Saturday, 6 August 2011

Episodes: A Blog-a-Thon (the entries)

Note to self, when you’re organising a blog-a-thon it’s probably best to choose the subject of your write-up more than a day before the submission date. Not that I haven’t ruminated on great episodes of the past TV season (I did devote a significant amount of time to publishing my Emmy ballot) but it’s one thing to strip thing downs to six submissions for things best writing and so on. I was torn between shows like The Good Wife, Boardwalk Empire and even Modern Family and for a time I thought I’d write on something from Dexter, and then I realised that Parks and Recreation and its almost faultless third season was the obvious contender. Then, it turned into a chore deciding which of the sixteen episodes to focus on...
I say that “Indianapolis” is the best written episode of the lot, and “The Fight” is the best directed but when it came to all-round goodness I couldn’t ignore the season’s second episode “Flu Season” (incidentally, the episode Amy Poehler submitted for Emmy consideration).

Sweet, beautiful Ann opens the episode,
There’s a crazy flu going around.
And really, it’s all uphill from there...
As much as I love Paul Schneider, the addition of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott to Parks and Recreation was one of the greatest things of the last season and this episode is so early on, we’re only now getting to know them (and conversely they’re only now getting to know Pawnee). Leslie’s still in the early stages of the Harvest Festival, and it’s only her luck that would have her get sick on the day she’s to make the submission to potential sponsors. Unlike a number of shows with expansive ensembles Leslie Knope actually is the greatest thing about the show and she’s got some great moments – ingesting overdoses of her medicine chronically, wearing ridiculous get-ups to fight the “cold”.
Leslie ends up in the hospital, as does Chris – who’s microchip body can’t withstand the flu, and April who’s determined to making Ann’s life a living hell because of her kiss with Andy.

With three members of staff out we get to see the beginnings of two friendships which are a major part of the season for me – Ron and Andy’s friendship and Tom and Ben’s, and the quasi-development of the season’s three romances Ben and Leslie, April and Andy and Ann and Chris. It’s weird to imagine that all of that could fit into a 21 minute episode, that’s still overflowing with comedic one-liners and which allows Leslie to show us how much like superwoman she is, but that’s just how good Parks and Recreation is.
The episode’s iconic scene occurs near the end when Leslie steals the medication of everyone on her floor, apparently and turns up at the Chamber of Commerce (or Secrets as her drug induced self calls it) to make the presentation. She kills it of course, because she’s Leslie Knope but what’s proof of the show’s hold on reality (in the face of hilarity) is immediately after the flawless presentation – which Leslie probably spent weeks planning she goes into a Q&A.

She turns to the guy and goes,
That’s a very good question and I would counter with my own question. Why is half of your face all swirly?
And as Ben comes up to take over, “Everybody give it up for Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap.”
It’s difficult to describe the brilliance of a character like Leslie to someone who’s never seen Parks and Recreation. Ben tries to use sports to describe her:
That was a flu ridden Jordan at the 97 NBA finals. That was Kurt Gibson hobbling up to the plate and hitting a homerun. That was Leslie Knope.

Indeed, and that’s Parks and Recreation. What I find most appealing about the episode is that as good as Poehler is, this episode could just as easily work as a showcase for Rob Lowe, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman or Chris Pratt. Few shows manage to weave their ensemble as well into a single episode. (If I don’t stop, I’d take screen-caps of the entire episode.)

So, that’s my favourite episode of the last TV season. I’m not crazy enough to think that Parks and Recreation will actually win Best Comedy at the Emmy’s but I’m hoping for a surprise upset for Amy Poehler and “Flu Season”. Now, on to the submissions...

Greg (Screen Ramblings) on The Office "Classy Christmas"
Which brings me to "Classy Christmas", and the one key scene I'd like to discuss. And that is of course the office turning on Holly after Michael confronts her about his feelings. What's remarkable about this scene is that despite Michael's rather delusional and immature behavior (which he does make up for in the end)...(link)

Alex (Alex in Movieland) on 30 Rock "Everything Sunny All the Time Always"
The screenplay is very funny, probably the best of the season, next to Double-Edged Sword. I always love Jack & Avery and their Republican jokes, and this episode delivers a lot of incredibly funny one-liners.  (link)
Ryan (Sorta that Guy) on Sherlock "The Great Game"
Like any good mystery story "The Great Game" keeps its audience on its toe. In fact, the whole conceit of the episode is keeping the title character Sherlock on his toes as he tries to solve various murders with only a clue left to him by a mysterious person threatening to kill more people if he doesn't solve the murders in time. (link)

Nicholas (Cinema Romantico) on Parks and Recreation "Time Capsule"
"Parks and Recreation" is an embodiment of that term you so often hear tossed around - character comedy. And that's critical, and it's critical because I like these characters. I like all these characters, even the unlikeable ones because, God bless 'em, they are who they are and make no bones about it. They are defiantly themselves, which, in a way, is the whole point of that lone video tape placed in the time capsule.(link)

(The Oncoming Hope) on Doctor Who "The Doctor's Wife"
We learn, once and for all, that despite the commitment in prior series to the Doctor's eternal loneliness, that he does in fact have one constant companion. Gaiman takes us right back to the beginning, when the Doctor enters this Tardis and runs away on his many adventures. She has been there the whole time, through the best and worst times of his life, always silent but always there. And you must have a heart of steel if you can't see the beauty in being able for once in your life... (link)
 Thanks to this great quintet for telling me about their favourite episodes. What were yours?
ADDENDUM: I should not encourage Paolo, but he talks about Web Therapy and I know it's not a TV show (it's a web series) but, well, Kudrow is awesome. And, it's recently begun its television tenure and she's STILL awesome. (link)


Jose said...

Eeek! I LOVE the flu episode more than words can tell. I'm fascinated by your love of Rashida Jones who I always find so dull. I don't know why anyone would fall in love with Ann, other than her great ass of course.

theoncominghope said...

Jose, the "everyone falling in love with Ann" thing used to completely confound me until they changed her character this season into someone more damaged.

After that, I found her sluttiness incredibly entertaining.

Rashida Jones is incredibly funny and they're finally giving her more to do than play "Leslie's bestie"

theoncominghope said...

I think one of my favorite things this episode is when Jerry tells Leslie she's tired and Leslie counters with "you look tired and you're sweaty all the time, what's your excuse Jerry!"

Ryan T. said...

Thanks for organizing this blogathon! Great work. Love your choice. P&R had a season in which all of its episodes could've been featured for this blogathon. Scott's heart-eyes for Poehler were adorable and I always LOL when she starts walking after she thinks the floor and ceiling switched. You should just do a P&R blogathon! I would talk about "Harvest Festival."

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose how can you not love rashida? she's adorable! i loved ann before i loved leslie, actually (i used to love ann and andy. sigh.)

theoncominghope HA! love that moment with jerry. honestly, i'd have screen-capped the entire episode and explained why every line is genius.

ryan but wouldn't that have been kind of crazy? i didn't know that so many people loved parks and rec though.

Nicholas Prigge said...

You're so right in that it's difficult to choose a "best" Parks & Rec episode but Flu Season is pretty spectacular. I love how they finally let Rob Lowe seem vulnerable in that one. "The microchip has been compromised."