'Parks and Recreation': The return of Duke Silver, and also Dave Sanderson

parks-and-rec-louisck3.jpgAfter the last "Parks and Recreation" two weeks ago, a lot of the chatter about the episode went something like this: "Tom and Ann? Really?" "Dave's Return" probably didn't do a lot to dispel the skepticism -- but we're not joining in, because we're kind of liking the comedy so far.

We'll circle back to that in a minute, because two characters made their return to "Parks and Rec" Thursday (Feb. 16). Louis C.K.'s Dave Sanderson gets top billing, but we were almost as excited to see Duke Silver again.

Ben's awkwardness around police officers is pretty well-established, so the fact that a dinner with him, Leslie and Dave would turn out to be cover-your-eyes funny wasn't unexpected (however, seeing Adam Scott's various tics and shakes every time a cop walked past was brilliant). What was, though, was how nutty Dave himself would act around Ben.

He eventually admits -- after handcuffing Ben to a urinal -- that his time away from Leslie made him a little crazy when he finally saw her again. Love will do that to a guy -- Dave left Pawnee with a lot of feelings for Leslie, after all. And C.K. -- whose time on "Louie" has made him a much more comfortable actor -- sells it well without making Dave's actions seem too far around the bend.

While Leslie, Dave and Ben are having the most awkward dinner since Michael and Jan invited people over, the rest of Team Knope tries to record a campaign song for Leslie. It was one of the few times of late, frankly, that we haven't found Andy especially funny, but the story contained two gems.

Gem 1: Chris doing absolutely unspeakable things to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," butchering both the lyrics and the melody. This little spiral Chris has been on since breaking up with Jerry's daughter has been pretty entertaining.

Gem 2: Duke Silver! Ron's sax-playing alter ego only appears on promotional studio swag, but he rescues Andy's song while keeping his identity a secret, with a little help from April. We've been waiting a while to see the jazz man return, and if this wasn't a full-fledged Silver sighting, it was a pretty good approximation.

So back to Ann and Tom: Ann is clearly in a down period, relationship-wise, which makes it understandable why she'd agree to go out with Tom in the first place, and maybe why she'd say, at the end of the episode, the four sweetest words Tom can think of: "You wore me down." Is Ann way out of Tom's league? Of course she is. But it feels like the show is acknowledging both that and the fact that Ann is in a place where she can be worn down (and, sure, that the show is a little bit adrift as to what to do with the character).

Much as we love Ann as Leslie's straight woman, it's nice to see her riled up. We're willing to see where this goes.

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