'Parks and Recreation': A tale of two cities

parks-and-rec-eagleton2.jpgSpringfield has its Shelbyville, Cheers had its Olde Towne Tavern, Seinfeld had his Newman. And in the world of "Parks and Recreation," Pawnee has Eagleton.

The rather one-sided rivalry between the two adjoining towns was the subject of Thursday's (May 5) episode, and thanks to the presence of Parker Posey as Leslie's ex-BFF and some really ridiculous (but funny) compare-and-contrast moments between the two towns, "Eagleton" worked nearly as well as some of those classic "Cheers" episodes.

That, plus a great B-story with Ron coming unglued over the threat of a birthday party made for a very fine half-hour of TV.

Eagleton is as crazily, cartoonishly upscale as Pawnee is scruffy, and the show had great fun in setting out those details: the gift bags and crepe bar at the community meeting, the jail holding cell that was nicer than my first apartment (and comes with free scones) and the cops on their fancy Segways. As personified by Posey's Lindsay, it also has the snobbiest, most condescending citizenry imaginable -- and that's what gives the episode its story.

Eagleton has erected a fence to separate its side of a shared park from the Pawnee side -- which, OK, is pretty sad-looking, but it's also so undemocratic that it makes you ponder the merits of class warfare. That it was perpetrated by Lindsay, a former Pawnee girl who only got the Eagleton job after Leslie turned it down several years ago, only makes the act sting more for Leslie.

But as if the fence itself and Lindsay's holier-than-thou-or-anyone-else attitude weren't enough, Lindsay then commits the ultimate transgression: She feeds one of Leslie's beloved waffles from JJ's Diner to her dog. A fight breaks out, leading both of them to spend the night in the other town's holding cell.

Lindsay, we gather, is ready to shrug the incident off and retreat back behind the fence, but Leslie is Leslie -- i.e., the bigger person. So instead of throwing trash over the fence per her original plan, she makes the fence the defining feature of a kids' Wiffle ball league, open to children from both towns. The sight of it thaws Lindsay's heart just a little, at least to the point where she's willing to acknowledge Leslie as a friend again. Because that's how Knope does.

Unless, of course, Knope is busy tormenting her boss over the prospect of throwing a birthday party for him. Ron is normally so in control of his environment (his two relapses with Tammy aside) that watching him get twitchy and paranoid over the prospect of a celebration is just a joy to watch (and Nick Offerman, per usual, played it note-perfect). But, again because that's how Knope does, it ended with a very sweet, thoughtful payoff for Ron: a giant hunk of meat, a bottle of fine Scotch, a pair of classic World War II movies -- and no company whatsoever. Just great stuff there.

Other notes from "Eagleton":

  • Several great details within the Ron story: his crazed popping of the balloons Ann was taking to a sick kid, for one, and also April's fake phone call inquiring about inflatable saxophones. Does Leslie secretly know about Duke Silver?
  • And also: Chris giving Ron a birthday kiss was maybe the squirmiest smooch since Michael kissed Oscar on "The Office."
  • Do not get on Leslie's bad side, because based on the number of copies ("and a JPEG") she had of Lindsay's embarrassing, pre-Eagleton photo, she would be very good at extortion.
  • Only two weeks of "Parks and Rec" left in this season, but we're getting four episodes in those two weeks thanks to "30 Rock" ending its season this week. So get ready to close out one of the best seasons of comedy in recent memory.

What did you think of "Parks and Rec" this week?
Photo/Video credit: NBC