Parks and Recreation: "Fancy Party"


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Nothing fires up the network TV hype machine quite like a wedding episode. These make for reliable season finales or sweeps weeks entrants, they're often beefed-up to an hour, and they're rife with potential for guest stars playing wacky relatives.

April Ludgate would roll her eyes at such spectacle (as she would at, well, basically everything). Andy Dwyer couldn't even contemplate months of planning and build-up. Luckily for them, they exist in the world of Parks and Recreation, a show that respects and identifies with its characters enough to know that the only appropriate wedding for these two is the impromptu sort - a slightly rushed, out-of-left-field, marvelously executed "Fancy Party." Hell, Andy doesn't even have a best man picked out until just before the ceremony, at which point essentially everyone becomes his best man.

The other hallmark of a sitcom wedding episode is the blending of humor and heart - and that right there might as well be on P&R's business card. No show on the air, and few shows I can think of ever, does it better.

Take the scene where April and Andy announce their plan to Leslie, who proceeds to freak completely out. As Leslie throws out over-excited questions ("Is April pregnant?!"), April parries with sarcastic responses ("Yes.") and Andy keeps believing them ("Wait, you are?" "No."). It's a quick, funny gag that's true to all three characters and to the ways in which they care for one another.

The impetuous lovebirds are obviously contrasted with the obsessive worrywarts Leslie and Ben. While the latter pair can definitely stand to learn a thing or two about taking chances, you never get the sense that their essential natures are being called into question. Leslie will always be an overthinker, and Ben will always be a little wishy-washy. The example of some very different loved ones is there to check their worst impulses, but not change their fundamental selves. That's the way real people learn from and shape one another.

Other great moments: Tom repeatedly being thwarted in his best man duties; Chris out-intensing April's "intense" friend Orin; April dancing with Ron and hugging Leslie; Chris's... I guess "dance" is the closest word, but I'm not sure that covers it.

And April walking down the aisle to "April Come She Will" by Simon and Garfunkel? I don't think I even want to know someone who doesn't tear up at that.

Other notes:
  • "Dinner parties do combine two of our favorite things: Dinner and parties. It's like if you could have an Xbox pancake."
  • "Apparently they want me to bring Avatar, and fifty pairs of 3D glasses, and a 3D-capable television."
  • "To be fair it's not a cake so much as it's a vegetable loaf."
  • "So not only does this thing exist, but now you have deprived everyone of cake."
  • "Is that that toothy girl from Mystic Pizza?"
  • "Did you grow up in the woods? Are you Nell? From the movie Nell?"
  • "No, Orin, I don't know how I'm going to die. Wait, are you asking me or telling me?"
  • "I have Brita filters older than their relationship. Wait a second, should I change my Brita filter?"
  • "Madames and... mess...wahs."
  • Every word of those vows. Every. Damn. Word.
  • "All right, so that one is dead. So we know that."
  • "Weren't you married three times?" "My god, you're right...I get to burn another effigy."
  • Ron Swanson's range of wisdom extends to both affairs of the heart and the appropriate technique for burning an effigy ("from a safe distance!), because of course it does.

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  • Chris and Ben are quickly becoming my favorite characters on this show. Ben's Lord of the Rings bit with Tom was great. But the highlight for me comes down to either Chris talking to Orin about seizing the day (I wish we could have seen this entire conversation) or his spasmodic performance on the dance floor. So good. Sam Seaborn's the man.

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