At long last the hiatus is over and our favorite show is back, with a heaping helping of Bradley Whitford and West Wing shout outs. But let’s not rush; we’re going to treat this recap with a slow burn. That way, if for some reason you cray-cray and don’t like a little BW on your screen, you can read the first part of the recap and still get most of the major points and avoid shameless fan-girling. You have been warned. And, should I leave anything out, hit me with it in the comments.
We’ll start off with Tom and Ann. Which is to say, I feel like the show really listens to its viewers. Not in a way that its a slave to audience response or the many whimsical ideas we have for the plot and characters and relationships. No, rather that they hear the fanbase scream that we hate this stupid Ann/Tom relationship and they find the perfect solution – they’re together as a couple without ever having to be seen together. Genius! Hearing that Ann is in love with Tom would be too big of a stretch for me, but hearing that she’s in love with his apartment? Makes total sense. How could the girl not be in love – there are amenities everywhere. This is proving to me that Ann’s really got her priorities straight in life. (Sidebar – with the exception of Tom keeping the thermostat at 80°. My roommate did that for the first few weeks of the semester and I was ready to cut a bitch.) I especially enjoyed seeing Ann and Leslie have some quality best-friend time by nesting in the bed full of throw blankets.
Apparently, despite his vehement protestations, Ron is still a candidate for Assistant City Manager under Chris. To actually get the position, he has to (unknowingly) prove that he is flexible. Metaphorically. (Metaphorically prove he is flexible, not “prove he’s flexible” as a metaphor insinuating sex between Ron effing Swanson and Chris Traeger). Naturally, Chris takes him to a strip mall meditation center to center his chi or something. I don’t understand what’s going on any more than Ron does, apparently. But, despite Ann’s warnings that the experience will be “crazy boring, last forever, make him want to kill himself” he endures it and even succeeds, despite standing for six hours straight. For some reason I think Ron has stood still for longer. But there’s some shady deal where if Bobby Newport wins the election for City Councilman he’s going to install his own City Manager so Chris and Ron need to both hold their horses, not get ahead of themselves, and basically chill the fuck out. For Ron that means business as usual, for Chris that means playing Cranium while drinking top-shelf whiskey. Win-win.
April has officially started her job filling in for Leslie. It’s not going so hot. She doesn’t know the answers to any questions or how to run any meetings. Leslie fucks things up (accidentally, obviously) by talking to Councilman Pillner (we’ll get to him later, don’t you worry) about not cutting the funding for the Parks Dept. He agrees but the funds need to come from somewhere. Cut to: Ben/April/Andy’s house full of 32 dogs and cats that Leslie adopted from the animal shelter that was going to be closed because of the aforementioned funding problem. Those pets are adorable y’all. Even the air-humping pig. April holds a pet adoption fair in the park but they somehow end up with more animals. She feels like a complete and utter failure and it’s only Tom that helps her see reason. Aww.
Councilman Pillner is retiring so he doesn’t mind bowing to Leslie’s whims about what to do with the budget. To an extent. If they want to make budget adjustments, they have to be justifiable and the money has to come from somewhere. To save Ann’s job, the animal shelter, and the Park Dept. budget, she reaches a compromise and despite the fact that the strategy is basically political suicide: Bobby Newport will announce that he’s using his personal wealth to save the animal shelter. And sure, maybe that will give Bobby the advantage of an entire week of positive news coverage, but you know what’s coming our way next week? Debate. Damn skippy, folks. We’re going to have the distinct pleasure of seeing Leslie wipe the floor with Bobby Newport.
So, this next paragraph is dedicated to the West Wing references / Bradley Whitford fanclub. If you are so opposed, skip down for this week’s Notable & Quotable. Councilman Pillner aka Bradley Whiftord aka Josh Lyman aka “that guy who played the evil dude in Billy Madison”. I have to admit, I fan-girled seeing Bradley Whitford on my TV screen once again. Like, paused the episode, squealed, took rapid-fire notes about how much I love him and have missed him. But, more than that… WEST WING REFERENCES GALORE!!!! I can’t contain myself and will in no way apologize. Sorry not sorry. They titled the episode after a WW quote which they then used in the show!!! Yeah, that whole “We play with live ammo around here.” that Pillner says to Knope. But you know what makes my heart soar? The fact that it was actually Rob Lowe aka Chris Traeger aka Sam Seaborn who originally delivered the quote and he’s now on Parks. Just… I can’t even, guys. Fictional worlds were colliding in the bestest ways ever and I’m just astounded because then they go and out-do themselves. Because that napkin, god that napkin! I never thought that I’d wax poetic about a fucking napkin, but it’s finally happened. Any West Wing fan worth a grain of salt knows that Jed Bartlet was swayed into running for President by his good buddy who had this one thought running around his head that he just had to get out… and out it came on a bar napkin, “Bartlet for America.” (Sidebar – I’m super emotional about this napkin, guys. Like, when we did election projects in the 8th grade and had to pick a candidate to fake vote for when we tried out the brand new electronic voting machines and everyone walked around for a whole month asking me who I wanted to win – Bush or Kerry – all I could say was, “Bartlet for America” and my heart would break every damn time because I knew that would never be reality At 13 years old! I was a weird kid.)
Notable & Quotable:
- BRAD WHITFORD & ROB LOWE DIDN’T SHARE A SCENE!!! This and the fact that they didn’t do any patented Sorkinese walking-and-talking or fast-talking were my only quibbles. If there’s a deleted scene fo these two together I will buy the DVD for that alone. Guaranteed.
- Domestic Leslie and Ben are the cutest. They are, as always, my relationship ideal. I especially loved how puckish Leslie was feeling this week with all of her cat-calls to Ben.
- “We’re the only thing between her and a life of tube tops and tribal tattoos and barfing in hot tubs.” – Leslie’s appeal to Pillner to save the Parks Dept. budget.
- “All due respect Mr. Hamster-Penis, but no I don’t.” – April, about having no idea on how to run a meeting.
- “Hey honey, how did you sleep? I adopted 32 cats and dogs. Do you want pancakes.” – Leslie, to Ben.
- “I think I may have found a project I’d actually enjoy doing: helping these cats and dogs. They should be rewarded for not being people. I hate people.” – April Ludgate, on being my alter-ego.
- “There’s a hot spinning cone of meat in the restaurant next door. I don’t know what it is, but I’d like to eat the whole thing.” Ron effing Swanson.
So that’s it for this week. I’m sorry to you/for you if you hated The West Wing and if this was super painful for you. But I’m not that sorry, you know? I have all of the feelings about that show. Were you as enamored with the WW shout-outs as I was? As excited to see BW back on your TV? What were your favorite moments and quotes? If I missed anything of import, you can find me crying under a pile of kittens and puppies in Ben & Leslie’s Menagerie of Madness. I look forward to seeing you post-debate next week!