I wasn’t surprised by how excellent the 100th episode “Parks and Recreation” retrospective was this week. It embraced being unusual — an uncooperative Aubrey Plaza showing off her bird calls from a tree. It decorated Chris Pratt. It celebrated its funniest moments by letting the subjects of those memories talk candidly about them. The 20-minute video was a slideshow of its old, best ideas.
Parks’ 100th episode, “Second Chunce,” was all about new ideas and who had the best one. Unsurprisingly, it was Chris Pratt’s Andy Dwyer, who Nick Offerman admitted makes him giggle the hardest and who Jim O’Heir says was the mind behind Burt Macklin’s pie-to-the-face trajectory test. The new, $32,000 richer, version of Tom comes up with the idea to pay people to come up with ideas for him (ironically, his worst idea yet) and after interviewing 100 people, he turns to his team of experts — Ron, April and Andy.
April’s inner mad scientist suggests Macaroni and Poison, which is exactly what it sounds like. A daring Ron flirts with the idea of expanding a socket wrench set to included five-eighths. A jet-lagged Andy suggests bears bouncing on trampoline roads — “There’s a chance I might have dreamed that,” he says. Other Andy dreams: an imaginary bathroom in the Parks department common area and this — “That’s my spaghetti, Chewbacca.”
Realistically, “Second Chunce” is about Leslie’s ideas involving what she will do next, being her last day on the city council and all. She rolls out the idea of campaigning against Councilman Dexhart, who coincidentally is in the middle of another sex scandal. Nobody thinks this is a good idea, not even Andy, but Ben plays along because it’ll make her happy. Enter public officials adviser Jennifer Barkley, a.k.a. Kathryn Hahn.
Meanwhile in Ann’s World: she and Chris are having a boy, which is what each of them secretly wanted even though all the best names are for girls. Yes, that’s a real thing.
Ben has bigger plans for Leslie than Pawnee government. He takes her to Paris as a “Sorry You Just Lost Your Dream Job Present,” which holds true to their initial desire to travel the world after the “London” season premiere. Taking her there is a surprise, as Adam Scott said on Twitter the ending would be, but it also reminds us that “Parks” has been on hiatus since mid-November, when the scene would’ve made more sense closer on a calendar to the department’s trip to London because you know they filmed them at the same time.
Back from said hiatus, “Parks” brings excellence as one of television’s best shows and we didn’t need a 20-minute series retrospective earlier this week to remind us. Everything in Pawnee comes so easily, except apparently a council seat. The actors are naturally funny, the writers are smart and nobody forces something that isn’t there. “I would love it if you ran an insane campaign and basically turned into The Joker … but that means you probably shouldn’t do it,” April advises Leslie. See, “Parks” has no bad ideas.