Parks and Recreation Commentary: Bowled Over

Parks and Recreation Episode Commentary: “Bowling for Votes”

It is a pleasure to see the last few episodes of “Parks and Recreation” leading one to another, after an almost half-season of dithering. What is more, small towns in America have more to them than they appear to, and one of the show’s strengths is finding an almost endless number of facets to make fun of, and “Bowling for Votes” finds two common features of local elections to send up while also moving along the plot.

In an episode that harkens back to the classic “Telethon,” members of the Knope campaign take part in a phone drive to raise funds. Soon, it becomes a pitched battle between Chris Traeger and April Ludgate. The story is funny, but in order to make it happen, the writers find it necessary to generate a dislike for Chris in April that has never shown itself before. Changing an established relationship strictly for comedic effect feels lazy and forced, making the situation less believable. The story goes on to portray the break-up of Millicent and Chris, a plotline that—especially considering that Millicent is Jerry’s daughter—had potential to be funny but has barely been explored.

Like Ann Perkins earlier this season, Chris Traeger is not being well-used. With the exception of his attempt to reach out to a depressed Ben Wyatt in “Comeback Kid,” he’s become rather shallow comic relief, almost a background character. When he was dating Ann Perkins different levels came out that made him more interesting. More development of Chris soon would be welcome.

Believe it or not, this was not even the central storyline. Ben and Tom run a focus group to work on Leslie’s image, and Leslie, as she will do, takes one offhand comment about whether a voter would want to bowl with her too far, leading to a bowling night event in which she obsessively seeks to gain the same voter’s approval. This storyline is cute, but doesn’t really pay off until the end, when Ben Wyatt steps in to defend his woman’s honor.

The funniest story of the night, though, belongs to Ron Swanson and Tom Haverford. Tom offends Ron’s sensibilities on the proper bowling technique for a man at the alley, and the resulting duel is classic stuff, reminding fans of what they come to the show for, and that Leslie’s run for city council has yet to hit that next level.

About Justin Mitchell 48 Articles
Justin Mitchell is a freelance multi-media journalist and writer working in New York. In addition to his work at Review Fix, Justin has written for Latitude News, The New York Daily News, and Feet in 2 Worlds. Follow him on twitter: @mittinjuschell

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