TV Diary | Parks And Recreation: “The Comeback Kid”
TV Diary | Parks And Recreation – Episode 4.11 – “The Comeback Kid” – Original Airdate: 1/12/12
Episode Grade: B
Editor’s note: New feature time here on the blog. I’m kind of shamelessly stealing from The AV Club’s format from their episode reviews, but I’m going to start doing some mini-reviews that I’m calling TV Diary. As we enter the digital age, DVRs have become much more prevalent in the past five years and many people tend to keep up with their favorite shows on their own pace. Many, like myself, rarely watch anything live so the stockpile of shows on the ol’ TiVo can get rather large. TV Diary will give you a look at what I’ve been watching – may be a show that aired months ago, or it could be a show that aired just last night. My hope is that maybe I’ll turn you on to something you haven’t been watching or warn you off of something that’s terrible. Onto the entry.
It’s mid-January and not a moment too soon , NBC’s Parks And Recreation is back with a round of new episodes. Following up on the conclusion of December’s last original episode, “Citizen Knope,” “The Comeback Kid” finds Leslie and the rest of the Parks Department setting out anew on her campaign for city council. Although “Citizen Knope” brought all of Leslie’s friends and co-workers together in support of her run for office, it was obvious from the start what a bad, bad idea this was going to be – touching as it most certainly was – and “The Comeback Kid” gives us a look at just how off the rails her campaign can end up falling when entrusted to less than qualified hands. Leslie’s first official act heading her new campaign team is to make Ann her campaign manager – “Don’t listen to your head or your heart. Just look at my eyes and say ‘yes.’” – despite Ann’s glaring lack of experience, or of any discernable character traits . And also mainly because no one else wanted the job due to the proximity to the domineering Leslie that comes with the position. The team spends the rest of the episode realizing what a bad idea their taking over the campaign actually was, as it’s one misstep after another after another after another. Ann, in her position as campaign manager, manages to land the endorsement of a local high school basketball legend known as Pistol Pete only to find out that the ol’ Pete would rather not trade on his past . Ron, April, Andy, and Tom are left in charge of putting together Leslie’s campaign rally with Ron taking over construction of the stage due to his distrust of contractors – “I don’t want to paint with a broad brush here, but every contractor in the world is an incompetent thief.” – Tom using his connections around Pawnee to procure supplies , and April in charge of booking the venue. However, this being Parks And Rec, Ron’s stage is too small, Tom’s choice of red carpet is thwarted by a lack of sufficient funds , and April neglects (or more likely, just doesn’t care) that the arena that’s supposed to be a basketball court has been converted to an ice rink. Oh, and Andy’s also along for the ride but because Andy is Andy – “I tried to make ramen in the coffee pot and I broke everything.” – his contributions are minimal, but hilarious. Ann is eventually able to rally the troops when they decide to, in their defeat, ditch the event to head to the bar early. However, after attempting to negotiate beyond the world’s shortest red carpet across the ice at the rally to make it to the podium , Leslie and everyone else begin to realize what a flop this jump-off event has turned into even as Pistol Pete shows up and (briefly) turns the crowd to their side before throwing out his back attempting to pull off his famous dunk while running across the ice rink . It’s a fairly farcical storyline that dovetails into “The Comeback Kid’s” secondary plot as Ben’s newly unemployed status has lead him to attempt to fill his time in some unconventional ways – practicing his Claymation skills and developing the world’s first calzone fast food restaurant are two of his activities – that leads to a visit from Chris to assess Ben’s mental situation. After initially denying Chris’s suspicions of depression, Ben comes to the conclusion that he needs some direction when he realizes that three weeks’ worth of Claymation work has yielded a three-second video . It’s not difficult to see that the easy solution is for Leslie to ask Ben to run her campaign, due both to his rudderless status and her need for an experienced politician to head her quest for office, and indeed she does just that. This seemed like the obvious solution from the start – actually from the minute Ben lost his job protecting Leslie in “The Trial Of Leslie Knope” – and “The Comeback Kid” pays lip service to the fact that Leslie’s initially reluctant to have Ben in that position due to the almost-scandal that cost him his job, but much of the episode seems to be heading towards a conclusion that’s visible from miles away and that’s blocked by a false obstacle. This almost makes “The Comeback Kid” feel like a time-waster, but thankfully it’s packed with enough funny lines and set-pieces to elevate it overall. Following up on an episode that was as powerful both comedically and dramatically as “Citizen Knope” was going to be a tough order, something proven true to a degree by “The Comeback Kid.”
 Pour one out for the (temporarily) departed Community, yo.
 Just kidding. Love ya, Rashida Jones.
 And Leslie expressly forbids Ann from using sexual favors in her dealings with Pistol Pete. Winky face.
 He also opines on the luxuriousness of red carpet. HE EVEN HAS RED CARPET INSOLES IN HIS SHOES. Baller time.
 And resulting in a comically short red carpet runway on the ice surface at the venue.
 To a seemingly never-ending loop of the first line of Gloria Estefan’s “Get On Your Feet.” Make it stop. Please.
 Which, admittedly, leads to a nice tag at the episode’s conclusion where Leslie and Ann visit Pete in the hospital following his spill. When Pete asks Ann out, she and Leslie simultaneously blurt out, “I’m married,” and “She’d love to,” respectively. After Leslie points out that Ann actually isn’t married, Ann responds, “This is awkward.”
 Set to the first seven words of R.E.M.’s “Stand.”
*The name of the calzone place that Ben’s developing? The Lo-Cal Calzone Zone.
*Andy and April buy a three-legged dog and name him Champion. Because he is the champion of all the dogs.
*”Tom, we’re already late. Be a man and sit on that girl’s lap.”
*”I kinda like it because windows are the eyes to the house.”
*”I’m sorry, I have to ask this but how many legs did that dog have when you got him?”
*”I’m holding the dog. He is peeing. He is now peeing.”
*”I was kidding. You should soak that in bleach and burn it.”
*”That’s horrible. Where are you? My mother’s butt? Really?”
*As per usual, I’ve embedded the episode below via Hulu for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.