‘Parks and Recreation’ – ‘The Treaty’: Are we having fun yet?

Senior Television Writer
11.10.11 97 Comments


A review of tonight’s “Parks and Recreation” coming up just as soon as I make geo-political problem-solving my bitch…

“The Treaty” functioned as a nice companion piece to “End of the World,” again dealing with the difficulty Leslie and Ben are having being around each other post-break-up. Only where their story last week was mostly sad and sweet, this time it was absurdly, riotously funny.

We know Amy Poehler plays lunacy well, and she sure did it tonight with Leslie’s declaration of war on Peru (including her boast about showing Ben’s decapitated head to his weeping mama), but how great was Adam Scott throughout? I thought the multiple, spastic “fun”s of his talking head interview was going to be the highlight, but then came Ben announcing that Denmark had been formally condemned and proudly dropping the microphone and walking away in the nerdiest slam of all time. That it was then followed by Leslie making like Nikita Khrushchev with her shoe and then April and the moon joining in the Coalition of the Willing? Demented genius.

The model U.N. plot was “Parks and Recreation” in a microcosm: government ritual used as a metaphor for the characters’ emotional struggles, and as a springboard for marvelously silly comedy. It took the show’s heroine and its straight man and made them crazy for most of the half hour without making them seem out of character, and it was able to turn them back into sympathetic, three-dimensional people on a dime. (April offering Leslie a sympathetic ear by the lockers, and playing along with her fantasies of still being in school, was a lovely little note.) It actually took the idea of the model U.N. itself seriously, showing how much the kids really cared about solving the food crisis, and it treated such a seemingly minor thing as them getting to see the town council chamber as an understandably big deal to them.

Plus, it never hurts to have Andy Dwyer wandering around gathering up other country’s lions, right?

You know I haven’t been crazy about Chris’ courtship of Jerry’s daughter so far, but this worked better than the previous stories have by expanding the scope beyond simply Chris being inappropriate and oblivious in front of Jerry. There was some of that, but there was also Donna both giving advice and lapping up gossip, and, more importantly, there was an extended, amusing post-mortem of Chris and Ann’s relationship from last season. It felt much more well-rounded, rather than the same joke over and over, and Chris again was less of a cartoon than he’s been at points this season.

And while Tom’s return to the parks department was inevitable, it played out in a funny way with the variety of terrible candidates Ron paraded in front of him. (My favorite was Gary from Gary, Indiana and his misunderstanding of the concept of anecdotes.) Ron and Tom don’t work together all that often, but the writers have established exactly why Ron likes having his polar opposite around, and Nick Offerman again showed that he can move very quickly in very hilarious ways.

Nothing as emotionally powerful as Andy and April’s Grand Canyon trip, obviously, but that’s a very high bar. And for sheer laughs, this may have been the season’s strongest episode since “Ron & Tammys.”

What did everybody else think?

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