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Parks and Recreation – Pawnee Rangers

Parks and Recreation returned
this week with an installment focused on Pawnee’s youth, and why Ron
Swanson hates most of them. “Pawnee Rangers” saw some of the
staff heading out to get in touch with nature, while others were
getting in touch with self-indulgence, and one was just touching his
coworker’s daughter. Definitely one of the best episodes fans have
received this season, the few dry spots were outweighed by some
outrageously funny moments.

With
the opening minutes of “Pawnee Rangers”
P&R
showed off it’s skill for using the cold open to both draw laughs and
set up the episode’s storyline. The introduction to the Pawnee
Rangers and Goddesses, who just couldn’t have been run by anyone
except Ron and Leslie respectively, let us know what we were in for
during their annual “Wilderness Weekend.” While Andy – sorry,
Brother Nature – provided some early humor, as did Leslie by
mocking Ron with her southern belle character, Annabelle Vandergraff.
Of course, Amy Poehler’s incredible ability to pull off any role she
takes on is what really sold the moment. And though his ‘stache
wasn’t quite back to its full glory, Ron killed it with the extensive
guide for the rangers, as well when he segued into the credits with
the story about refusing to repeat after the priest during his first
marriage ceremony. Having just met Tammy 1 a few episodes back it
was easy to picture.

Though the trip starts with the groups
segregated by the sexes, it isn’t long before everyone is looking to
defect from Ron’s overly-intense survival course. Who knew when
dealing with kids -and Brother Nature- that puppies and candy trump
cardboard boxes and canned beans? The public forum to debate the
segregation issue garnered a few laughs, especially for the children
of Pawnee turning out to be much more rational than their parents are
normally. And Ann may have gotten shown up by Lauren’s “Gertrude
Stein” but she claimed the title for best line of the episode(along
with the badge for Second “Flyest” Hairstyle). She hasn’t really
been bringing the funny since the season premiere, but her success at
impressing the newly christened male members of the Goddesses more
than made up for it; “Feels pretty good to have a bunch of
little boys be super into me. That came out wrong.”
Leslie
setting up a group specially dedicated to those kids who want to
march to the beat of a different drummer(and make the drum
themselves) ended the storyline with a touching moment between her
and Ron. Keeping them in separate offices for the shot was a smart
way of preventing it from being too sappy of a scene, something
P&R
does incredibly well.

Tom and Donna were off on their own
annual event, and while it wasn’t the funniest of storylines, “Treat
Yo Self 2011” still had its moments; especially since Ben came
along with them. Finally giving a little acknowledgment to the big
breakup that kicked off the season was a welcome advancement. Ben in
a state of depression over no longer having a reason to stick around
Pawnee(not to mention that expired meatball sub card) was just what
the doctor ordered, so to speak. Leslie’s hummingbird-like energy
levels makes it almost easy to accept that she could push it away,
but since Ben was for all intents and purposes the “dumpee” he
should have some reaction. So seeing his post-relationship slump
addressed was necessary for the character’s progression. Almost as a
bonus, the plot also resulted in a moment that was simultaneously
surreal and awkward, but nonetheless hilarious.

Ben must have been feeling out of it
for his “Treat Yo Self” purchase to outweigh Tom and Donna’s in
impracticality, plus a crying Batman is just not a pretty sight.
Especially since Ben already confirmed how much of a geek he was with
his stern defense of his favorite fantasy TV show(“They would
never cancel Game of Thrones.”
). Weeping while in a rubber
suit probably isn’t really how Ben wanted to spend the afternoon, and
that cowl isn’t very flattering on the jawline, but his embarrassment
was an uncomfortably uproarious pleasure. Tom and Donna pulling
classic “Tom Faces” at the same time was the perfect response to
the outfit. The final shot of Batman Ben back at his place with Andy
and April was a fitting way to close out the episode. It’s nice to
see him still treating himself, even if it’s only because his
frugality demands he gets his money’s worth out of the costume.

Despite there not being much time
devoted to Chris and Jerry’s lunch with the latter’s daughter, it
actually provided Chris the same character development and humor that
Ben’s day in the Eagleton mall brought him. It was an interesting
turn to see Chris, the show’s white knight, take on a less innocent
persona. Becoming instantly enamored with the surprisingly
attractive young woman, Chris shows himself to be a bit of a ladies
man, while also showing he can entertain with more than just his
trademark “literally.” Congratulating Jerry on a job well done
upon being introduced to Millicent is just the kind of thing Chris
would do without a second thought, and get a laugh while at it.
Spending the night with Millie leaned more toward his newly revealed
dark side, but disclosing it to Jerry at the end of the episode had
him right back to his humorously honest self.

Not quite the episode to have you
hyperventilating from start to finish, “Pawnee Rangers” didn’t
have any real flaws, just not enough of the oxygen tank requiring
humor that would have pushed it over the top. Parks and
Recreation
is still proving week in and week out that it’s one of
television’s best comedies, but it would be nice to have that
absolutely knockout episode that shows it off.

Rating
8.0

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