The classic sitcom formula requires that everything resets at the end of the episode. Many of the best comedies ever made follow this, but the great thing about our current range of television comedies is that many of the best shows do just the opposite. Parks and Recreation doesn’t move quickly, but it also never stops moving, unlike even the American Office. Every now and then an episode seems particularly designed to take stock of how far we’ve come, and that’s how “Leslie Vs. April” felt, not just by featuring a conflict that couldn’t have occured during the show’s first few seasons but also by being full of Parks and Rec references.
This begins with the much-anticipated meeting between Leslie and Biden, a cold open that just serves to emphasize how attractive Leslie finds him. If you recall, Biden’s the person Leslie’s allowed to cheat with, and while she’s unable to go beyond her starstruck mood to even attempt that, she sure does touch his face an awful lot.
After the credits, when we’re in the episode proper, April asks Leslie for her support in creating a new dog park behind Ann’s house. Leslie balks at this, though, because of her own frustration with making a park there—she wants to be the one who fixes it up still. But this selfishness gets in the way of creating a park, and by now April is no longer the completely uncaring character we first met, rather she’s passionate about her dog Champion (and, to a lesser extent, her husband Andy). She won’t let Leslie get in the way of the park, so she takes it to Leslie’s dentist adversary Councilman Jamm, despite Leslie’s warnings that he will betray her.
Jamm by now should be familiar for his awfulness, and of course he goes ahead and Jamms April’s plan by introducing his own to put a Paunch Burger in that vacant lot which has featured in so much of the show. Paunch Burger is one of the myriad of terribly unhealthy restaurants we’re familiar with in Pawnee, and both April and Leslie don’t want this. They repair their relationship following a tense visit to Orin’s horrifyingly stupid “Human Farm” art installation, and are now working together for the dog park. Will they ultimately get it made? Well, probably, but that’s for another episode.
My favorite part of “Leslie Vs. April” was the b-plot, though, focused on Ben and Tom’s search for investors in Rent-a-Swag. This involves returning to old Pawnee businesses and locations and jokes derive from the show’s history with all of them, not to mention that everyone remembers Ben was great and wants to hire him. But Ben doesn’t need to take a job just for money, so he sticks with Tom and hopes that they can manage to create something less disastrous than Entertainment 720.
There’s one more bit of story that needed resolving, which was Andy’s search for who stole his computer, eventually resulting in his work as a part-time security guard. It’s one of those things that makes sense within the show, even if it’s kind of a cop out in other ways. So even though it’s easy to see the writers manipulating things here, it’s not so egregious that it affects the episode.
This was a typical episode of Parks and Recreation, with no earth-shattering announcements and the only big guest star just in a vignette at the beginning. But Parks still has fantastic episodes regardless, and this episode was bursting with ideas regardless of how much it stuck around the show’s usual sets and characters. Now that all its characters are back together, Parks is happily in its groove again and makes heartfelt comedy look completely effortless.
•”That’s horrifying and so is Orin, you should not be friends with him.” – All good points.
•It’s been at least a year since we’ve seen the lot behind Ann’s house, right? Nice to see the show returning to its old stomping ground, even if Andy no longer lives there.
•“A game is the foot.”
•...they really should be helping that dog out who’s living in the toxic waste. Why does no one take him away from there?
•”Breakfast food can serve many purposes.” – Ron’s wisest line yet.
•Why is there a gummy worm, umm, penis, in the background of Sweetums’ conference room?
•Another great reference is to Jerry’s real name, Gerry.
•”What’s your favorite part?” “The heavyhandedness.”
•I enjoy the way Andy seemed to be hitting onto Chris.
•Wait, why was Ben in an Urban Outfitters? Also: how do I get to have a day like Ben’s day?
•Oh, human parks.
•”I just said ‘let’s get to work,’ how else do people enjoy things?”