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Parks and Recreation – “The Bubble” and “Li’l Sebastian”

Will Leslie run for higher office?
Will she be able to keep her relationship with Ben?
Who is Tammy I and why is Tammy II so afraid of her?
Will Tom come back to the Parks Department?
Will Chris remove his interoffice dating rule in order to try to get back Ann?

These are all questions the Parks and Recreation finale left us hanging with last night. Initially, I was really disappointed with the ending of “Li’l Sebastian”, one because I really love the relationship between Ben and Leslie and angst has never been my favorite part of any TV relationship, and two, we have to wait four months to see any resolution.

Angst and disappointment aside, season three of Parks and Recreation has truly been one of the best seasons of television ever. I don’t believe I’ve seen a better execution of episodes throughout an entire season since season one of Veronica Mars. Much of this show’s quality is due to the writing, specifically the character development. Leslie is not the same Leslie she was in season one, or even season two. April is not the same April and Tom is not the same Tom, etc. While Parks tends to shift it’s characters from cartoony to real, it still allows it’s more cartoony characters to grow and go after their goals, as they would do if they were real people. The best example of this is Tom. In any other show Tom’s dreams would have just been used for comedic effect until it just became a running character gag (similar to Joey’s intelligence and love for food on Friends). This show continues to be refreshing by taking a different turn, by letting Tom realize he’s so constricted by the rules of government so he leaves the Parks Department to pursue his dream. And, while, I don’t think Entertainment 720 will be a success because Parks and Recreation wouldn’t be what it is without Tom around, I like that we get to see Tom take a step to living out his dreams.

Speaking of dreams, Leslie Knope was finally asked to run for higher office and it’s possible it couldn’t come at a more terrible time. Just as Ben and Leslie are starting their secret relationship and figuring out how they can actually keep it secret, Leslie gets the most wonderful but disappointing news all at the same time. She is finally in the position where she can run for a higher public office and she is asked to do just this, but her secret-against-the-rules-relationship with Ben will create many obstacles to allow her campaign to run smoothly and be scandal-free. From what we’ve seen from the writers the past three seasons makes me believe that they won’t take the easy route and only let Leslie have one or the other (that wouldn’t be Leslie Knope anyway, she fights for what she wants, and it’s obvious she wants both a career and a relationship with Ben), but I’m really curious as how they’re going to pull this off, and if they’ll make the arc next season Leslie’s campaign or her relationship with Ben. Let’s hope it’s the former and that the Ben and Leslie relationship stays amicable, because it’s Leslie Knope and she can have it all. Here’s to a very long Parks and Recreation-less summer!

Other thoughts about the finale:

  • The return of the fourth floor! Nothing has ever been so creepy, and as a former law firm intern I can sympathize with Tom and Andy having to scan hundreds of documents one by one.
  • Ron’s desk prison was probably the best sight gag I’ve ever seen.
  • Ron again taking another hit for his coworkers to stop Chris’s rules, showing further that despite the contrary, Ron does really care about people.
  • I love that they brought back Marlene Griggs-Knope, especially the way they brought her back that allowed Ben to show his professional assertiveness again.
  • “I’m sorry, I have to say this…we’re you asking for it in any way?” I love that for once that this question this was turned around gender-wise. How many times are women blamed on TV shows and real life for a pass being made by acting too promiscuous. It’s nice to see that it can also be the man’s fault!
  • “Sophisticated with a hint of slutty.”
  • Jean Ralphio, Jean Ralphio and Jean Ralphio – “I hope you brought a change of clothes, cause your eyes are about to piss tears.”
  • Andy taking Leslie’s suggestion of Li’l Sebastian’s memorial song to be 5,000 times better than “A Candle in the Wind” literally.
  • Who do you think will play Tammy I? My unlikely hopes are Amy Sedaris. I think she could easily and brilliantly play someone much more evil than Tammy II.

Thoughts?

Up All Night – Can you have everything?

Will Arnett plays Chris in NBC's new fall show "Up All Night"

Yesterday, NBC announced their fall schedule, and despite many of the disappointments (30 Rock’s bump to mid-season and Parks and Recreation moving to an earlier time slot were the big ones for me) one promising show announced is the Emily Spivey (SNL and Parks and Recreation) project “Up All Night”. Produced by Lorne Michaels, Up All Night stars Will Arnett, Christina Applegate, and Maya Rudolph, and is set to air on Wednesday nights on NBC.

Applegate plays Reagan, a woman with a high-pressure job who because of an unexpected pregnancy is now trying to balance her work life with Chris (Arnett), a stay at home father, and their new baby,  Amy.  But, can you have everything? We’ll just have to watch and find out.

Now, since I’m just a mere television addict with a blog, I obviously haven’t seen the pilot but the full trailer, released today by NBC looks highly promising:

Up All Night – Oh, baby. – Video – NBC.com.

I truly hope this show is a success, not only because it looks hilarious, but it’s about time that Will Arnett had a successful and long-lasting television show.

More videos and photos for Up All Night can be seen here.

“Bridesmaids” – not a chick flick

“Studio executives believe that male moviegoers would rather prep for a colonoscopy than experience a woman’s point of view, particularly if that woman drinks or swears or has a great job or an orgasm.” – Anna Faris, in the April 2011 New Yorker article, “Funny Like a Guy”

Yesterday, I saw Bridesmaids with high expectations, not only because of the people involved in creating the film, but because of the online buzz that had been accumulating this past week.  While I’m often let down by films geared towards women lately, Bridesmaids was everything I could want in a film for women. I’m hesitant to call Bridesmaids a “chick flick” because to me that associates it with a lot of the horrible films that come out with that genre, and implies that this is a film that only women will enjoy (we don’t call films like Transformers or The Fast and the Furious dude-flicks even though they’re almost always geared towards the young male). Instead, Bridesmaids is a comedic film starring women and created by women,  that both men and women can and will enjoy.

I’m urging everyone to see this movie, not only because it is absolutely fantastic, but because, if successful, it will help prove to studio executives that women do see films, and men will enjoy films about the female perspective. To me, it’s a bit weird that in the year 2011 we’re entirely backwards in film-making for women than we were in the early days of Hollywood. Up until the 1960s, almost all films were geared towards women, and if they weren’t studio executives made sure to include an element that women would enjoy because they knew that the majority of film-goers were women.  However, in the early 1960s advertising executives created this idea that if you start selling products to people (men) at a young age, they will continue buying it for the rest of their lives. This idea was not only completely preposterous but it lead to a deification of youth,  and a higher value placed on media geared towards males. So, here we are today where films for women are sparse (and rarely well made) with studio executives thinking that if one does horribly there’s no reason to make anymore. But, we do need more made, and we do want more made.  I truly believe that if this film is successful it will green light more films made by women for women, thus giving more opportunities for women in this highly male-dominated industry.

I commend everyone involved in the creation of this film and I hope for the day that women creating a film and staring in a film-a funny film at that- isn’t a big deal.

And now, for no reason at all, I bring you some afternoon Hamm.

Jon Hamm plays Ted, Annie's (Kristen Wiig) douchey hookup partner, who insists "it's called humor, learn it."

Parks and Recreation – “The Fight” and “Road Trip”

“I’m going to make out with him right now. On his face.”

The Fight and Road Trip became back-to-back episodes purely by accident – an accident caused by NBC’s unnecessary scheduling mishaps, mainly the one that caused Parks and Recreation to be bumped to a mid-season schedule. This accident was not all bad news though because it allowed fans to finally see Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) act on their ever-present sexual tension.

The Fight starts off with Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) campaigning for another one of his outlandish inventions called “Snake Juice” and Leslie pushing Ann (Rashida Jones) into interviewing for a newly opened position at Pawnee’s government as PR Director for the Public Health Department.

Chris (Rob Lowe) explains why Dennis Cooper, Pawnee's PR Director for Public Health was fired.

While Ann getting a job in Pawnee’s city government was not a surprise (it became increasingly obvious that the writers were running out of excuses for why Ann was never working), combined with Tom’s “Snake Juice” it created a hilarious, but very real drunken fight between Leslie and Ann.

“Look, I’m sorry I thought about you for the job, okay, but sometimes if I don’t push you in the right direction you end up standing still.”

One of my favorite elements of Parks and Recreation is the friendship between Leslie and Ann. Their friendship is something rarely seen between two ladies on TV in that their friendship did not begin because of a man, nor do they spend the majority of their time talking about men or how horrible it is being single, but instead their friendship blossoms out of their mutual respect and love for each other. And, although, Leslie says the above quote to and about Ann, it goes both ways.  While Leslie pushes Ann career wise, Ann is the one pushing Leslie to act on her increasing feelings towards Ben, which becomes even more apparent in Road Trip.

Personally, I am a huge fan of the Ben and Leslie relationship and how the writers have handle it this season, and it was no different in Road Trip. Ben and Leslie are asked by Chris to head to Indianapolis to essentially campaign for Pawnee to host Indiana’s Little League baseball tournament. What normally would be an exciting trip for Leslie, is actually spent trying to avoid all temptation on acting out her feelings with Ben by trying to “anti-seduce” him during the car ride.  This plan, of course, doesn’t stay on track as Ann, who again is pushing Leslie to act on her feelings with Ben, slips in Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” on the mixed CD causing Ben and Leslie to flirt  mercilessly.

Back at the parks department the B-story in Road Trip involves another one of Tom’s outlandish inventions (although this one may be less outlandish as he says it’s ripped from the Newlywed Game), a couple-based game, “Know Ya Boo”. Honestly, nothing about this story surprised me in any way, but as a huge Neutral Milk Hotel nerd I really enjoyed the at length discussion about one of my favorite bands.

Ben telling everyone, especially Leslie, why Pawnee is special.

“The advantage, is that it’s a wonderful city. I’ve been to forty some-odd towns in Indiana, and Pawnee is special. The people are passionate and kind and they love their city. They take pride in their work. It’s a very special place.”

I think my only problem about the Ben and Leslie relationship, up until now, was that the viewers did not get much of a chance to see why Leslie likes Ben so much. It’s been shown countless times why Ben would be attracted to Leslie, but before The Fight and Road Trip, viewers were not really clued in into why Leslie would be attracted to Ben other than his charming nerdiness. Luckily, Ben had the opportunity to prove his strong appreciation for Pawnee and Leslie, making the following scenes even more exciting.

“And the town has really nice blonde hair, too.”

I can’t emphasize how fantastic and refreshing it was to see two characters who genuinely have feelings for each other actually discuss it. In most TV shows I watch there is usually a season or two of sexual tension before they ultimately sleep with each other, but there is never any real discussion about their feelings.  Now, Ben and Leslie both have their feelings out in the open so the only real thing stopping them is Chris.

But as we saw, that doesn’t actually stop them.

Uh oh.

Other notes about The Fight and Road Trip

  • The Fight  also saw the return of Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz), dancing up on Leslie, and hilariously attempting to be hip by making raps out of people’s names (Since The Fight was written by Amy Poehler, a pretty great rapper and an avid rap fan, it was no surprise to me that there was some rapping mixed into this episode).
  • After reading a lot of press and interviews for this episode, many of the cast members were talking about the drunk talking heads during this episode, mainly how hilarious Aziz’s drunk take was. While all of them were comical and side-splitting, my favorite came from Adam Scott’s “Baba Booey“.
  • I also need to commend the writers on how they’ve handled April and Andy. There’s this stigma (and to be honest, a lot of time it’s a correct) that once a TV couple gets together all the tension is lost and they become boring. With April and Andy, the opposite seems to have happened.Even though they’re married their scenes together are heartwarming, hilarious and anything but boring. In fact, these two characters have become more interesting and exciting together.
  • I loved April going to Ann for advice on Andy. I am hoping the writers are headed into a direction where April and Ann can become friends now that it’s established that Andy loves April, not Ann, and April knows that.
  • I know I didn’t discuss Ron’s story in Road Trip, but I have an idea that his feelings about government and Chris’s ridiculous rules are going to come into play in the next two episodes, so I’ll save that for next week.

Thoughts?

Just another internerd on the blergosphere

I created this blog in an attempt to better my writing skills, which I’m afraid have almost been lost since I graduated a year ago.  I spend most of my days with my best friend TV, so expect a lot of film and television reviews and commentary if I actually manage to keep up with this thing.

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