Parks and Recreation: "Lucky" (4.18)
In contrast to pretty much every episode this year, and in fact most episodes of Parks and Recreation, “Lucky” did very little to move the show forward. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but it does have the effect of finally making Leslie’s campaign feel drawn out. The step-by-step method in which the show delivered her choice to campaign and initial hurdles may have bored some viewers, who prefer when Parks deals with the Parks Department, but there was something to be said for its thoroughness. Leslie has been running a realistic campaign, rather than a sitcom one, and this has been a lot of the story’s charm.
“Lucky,” though, leaves the show static, and has the distinction of being one of the funnier episodes of the season as well as one of its least necessary. Leslie has a big television interview, which gets canceled. In response, she goes out drinking with Tom and Ann. When the reporter’s plane gets delayed, though, it’s back on, and she decides to do the interview even while drunk. It’s a disaster, although the show doesn’t deal with the fact that it would’ve been a disaster had Leslie never been drunk, either. Of course, that makes it worse, but the reporter really just hates Pawnee and wants to use the time to talk about how much he hates the city.
Leslie spends the rest of the episode chasing down the tape, eventually arriving at the reporter’s house only to learn that it was lost with his baggage. Her friends at the airport looked out for her, so the whole affair came to nothing. And while it was pretty entertaining, jokes about drunk people also aren’t the hardest material to write.
The episode’s B-plot concerned Andy completing his single course at community college (they have strangely timed semesters, apparently). April and Ron celebrate with him, and Andy invites his professor too. Once they’re out, April notices that Chris is sitting alone at the bar and invites him over. He gets along stunningly well with the professor, but she leaves with Ron. Upon hearing that Chris still thinks he has a chance with her, Ron tells him what happened and the story ends with them hugging while Chris says, “I’m so alone.”
The jokes here were more character-based, but Chris has been alone for a while now. And although we hadn’t actually seen him striking out with women, we knew this was happening. While Leslie’s plot was about nullification and keeping this interview secret, this story was just clarifying things we already knew: that Chris can’t catch a break with women and is very fond of both Ron and the rest of the Parks crew.
Then there’s two mini-plots, which were actually the most interesting parts of the episode. Tom explains that he’s hoping to break the record as to how long it’s been between breakups for him and Ann. This does a good job answering the question of how they’ve stayed together this long, but also features large doses of the pair together really enjoying things. “Lucky” makes it pretty clear that if Tom can temper his Tom-ness when he’s with her, they actually make a fantastic couple. That’s not as fascinating as Jerry and Donna’s story, though, which was wonderful by virtue of being so small and strange. Donna and Jerry continue working on stuffing letters, and Donna learns that Jerry does this menial task like a machine. Not only that, he’s utterly satisfied by the work. She finds it so strange that she even goes ahead and cancels her plans.
I laughed all through the episode, but they weren’t the same fulfilled laughs that I usually get from Parks. The timing and execution of jokes was still perfect, but part of the show’s greatness is the way it constructs its stories, not just broad laughs about drunk-induced spoonerisms, as good as they may be. While it’s still probably the funniest thing that aired on Thursday night, it was also perhaps the show’s least essential episode.
•The store at the beginning is named “The Lady Place.”
•That’s a pretty weird pronunciation of Laura Mulvey’s name. At least, that’s not how I learned to say it.
•This episode was written by Nick Offerman himself. As such, I kind of wish I’d liked it more.
•“Ben is like a milf.”
•“Both the cabs in this town are busy.” – I appreciate that Tom just knows that information.
•"That was one of your most readable papers."
•"Helpy to hop out."
•"If they got together it would make the world’ most beautiful superbaby that would rule us all. But what if superbaby got out of hand?" – Anyone else want to watch a show that’s just Chris Pratt and Tracy Morgan playing their respective TV characters as a crime-fighting duo?
•I’m surprised the Indianosphere area has a hottub limo in it.
•The return of Ron’s red shirt is a great touch. It was maybe a bit heavyhanded (presumably so that viewers who don’t remember that’s his sex shirt can still be in on the joke), but still hilarious.