack instantly dislikes because he’s too young for his mother and from Florida. (“Have you ever been to Florida? It’s a criminal population. It’s America’s Australia.”) Jack hires his PI (Steve Buscemi) to dig up dirt on Paul, but he’s clean . . . except for the fact that he’s been married for 35 years and is cheating on his wife with Colleen. Jack decides that this is the opportune time to deliver the speech he wrote as a young boy to deliver to his father should he ever return. Colleen walks in on Jack upbraiding her boyfriend for being a Communist and informs him that she is well aware of the fact that Paul is married and doesn’t care.
“It’s Florida, Jack. It’s like it never stopped being the 70’s down there. And a man who can drive at night? You just don’t say no to that.”
Considering the fact that my baseball grandma is not allowed to drive at night, I found that line exceptionally funny. That’s what I want when I’m old. A man who can drive at night. That’s the good life. I’m totally with Colleen on that one. Furthermore, she has completely forgotten about the final time her husband walked out on her because he had left so many times before then. Their tradition was always more for Jack’s sake then her own. Nonetheless, she realizes in this moment how much Jack loves her and declares him a good son, so they head off for their commemorative Jimmy Donaghey dinner together, minus Paul.
I actually liked Elaine Stritch’s performance in this episode so much that I think she deserves an Emmy nod for it. She delivered every single on of her lines with the appropriate blend of caustic comic wit and human tenderness. Colleen is what she is, and her son may have accidentally-on-purpose tried to kill her once, but there’s a real, strange love between Jack and his mama. And Stritch definitely deserves props for her part in that. She’s fucking fierce.
Ah, but, twist! It turns out that Jimmy Donaghey can’t be Jack’s father, as he was missing from 1957 to 1959, since the last time he left was after taking Colleen to see 1959’s Some Like It Hot, and Jack was conceived in 1958!
- Jenna had a completely throwaway sub-subplot in which she makes a little monkey baby of the Gibbon Liz hired to fill in for Tracy at rehearsals, the best part of which is this line: “The gibbon did not attack Jenna. He was trying to have sex with her face.” – Kenneth
- “Why? The gibbon is on time, he knows is blocking and he doesn’t try to bite the dancers!” – Pete
- “No, he’s happy. His costume is hiding his erection.” – Jenna, in re: the gibbon
- (Okay, so the gibbon was good for three funny lines. I must really like animals.)
- “It’s the biggest regret of my life, Lemon. And I once made love to Kathy Hilton.” – Jack, on not delivering his confrontation speech to his dad