Parks & Rec gets possibly its best guest performance yet in Patton Oswalt in a great episode from nearly head to toe.
When the local Teds of Pawnee fight back against the archaic nature of the Pawnee Charter, the town throws a Ted into a local body of water every year due to a poorly written law, a local citizen tries to filibuster the council vote to keep them alive. The citizen, Garth Blunden, ends up getting into a contest with Mrs. Knope over who can live the most archaic the longest and she did not know what she was in for. This story starts off as an absurd, yet appropriate, jab at the idiocy of taking centuries old documents at face value (even though our country's biggest issue is misinterpreting a sound and logical 2nd amendment) before becoming just an excellent character piece for Poehler and Oswalt (Blunden) in a battle of boredom with a Star Wars pitch (that you can watch in all of its uncut 8-minute glory here). Oswalt is great here on a show that, sadly, doesn't always take the greatest advantage of its guest stars. Seeing him nerd out about is old hat for Mr. Oswalt, but there is a sweet and gentle sincerity to him here that is just great. Having Tom and Andy around as well to bounce off him is only an added pleasure and both get in some excellent lines. What puts this story over the top though is the sweet submission of Leslie to Blunden's loneliness as she gently tries to push him into a social life by appointing him to the Pawnee Historical society. It was the perfect ending for the story and smartly leaves Blunden in Pawnee to potentially bring back at a later date.
The B story of the week is Ann and Ben's rivalry to purchase a waffle iron for their respective anniversaries for that week on their Leslie Calendars. The idea of Leslie giving all of her friends a calendar that celebrates every miniscule life event they have ever had is perfect, as is Ben and Ann's put-out reaction to having to always keep up with it. There are some excellent nerd references here as well, but it is the Pawnee Pawn Shop, in its longest appearance yet, that is the highlight of this story. I don't know if they have ever mentioned the guy behind the counter's name, but he is a gem of an actor. Where did they find this guy? We may never know, but the writers always seem to bring their A game every time they enter this little shop. The end of the story is great as well as it is nice to see Ben and Ann have a moment, only to be topped by Leslie already being a million steps ahead of them with her friend week presents.
Getting the least amount of screen time, but providing just as many laughs, is the battle between Chris and Ron for April's management soul. When April and Ron are forced to take Chris' management training course, everyone involved tries to display their leadership skills and styles and it is great to see April come out on top. Plus, we get some excellent Jerry time as he becomes a pawn for Chris and Ron to play with and watching everyone relish in it is something I don't think we have ever seen. Offerman continues to get some great material this week as Ron, but he is less of a standout and instead plays wonderfully off Lowe's Chris who continues to stick in an excellent groove on the show. April getting the last laugh makes the show three for three on nailing their respective endings as the episode never misses a beat.
This episode is one of the strongest on the show this season and maybe, possibly, an all-timer. It's right up there with the wedding episode this year and featured great work for all of the characters and even had room for plenty of material for its guest star. Oswalt continues to be great in just about everything he does and I would be ecstatic to have him pop up a few more times around Pawnee.
-"I go by Theodore!"
-"And you checked it and it didn't work!"
-"Has the right to seize any Indian property for a quarter."
-"I would work all night if it meant nothing got done."
-"My two most favorite people in the cataloged universe!"
-"Arresting my wife for no reason; if I was married."
-"By that logic, every night I go to bed I am Wolverine."
-"But this is literally a battle for April's soul?"
-"That's a dope bonnet."
-The Pawnee Pawn Shop is the gift that keeps on giving.
-"500 dollars buys a lot of nitrous."
-"Butter is my favorite food."
-"Look at my hoop Leslie! Look at my hoop!"
-"12 days, is he a ghost!?!"
-"Just burn, bury the ashes and pray it doesn't haunt you."
-"I'm going to miss saying huzzah."
-"Thank god, I don't know how to swim."
-"Two men enter, one me leaves."
-"How'd you already have these?"