Review: ‘Parks and Recreation’ – ‘Emergency Response’

Senior Television Writer
02.14.13 53 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Parks and Recreation” coming up just as soon as I help a child perform a tracheotomy on his elderly uncle…

The scheduling gods were not entirely kind to “Parks and Rec” this month. “Emergency Response” and next week’s “Ben and Leslie” were the conclusion of the original 13-episode order the show got for the fifth season, and they were written (like “L’il Sebastian” and “Win, Lose or Draw” before them) as a potential series finale.(*) Without saying too much about “Ben and Leslie,” it functions so well as a series-ender that it’s going to feel odd to have it immediately followed by another, more regular episode. In an ideal world, tonight would have been the double-feature, with both halves of this two-parter put together, and then there would be a one-week gap before “Correspondent’s Lunch.”

(*) Given recent developments elsewhere at NBC, while “Parks” keeps chugging along at a modest but consistent rate, I would now be shocked if NBC didn’t renew the show.

That said, “Emergency Response” functions very well as the climax to the Leslie vs. Jamm war over the future of Lot 48, and another example of the fun “Parks” can have when all hands (well, except Jerry) are on deck to help Leslie through a crisis.

Matt Walsh from “Veep” was amusingly deadpan (“Doesn’t matter; prepare for the diarreha”) as the state emergency preparedness evaluator, and I liked the idea that for Leslie to win this war, she had to go against her instinct to do the best possible job of everything and completely tank the emergency drill. Plus, that story gave a nice payoff to Chris’ recent stint in therapy, as he was able smile his way through his own hypothetical death.

We got to see Tom again be clever in dealing with local businesses, and as the episode’s comic highlight, we got Ron taking over Joan Calamezzo’s show and kicking so much ass that within a few segments, the chyrons were identifying him as “Ron Swanson, Host, ‘You’re On With Ron.'” I would now like “Nick Offerman’s Call-In Advice Show” (“any dog under 50 pounds is a cat, and cats are pointless”) to be its own spin-off, airing immediately after “Chris Pratt Describes the Plots of ’80s and ’90s Movies.” Thank you, NBC. Also, I liked that Ron wound up there as a callback to Ben’s own difficulties being on-camera back in “Media Blitz.”

Andy’s season-long quest to become a cop seems to come to a bad, but funny, end after he completely bombs the personality test. (“First, I would be like, ‘Dad, you’re alive? What the hell?'”) But it was a nice touch to have him ace the written exam – we’ve seen in the past (like Ron teaching him about systems of government in “Flu Season”) that he can memorize things – and April’s sick inverse rabbit’s foot lucky charm felt exactly like something she would do.

All of this leads to the main event, which is a party going off so well that Leslie wins the right to finally turn Lot 48 into a park, and in a lovely full-circle moment for the series, Mouserat plays a rewritten version of “Pit” featuring lyrics about a park.

And because the mood is so understandably bright for all – so communal and happy and all the things that Leslie Knope loves – you can understand Ben’s impulse to stage the wedding right at this very moment, which sets things up to be resolved in “Ben and Leslie” next week.

Speaking of which, I’m going to be on vacation next week, but will be publishing a few posts written in advance, including short talkbacks on shows I’ve already seen – which includes that “Parks” double-feature – plus a few other stories, one of which is a long conversation with Mike Schur about the many faux-finales he’s had to write for “Parks” and how he wants to approach the real end, whenever it is.

What did everybody else think?

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