Parks and Recreation: "Animal Control" (Episode 5.18)
What’s always impressive about Parks and Recreation is that its cast is so deep that they do great things within just a tiny blip of screentime. This week’s c-story was its most memorable part, consisting of Ron being sick while Ann tried to get him to do something about his illness. It’s simple and barely in the episode, and it could really be removed from the rest of the episode without making it any worse. But their dynamic has always been delightful, and Nick Offerman does an amazing job working with just a banana as a comedy prop. The closest thing I can think of to how I feel about Parks’ cast is News Radio’s, as in both cases all anyone needs is a minute or two and a tiny premise and they can steal the show.
Which isn’t to say that the rest of “Animal Control” wasn’t entertaining, as both its larger stories worked excellently and hinged upon the show’s ability to create instantly unique and fully developed minor characters. Pawnee’s animal control department is a wreck because of the two stoners who run it. When they reappear later in the episode after being fired, it’s delightful because as with the rest of Pawnee’s citizens they’re amusingly stupid. It’s an easy joke, and by now it would be easy to think that it would be tired, but Parks’ writers haven’t run out of new, entertaining idiots to parade before us—God bless them.
The episode’s b-story also focuses on a newcomer, albeit one who has a much bigger role than anyone in the animal control story. Ben takes Andy and Tom with him to pitch a wealthy, despicable perfume designer into donating money to Sweetums’ charity… which is apparently devoting all of its money to solving pink eye. Ben should really take a look at that. Anyhow, this doesn’t go over too well because the designer’s a rather terrible person, and Andy doesn’t really have the filters that allow him to pretend the salesman is anything else. But like all terrible people in Parks’ universe, even Councilman Jamm, he’s entertainingly awful. He’s the type of cartoonish douchebag that you want to see again on the show, even though you despise him.
Everything this week was about great character writing, and that’s what makes the show so exciting. It’s easy to see the gears turning in the animal control plot, and the other two stories don’t really lead anywhere, but that doesn’t matter. The characters are fun to watch and hang out with for half an hour, and if anything that’s just become more the case as Parks has stayed on the air. There’s little in “Animal Control” we haven’t seen before, but it’s still a great episode of television.
•Who amongst us didn’t want to work at Pawnee’s animal control? It looks like the best job, ever.
•“This was one of my running feet.”
•"The man owns a Rolexus. It’s a Lexus filled with Rolexes."
•"Sexual History: Epic, and private."
•"He’s disgusting, but I want to take his money and give it to needy people." – Ben pretty much summed up his entire job right there.
•I loved April’s half-wolf face.
•"I love cats… and dogs sure are great." – Oh, Jerry.
•“I think that guy wants to hunt me.” – Almost certainly.
•Donna’s appearance at the bar was perfect.
•"If he can catch raccoons as much as he can teach six-year-olds to pop and lock, he’s a home run."
•“Iwo Jima.” – Well put, Milton.