I’ve always praised Parks for its consistency in delivering lots of laughs contained within its plots that almost always have successful resolutions to genuine conflicts. “Pawnee Commons” is no exception, but this is one of the few times where despite all the right ingredients and proportions I feel the end result was a bit weak. “Pawnee Commons” is almost too by the book.
The main plot finds Leslie pleading with the listeners of Pawnee Public Radio for design submissions for the park she’s been working on since the pilot. As tantalizing as “Worm Park” is, turns out the only real applicant worthy for consideration is an Eagletonian. Restin St. James seems too good to be true and despite Ben’s admiration for the man Leslie can’t bring herself to trust him. After she finally succumbs to Ben’s ever present reasonability, Leslie appears to have been proven right when two of Restin’s employees submit a mock design including fast food troughs and showers with instructions for those Pawnee citizens who aren’t familiar with the concept of bathing. While Leslie plans (and eventually executes) her revenge, Bens learns Restin is as genuine as he appeared and despite getting a shaving cream toupe, still delivers a perfect new park design pro bono including a Lil’ Sebastian fountain.
The rest of the cast (save April and Andy) are helping Tom renovate his new business’ space. Can someone remind me as to whether Tom is still a Parks Department employee? If so, why is Chris okay with Tom’s new business venture? I know this episode was all about how Tom has transformed into a “responsible tycoon”, but I couldn’t help but be a bit bothered by those questions. This story included an appearance from DJ Roomba, which warmed my heart, and a nice bit of banter between Chris and Ron, but even with Jerry’s barely restrained righteous anger over the small, topping-less pizza, I think this is the plot that I liked the least. Ann ends up reminding Tom that although he’s moving in the right direction with his new business venture, his swagger, confidence, and showmanship are still needed to make the place work – as long as it’s used well.
My favorite plot from “Pawnee Commons” is definitely that which followed Andy Dwyer, part-time City Hall weekend security guard, and his lovely wife, April, A.K.A. Judy Hitler. Though watching the adorably odd couple role play was immensely entertaining, and served as another reminder that this may be the best married couple on a sitcom ever, it was watching the two as themselves help find Lil’ Joey’s mom (why were they wandering around City Hall on a weekend anyway?) that was the most rewarding because it demonstrated that although she knows when to indulge in the fantastical, April also knows when to remind Andy of the reality that he is super awesome sauce all on his own. I truly hope this isn’t Bert Macklin’s last appearance.