Thursday, February 21, 2013

'Parks and Recreation' Review - 5.14 Leslie and Ben / 5.15 Correspondents' Lunch

        On the newest episodes of NBC's Parks and Recreation, Leslie and Ben have two hours to complete a year-long project; Ron gets in trouble when his temper gets the best of him; Leslie's speech for a big media event is stole; Ben starts working at the Sweetums Charity Foundation; and Ann works up the courage to ask someone an important question.

        The first half hour on tonight's two episodes of Parks and Recreation was intended to be a finale moment for the story arcs from the first thirteen episodes of the fifth season. Producers Mike Schur and Dan Goor didn't know whether or not the network would pick up the show for a full season of 22 episodes and thusly crafted that episode as a possible way to close out the series. And it does so magnificently. The characters did emerge victorious in the Lot 48 debacle with Councilman Jamm last week and yet they are able to go throw all the necessary emotional and hysterical hoops to get Leslie and Ben the wedding they wanted. Sure, Pawnee is a great city and the townspeople are some of the funniest on television - with many of those recurring players making appearances somewhere in tonight's two episodes. However, the quaint ceremony that the two actually got in the end was perhaps even more poignant because it allowed the moment to be small and celebratory of the two alongside the rest of the main cast of characters. Additionally, the vows that the two gave to each other were both sweet yet funny. Intercutting those with black and white images of the couple's past antics shows how far these two have come over the past three seasons, how much their love has grown and how happy the rest of their lives will be since they are now permanently together. The wedding was the best episode of the season so far and would have been the perfect ending had it needed to be.
         The second episode of the night was much more regular in that the show returned to its episodic plotting that simply didn't have the emotional weight a moment like the wedding had. And yet, the show has mastered this as well. The episode was lighter and perhaps even funnier. "Leslie and Ben" had the emotional character moments - they were several times I was caught tearing up like the vows, Chris' gift to Ben and Leslie's talk with Ron - while "Correspondent's Lunch" had the hilarious elements in the character's day-to-day lives. Whilst Leslie was humorously going after the email hacker reporter, the rest of the plots were setting up the emotional arcs for the back half of this season. Ann finally asked Chris to be her sperm donor - which will most likely lead to their reconciliation maybe. Ben started work as the head of Sweetum's Charity Foundation and then hired Andy as his assistant to give his life purpose. These stories feel like comedic goldmines in the future with the great pairings and the potential stories even though the introductory note isn't as grand or emotional as the episode that preceded it. But that's fine, these characters are phenomenal and I will continuing watching until the series concludes.

"Leslie and Ben" - A+
"Correspondents' Lunch" - B

So what did everyone think of the episode? How perfect was that wedding? Which is the better pairing Leslie and Donna or Ben and Andy? Will Chris say yes to Ann? Share your thoughts in the comments.