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Pawnee has a seemingly endless supply of kooky characters populating the town, and it’s great whenever we’re exposed to more zaniness. The writers and producers have created a world where it’s expected that we find two doofuses managing the Animal Control department, the millionaire scent artist, Dennis Feinstein, running a successful business, or April’s creepy friend, Orin, just being his charming self. And as much as I love the core group in the Parks department, it’s always a laugh to see them interact with people that are even more nuts than they are.
The main plot of the episode finds Leslie and Chris appalled at the mismanagement of Animal Control. It’s the same small town minutiae that we’ve seen them tackle numerous times before, even more so since Leslie’s become a city councilwoman, but it never fails to be funny, such as when Chris gets one of his running feet caught in a coyote trap or when they show the failed Flintstones dead bird work whistle on the wall. But enough’s enough, and Chris fires everyone Oprah style – you’re fired, you’re fired, you’re all fired!
Naturally, Leslie makes it her mission to find a suitable director, only to be told that the council appoints people on a rotating basis. Unacceptable, she cries, demanding an interview process for only the most qualified candidates. Way to not give in to Jamm's dentistry-based nepotism! Sadly, as it is Pawnee, the pickings are slim, but the interviews with the applicants, including the two guys Chris just fired, Jerry, who will now see his salary lowered because “what’s fair is fair,” a woman who’s scared of animals, and the aforementioned Orin, make for some great comedy. I can’t remember the last time we saw Orin, but Parks does a great job of bringing in minor characters without overdoing it. That’s why it’s such a fun surprise when they appear on screen. And thankfully, Orin’s as strange as ever, claiming that he can control animals with his mind just before Leslie shoos him out.
Unfortunately, not all appearances by minor characters inspire the same affection. Take Dennis Feinstein, aka Dante Fiero, who’s just as a big of a dick (Ben’s word, not mine) as he was when he first appeared in season three’s “Indianapolis” as Pawnee’s premiere manufacturer of perfumes and colognes (or possibly insecticide). Frankly, while I love the camaraderie between the trio of Ben, Tom, and Andy, this whole storyline of soliciting funds for Sweetums Foundation falls flat, and Dennis’s unlikeability doesn’t help matters. There are a few gems – we learn what a Rolexus and a Dwyer shower are – but Dennis feels like a retread of Jean-Ralphio, as a rich guy who doesn’t know what to do with his swathes of cash, except not as endearing or funny. The only payoff of the whole mediocre plot? Seeing Donna at Pawnee Smokehouse surrounded by two men as she smokes a cigar and coolly says “gentlemen” in that way only she can. I’d love to see more of her, but Donna’s another one of those characters that can make a huge impact by uttering just one word, and it would behoove the writers to keep her fabulous as such.
Another interesting grouping the we've seen more of this season is Ron and Ann. I always bring up the time he showed her how to fix things around the house during Andy and April’s Halloween party as an example of their great chemistry, and I’m glad they’re playing more with their dynamic. This time, Ann reminds us that she’s a nurse, a detail I always seem to forget about her, and forces Ron into seeing a doctor. I always operated under the assumption the Ron Swanson was impervious to any disease, but after watching one of Leslie’s favorite movies – you know, the one about an orange fish who’s separated from his father – he catches something from Diane’s daughters. Of course, he would detest going to the doctor when he fancies himself at the pinnacle of health. There’s not really much to the plot, aside from letting us hear Ron’s loveable giggle when the doctor presses on his stomach and the wonderful tag where Ron does his best to ingest a banana before smashing it inside a Paunch Burger, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Ron and Ann in future storylines. Something about her earnestness coupled with Ron’s matter-of-factness makes for a winning combination.
As for filling the vacant director position? Leslie suggests April for the job, plying her with a gift basket filled with bottles of fake blood, vinegar, and mud. Despite how disgusting that sounds, it’s sweet how much their relationship has grown up to this point. Leslie is April’s own personal cheerleader, rooting her on to be successful at whatever she puts her mind to, but sometimes Leslie’s meddling can get to be a little much. I mean, how is April qualified for this position aside from her love of animals? Thankfully, logic prevails, and April actually makes a great suggestion for the Parks Department to absorb Animal Control. Sometimes I think Ron and April are the two sanest people in the department. Chris promotes her, naturally, and while I have no doubt April will make a great deputy director, what happened to that whole veterinary school thing a few episodes back? Here’s to hoping they’ll revisit that soon.
Only four episodes remain! Anyone want to place a bet on whether Ann will be pregnant by season’s end? Winner gets to sit inside the Rolexus.
Notes and Quotes
-- Sorry, Bark Obama is just not as cool a name for a dog as Bark Ruffalo, coined by the always amazing Stefon on SNL.
-- Ron’s answers to Ann’s questions on his medical forms are top-notch.
Date of birth: springtime.
Drinks of alcohol a week: one… shelf.
Exercise: lovemaking and woodworking.
Allergies: cowardice and weak-willed men. And hazelnuts.
Sexual history: epic and private.
-- Jamm: “He’s not a rack of ribs so stop grilling him.” I hate Jamm with every fiber of my being, but this actually made me laugh because it was so corny.
-- Councilman Dexhart on April’s sexually charged emails to Andy: “They’re still extremely graphic and appreciated by all of us. I had never heard of several of those terms, and I’m a freak.” I don’t even know how to respond to that.
-- Dennis’s fragrances include: Spasm, Butter Face, Ooze, Money Shot, Blood Spurt, and Allergic (with the wonderful “cause a reaction” tagline). If only smell-o-vision was a thing! Or maybe we’re better off not knowing.
-- April: “I don’t like lotion. I like my hands to be cracked and calloused like a railway worker.” Of course she does.