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Parks and Recreation – Correspondents’ Dinner Review: Back to Reality

As a standalone episode this one would have been just fine, but it’s easy to feel underwhelmed when watching it immediately after the wedding of the millennium. Still, it’s reminiscent of what happens in reality. The Hawaiian honeymoon doesn’t last forever and our gang must head back to the tedium of everyday life. Leslie attends the annual Correspondents’ Lunch and uncovers a scandal, Ben starts his new job with Sweetums, Andy deals with his failed attempt at becoming a cop, and Ann continues to struggle with her desire to have a baby.

Season 5 episode 15

I always look forward to watching the good-natured roasting during the White House Correspondents' Dinner, especially when it comes courtesy of funny comedians like Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart. (If you’re curious, the 2013 dinner, hosted by Conan O’Brien, is on April 27.) Although done on a much smaller scale, I thought Pawnee’s version made for a few solid laughs; namely thanks to Perd Hapley’s deadpan delivery. Leslie hopes to keep her jabs at the media light and fun during her Correspondents’ Lunch speech but she can’t hide her ire toward the Pawnee Sun, whose punny headlines (“So-Duh Tax” and “Knope Grope is Last Hope”) give the New York Post a run for their money. She loathes their obnoxious form of journalism and her instincts are proven right when Kim’s speech sounds oddly familiar. Best moment of the episode: Leslie opening a homemade can of “whoop ass” on herself after she realizes Kim has stolen her jokes.

Everyone blames Jerry for losing his copy of the speech, and Leslie orders him to stand in the corner with no dessert. Like a story ripped from the headlines, we later find out that Kim has been hacking into Leslie’s email to fuel her stories. It feels like a few months too late (the News International phone-hacking scandal erupted in July 2011), but this is Pawnee so I guess the timing isn’t too far off. I agree with Ron though. You definitely can’t hack into a typewriter.

Ben starts working for the Sweetums Foundation and calls on reinforcements to help him find a worthy charity to fund.Tom, of Tommy’s Tummy Foundation, lives it up as he eats his weight in free crab, caviar, and bon-bons, while Andy mopes around after finally finding out he failed the police exam. Later Andy gets excited after pitching an afterschool music program and although Ben chooses another charity, he likes Andy’s resolve and offers him a job as his part-time assistant. This felt like the weakest storyline of the episode but having Andy join Ben on his quest to find worthy charities to sponsor isn’t the worst idea in the world. It could provide for some interesting material so I’ll reserve judgment until we see more from this duo.

Finally, let’s talk baby. We saw Ann’s eyes light up in the last episode when she saw Chris giving Andy advice. I feel stupid for not having thought of Chris as an option before, but maybe her attractive ex-boyfriend was too obvious of a choice. I suppose if Ann were to follow through with having a baby, it’d be nice to keep it in the Parks and Rec family, but let's hope it's not with Tom. I don’t care how fashionably dressed it’s going to be. If we got anything out of this storyline of Ann finally working up the nerve to ask Chris to donate his sperm, it’s a few good scenes with Ron and Ann. I still remember their great chemistry during season four’s “Meet 'n' Greet,” where Ann helps Ron fix household issues during a Halloween party. More of these two together, please! Although I can do without the strange ficus planting metaphors, thank you very much.

Notes and Quotes
-- It’s great when people give you presents when they return from vacation. Leslie and Ben bring back an açaí plant, coffee, “rare Hawaiian fertility tea” from a guy in a parking lot, a god of anger mask, a framed and signed photograph of Scott Caan from Hawaii 5-0, a box thrown into a volcano, and a three-pack of white shirts from Target. Hilariously, Jerry gets earbuds, peanuts, and the latest Sky Mall catalog. And he loves it!
-- Leslie: “Oh Ann, you’re too beautiful to be funny. It’s not your fault. You’ve never had to compensate for anything. The rest of you ugly nerds need to give me some jokes, stat.”
-- Andy: “Go, your honor, amen.” That’s how everyone should end their pitches.
-- Chris’s spirit animal is the jaguar. Perd’s is a doggie. What’s yours?
-- Jerry keeps important documents in his shoes. Disgusting! Also disgusting? The word “moist.”
-- Top Ten Ben’s Butt 2012 slideshow?! Why wasn’t I included on that email list?
-- Midi-chlorians are a fictional substance found in the blood of Jedi Knights from the movie Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Ahh, the perks of having a nerdy husband.
-- “What a great party… of five,” said Neve Campbell never.



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