S3E3: Parks and Recreation is at its best when its illustrating small-town life in America. As someone from a town of 10k people in Iowa, I can attest that its depictions, while hilarious, are spot-on. There’s that really loud lady who’s the leader of all the church groups. There’s that guy who really, really loves his pets. There’s that weird fellow who is afraid of aliens and makes sure that everyone knows how afraid he is. Yeah, we’ve seen these characters in other sitcoms before, but that doesn’t take away from how funny they are because the show isn’t relying on them strictly for humor, but to fill the world of Pawnee. Their presence expands the show’s universe outside of the office and we have the pleasure of seeing what all the stress in the Parks Department is for — solving these crazy people’s issues. So, using town hall meeting centering on what goes in the time capsule to display the nutty residents in Pawnee? Brilliant.
“Pawnee: It’s safe to be here now.”
As stated, the Parks Department is putting together a time capsule to “encapsulate the future.” Leslie wants to show what life is like in Pawnee at this exact moment in time. But, once the word of the time capsule gets out, a man named Kelly (played wonderfully by Will Forte) shows up at Leslie’s office, wanting to add the Twilight books to the capsule. Leslie of course thinks this is a silly idea. She believes that things added should reflect the day-to-day life in Pawnee, not just be things that people like. So, being the crazed Twilight fan Kelly is, he handcuffs himself to a pipe in Leslie’s office, refusing to unlock himself till she allows the books to be added. (Sidenote: for those who felt the Twilight reference was a little untimely, remember that Parks and Rec’s third season was originally supposed to air this past fall, so this episode would’ve come only a few months after the third Twilight movie.)
“There’s a second book?”
“And a third, and a forth.”
“No f***ing way.”
-Tom and Kelly
We find out that Tom’s girlfriend dumped him because he’s still bothered by his ex-wife dating Ron. Kelly, while handcuffed in Leslie’s office, senses Tom’s troubles and reaches out to him, using Twilight. Tom initially scuffs it off, but eventually succumbs and reads the first book and, in typically Tom fashion, gets totally hooked. Twilight suddenly has all the answers to all of his problems and well, this gag was hilarious. Aziz Ansari plays Tom in such loud, boisterous way, and anytime we see him get obsessed with something (see: the shapes mural from “The Camel” from Season 2), it’s always over-the-top and quite funny. Plus, it gave him the opportunity to talk extensively with Kelly and Donna about their Twilight theories, and it’s always fun to see Parks and Rec experiment with interaction between characters who don’t interact much. Also, Tom got some closure and understanding as to why his most recent relationship failed (despite it “having nothing to do with Twilight), and dare I say it, Tom grew up a little bit. (One more thing to note: how funny is it when this show bleeps out swear words?)
“Dude, that is the coolest sentence I have ever heard anyone talk.”
Meanwhile, Chris has “literally” taken Andy under his wing. He’s decided to help Andy win April back, and to do that, they focus on his two qualities; he’s nice and he’s in a band. Initially (and rightfully), Ann feared the Chris and Andy friendship tremendously, which isn’t surprising, considering Andy tried to ruin her last relationship with Mark. But, Chris — being the perfect human being that he is — charmed Andy with his optimism and positivity. The two end up starting a great friendship, Chris helps Andy out quite a bit (enough to where, by the end of the episode, April broke up with her new boyfriend), and Andy gives Chris some positive words about Ann. It was heartwarming, and it’s fair to say that unless Chris has some type of illness like last week, only positive things happen around him. And wow; how good is Rob Lowe? As Parks and Rec continues to deliver very solid episodes this season, it’s becoming very obvious that the addition of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott was exactly what the show needed to push itself to another level of silliness.
“Enjoy watching it, assuming you still have electricity. And sorry about the weird blank gap in the middle. A man named Jerry Gergich screwed up the recording somehow. He had one job to do.”
Now, back to the time capsule. Leslie refuses to succumb to the pressure of Kelly handcuffing himself to the pipe in her office, so she comes up with a compromise instead. She has a town hall meeting to figure out what should go in the time capsule, and what shouldn’t, and that way, she can sneak Twilight in the time capsule without the town suspecting that she used favoritism. But of course, this backfires. The town hall meeting turns into a disaster as every odd and strange resident comes out of the woodwork to try and get their special, weird thing into the time capsule. And as I stated above, I love it when we get to see the town of Pawnee. Each resident has their own quip, and the writers are very smart to not give us new characters each time the public is dealt with (for example, the woman who fought same-sex Penguin marriage last season is the same woman fighting Twilight because it goes against Christian values). It reinforces the fact that this is a small town and the people are just as passionate about their beliefs — no matter how weird or silly they actually are — as anywhere else. It also give Pawnee a face. Leslie sees this. She understands Pawnee and the way its people think, because she loves that town so damn much. She wants everyone to be part of the future, so she comes to the best conclusion possible: put a video tape of the town hall meeting in the time capsule. Simple, easy, and brilliant — not unlike Parks and Rec itself.