Parks and Recreation: Season 2, Episode 3 “Beauty Pageant” (B+)
I give this show a lot of credit for taking a very commonly-used plot device and making it funny and fresh. It’s amusing that the rather dim-witted Leslie is the only judge who realizes that the “hot one” is full of hot air and little else. Her attempt to pull off a feat similar to Henry Fonda in “12 Angry Men” and change the minds of all her fellow jurors, though ultimately ineffective, is quite fun. Leslie’s new romantic interest is also quite impressive. Sergeant Sanderson’s initial dumbfounded expression upon learning that the photo of Madeleine Albright was not in fact Leslie’s grandmother was entertaining enough, but the real wonderful surprise was his return to her office with the newfound ability to name all of the women in her photographs. That scene was a real highlight of the episode. It’s great to see Aubrey Plaza front-and-center two weeks in a row, and even though her plotline this episode isn’t as great, it’s still nice to see her being given more screen time. It’s a bit strange that Andy is a full-time cast member now that he’s moved out, but it’s good because his presence gives Ann and Mark something to do, and their interactions make for a great three-way dynamic. The cast is one of this show’s best assets, far smaller than that on “The Office” but still just as stellar and hilarious.