Review: ‘Parks and Recreation’ – ‘One in 8,000’

Senior Television Writer
04.17.14 60 Comments

A review of tonight's “Parks and Recreation” coming up just as soon as I ask the Louvre for a refund…

For a show late into its sixth season, “Parks and Rec” has done a surprisingly good job of avoiding classic sitcom story tropes. Obviously, there have been familiar romantic comedy elements throughout the run, but it's very rare that I look at the individual stories of an episode and think, “Well, I've seen that a few dozen times before,” even when done well.

“One in 8,000,” though, is one of the more familiar sitcom-style episodes the show has done. We have Ben and Leslie trying not to panic over the news that they are having more babies than anticipated, we have Andy trying  to keep their secret until they're ready to announce it, and we have Ron trying to protect Donna from her ex-boyfriend Joe.

In this case, I have seen all these stories before, though that's not automatically a bad thing. It's about the execution more than the basic idea. So Andy lying to April to protect Leslie and Ben is a rehash of a rehash, but because it involves Andy Dwyer and the enormous and very specific energy Chris Pratt gives the character, it feels like its own thing. (I laughed a very long time, for instance, at Andy passing out after revealing that his neighbor is in Witness Protection). And the fact that he was on a limited clock and doing it for a good reason helped avoid some of the more annoying iterations of the idea, where a character keeps telling a big lie when it makes no sense.

Similarly, Ron's realization that Joe (played by Keegan-Michael Key of the brilliant “Key & Peele”) is a good guy worked both because he was a Chris Traeger level of perfect (if not beyond), and because it was ultimately more about Ron and Donna's friendship, and Donna making him realize how much having kids and a happy marriage has changed him for the better. (Nick Offerman's smile as Ron enjoyed the crown the girls put there was a thing of beauty.)

The triplet panic, though, was really frantic and familiar, and it brought back Jamm, who has become a comedy black hole so powerful he even sucked in some other good recurring Pawneeans like Mike Scully as the guy who puts his building permits in his dog's name and creepy Herman from the pawn shop. In general, Adam Scott freaking out is a good thing, but this one didn't really click for me until the last scene where the rest of the staff offered to pitch in and reduce the enormous costs and time burden. It was, itself, a rehash of the kind of scene “Parks” has done many times before (like when the gang offered to run Leslie's campaign for her), but also the kind of sweet union of these characters that makes the show worth tuning into even for a lesser outing like tonight's

Also, since apparently it is a thing now where some people read my review before watching the episode to get a sense of how much Craig had to do, please note that the Craig screaming quotient was very high tonight. Very. I've liked Billy Eichner here more than many, but this was too much Craig for me.

What did everybody else think?

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