Tonight’s episode of “Parks and Recreation” pulled off an impressive hit trick, delivering a genuinely funny episode, a 30-minute product placement for a new book and a scathing satire of the birther moment. That’s certainly a first for this show. It’s also probably a first for TV comedy in general.
Yes, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) wrote a book entitled “Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America.” And yes, in the fine tradition of TV tie-in literature, it is an actual book. I am sorry to report, however, that “The Time Traveler’s Optometrist,” a tome also mentioned on tonight’s installment, is not. Which is a bummer. I was really looking forward to the inevitable film adaptation of that novel, starring Rachel McAdams.
The release of Leslie’s book — which was to double as a nice marketing tool for that city council campaign — prompted Joan Calamezzo, Pawnee’s resident talk show host/hybrid version of Kathie Lee Gifford and Nancy Grace, to accuse Leslie of not actually being born in Pawnee.
And that led to a whole bunch of shenanigans involving the procurement of Leslie’s birth certificate and the realization that — spoiler alert — Leslie Knope was actually born in Eagleton, the land of rich, snobby jerks (her words). And also, apparently, the home of Voldemort. (Again, Leslie’s words.)
Of course, our plucky deputy parks and recreation director eventually learned that it’s not where you’re born that matters, it’s where you’re from. And naturally, in keeping with weekly tradition, we also learned five other important lessons from this week’s fine installment of “Parks and Rec.”
1. If you publish a book, cut out all the unnecessary stuff.
In other words, as Leslie did, remove all poems, emotional ramblings and pictures of unicorns.
2. The notion that behind every great man is a great woman? Not true at all.
Actually the saying really goes: Behind every successful man is Tom Haverford, smiling and taking credit.
3. As Joan Calamezzo demonstrated, gotcha journalism has far more impact if you bring out the Gotcha dancers to dance to a song called “Gotcha” while wearing T-shirts that also say “Gotcha.”
Otherwise, a reporter runs the significant risk of not making it clear that a gotcha moment has just occurred.
4. In the words of Ben Wyatt, nerd culture is mainstream. When you use the word nerd derogatorily, it means you’re the one who’s out of the zeitgeist.
Oh, I’m sorry, am I boring you?
5. This week’s insight from the great Ron Swanson: when people get too chummy, call them by the wrong name to let them know you don’t really care about them.
Of course, if you care about them so little that you don’t actually know their real names, and then when you call them by the wrong name you accidentally use the right one, that throws off the whole plan. Hopefully Ron Swanson has a contingency plan in place for such instances.