The last episode of Andy Dwyer's show is very special, indeed.
Credit: Greg Gayne/NBC

This week Parks takes us inside Andy Dwyer’s labor of love (and janitorial efforts): The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show (heretofore referred to as JKSAMES). It’s time for the final episode of the Pawnee man-child’s children’s show before he follows his wife to D.C. When “2017” revealed that Andy had turned his kiddie-entertainer character into a TV show, it seemed like a natural evolution. Turning this episode over fully into a JKSAMES show could have been tedious—after all, children’s shows aren’t known for catering to adult sensibilities. While it does sag a bit in some places (dedicated Parks watchers know Andy’s history), overall it’s a charming change of pace from the standard A-B-C plotlines and character-pair shuffling.

All of Andy’s pals are regulars on JKSAMES. Ron Swanson guests for segments on making things. April hosts April’s Animal Corner, which often becomes the segment Loose Animal in the Studio, with its own lengthy disclaimer. This week’s loose animal is the Goliath Bird-eating Tarantula (also known as the Devil’s Fist in Venezuela and the Chekhov’s Tarantula in Narrative Conventions). Ben Wyatt is Professor Smartbrain, facing off with facts against his nemesis the Boring Buzzer. Garry gamely appears as Mailman Barry, enduring child ninja attacks and being cut off in his heartfelt goodbye to Johnny. FBI agent Burt Tyrannosaurus Macklin has also been revived, working under The Chief (one Donna Meagle). This week, his case is to discover who has stolen Johnny Karate’s guitar.

Leslie is usually brought on for the segment about trying new things, but this go-around she’s surprising Andy with a kid-friendly This Is Your Life (ix-nay on asted-way). Anne doesn’t appear to discuss Andy Dwyer’s early years, but plenty of other Dwyer associates do show up. Andy’s British buddy Sir Edgar Covington (Peter Serafinowicz) deigns to visit this weird, flat place in order to knight Andy. In a characteristically generous move, Andy invites Ben to join him in getting knighted, to Prof. Smartbrain’s endless delight. A member of the Pawnee police force comes to present Andy with an honorary badge. John Cena makes an appearance as the guitar-thief and ends up in the dunk tank. The tarantula comes back to menace John Cena. Even Duke Silver shows up, with vocalist Donna Meagle, to serenade Johnny Karate with a smooth cover of Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting.”

The only fly in the ointment (or should I say spider on the dunk tank) is April Ludgate-Karate-Dwyer’s increasing agitation as the Johnny Karate lovefest hurdles to its conclusion. During the final segment, reserved for doing something nice for someone, she takes off backstage, pursued by her husband. Johnny Karate then does the nicest thing he can, namely, assuage April’s guilt over making him leave Pawnee to follow her to Washington, D.C. Making a shift that big seems like something April and Andy should have discussed earlier—especially given the fact that Andy was renegotiating his JKSAMES contract just a few episodes ago. But this possible logical problem is papered over by the insane affability of Andy—he’s happy with April, and wherever she’s happy. This would be unbelievable with anyone else, but it’s been a hallmark of Andy’s character over the past seven years that he just sort of rolls with what comes. As long as he’s got his best girl, he’s going to be alright.

The highlights of the episode were the commercials. (At least for me, I’m a sucker for a fake commercial. See: 30 Rock‘s live shows, or Better Off Ted’s parent company promos) Pawnee’s locals do not disappoint, whether we’re looking at Ron’s awkward silence or Coinsy the Wolf, mascot of the Wamapoke Casino. The Paunch Burger (“Put it in your body, or you’re a nerd!”) and Verxxotle ads were tone perfect, nailing the fast-food lighting and corporate-speak perfectly. While only redirects to the Parks NBC page, you can in fact watch the Mouse Rat rockumentary there.

Notes and Jokes

  • Andy’s credits for JKSAMES include arts & crafts, snacks, ninja training, special FX, stunts, “time tailoring,” and custodial services.
  • Words of wisdom: When you find something new, lick first, eat later.
  • “Wamapoke Casino: Slowly taking back our money from white people one quarter at a time.”
  • Ser Ben Lightstorm. His house sigil is a calculator.
  • Think fondly on that This Is Your Life banner when you watch the next episode.
  • Even Champion is there!
  • No Tom Haverford this week. But what part do you think he would play on JKSAMES? Wardrobe advice? (Also, let’s have a moment of silence for the Rent A Swag commercials that could have been.)

Life in 2017: America’s down to eight companies. Verxxotle (Verizon-Exxon-Chipotle) sounds benign enough, but the real question is what horrific many-headed hydra has TimeWarner Cable become?

Episode Recaps

Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. on NBC Stars: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari What to expect: Leslie (Poehler) heads to…
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