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I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, and I’ll tell you one of the reasons why – it inspired me to Google obscure laws in the United States. There’s even a whole website dedicated to them, and as expected, they are a hoot! No “Ted Party” laws as far as I can see, but there are still a lot of dumb laws out there. One of my favorites comes from Massachusetts: “No gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car.” But in the front seat? Totally acceptable.
It’s been firmly established that Pawnee is a quirky town with odd traditions and outdated laws, but I love that the writers can still find ways to up the strangeness factor, such as commemorating the Great Pawnee Tea Dump of 1817 by throwing someone named Ted into Ramsett Park Lake. Much better than dumping boring old tea, I’ll say. So I agree wholeheartedly with Leslie that it’s a funny law, at least for people not named Ted, that’s worth keeping on the books. Laws that allow for the seizure of Indian property for 25 cents (much to Tom’s chagrin) or cracking an egg on the forehead of a woman who raises her voice to a landowning male? Er, not such a big fan of racism or sexism, thank you very much.
At the City Council meeting, we meet one Mr. Garth Blundin, played to absolute nerdy perfection by comedian Patton Oswalt. Kudos to whoever casts guest stars for Parks, because he fit into the show dynamic so perfectly with a mixture of earnestness and peculiarity. Here’s to hoping we’ll see him pop up again in future episodes, especially dressed in old timey garb. In any case, Garth objects to purging the laws from the books and engages in a glorious citizen filibuster to prevent the council from voting by listing his ideas for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. (Side note: I just recently watched the original trilogy for the first time, and I’m really excited to see what J.J. Abrams does with the franchise.) It’s a shame Ben wasn’t there because he probably would have enjoyed that spiel immensely. I know I did, and I’m a bigger fan of Star Trek! Don’t hate me.
Garth challenges Leslie’s headstrong ways when they move into the historical house to see who can last the longest without modern technology. 1817 rules, y’all! The storyline reminded me immediately of a great PBS show from 2002 called Frontier House, which followed three families as they lived as Montana homesteaders in the 1800s. They wore the period clothing, prepared and ate the food, and had no contact with the outside world except through letters. It was incredibly fascinating, and I’d take that reality show over any of that Kardashian garbage any day. Like Tom, I don’t know how anyone could live without the comforts of modern life, but Leslie and Garth seem to think they’ll be able to hack it.
Thankfully, the two have a fun chemistry, whether they’re churning butter or getting ready for bed in long dressing gowns. And even though Garth’s her foe, you don’t want to strangle him like you would Jamm, who was, much to my delight, only in the episode briefly. Unsurprisingly, Garth takes to 1800s life like a fish takes to water, and it’s especially funny to see him in the background playing with a hoop while yelling, “Wee, look at my hoop, Leslie! Look at my hoop!” I guess if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right, whale blubber, birthing stick whittling, and all.
Ultimately, Leslie concedes the contest to Garth, but she sweetly offers him a chance to join the Pawnee Historical Commission so he’s able to be involved in the community despite his strange inclinations. It’s great when Leslie’s able to compromise instead of forcing people to see things her way. It’s also a nice ending to a silly challenge that gave us Leslie Knope in period-appropriate attire. Fittingly, Andy caps it off by jumping into the lake naked for no particular reason. Happy Ted Day!
And speaking of days, we also get Ann and Ben battling over the perfect Breakfast Day/Waffle Day present for Leslie. Leslie’s love of breakfast foods is one of my favorite things about her, but her obsessive way of documenting anniversaries is quite annoying. And yet, like Ann and Ben, how can you really criticize someone who’s so thoughtful about remembering important days? The truth is that you can’t, but it’s great that when they think that they’ve gotten Leslie to tone down her anniversary celebrations, she counters with an extra friend week to commemorate her best friends becoming best friends with each other, complete with presents she pulls out from under her desk. Ben’s dejected face at her overt and eerily prescient kindness was priceless.
Finally, Ron and Chris have a little battle of their own over which motivational method is more effective – money, fear, and hunger or encouragement, appreciation, and smiles? In a three-storyline episode, there’s usually one that fails to capture my interest, and this was that one, even though they did a superb job of using Jerry and his bumbling ways to test out their methods. I did, of course, greatly enjoy the outcome, as I do with most plots that show how ruthless and cunning April can be. She’ll make a fine manager, indeed.
Notes and Quotes
-- The show released a video of Patton Oswalt’s entire epic filibuster about his ideas for Star Wars: Episode VII. It’s filmed in one take, 100% improvised, and well worth eight minutes of your life. Your move, J.J. Abrams.
-- Of course, the Pawnee Historical House named Leslie “Employee of the Fortnight” three times. We just have to assume they didn’t make her churn butter during her stint as a tour guide.
-- Andy: “All of my favorite foods have butter on ‘em. Pancakes, toast, popcorn, grapes.” I was with you until the grapes.
-- CTMTS, aka Ka-Tumts, really is a terrible acronym.
-- A sampling of days Leslie has listed in Ann’s calendar: Zoo Day, Double Date Day, Daniel Day Lewis Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, and Talk Like a Pittsburgh Pirate Day. Wait, why, and how?
-- Donna: “Have you seen those Dothraki dudes? They can get it. Everybody on that show can get it.” Donna’s so on the pulse of what’s hip. Speaking of Game of Thrones, I love that Ben’s screen name is Tall Tyrion Lannister. Brilliant!
-- We make a welcome return trip to the pawn shop we first visited in “Leslie and Ben.” And yes, the owner, Hermann Lerpiss, is just as strange as ever, offering Ben a boxful of guns and asking Ann out on a date.
-- And sorry, Ann. Or should I say FutureMrsTigerWoods. Even if we are talking about 10 years ago, you probably wouldn’t have had a chance since Tiger so obviously has a thing for blondes.