Saturday, October 17, 2009

What I’m Watching: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation: Season 2, Episode 5 “Sister City” (B+)

The concept of Pawnee having a sister city in Venezuela is pretty funny, and while the actual execution is a bit preposterous, it ultimately works. The guest appearance by Fred Armisen is perhaps the strongest part of the episode, and the extraordinarily comfortable way he interacts with former “Saturday Night Live” costar Amy Poehler makes for a hilariously bristling rivalry. The running thread of praising Hugo Chavez is terrific, and Leslie’s refusal to pledge her allegiance to him was a fine show of defiance for the usually less-than-confident public servant. Leslie’s narration about feeling at first like Hillary Clinton then like Bill when she had to apologize for something was great, and Leslie’s eternal obsession with the prominent female politician is one of this show’s best assets. Raul’s admission of his mission’s pledge to humiliate and embarrass America was a somewhat predictable but nonetheless stellar twist that just underlines this show’s love of the absurd. Tom’s willingness to act like a servant so that he could receive general tips from the Venezuelans was very much in character and funny while it lasted. April was fantastically present in this episode, and her rather subdued courtship of her Venezuelan contemporary was superbly entertaining. Her eventual trip to his small-by-comparison mansion was a fun coda, enhanced by the presence of Donna. The way she basked in all of the crude compliments presented by the Venezuelans was an excellent contrast to the very off-put reactions to similar advances by if-only-they-were-misunderstood foreigners in “Borat.”

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