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Parks and Recreation – Born & Raised

We are
three episodes into Parks and Recreation’s fourth season and
though it has yet to produce a real barn burner, the season also
hasn’t put out any complete duds. “Born & Raised” continued
that trend with a story that brought Leslie’s birthplace into
question. Though the episode took a while to really get going, there
were still some great laughs to be had throughout its second half.

The cold
open provided a few humorous moments early on, though they would drop
off after that for awhile. Voice of Homer Simpson, Dan Castellaneta,
was responsible for a few of the opening scene’s great lines, if only
for the mellifluous drawl with which he delivered them. Besides the
comedy, the scene also introduced the driving force behind all of the
episode’s storylines. Leslie’s book about Pawnee was actually a bit
of product placement for the real life companion piece for Parks
and Recreation
, but it ended up
causing nothing but trouble for the book’s fictitious author.

Joan Calamezzo shows up to once again ruin Leslie’s big day with some
actual “Gotcha Journalism,” including dancers and an accompanying
theme song to go along with it, our heroine is put on a mission to
prove she’s a Pawneeian born and raised. Once the segment on Pawnee
Today opens the floodgates, it isn’t long before the crazy comes
pouring in. Leslie is immediately put on the defensive as the
deranged denizens come at her during the book signing in their
typical off-the-wall fashion, resulting in an uproarious scene.
Though she doesn’t need to trek all the way to Hawaii to get the
long-form birth certificate, Leslie probably would have preferred
that trip to where she ends up going. To acquire the proper
paperwork Leslie must venture into Eagleton, home of Lord Voldemort
and everything she hates, a place she holds in such contempt that
just the thought of being one of its citizens is enough to sour
Leslie’s stomach.

It would
have been nice to see Lindsay Carlisle Shay(Parker
Posey) make a reappearance while Leslie was visiting the County
Records office; Chris and Ben both scoring laughs made up for it
though. For Chris it was his irresistible charm turning out to have
no effect on Eagletonians, who possess a natural immunity since
they’re just as upbeat and cordial. Andy was bringing the funny as
soon as he donned the Bert Macklin persona for the first time since
the shadowy government agent lost his life to shots of Snake Juice
back in season three;
“Thought I was dead?
So did the president’s enemies.”

the negative side, Ann once again failed to really entertain with her
storyline. Ron and April did produce a few funny lines, but watching
them avoid socializing with Ann still turned out to be the episode’s
weakest moments. Perhaps Ron’s semi ‘stache growing back is draining
all the energy from his comedic reserves, but outside of his general
misanthropic demeanor he only scored a few laughs. The best came
with his tactic for keeping people at an arms length by intentionally
calling them the wrong name. Seeing the pride on his face as he
passes the trick on to April was also worth a chuckle.

the episode might have been tainted by a problem that actually came
up with the season premiere. The complete lack of attention that has
been given to Ben and Leslie’s post-breakup mindsets is
disappointing. Their relationship may not have lasted long, but they
were built up as being pretty much soul mates. So even with their
completely amicable split, for neither to have gone into a slump
afterward or at least acknowledge in some way that they were ever
together ends up feeling like the typical sitcom brushoff.
is better than that, but apparently, just as the characters have, we
are expected to simply forget all about the couple that gave us
political figure role-playing. There has been one silver lining to
the breakup, in that it’s given Ben more time to be a part of one of
television’s funniest pairings.

we aren’t going to be watching Ben and Leslie light up the screen
with their adorable awkwardness, then Ben and Tom playing the
consummate comedic duo is without a doubt the next best thing. In
fact, together the two might be even funnier, they were certainly
killing it during their lunch date with Joan. The thoroughly
intoxicated TV anchor was holding her own as well; especially with
the tail end of her rendition of “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.”
Despite playing the “deadwood” to Tom’s funnyman, it was actually
Ben who earned the episode’s biggest laugh, and he did it simply by
voicing what we were all thinking at that moment,
she gonna powder her vagina?”
Ben for the
second episode in a row becoming so confounded he has to question his
surroundings also didn’t go unappreciated. Not that you can blame
him after he’s forced to take in the various semi and fully erotic
portraits of Joan as him and Tom pour her into bed.

Leslie is able to accept her lot in life as a natural born
Eagletonian, she brings the episode to a close with a moving moment
that saves her political career and gives her the peace of mind of
knowing she’s still a Pawnee girl at heart. It’s not the town where
she was born, but the one where she was raised that made her who she
is today. It was a nice way to wrap things up(while putting a turn
on the episode’s title) and Jerry turning out to have spent the
entire day fact-checking the book helped send the episode out on a
comedic high note. “Born and Raised” wasn’t anywhere near the
best we’ve seen from Parks and Recreation, but like all
episodes it had it’s fair share of great moments.


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