David Giesbrecht
November 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM EST

So Ben’s engagement present to Leslie was a personal meet-and-greet with her sex-object-idol, Vice President Joe Biden. His teeth bright enough to light the Parks and Recreation set, Biden proved to be a good actor — or rather, a good reactor (hey, that’s how John Wayne defined the job anyway), to Leslie’s nonplussed yet turned-on reactions.

Only Parks and Rec, among current shows, captures the unironic pleasures of civic duty, honor, and decency… while also shooting out an electrical current of craziness for nice, regular jolts. The series is an idyll among sitcoms — The Andy Griffith Show with improv and performance-art instincts. Barney Fife would have been right at home in the “Human Farm” piece to which April dragged Leslie.

If the night’s best subplot was the one that had Ben being offered numerous jobs even as he was working on behalf of Tom’s “Rent-A-Swag” concept, the line of the evening was probably delivered by Andy early on, suspecting a crime when his computer went missing: “A game is the foot!” Elementary has nothing on Parks and Rec.

The show can spin off into a potentially silly direction, only to bring itself back to substantial emotions. Take as the prime example April’s plan to turn Lot 48, behind Ann’s house, into a dog park. It ended up pitting April against not only Leslie, but also the ridiculous, malevolent fool Councilman Jamm. But April, in her hard-headed way, didn’t necessarily share what we do: a lot of memories for Parks and Rec fans, the “pit” being the site of one of Leslie’s first, most Don Quixote-like crusades — to turn that dump into a park. And of course, it also served as a temporary home to Andy when he was a-courtin’ Ann. (It was, indeed, where April’s future husband claimed to have broken both his legs.) This subplot ended in the nicest possible way, with Leslie and April making up by holding hands, and April even saying she loved Leslie.

As who among us does not, except perhaps for the affably perplexed Vice President? And by the end of his cameo, even he seemed to be coming around…

Twitter: @kentucker

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