The potential of a post wedding drop off for Parks & Rec shows no sign of life here in the first episode after the big event.
The show does seem like it is hitting the reset button in a number of areas after the previous episodes finality, but it mostly gets off on the right foot. Anne is going after her sperm donor, Ben has a new job with Sweetums' new charitable foundation and Andy is lost after his dreams of police work have been dashed forever.
Ben ending up at Sweetums is the oddest development of the episode as they are known, for the most part, for being completely evil. Ben is working in the new charity department for the company, but the extravagances no know bounds around the office. Excessively large offices, expensive catered meals (much to Tom's delight) and all the nude self portraits you could hope for. Ben is asked to turn around the company's first charity case in one day and he calls in the troops to help him out. Tom, April and Andy make the call, but none are much help.
I mentioned Andy's depression above and watching April try to shake him out of it is both sweet and funny. Pratt is able to wonderfully handle depressed Andy, making him both sadder, yet still funny, which is a testament to how strong of an actor Pratt is. Pratt is also able to sell the new “smart side” of Andy, for the most part, but I am not going to lie that it feels a bit shoehorned in. Counter balancing Andy's brains with some classically dim lines for the character helps it go down a bit easier, but I am optimistic going forward that they will pull this off. Tom and April both play fine accompaniment to Andy and Ben's transitions, with Tom's dazed selection to support the KKK being one of the high points of the episode. If Ben and Andy make Sweetums a respectable company that could be one shinning moment for the back half of the season; I'm rooting for this to happen.
Anne, on the other hand, is with the rest of the crew at the Pawnee Correspondent's Lunch as she tries to court Chris into being her sperm donor. The awkwardness between the two is expected and not a whole lot happens as they are dragging this decision for at least another episode or two. Still, the story gets us some great lines from Perd Hapley as he gets caught in the awkwardness between Anne and Chris and that was worth it alone. Leslie's arc at the Lunch is based around her cell phone getting hacked by the Pawnee Sun and her jokes being stolen by her mortal enemy journalist. There isn't a lot here, even if they squeeze in a nice Star Wars reference when they dupe the journalist, but this was supposed to be a side story while they set up their paths for the last half of the season. There are plenty of laughs around Leslie, more than Anne's story actually, and it helped support this transition episode to at least stay funny throughout.
Parks & Rec successfully transitions onto some story lines it never really had planned to do and I am feeling good about the final run of episodes this season. They are making some big changes to Andy and placing Ben in a hostile environment, but I think both avenues could deliver some serious levels of comedy. We will see, but I am confident that the Parks & Rec team will pull off a stellar back half of the season.
-I love April's faux excitement.
-"Thank you, Hawaii"
-Correspondents dinner and phone hacking scandal in one show, let's see how this plays out.
-"I disagree, I find that hilarious"
-Ben is working for Sweetums?
-"What are you going to do, it's where all the flavor comes."
-"It was totally worth it."
-This new Andy is sadder, but still funny.
-"I just opened a can of whoop ass on myself."
-"That also was not a joke."
-"Everyone seems to be laughing now."
-"Somebody fucking tell me what Nev Campbell sounds like."
-"The answer I would have given is, Doggy."
-"I've had many women steal my undershirts."
-"Can it Unibomber."
-"That's how tight my pants are."
-Ron totally just nailed a bulls-eye.
-Midichlorians! "According to my husband." Ben's a prequel hater, that makes me sad.