Parks and Recreation: Season 2, Episode 4 “The Practice Date” (B+)
This is a fantastic way to really to get to know the characters on this show: have them all try to find dirt on each other. The funniest of all is the hapless employee who doesn’t want to play but seems to have quite a bit of dirt on him, including a surprise revelation for him that he was adopted. Ron’s ready excitement is a nice plus, and his secret identity as a musician is a pretty rocking revelation. His ultimate takedown of Tom and his green card marriage was great. Tom and Mark are great at this game, though they’re not the most entertaining. April’s readiness to play the game was fun, but her end-of-episode complaint that she was offended no one was digging up any dirt on her was priceless. Mark’s spontaneous confession to Ann about all of his past secrets was a funny drunken moment for him, but Ann’s response was one hundred times better, knocking him down a peg about bragging about sleeping with a married woman at age 16 and talking about how the story ends with her shooting him. Ann was also fantastic in her worst-date-ever training session for Leslie, and a lot of credit should go to Rashida Jones for a stellar performance in this episode. Leslie’s nervousness about the date was amusing and very much in character, and the fact that Dave still considered her drunken visit to his house a successful first date was a nice surprise. This cast is truly superb, and everyone was really on their game in this episode.