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Parks and Recreation – Road Trip

Whether it was because they had just come off a hysterical episode or the writers were too focused on progressing a relationship, this episode wasn't amongst Park and Recreation's best. Still enjoyable for the storyline and the laughs it did produce, “Road Trip” was a little lacking in the humor department. This is not to say it didn't have its moments because it did, as all P+R episodes do.

Leslie and Ben are forced to deal with their mounting sexual tension on a long car ride when Chris sends them to Indianapolis. The “Will they? Won't they?” storyline had been building most of the season, so it was definitely time for it to see some advancement. Their scenes both in the car and once they arrived to Indianapolis were performed well on both their parts; their anxiety to express their desire for each other was very convincing. Ann inserting Al Green's “Let's Stay Together” into Leslie's platonic road trip mix made for a hilariously awkward scene. As did Ben brushing an eyelash off of Leslie's face, causing Leslie to utter the funniest line of the night, “Get away from me! I'm sorry. I'm...I'm allergic to fingers.” Unfortunately there wasn't much comedy in their storyline beyond that, with a few more notable moments, but for the most part the writing seemed all about forcing Leslie or Ben to make a move on the other and just when they were about to, a rug was pulled out from under us at the last minute. While they're both great in a group and have excellent onscreen chemistry, going one-on-one for Leslie and Ben just didn't result in as much humor as you would hope, at least not this time around.

Back at city hall, Tom, ever the entrepreneur, decides to test out his idea for a new game show, “Know Ya' Boo,” which just so happens to be the same idea as The Newlywed Game. Recruiting Andy & April and Jerry & Donna as his couples leads to the fairly predictable plot of the real couple of Andy and April knowing less about each other than Jerry and Donna, who just work together. This subplot didn't earn many more laughs than the main storyline, which was surprising considering how much comedic talent was in the room for the game show scenes. They weren't completely devoid of humor by any means, as most of the actors have such good delivery they can sell material that wasn't great on the page, but they did fall short of what P+R and these characters are capable of doing. It did end well, however, when after arguing most of the day about how little Andy knows about April and how little she supports his band, April decides to swallow her pride and give an impromptu performance with Mouse Rat in the courtyard to show how much of a fan she is. Though not hilarious in itself, with the exception of Andy's line, “I have the greatest wife in the world! We're married! We're totally gonna do it later!”, it was hard not to wear a smile seeing how much April cares for the big lug. It's what makes her everyone's favorite hipster (okay, she's the only hipster anyone likes). And seeing Mouse Rat play is always fun.

One would expect that Ann being hired for the job at city hall would result in her hanging out more with the Parks and Rec staff than she had been recently, but that wasn't the case as she spent the episode at home. There's not too much to complain about, though, as she provided most of the comedy in the Ben and Leslie storyline; especially Ann's call with Leslie when the latter needs to be talked out of making a move on Ben. It was also interesting to see Ann able to give April relationship advice about how to deal with Andy after how rocky things had been between the three of them. It's good to be reminded of how far these characters have come since first being introduced. The episode still could have been better if she was involved in the game show though, perhaps as Tom's co-host (not that the CGI puppy wouldn't have been great), and it wouldn't have been difficult for her to still be there for Leslie.

Ron was alone in the office, and probably looking forward to spending his whole day that way, when fate intervened to send an impressionable young girl his way. Even with as hard a heart as Ron has, he couldn't resist taking Lauren under his wing and teaching her about all the evils of government. Ron's lessons in libertarianism turned out to be the best moments of the episode, though still nothing to match some of Ron's previous scenes. The highlights included Ron using Lauren's lunch to demonstrate how taxes work (the little guy goes hungry
perfect analogy) and awarding the nine-year-old with a claymore mine for taking so quickly to his brand of government. The subplot was done so well that it should have been granted more screen time and perhaps taken some of the focus off of the romance storyline, which didn't need as many scenes to get its point across.

The writers had one more surprise in store for us concerning Leslie and Ben, as just when we thought they missed their shot, Ben seizes a moment of solitude in the office and plants a kiss on Leslie that is quickly returned. It was great to see the two lovebirds finally lock lips, but as nice of a moment as it was, it wasn't enough to elevate this episode into the top tier ones from the series. A predictable subplot and lack of big laughs kept this episode from being a memorable one, even with a major relationship development. “Road Trip” still met the comedic standard Parks and Recreation has been setting for two seasons, but it didn't do much to exceed it.



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