Parks and Recreation – Fluoride and The Cones of Dunshire Review: Final Episodes of 2013 Are Middle-of-the-Road
This double-episode offering was not my favorite hour of Parks and Rec, and it certainly wasn't as strong as the back-to-back episodes last week, especially since the storylines were not as cohesive—although NBC deserves most of the blame for this scheduling mess.
Of course, I can’t complain too much. Any episodes that begin with fun cold opens—a cameo from several Indianapolis Colts (including Donna sassily shutting down linebacker Robert Mathis because she only goes for players in skill positions) and Ben excitedly explaining The Cones of Dunshire—still merit at least a B rating, don't you think?
Let's start with Leslie. After the recall election, she goes right into tackling as many projects as she can during her 30-day transition out of office. This time, she wants to add fluoride to Pawnee's water supply, but sadly, the storyline is a bit blah because it's just another iteration of Leslie having a seemingly logical idea that's impeded by the stupidest reasons, or in this case, person: Jamm. He would be that dentist who opposes fluoride in the water so he can drum up more business. I mean, how else would he be able to afford that blindingly bright yellow Porsche?
It was great, however, to see Leslie adopt a consequences-be-damned attitude, even though it gets all too real when her actions actually have consequences, namely Ben getting fired from his Sweetums gig. I can’t say I’m too sad about that, though. It's much better to see Ben in his element, whether it’s with fellow accountants who treat him like a god among mortals—and throw him awesome calzone parties—or at City Hall as Chris' replacement. Also, I deserve a big, fat “Duh!” for not foreseeing this turn of events. Of course Ben would make a logical choice for the next city manager! I'll be interested to see how this develops and especially how Leslie fits into the equation.
Unsurprisingly, the saving grace of the main plotline in “Fluoride” is that it gives Tom a chance to shine. Entertainment 720 and Rent-a-Swag were both failed business ventures, but you can't deny that Tommy Haverford has mogul potential. His earnestness in marketing T-Dazzle—the aquatic-based, social-media oral experience—and H2Flow was hilarious.
And even though Pawnee skews on the extreme side of the spectrum in everything, Leslie and Tom's ploy to get people excited about fluoride in the water rang quite true to life. I mean, who wouldn't be up for the challenge of getting sparkle points to earn aqua badges in an attempt get an exclusive platinum card? Sign me up! In any case, I hope the writers give Tom another venue outside of the Parks Department to get his Picasso/Michael Jordan on because it usually ends up being comedy gold.
In “The Cones of Dunshire,” Leslie again has to deal with Jamm (seriously, more Jamm?!), but there’s an added twist: She's pushing the development of Pawnee Commons as a way to persuade Ann to stay in town. Along with the fun of seeing Jamm’s weekend dojo—including his creepy obsession with Michelle Wie and eggs cooked on a teppanyaki grill from Benihana—the added layer of sentimentality elevates this episode over the first one for me. I've always liked Leslie’s battles with Jamm—112 head-to-head, if you're counting—but there's so much more to this show than Leslie's job, and near the top of that list is her friendship with Ann.
For much of last season, I wanted to dismiss Ann because she had such terrible storylines, but lately, I've come to appreciate her importance to Leslie. Now it’s starting to feel real that Chris and Ann are really leaving, and I'm not ready! Leslie's in a state of denial, too, but it felt effective having Chris deliver the news that they're moving to Ann Arbor. Furthermore, it was a testament to his friendship with Leslie that he did something ethically ambiguous by promising Jamm those 5 IOUs to get Leslie her lockbox. He and Leslie are similar in that they both hold fast to their belief systems and moral codes, so that was quite the good-bye present.
And speaking of the parent-to-be, Chris tries to glean some Swanson knowledge during their woodworking workshop via metaphors, which Ron obviously hates. It’s sweet how eager Chris is about being a good parent, although I'm not so sure about those sketchy parenting books. Of course, putting total opposites in Chris and Ron together, especially when they're about to embark on the same challenge, is always fascinating, and even more so when it brings out a little bit of Ron's sappy side as he gives Chris the crib. There are other crib trees in the forest, he says. And while I'm sure they'll both be excellent fathers, I can't wait to see Ron tackle fatherhood. He’s already got a cabin that can fit the whole family, so that's a start.
One final thought to file away as we all eagerly wait for the next half of the season (which begins on Jan. 8): After one of the city councilors says fluoride is used as a method of mind control by communists, Leslie seems to foreshadow a potential return to her post when she asks why she's the one getting booted off city council. Plus, the next episode is called "Second Chunce," so take from that what you will. See you next year!
Notes and Quotes
-Chris: “This is 100% certified for realskis.”
-Ron: “You bought a machine that replicates an open window?”
-Tom: “We'd all appreciate it if you just swallowed a teaspoon of hush.”
-Craig: “They're so cute. I want to throw up and kill myself.” This is everyone on Tumblr.
-Barks and Recreation was a cute side plot, if only to get to know Donna more. And even better that it's April doing the asking because she’s always so closed off and uncooperative in that Black Siberian Husky way of hers. Plus, that hug at the end with Donna purring was sweet.
-Like New Girl'
s True American and How I Met Your Mother'
s Marshgammon, The Cones of Dunshire earns its place among made-up sitcom games that I really want to play. I’m a huge board game nerd, and this sounded like a souped-up version of Settlers of Catan.
- Reagle Meagle Realty: Find your castle. I'd hire Donna to sell my house.
-Where can I get a “My mouth got jammed at Jamm Orthodontics” shirt? And does it come as a package deal with the DVD of Jamm and Leslie singing Grease
-Kudos to whoever chose to play Natalie Merchant's “Kind And Generous” during the Leslie and Ann BFF slideshow. That is some late-'90s realness.