‘Parks and Recreation’ – ‘Telethon’: DETLEF SCHREMPF!

Senior Television Writer
05.07.10 48 Comments


A review of last night’s “Parks and Recreation” coming up just as soon as I suffer from sleep fighting…

In recalibrating the Leslie Knope character between seasons one and two – making her seem overly-enthusiastic rather than delusional and turning her from someone mocked by her co-workers into someone they respect and even fear – Greg Daniels, Mike Schur and company made the show vastly better. But that shift in the character has also had an unintended side effect, wherein the very funny Amy Poehler often seems like the straight woman sidekick and not the comic heroine of her own show.

Now, there have definitely been season two episodes where Leslie was front and center and generating a lot of the laughs (“Practice Date,” “Greg Pikitis” and “Leslie’s House” immediately come to mind). And there’s certainly no shame in playing straight woman to  the likes of Andy, April and Ron Effing Swanson. But it had been a while since we got a good concentrated dose of Knope insanity. So leave it to Poehler to write herself one of her best showcases of the season – and yet one that allowed her to keep playing point guard and set up everyone in the supporting cast for a moment.

So we got an overtired, hyperactive Leslie fueled entirely by sugar (ironically, at a diabetes telethon), but we also got Ron’s sleep fighting and chair caning (yet another of Nick Offerman’s talents, I’m sure), we got another fine performance by Mouse Rat, we got Tom getting drunk around the much taller Detlef Schrempf(*), Donna using the telethon phone to make international calls, Jerry’s talents again being unappreciated, April’s sarcasm going unrecognized and even Ann (in the tag) letting us see that she’s just as irrational in her love of Leslie in some ways as Leslie is towards her.

(*) And speaking of irrational love, I cannot tell you how excited I was when I learned this episode would feature Detlef Schrempf. Even though he played on those Pacers teams of the ’90s that always gave the Knicks fits, the combination of the crew cut and the name (which my best friend Mike and I always had to bark out in thick German accents) made him one of our favorite players. (And apparently, Band of Horses loves him too.) So even though the hair is less severe, I was pumped to have him around for an episode, and to see Tom be exposed to a different kind of celebrity.

Just lots of good bits of business for everyone (save poor Mark, who barely avoided being publicly humiliated on public access TV), but I especially loved the montage of Leslie trying to come up with ways to fill the missing Detlef time, and ultimately trying to describe the plot of “The One With Chandler in a Box” episode of “Friends.”

One of the strongest episodes of this superb sophomore season for “Parks and Rec.”

What did everybody else think?

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