'Parks and Recreation' Season 3, Episode 3 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted Feb 4th 2011 12:30AM
['Parks and Recreation': 'Time Capsule']
When you bring in Will Forte as a guest star on your sitcom, you can almost bet the house that the character he's playing is going to be weird in some way. If not out-and-out weird, there's always a back current of creepiness in whatever role he plays.
Tonight was no different, with Forte playing a thirtysomething man named Kelly who's so into 'Twilight' that he wants to include it in the Pawnee time capsule Leslie is putting together. But where the writers of 'Parks and Rec' deserve some kudos is that they took what could have been a one-note character on just about any other show and made him human, and gave him a believable justification for his odd behavior.
It was the most interesting part of an episode that was pretty funny throughout, though the slow-moving second half dragged down the hilarious first half.
If you really wanted to be a stickler -- and pretty much anyone who is reading this review has likely been one at some point in time -- you could argue that the parks department didn't have any money to put together a time capsule. As it is, there's no explanation of why they're able to do this given the non-existent budget they have. Chris and Ben don't seem to object; in fact, Ben comes to the "crackpot convention," as Ron called it, to hear ideas on what to put in it.
But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. 'Parks' is best when it has the room to stray from the story arc it starts a season with. Do we care anymore that the pit next to Ann's house never became a park? Of course not. So going away from the budget crisis and the Harvest Festival for an episode isn't such a bad idea.
So it turns out that Kelly the 'Twilight' fan is so adamant about putting the books in the time capsule because he's a single dad who wants to be a hero to his daughter, who loves the books. Does it excuse his creepiness in giving Stephenie Meyer's life story or recounting the movies scene for scene to Leslie? No, but finding that out makes me realize that what he was doing wasn't creepy, it was just a tactic to wear Leslie down.
Where the laughs came in the first half of the episode were gags like seeing Tom -- who became a 'Twilight' convert after Kelly turned him on to the book -- Donna and Kelly have a discussion of the book, and then we see Leslie pop up from behind Tom to tell them to be quiet. It was framed and shot for maximum comic effect. We had Ron wanting to put a J.J.'s Diner menu in the capsule in tribute to the epic breakfast "The Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse." And we had Andy telling Chris that his best attributes are "Nice" and "Band."
The second half of the episode was mostly occupied with the town meeting Leslie called to settle the time capsule issue, and as usual, it attracted the town crazies. But it just lasted a scene too long; we get it, the people in Pawnee are loopy. Though the argument over whether 'Twilight' is too Christian or not Christian enough was inspired, especially the notion that the book is anti-Christian and "pro-quivering." Also, it was another small example where Ben can see that life in Pawnee is different than it is in other Indiana towns. "Don't get me wrong, these people are weirdos," he said. "But they're weirdos who care."
More fun stuff:
-- The writers frequently give Amy Poehler a chance to strut her improvisational stuff with segments like the one where she gives some of the many Pawnee town slogans. It feels like she just rattles most of them off the top of her head and they clip the best ones together. Sometimes, those segments drag the show down, but it was well-placed here.
-- My favorite slogans were the series of "Welcome, German Solders!", "Welcome, Vietnamese Soldiers!" and "Welcome, Taliban Soldiers!" Close second is the current slogan, "First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity."
-- April was being her usual April self by bringing Eduardo up from Venezuela just to bug Andy. But somehow, Andy outsmarted her with the "Nice" and "Band" routine, befriending Eduardo and jamming Dave Matthews with him for nine hours. "Why do I have you here?" is what she asked him when he said he and Andy were now friends.
-- Chris: "That is lit-ter-ally the best shoeshine I've ever had." When will they stop with that "lit-ter-ally" tic?
-- The episode was jam packed, so there wasn't a lot of room to do the story where Ann thinks that Andy was going to ruin things with her and Chris. It's too bad; I would have liked to see her sweat it out for a couple of days.
-- Too bad we won't see Natalie Morales for awhile. Lucy was the best thing to happen to Tom in awhile. "You're cute and you're small enough for me to throw you around." Who wouldn't like that? Tom's just got to get over the whole Wendy/Ron thing.
-- Poor Jerry ... now the people in the future will know that he screwed up the scintillating town meeting video. He'll be hated by his great-grandkids' friends now!
'Parks and Recreation' airs Thursdays at 9:30PM ET on NBC.
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Watch the full episode here: