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Parks and Rec is solid as always, but the laughs seemed a bit more subdued this week and definitely a bit sad.
The big twist this week is the return of Dave (played by Louis C.K.) who was Leslie’s last serious lover before Ben and is only out of the picture because he had to leave town. Dave is back for the police chief’s retirement party and when Ben and Leslie bump into Dave at the station trying to get the Chief’s endorsement Leslie nervously invites Dave to dinner. The awkward trio goes out and things go about as bad as could be expected. Dave is confessing his love to Leslie when Ben ducks away to the bathroom and when Ben finds out his fear of cops ramps up to 11. The dinner scenes worked wonderfully, made easy by the fact that three great comedians were simply making awkward conversation around a table.
The scenes are touched with a twinge of that aforementioned sadness though as Dave has seemed to go a bit off the deep end. Seeing him plead to Leslie, handcuffing Ben in the bathroom, and lying out his ass to try and win Leslie back is not easy to watch, and anyone other than Louis might not have been able to make the desperation so funny. The scenes were also a really nice highlight for Adam Scott who runs through a gauntlet of emotions, from being surrounded by people he is terrified by, to regaining some confidence while oblivious at dinner, and crashing back into weird town when he is back around those terrifying cops. I can’t imagine much more from this trio as they gave us plenty of laughs from start to finish. This was a solid base to counter the bit scattered B story of the episode.
That B story is everyone else recording a ‘We Are the World’ style campaign song for Leslie with Andy at the helm. The drama around getting the song right allows for a couple of good moments for Andy and a couple great beats for April, but the real draw here is the return of Duke Silver. Ron Swanson’s saxophone playing alter ego is a legend at the recording studio they are using and April must be sure that no one else learns about Ron Swanson’s darkest secret. The small little Duke Silver moments were fun bits, but I wish we got to see more of him working his magic as he fixed Andy’s song off screen.
The other plot unraveling at the studio is Tom trying to court Anne and he is failing miserably. Tom is trying so hard it is almost off putting to the audience, but Ansari plays it with just enough Tommy sweetness that it doesn’t go overboard. Still, I don’t think Anne would have ever accepted Tom’s last ditch date effort and I really hope they don’t try to make this couple something that sticks. I am much more intrigued by Chris’ slow meltdown they are starting to unfold over the last few weeks; I can’t wait for the pay off episode.
Parks and Rec was very sharp this week, but it was missing that certain something to take it into the upper echelon of episodes. It had a great guest spot from Louis C.K., Adam Scott had a great showcase, and it had the return of Duke Silver; why didn’t it take off? There wasn’t a whole lot of story to carry forward this week and that certainly might be a factor, but regardless the episode brought plenty of sweet moments and laughs and that is all we can really ask for, right?
-Booble Bear! Anneberry sauce.
-Ben, oh no. “You getting weird already.”
-“Jerry if you’re eating you’re not listening.”
-Duke Silver coming out tonight!?!?!?!
-This is going to be the most awkward dinner ever.
-“I hear he make mature women swoon when he plays.”
-“Did you hear me; I dig your groovy tunes man.”
-Oh no, poor Chris.
-“I said my thing first.”
-“If we leave now while he’s in the whiz palace.”
-Ron’s snapping, brilliant.
-I love that April is turned on by angry Andy.
-“It was raining out so I didn’t want to get wet.”
-Tom, blowing it.
-“I have a ton of experience with women being angry at me.”
-Wow, Chris is terrible at singing and dancing and that was, literally, the worst rendition of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ ever.
-Dave is kind of crazy now.
-“I never thought I would say this to you son, but I think you are over thinking this.”
-I love that the sound engineer is just waiting for a sign.
-“Now I got the sniffles.”
-“Please just tell me what you want me to do.”
-Why is everyone so jumpy at this party!
-“I’m about to endorse ten beers into my mouth.”
-“You wore me down.”