‘Parks and Recreation’ Episode 3.08 Review: The Ground is Not a Floor

Ah, the great outdoors. The trees, the wildlife, the fishing, the…German muffins. Sometimes it’s good to get a break from the city to go and clear your mind, to relax in the serenity as you attempt to live like our ancestors. Perhaps you just finished pulling off a job-saving week of joviality and celebration. Whatever your reason for packing up and heading into the boonies, just make sure no one gets shot in the head!

A hilarious sequel to last year’s “Hunting Trip”, “Camping” found our victorious Pawnee clan celebrating the success of the Harvest Festival by organizing an outdoors retreat to brainstorm for their next Big Idea. During an opening press conference by the Pawnee mayor, Leslie and the gang is commended for their triumph last week, but as Ms. Knope steps up to receive congratulations, the mayor has a heart attack. As he goes down, the man reaches for support…and ends up groping Leslie in the interim. The good news? That other lovable boob, Chris Traeger, is coming in to fill his place for now. That is, literally, the greatest piece of news tonight.

Unfortunately for 80% of the crew, a night camping in the woods is anything but great. Leslie is using the time to create a work retreat and has everyone think up an idea for the Parks Department’s next mission. Ron seems overly excited about this, but really wants to get it done so he can go fishing. Ever the indoorsman, Tom has consulted SkyMall to basically buy a house-tent, complete with big screen TV, ice cream machine, and a full size bed. Plus, everyone’s favorite maid, DJ Roomba is in the house!

The rest of the crew varies between indifference and hatred. Deferring to Leslie’s awesomeness, everyone else just uses the occasion to chill. For most of the episode, everyone’s action just reaffirmed their character traits– Tom the extravagant one, Jerry the awkward conversationalist, Ann the middlewoman– but I’m cool with that. After such a big arc it was good to relax a little bit and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, Sweetums pollution clouds and all. Ron even got to tell his idea of a ghost story. (“And then she looked back in horror and realized, even though it was her own private property, it was up for a STATE INSPECTION!”)

Even the instigator of the trip had problems. You see, Leslie– grand dreamer that she is– doesn’t really know what to do next. She tries to get ideas from the crew, but has to settle with the fact that the Harvest Festival might be their high point of her tenure. Leslie tries and stalls her presentation as much as possible, pulling an all-nighter and racking her brain. When the battery fueling Tom’s playboy vacation blows, everyone is forced inland to a creepy B&B for the night. But Leslie is still trying to find that golden ticket to success, so much so that Ron must lock her in a closet of cats until she gives up and sleeps “seven hours, twice as much as I normally do.”

Heck, the only person who is actually pumped to be there is Andy, who uses the opportunity to try and convince April that camping is amazing. Sadly, he sets up his tent of love on the other side of the park, leaving his darling woods-hater in a state somewhere between panic and misery. Andy spends the duration of the trip trekking across the wilderness– even fighting off a squirrel or two– until he finally reaches the rest of the group at the bed and breakfast, guitar and tent in tow, for a night of “convincing”.

All in all, “Camping” was much like a real camping trip. Calm, relaxing, a break from reality. Full of wild cats. The episode was a nice break from the office while still providing a little bit of plot momentum. Leslie finally came up with a couple of ideas to fuel some interesting episodes, Ann and Chris settled their drama (sort of), and we were treated to a hilarious, upbeat episode with a lot of quotable moments.

Article by Mark Ziemer


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