January 27th, 2015, 8:00 PM, NBC
Nostalgia and personal space loom large in this week’s set of Parks episodes. In “Gryzzlbox”, Leslie and Ben’s case against Gryzzl finally gets the ammunition it needs when the company starts using drones to deliver Gryzzlboxes – aka unwanted packages loaded with personally-selected gifts to homes selected via information gleaned through datamining. An obviously huge violation of personal privacy, it triggers the paranoia of Pawnee’s consistently-ignorant citizenry, gaining Ben and Leslie an immediate ally in Donna, but the forever-vigilant-against violations of his personal freedom Ron refuses to agree with Leslie that these personalized gifts might have tugged something nasty to the surface for his former employer, leading to Leslie taking Gryzzl on in a TV court show – an incident that reveals that Gryzzl still has the upper hand due to a technical contractual mistake of Ben’s . Meanwhile, Tom distracts himself from his ennui over Lucy’s relationship with her long-distance boyfriend by volunteering to help renegotiate Andy’s extremely unfair Johnny Karate contract with the studio and April’s job crisis leads to try to talk Craig’s interns out of staying at City Hall – then taking an intern that reminds her of herself under her wing.
In “Save J.J.’s”, it seems all is lost when it comes to the Gryzzl deal as the Newports agree to sell the parcel to Gryzzl for a huge amount of money. In need of redemption, opportunity presents itself when Leslie learns the gang’s beloved diner is set to be turned into an elbow art store by infamous fragrance mercantile Dennis Feinstein of Thigh Gap LLC. As the whole gang and most of the town rallies together to save their landmark, doors close – and windows of opportunity open in the Gryzzl situation, as the embattled company dodges bad press from the data mining scandal. Meanwhile, “Butler of Honor” Tom and bride Donna embark on ‘treat yo self ’17”, which involves a trip to Beverly Hills and a meeting with pop singer Josh Groban, and her advice helps him finally approach Lucy for a date; and Andy unleashes Johnny Karate’s serious older brother Jonathan Karate and his horde of tiny ninja helpers on Dennis Feinstein.
Parks continues to bring it in this week’s double-set of episodes, though they aren’t particularly distinguished as last week’s season highlight “Leslie and Ron”. The first episode is plenty funny, with a really perfect closing scene that encapsulates Ron Swanson’s entire gestalt in a single moment. Tom and Lucy remain adorable – and speaking of Tom, I’m enjoying the focus on his friendship with Andy this season, and the way they’ve been advising each other. I think each should be used more in other spots in the narrative, but still, it’s been a consistently enjoyable pocket in this season. The April/Craig part of the plot is a completely unexpected treat; it provides a really great moment where Craig Middlebrooks gets to snap April out of her job-related struggling for long enough to get her to realize that working for Leslie is one of the best things she’s done. The Gryzzl plot continues apace, with some more solid comedic moments stemming from it (Perd’s Court being a particularly funny gag). Gryzzl’s Google/Amazon hybrid of a company would make a good sitcom in of itself, and the show’s made decent use of the material.
The second episode provides the nostalgia factor, as J.J’s becomes the center and heart of the show, as it has often been for Leslie and Ron and the rest of the gang. It tries to address the heavy and serious subject of gentrification with level-headed charm but doesn’t quite manage to make a point; then again a fluffy show like Parks perhaps isn’t the proper place to discus something that effects so many lives in the real world. The almost Disneyesque happy ending to the storyline just goes to point that up – but then again, Parks is what it is.
The show continues to do an excellent job of showing us how the series’ minor characters have grown or not grown over the past few years lost in the timeskip.
Both episodes provide joy, though they aren’t defining moments for the series, they build well toward the show’s oncoming conclusion.
- First of all, huge apology for the lateness of this week’s review – I was stuck under the influence of Juno and could not get a stable connection til today.
- Ben’s written drawerfic about robots coming to life and taking over the world. This is not surprising at all.
- An unnamed new dish at Tom’s Bistro: a red and white heirloom red bean pasta with an imported Tuscan walnut herb sauce infused with shaved heritage pecorino romano.
- Whenever Craig feels depressed he says three things out loud that he likes.
- One of Leslie and Ben’s triplets is named Sonya.
- Perd Hapley now has his own court show, called The Perdpole’s Court. No, he’s not become a real judge.
- Ron has no idea who Harry Potter is. Or what Star Wars is.
- More future feuds: Nicki Minaj and Jesse Eisenberg at the Bafta Awards. Also LeBron James is back on the Miami Heat.
- Post-boom Pawnee has pressed juice bars, a yoga studio and a pet hotel.
- Dennis Feinstein made his first appearance in season three’s “Indianapolis”. Since his last appearance his fragrance empire has grown even bigger than before.
- Next Week: April plans Donna’s wedding, at which Ron accidentally causes awkwardness between Lucy and Tom. Meanwhile, Jen Barkley offers Ben and Leslie an opportunity and April’s job-related ennui continues in “Donna and Joe” and “Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington.”
Not quite as moving as last week’s Leslie and Ron, but still a solid set of enjoyable and funny episodes.