Parks and Rec Recap: “Lucky”

Yes, sadly, the time has come for Parks and Recreation to take a midseason hiatus to clear way for Community in adherence to NBC’s policy of only having one great sitcom on the air at a time. Last night’s episode, “Lucky,” wasn’t intended to be a midseason finale, but it didn’t leave us with any major cliffhangers either. I was excited to see the momentum of Leslie’s campaign continue, but Community deserves a spot on the schedule as that show’s three-month hiatus easily trumps the five-week one Parks and Rec just kicked off.

The most notable thing about this episode is that it was written by Nick Offerman. This marks Offerman’s first TV writing credit, although he has improvised significant portions of his dialogue on this show, Childrens Hospital, and American Body Shop. He’s the second Parks and Rec castmember to write an episode (after Amy Poehler), and I’d say he did a pretty good job here by writing some funny material for his character and the rest of the gang too.

Leslie Knope’s City Council campaign is still trucking along and she receives a major opportunity when asked to appear on Indianapolis’s most popular morning show, hosted by Buddy Wood (played by guest star Sean Hayes). After the interview is cancelled, Leslie goes out for drinks with Ann and Tom, who are still a couple, only to find out once she’s drunk that the interview is back on. Leslie’s inebriation quickly becomes apparent and sends the interview off the rails, but thanks to a helpful baggage handler on Buddy Wood’s flight, the tape never makes it to air.

I like the way Amy Poehler plays drunk here. It’s not too over-the-top like the hammy way you see a lot of comedic actors portray intoxication. Just the occasional fumbling over her words and a sullen demeanor. I know she was playing a drunk person trying to act sober, but it’s a much more convincing style of acting under the influence.

Meanwhile, in the B plot, Andy has just graduated from his Women’s Studies course and goes out for a meal with Ron, April, and his friendly, attractive professor Linda (played by Danielle Bisutti). It seems like Ron and Linda are taking a liking to each other until a still-heartbroken Chris Traeger pops up and sits in on the lunch. Chris soon finds that he has more in common with liberal feminist Linda than Ron does. Ron and Chris – who are the only first-tier castmembers not in a relationship – soon find themselves in a low-key competition for Linda’s affections. Linda surprisingly chooses Ron, prompting him to cheerily sport his morning after Tiger Woods outfit around the office the next day.

“Lucky” hands a tiny C-plot to second tier characters Jerry and Donna. It’s a funny, low stakes plotline that occupies only a scant portion of the episode’s runtime, and it’s nice to see these two get the chance to carry their own story – even if it’s a miniscule one.

Nick Offerman shows he can write for himself well here. Even if he’s just rehashing the Tiger Woods bit, it’s been long enough since we last saw it and it was a great gag to bring back. We haven’t dived into Ron Swanson’s romantic life since the terrifying trio of Tammys showed up at the top of the season, so this was a welcome return to what is surely one of the most fascinating aspects of the life of the show’s breakout character, Ron Swanson. Ron wasn’t the only one who shined here though. This was a well-balanced episode that found plenty for each member of Parks and Rec’s large ensemble to do. Since the show has 10 regular characters – a high number for a sitcom in any era – it’ll occasionally feel like somebody different gets lost in the shuffle week to week. That’s something that certainly doesn’t happen in “Lucky,” as everyone gets a good chunk of screentime and more importantly, something funny to do.

Well, it’s hiatus time. At least Parks and Rec left off with a pretty damned good installment.  The final four episodes of the season, which will see the conclusion of the Leslie Knope campaign arc, will begin airing April 19th at 9:30 after The Office. Even though we know Parks is coming back pretty soon and the show is in no real danger, do you guys wanna go all crazy like Community fans and start writing letters to NBC and organizing rallies just for the hell of it? Somebody get on that; I’ll follow your lead.

Bradford Evans is happy to kick off the “Let’s Save Parks and Recreation” campaign.

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