Although I know many folks who'll disagree with me, PARKS & RECREATION is one of the smartest written comedies on television today. Essentially, what appeals to me most is its mix of quirky characters, all serving together on the staff of a small city government division in Pawnee, Indiana. Like NBC's THE OFFICE, the primary thrust behind much of the program's humor is the fact that it's all being captured 'documentary-style,' but, thankfully, these past few seasons has seen those little documentary sequences popping up fewer and fewer as the cast & writing crew have embraced more conventional storytelling, though with only clever winks, grimaces, and asides common to the filmed experience.
This week's episode explored Leslie's outrage over the newest vendor appearing at the Pawnee Farmer's Market -- a retailer specializing in the sale of a vegetable known as chard. (I'm not familiar with it, but the script assures me it tastes worse than cabbage.) In order to 'hype' the vegetable to unsuspecting buyers, the seller has begun utilizing that old adage "sex sells" by having his stand cleverly accessorized with scantily-clad exotic dancers -- men and women -- engaging in all kinds of sexually-suggestive behavior while carrying vegetables in their hands!
The B-story focused on how Ann's pregnancy has now destroyed her daily normal routine with aches, pains, and bloating. Frustrated with her "baby daddy" Chris who's always trying to solve her problems instead of agreeing with her, Ann has taken to "whining" to her former work-friends, so much so that she monopolizes their weekly 'whine & cheese' event ... which they inevitably cancel as they can't suffer through another minute of listening to the woman complain.
The C-story saw Andy finally scoring a gig for his rock-band, only it ends up being to a child's 10-year birthday party; this forces Andy to have to re-invent himself on-stage by removing his constant references to sex and drinking with subjects that would be more appropriate for the gathered children ... which ends up being picking your nose (instead of constantly exploring sex) and stinking feet.
All-in-all, it was a very solid episode. I liked the Andy storyline best, though, as much of the Leslie/Ben material has already been explored before. It was nice that, with only one episode yet in her contract, series regular Rashida Jones (the pregnant Ann Perkins) was finally given something to do other than utilize her sub-par acting skills in yet another forgettable subplot; Jones proved she can emote more than the "sweet girl next door" variety in lieu of handling real emotion.
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