Parks And Recreation Review: “How A Bill Becomes A Law” (Season 5, Episode 3)

And so long as it’s playing to the strengths of the actors, Parks could stage a recreation of Das Boot and it’d be hysterical. Seeing Ron all dolled up for a tea party isn’t the sort of thing we expect from a The Director of Parks and Recreation, but it is quite the reveal, and Andy -pardon me, Princess Rainbow Sparkle- has has a history of inspiring Ron with infectious energy. Besides, he’s got a lady he’s looking to impress, Diane. Her screentime’s limited, but Lucy Lawless seems game for the role, as evidenced by their charged repartee over street maintenance. Chris was right to think that filling in a pothole was a euphemism.

Ron’s never been one to flirt, and his idea of handling kids probably involves finding the closest steel mill still hiring eight-year-olds, but he does listen to his friends. Just seeing him answer calls (a great way to inform people about how useless and inefficient the government is) at the beginning of the episode shows he’s becoming a more active part of the office, per Chris’ request, and Andy makes a convincing case for how fun a messy relationship can. And if anyone could be a match for Ron Swanson, it’s a former Amazon, even if she does have light hair.

Hair was also the big standout thing about Leslie’s newest lesson on local government, as she scrambles to lock down the passing votes on a community pools bill, mid-perm. She’s looking more like Kate Capshaw than Beverly D’Angelo this week, and that she keeps the look indicates she’s maybe only a hair (I had to) less looney than the two councillor’s whose votes she’s wooing. Sure, one’s an old, anchovy-scarfing racist, and the other’s a slimy idiot, but when Leslie reverts to crazy-mode, as she is often contrived to do in lesser episodes, her Pawnee-ian heritage really comes out.

Of the two, Councilman Milton gets the funnier scenes, thanks to Tom’s clear disgust, and the reveal of another important embarrassment in Pawnee politics, the Dixiecrat party. Councilman Jam, on the other hand, has plenty of great lines, but becomes an absurdly dickish villain, going from bargaining his vote in exchange for Leslie’s office bathroom, to almost destroying the belief in democracy a bunch of kids have during a press conference. Tom sacrificing his shot at cigar club membership in order to shut Jam up is a nice moment that feels perfunctory given the speed of the story arc, and it feels like a crude imitation of other times Tom has had to give up something to help Leslie’s career.

She winds up losing more though, and while Leslie doesn’t care where Jar goes number one or number two, she’s going to have to learn how to strike deals and alliances within the council if she wants to pass bills, and get people excited about government. Now there’s a challenge that makes filling in the pit look like small potatoes. This was by no means Parks and Recreation at its tightest, but even though some of the individual narratives aren’t adapting smoothly to the season’s new territory, there’s a sense that we’re building towards something, whether it’s another ice rink debacle, or something else entirely. If a throwaway Parks episode manages to seed things for the future, and make me laugh consistently while doing it, then its not such a letdown.

  • Stray Thoughts

-Chris has gotten a psychotherapist, and it seems to be working. He’s now self-aware enough to know that thanking himself for a good idea sounds insane. Could Chris really be the long-lost brother of Barry from Archer?

-Joan Callamezzo appearance are always welcome, but that’s just my opinion (which is fact).

-Milton and Jam will likely return later in the season, but will Leslie’s hairdresser Autumn ever get to finish that perm?

-Tom’s cigar appreciation ends in appropriately quick fashion, and was a big laugh to end the episode on.

-“It’s like your favourite directors making a mix-tape just for you,” is the perhaps the best/worst description of a soundtrack ever.

-NBC needs to release the track listings on Benji’s Cool Times Summer Jamz Mix.