Parks and Recreation Season 5, Episode 14 & 15 Review: “Ben and Leslie/Correspondent’s Lunch”
The other day, following my viewing of this double stuffed episode, I asked myself a question: has there been another show in recent memory that added new characters as great and as seamless as Ben and Chris? Sitcoms add new characters all the time; just ask NBC’s other Thursday night programming. The Office has more new cast member than old ones at this point, and most of them are completely unnecessary and kind of boring (Erin the obvious exception…she practically keeps the show a float at this point). Even though Jim Rash’s Dean Pelton on Community is a fantastic character, but doesn’t exactly count for this since he was on the show since the first episode—albeit as a semi-recurring guest star/disembodied voice. Even the late great 30 Rock struggled with this, as Rachel Dratch’s Hazel was a complete waste of that actress. But Parks managed to do the impossible; bring on a pair of great actors that not only worked well on the show, but brought new life to it. I simply can’t imagine a Parks and Rec without Chris and Ben anymore.
Case in point this week’s episode, “Leslie and Ben,” which focuses on the (shocker!) relationship between Leslie and Ben. For me at least, this is a perfect example of a TV dream team couple; Adam Scott and Amy Poehler both have wonderful chemistry together, and seeing the various ups and downs of their relationship has been a delight. And now we’re finally getting to see the payoff to all this—the wedding between the two lovers. And what a wedding it was.
We’ve seen a lot of great TV weddings in the past few years—Pam and Jim on The Office. Liz and Criss on 30 Rock. Lily and Marshall on How I Met Your Mother. But in my opinion at least, Ben and Leslie on Parks and Recreation might take the cake in this category. This episode was hilarious sweet, and everything I could possibly want for Beslie’s wedding (I already hate myself for that one…apologies, guys). The only thing that took this episode down for me was another appearance by Councilman Jamm, who continues to be an annoying presence on this show. For me at least he’s this show’s Andy, in that he’s such a jackass that he ruins every scene that he’s involved in (just like what that character does on The Office on a weekly basis). Still, I guess his horribleness was worth it for the amazing moment when Ron punched him in the face. I think I literally cheered after that.
Speaking of Ron, he was probably the MVP of “Leslie and Ben.” Not only was he as hilarious as ever in his Ron Swanson mold, but the moments between him and Leslie were some of the sweetest of the entire hour. Such a great relationship those to have with one another, and I love seeing every moment of it play out between the two.
I’m going to be brief with the second part of this hour long segment, “Correspondents Lunch,” because well “Leslie and Ben” was a near perfect episode of the show, this one was merely really good. It was focused more on making me laugh than anything but, hey, when you’re Parks and Rec, that’s fine by me. The main plotline of Leslie discovering that the Pawnee Sun hacked her email was funny, but I wish there was a little more payoff with it at the end. In particular, it would have been nice to see more outrageous lies played out for the Sun, rather than Leslie proclaim that the jig is up after the midiclorian bit. Still, it was a mostly funny plot that served as good fodder for Leslie Knope humor.
The other two were fine as well, although they mostly were just pushing the story forward for each character. I was kind of sad to see Andy not get the cop job, and I’m not sure that him working under Ben as a charity adviser or something is working to that character’s strength. Although it’s funny to think that Ben has worked individually with pretty much every member of the cast at one point or another—Chris, Leslie, April, and Tom to name a few. All we need is for him to become a hospital administrator or something to get the Anne/Ben pairing we’ve all been dying to see. And speaking of Anne, her quest to find a sperm donor has finally reached its logical conclusion, with her focus once again being shifted back to Chris. I think the show is continuing to push these two back together, but I can’t see what good can come out of it. Whatever the case, I’m sure we’re bound to find out.
And since this review is already pretty long, I’ll sum it up real quick: “Ben and Leslie”, near perfection. “Correspondent’s Lunch”, really good. Add both together and you have an awesome hour of television.
- These episodes were chock full of amazing quotes…so here they are. Enjoy.
- “There’s some beautiful Jewelry in here, but be careful, there’s also nails.”
- “But this is America, I want it now!”
- “That’s the worst idea I ever heard.” “Yeah, that’s right.”
- “We open with Will Smith’s monologue from the modern cinematic classic, Hitch.”
- “I’ve been watching a lot of Project Runway recently…and a lot in the past eight years.”
- “No time to do the Tim Dunn voice…oh what am I talking about, there’s always time.”
- “Can we adopt you as our grandma?” “Fine.”
- “Is this a ruby that’s gone bad?”
- “No, no…it’s my fault for believing in you.”
- “Well, I’m not crazy about the part where you do something.”
- “I promised myself I wouldn’t cry tonight…and I already have five times.”
- “It is like the Ann Perkins of dresses.”
- “Two day free shipping with this guy!”
- “Yeah, best wedding ever.”
- “I’ve never presented a bride on her wedding day so I’m not exactly sure of the duties involved, but I don’t think I’m supposed to punch a man in the mouth during the service.”
- “I lost my father when I was ten, I don’t have any brothers, and Ken Burns never wrote me back.”
- “Wait he did what, how did he murder a person!”
- “About my new partner, is he a dog?”
- “I’ve never willingly been here later than 5:04 PM.”
- “You’re a wonderful person, your friendship means a lot to me, and you look beautiful.” DAAAAAAWWWWWWWW.
- “There’s like twenty minutes of Hitch quotes before I mention Leslie’s name!”
- “Close only counts in horse grenades.”
- “This song, which is for Lil’ Sebastian, is for you.”
- “People who buy things are suckers.”
- Jerry Gifts: “Earbuds, a bag of peanuts, and a Skymall catalog.”
- “Thank you, Hawaii.”
- “Today I took those burning coals, I shove them back down their throats, and I watch their melting flesh drip off their worthless faces! It’s all in good fun.”
- “The government in this town is excellent, and uses your tax dollars efficiently.”
- “I wish this office had only walls.”
- “Turns out they don’t make greeting cards for asking your ex-boyfriend if he will artificially inseminate you.”
- “I’ve seen your house, you’d probably have more success if he planted ficasses in your back yard.”
- “You know what they say about rumors! They’re mostly true.”
- “I’m fine. It’s just that life is pointless and nothing matters and I’m always tired. Also I can’t sleep. I’m over eating. None of my mild hobbies interest me.”
- “He’s always sad and sweaty…he’s usually happy and sweaty.”
- “I just opened up a can of whoop ass on myself!”
- “Go stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done. And no deserts!” And he does it.
- “Oh Ann, you’re too beautiful to be funny.”
- “Everybody seems to be laughing now!”
- “Someone fucking tell me what Neve Campbell sounds like!”
- Perd Hapley’s spirit animal is “a doggy.”
- “The story of this situation is, it’s extremely personal.”
- “You can’t hack into a typewriter, that’s all I have to say.”
- “Top 10 Ben’s Butt 2012 Slideshow.”
- “That guy? Do you even know him?”