Review: ‘Parks and Recreation’ – ‘Farmers Market’

Senior Television Writer
01.23.14 47 Comments

A review of tonight’s Adam Scott-directed installment of “Parks and Recreation” coming up just as soon as I go back to rabbinical school…

The title story of “Farmers Market” deals with a question the show was going to have to address the minute it was decided to make Ben the new city manager: How does his professional relationship with his wife work now? Giving Leslie Knope 24/7 access to that kind of civic power is a potentially very dangerous thing, and Ben’s insistence on erecting a firewall(*) made absolute sense, even as Leslie kept plowing right through it. The problem is that we’ve been on a run of episodes of late where Leslie tries to bull her way into getting what she want and won’t listen to reason, and it’s too much. In isolation, this is a funny story; as the third straight episode with this particular iteration of Leslie (in addition to several from the fall run), it feels like too much. This is an established facet of our main character, but also one where a less-is-more approach tends to work best.

(*) Had the writers known that Dan Fienberg was going to save their show and badger Bob Greenblatt into verbally committing to a seventh season, would Ben and Leslie have been talking about icebergs instead of firewalls?  

As a result, the most satisfying part of the farmers market plot involved all the chard jokes, as well as everyone’s reaction to Chard Bodies (including Connie Cabbage reluctantly unbuttoning her blouse to compete). Fortunately, the episode had a couple of strong subplots.

Andy becoming a kids party entertainer known as Johnny Karate and His Magical Guitar Stick seems a natural progression for him, and channels his manchild qualities into a professionally useful direction. In general, Andy’s music career has been fertile territory for the show, and while I hope this isn’t truly the end of Mouserat, I also look forward to him doing an act that allows for Bert Macklin cameos.

And we got a much-improved Ann/Chris story this week, simply by virtue of having them interact with the rest of the cast. Ron being forced by HR to host a regular Whine & Cheese event for the staff was a great idea – in particular for his very loud joy as he describes all the music in his rectangle – but this was a nice collection of characters to have responding to Ann’s very graphic complaints about the life of the extremely pregnant. (Ron referring to her as “Nurse” each time was a nice touch.) For most of these six seasons, the show has asked Rashida Jones to be a straight woman, and she’s done very well at that, but she also totally delivered on that blistering comic rant about Pac Man.

Next week, we say farewell to Ann and Chris, but tonight, what did everybody else think of “Farmers Market”?

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