Parks and Recreation: "Camping"


Leslie Knope doesn't even own a laurel on which to rest. Not content to bask in the accomplishment of the Harvest Festival, she's eager to get back to work and continue that success, like a championship sports team. It's why her Parks Department foot soldiers (including her nominal boss) kinda can't stand her, but it's also why they - and we - kinda love her.

Even "the Energizer Bunny of city government" has her slumps, and despite at least 49 binders full of ideas, Leslie can't come up with the big one that will capitalize on her victory. Thus in "Camping," she leads the crew on a brainstorming session in the woods. While that setting offered up many good gags (like Tom's audition video for MTV's Tentz, complete with the revival of DJ Roomba!), the comedy kicked up a notch when the action shifted to the cat-laden bed and breakfast.

The Quiet Corn struck me as an alternate-universe version of Schrute Farms, with its stern Teutonic matron and bizarrely antiquated breakfast menu ("your choice of German muffin.") One has to wonder how much time Parks and Recreation showrunner and erstwhile Mose Schrute portrayer Michael Schur has spent in such otherwordly country inns, in light of such lovingly-observed caricatures. The end-credits kicker ("Yeah, she died like twenty minutes after that") was my biggest laugh of the episode.

Anyone familiar with the creative process can relate to Leslie's travails. (It's possible that this episode stemmed from the P&R writers' own ordeal of figuring out how to maintain the momentum of the Harvest Festival story arc.) And as any creative type also knows, Ron's solution is usually just the trick to clearing away mental obstacles. Only so much thought can go into generating an idea or solving a problem before it becomes counter-productive. Stepping away from it, wiping it out of your conscious mind entirely, is a necessary step; the idea percolates in the subconscious mind, often leading to the classic "eureka!" moment.

Granted, this part of the process typically doesn't involve being barricaded in a room with fifty cats. But sometimes drastic measures are needed, and that's Ron Swanson territory.

A fun episode, but also one that felt like sort of a pause, a chance to reset the pins, including re-integrating Chris into Pawnee permanently as the new city manager. He's perfectly suited to that post, which will enable him to enthusiastically endorse Leslie's dreams while letting Ben and Ron natter about the practicalities. After all, she's now got a whole doily full of ideas to bring to life in the second half of this season.

Other notes:
  • "That was the second-most awkward way a man has ever grabbed my breast."
  • "Can I grab onto your boob for support?" "No, Tom, dont'! Her boob kills!"
  • "Pawnee is - literally - the greatest town in the country."
  • Kyle is becoming the Jerry of the shoeshine stand, isn't he?
  • "I salsa... your face." Rashida Jones with one of the two best line deliveries of the night.
  • "Fishing relaxes me. It's like yoga, except I still get to kill something."
  • "It's called 'the ground,' when it's outside."
  • "As you can see, these smell terrific."
  • "I know this one: They are all rappists."
  • "Poodles only. No pooping."
  • "April is up here, and I... am down here somewhere."
  • "I married ALF, and we're pretty happy. Sounds nice."
  • Jerry: "I should lead a teen abstinence project." Ron: "That might be incredibly effective."
  • "...and even though it was her own private property, she knew she would be forced to take it in - for a STATE INSPECTION!"
  • "If that's a coyote, someone needs to pick me up off the ground, NOW."
  • "One day, there's going to be a plaque there that reads, 'This is where Leslie Knope came up with the amazing idea for...' Damn, I thought that would work."
  • "This place is the exact opposite of Skymall."
  • "...and I had to fight a squirrel."
  • "I have to move, right? Yeah. I'm gonna leave the country. Bye, everybody. Bye." - And that was the second one.
  • "My room is filled with cat hair. And cat smell. And actual cats, roughly twelve cats."


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