Parks and Recreation recap: 'William Henry Harrison'
The third episode of Parks and Rec opens with one of my favorite elements from Pawnee, the “crackpot convention.” This usually means a town hall meeting, but I fondly append it to any instance where we get to see the, um, singular residents of Pawnee airing their views for Leslie. This time, she’s courting the crackpots looking for a solid reason to declare the Newport land off-limits from development. “Hold on to your straws everybody,” she notes, “cause momma’s going grasping.”
Among the Reasonablist representatives and Indiana Brown ant enthusiasts, she stumbles on a historian with frankly thrilling news. Our ninth president, William Henry Harrison, once had a hunting lodge on the Newport land. Well, Hail Zorp! Because that might be just the historical significance Knope needs.
Meanwhile, Ron and Gryzzl are working to give their bid a little bit more pizzazz as well. Gryzzl’s VP of Cool New Shizz wants to get a local celebrity to pump up their bid for the land. They do claim Gryzzl is an outsider, which seems weird since they came into Pawnee three years ago, and literally everyone is using Gryzzl’s tablet, Facebook, and Twitter alternatives. Regardless, Tom and Gryzzl speak the same language, so celebrity backing it is.
Both sides then engage in a war of irrelevance. Turns out the hunting lodge of William Henry Harrison (who I’m now going to refer to as WHH or WHSquared—no, I’m not going to do that) isn’t much more than some stones, a dead possum, and some old burgers in a bag. A visit to the depressing WHH museum cements the fact that there might not be all that much historical heft behind landmarking Harrison’s lodge—though there is a giant tin ball. “We should be aiming for quantity over quality,” Leslie tells her team. To that end, she recruits WHH’s descendant to speak for them at the press conference, even if as a youth he did have terrible B.O. and got a sleep-boner while in company of camp-counselor Jeanine. It’s not great.
Donna and Tom brainstorm some local celebs they might want to approach, including Annabel Porter, the force behind Pawnee’s premier lifestyle newsletter and its biggest fish. I don’t know how Annabel can possibly win out over Perd Hapley, but to each their own. After hearing about Leslie’s historic landmark hunt, Ron reluctantly consents to let the Bloosh-guru shill for Gryzzl. The display is vintage Tom Haverford—flashing lights, pulsing music, and the Somebody’s Daughter Dancers gyrating as Annabel Porter throws out buzzwords (“fresh,” “disposable duvets,” “Supermoon”) and invites people to “binge-watch the future.” But when they set up to ambush Leslie’s press conference, even Tom and Donna realize that it’s a dick move.
Do Ron and Leslie come to a head post-presentation? Of course! Leslie insults his mustache and his shirts. (It’s on.) Ron calls her stubborn. “You’re the most unreasonable stubborn person I have ever met, and I’m not going to change my mind on that,” she shouts. Ron throws down an absolute bomb, telling Leslie, “You’re not that good at scrapbooking.” (OH, it’s ON.) Even the rest of their friends seem to realize things have come to a head.
Meanwhile the B and C plots are so thin that I shudder to even assign them a letter, or call them plots—also it’s impossible to tell which is more relevant in the episode. April continues to question whether her job is right for her. Both airline and submarine pilot are out (April hates both heights and depths), and her brainstorming partner is stuck on trampolines. Even the WHH museum isn’t hiring. What April should do, in this recapper’s opinion? Start a Tumblr that becomes a book. Her only likes are dogs, sleeping late, and weird birthmarks! That screams Tumblr famous!
Anyway, Ben is desperately trying to get Leslie and Ron to both notarize a document. This is just a device to get information passed, via notary Terry, between Leslie and Ron, but it’s so deeply tiresome. Ben deserves better! I mean, so does Terry, I guess. But seriously, poor, patient Ben. Which is why it’s a relief that this document-signing fiasco also ends up working as a mini-MacGuffin to getting Leslie and Ron trapped in an office together until they resolve their differences.
Notes and Jokes:
– Bill Haggerty is the Robert Caro of William Henry Harrison, Pawnee’s embarrassing footnote, with his book Barely a President: William Henry Harrison’s Thirty-Two Days in the White House.
– The WHH museum, “Grouseland,” features exhibits on how great America would be if he hadn’t died (“If I Wore a Coat” room), other things that were famous for a month (the Harlem Shake, Chumbawumba, and Joe the Plumber), and other famous Harrisons (Ford, Chris, and 23rd president Benjamin).
– Beef milk: Like almond milk that’s been squeezed through tiny holes in living cows and only runs you $60 bucks a gallon.
– I love the Jug or Not Jug Band, if only because they sing a song referencing Martin Van Buren (our eighth president, the Little Magician!).
– If you want to troll Ron Swanson, sending him 60 veggie pizzas sounds about right.
Life in 2017: Elton John owns Chik-fil-A. The Pulitzers are now awarded to listicles! Also sounds about right.