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Parks and Recreation Recap: ‘Ron & Tammys’

September 30, 2011

Sorry for missing last week. My sister was getting married, and it put the kibosh on reviewing the Parks and Rec opener, which I wasn’t even aware had premiered until it came up during the reception, between one of my friends and cousin Jane, both of whom raved about it while I bit my tongue, cheek, lip, and anything with gnawing range for having missed it.

They also mentioned that next week’s episode would feature a drinking contest between Tammy I, Ron’s mom, and Leslie. Add to that the fact that the episode is titled “Ron & Tammys,” the Ron-and-Tammy episodes being among the series’ best, I was very excited for tonight.

But to back up a bit, we’re finally introduced to what we can only believe is the demon whose evil outdoes even Satan (Tammy II): Tammy I (Patricia Clarkson, looking sexy in an appropriately red dress). The cliffhanger that Season 3 ended on, where Leslie told Ron that Tammy I was waiting in his office (and scaring away Tammy II with a mere shot of I’s shoes) certainly lived up to the hype, and, just to reinforce it, there was a great scene last week when Tammy I put April in her place (and further magnified the threat by having her work for the IRS and auditing Ron).

That said, “Ron & Tammys” was a bit of a disappointment. The drinking contest was a great premise, especially given that the poison is precisely that—Swanson-Brand Moonshine, which is also used to remove paint and burn off warts—and the introduction of Ron’s mother Tamora (also known as “Tammy”), a backwoods woman who’s probably declared her homestead as a separate state at one point, played to perfection by Paula Pell, an SNL writer whom I first thought was Bridesmaid’s Melissa McCarthy.

But what can you do with a drinking contest outside of having everybody get drunk and sneak in April doing a spit-take? It’s an anticlimax, even when Ron swoops in and downs half the jug, but the episode is saved by Clarkson and, of course, Ron.

The standout highlight is seeing neutered Ron, bereft of mustache, sporting the vacation clothes of a retiree, and being, gasp, helpful! It’s always a pleasure to see Ron at the mercy of a bad woman, and even though the batshit-sex-crazed effect Tammy II has on Ron is funnier to watch, the overly calm and subdued Ron was not without its moments. Bonus points for some other stellar character moments involving Ron’s investment in gold (I don’t know who the show’s Libertarian consultant is, but they’re not paying them enough) and his lackluster approach to record-keeping.

Okay, so the main plot was fun, but the subplots, one in which Ben’s called in to balance the books of Tom and Jean-Ralphio’s company, Entertainment 720, and another involving Ann Perkins and Chris doing a public service commercial urging Pawneeans to get checked for diabetes, fall flat.

I like Ben, and I like Tom, but the joke about Ben being a dork and Tom taking advantage of Ben’s need for acceptance has been used before and here nothing new is added. We already know that Entertainment 720 does nothing. The same can be said for Ann and Chris. Yes, Chris is an overachiever. We get it.

In all, not a bad episode. There’s some great moments with Ron, as always, and I like the addition of Tammy I to the show’s pantheon of characters, but it didn’t have the energy of the previous “Ron & Tammy” installments and fell back on well-covered territory too often. Still worth a watch, though.


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