January 20, 2012

parks and recreation: campaign ad

The latest Parks and Recreation episode worked on a whole lot of levels. It was funny — with long, thought-out bits and quick zingers — progressed the story arc and it effectively used the cast.

In Campaign Ad we met Leslie's main competition in the city council election: Bobby Newport, the heir of the Sweetums empire played by my longtime crush Paul Rudd. He is a politician wannabee not because he wants to change the world, but because he wants to prove he is not the complete idiot he is to his father. And he just wants it.

Team Knope must come up with a way to counteract it. I loved Leslie's one-on-one with the camera about her campaign: "I'm running for office, I'm surrounded by my friends, my campaign manager and I are in love. This is exactly how I dreamed it would be when I was a kid. Except I wasn't 70 points behind, and my campaign manager was Mr. Belvedere."

Ben, Leslie's new campaign manager, decides the best way to combat this increasingly popular new candidate is to blow their budget on an ad during a local basketball game. He wants the ad to point out Bobby's flaws, but Leslie does not like that. She wants to keep it positive.

This arc was hilarious, because even though Leslie and Ben are together and in love, they are also both stubborn overachievers. I mean, these are the same people who waged a war during Model UN. To resolve their differences, they set out to create two different campaign ads and will use the one people like best.

Classic Tom wants to choose the side of the victor, and helps both teams with their ads and makes a point to tell both that he thinks they are great. He's always good for a laugh.

My favorite part about this whole bit was the moment Ben, Jerry and Tom sat down to do the voiceover for Ben's ad. Deep movie voice: "Bobby Newport." Deeper: "Bobby Newport." Deeper and darker: "Newport." More: "Neeewwwwwwwppooooooorrrrt." (And of course Leslie puts Jerry on Ben's team as punishment. Poor Jerry. He's never going to get a break.)

Through all of this we see the big campaign budget Bobby Newport has with multiple ads on TV, buses, benches and even candy bars. ("Have a Bobby Bar. My dad made them.")

Ultimately, the campaign team decides Ben's ad is the best, but Leslie tackles Ben at the TV studio preventing him from delivering it. (This was so funny. The two of them rolling around on the floor fighting over the DVD while Leslie shouts, "I am Leslie Knope, and I do not approve of this message.")

They eventually work things out with an ad the compromises — and even includes some cute footage of young Leslie. Even cuter: watching Ben and Leslie cuddle up to watch it on his computer. Swoon.

Meanwhile, Andy and April decide to make a week of getting everything checked out with their doctors. This whole montage was funny, and it highlighted the good chemistry between these characters.

Also, Chris reaches out to Ron as a potential replacement for Ben. Forever hating to be the bearer of bad news, Ron could be the perfect answer to Chris' problems. Ron not only can do it, but he takes pleasure in it.

And for all the Chris haters out there, I thought this was a good episode for him. His interaction with Ron was interesting to watch, and it brought out one of the best Ron lines we've had in a while during a one-on-one interview.

All around a good episode. This show is smart and they don't leave details untouched. (For example, the scroll screen on Leslie's ad showing everything she approves of was filled with comedy. I'm going to have to re-watch and pause it so I can read them all.)

This was probably my favorite of the Leslie's campaign episodes to date. The choice of villain was good, and I think the writers are setting up a good story. Leslie is the candidate who should win, but maybe won't. And even if she doesn't, maybe there will be something else for her to do.

We'll be back next week with another recap. Until then, what did you think of last night's episode?

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