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Thoughts on this weeks’s Community (Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts), 30 Rock (Everything Sunny All the Time Always), and Parks and Recreation (Jerry’s Painting)

Go forth, Centaur-Leslie!

Parks and Recreation: Jerry finally did something useful. Rejoice! Parks and Recreation has always succeeded due to its impeccable cast dynamic and the bizarre characters that populate its world. It’s not just one or two characters who succeed on-screen together, either; any random assortment will result in quality comedy. But it’s the genius and innovation of taking tried storylines (Leslie has to deal with some cooky constituents!) and adding a successful flair of the ridiculous that makes this weeks’ Parks and Recreation so noteworthy.

The A-plot concerns a booby Leslie-centaur, the start of the titular painting. This, of course, upsets everyone’s favorite Pawnee conservative activist, Marcia Langman (for the record, Parks and Recreation might have the most amazing ensemble of recurring guest characters in any current network sitcom). Yet the painting instills a new confidence in Leslie, something that she lacked since Chris’s imposed rules on inter-governmental dating. Watching Leslie capture the spirit of the Greek centaur goddess is a sight to behold, threatening an “arrow in the ass” to those that stand in her way. It’s a smart use of Poehler’s comedic talents, especially considering how masterfully she handles situations in which Leslie is so confident in the duties of her job as a civil servant (in this case, halting government censorship) This particular narrative also works so well not only because of Leslie’s insistence that this painting must be saved, but also because of the forces working against her. It’s not unlike “Pawnee Zoo,” the episode where Leslie accidentally marries two gay penguins (coincidentally, that episode also features Marcia Langman).

There’s also a B-story about Ben moving in with Andy and April, which is really just a series of montages of Ben attempting to civilize Andy and April. In the end, their romance has become even more bizarre and sweet since their marriage, with their idea of “romance” being Andy’s assault on April during the dead of night with a marshmallow gun. Aww.

Grade: A

30 Rock: Margaret Cho played Kim Jong-Il. Got your attention?

Avery’s been in Asia, doing NBC news’ “Blonde anchors in weird places” initiative. She routinely skypes in, posing as Ronald Reagan in order to instill true conservative values in their daughter. And then she’s taken hostage by Kim Jong-Il.

Honestly? Nothing else in the episode really clicked for me except for this storyline. Yet it’s so fantastic (due, in part, to my fascination with North Korea) and so well done that it’s hard not to be impressed. Cho plays Jong-Il beautifully, partly because of how much comedic material Jong-Il himself provides (worlds best golfer and movie director are two of his supposed accomplishments). The writing team obviously did their homework, and it shows. This also leads to Jack having to go see his ex-girlfriend – Condoleezza Rice. Rice isn’t an actress, but her presence is still a solid addition to 30 Rock‘s odd real-world guest spots.

It’s a solid episode, but not perfect. As previously stated, the recreation of a previously “had-to-be-there” moment and bag-in-a-tree plot left much to be desired. But again, that’s okay. I still love a good Kim Jong-Il story.

Grade: B+

Community: I’m sure I would have enjoyed this week’s Community more than I did if I were a faithful viewer since the first season (or at least, the second season). That’s a problem I had with the last Community episode I reviewed; it’s the nature of the show at this point, I guess.

Nevertheless, I was entertained with “Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts,” but wasn’t in love. Shirley is having a baby: is it a Chang’s? And can Britta use her constant desire to help people (even when it isn’t helpful) to successfully deliver the mystery child? The episode largely exists with a few good gags poking fun of Britta and Dean, but is oddly by-the-books concerning the build-up for this conclusion.

Grade: B


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