“Sloppy” isn’t usually a word that I would use to describe Parks and Recreation. There have been a couple of less-than-stellar episodes this season, i.e. “Go Big or Go Home” and “Indianapolis,” but they were at least well put together. “Jerry’s Painting,” on the other hand, while definitely above and beyond the show’s usual standards of enjoyability, felt a bit rough around the edges. This is somewhat paradoxical, considering that it was a super-sized episode, designed to air in a special 40-minute slot, which should in theory have given the episode more breathing room.

This episode had a number of features that made it seem sloppy.  I enjoyed the trick that Leslie played on Marcia, but I had a hard time believing that Jerry could paint a second painting that quickly. In an unrelated instance of sloppiness, at one point, Andy referred to Leslie as his “boss,” which makes no sense because he doesn’t even work for the parks and recreation department. But the biggest source of sloppiness in this episode was the editing, which is usually top-notch. The way the scenes were cut, it was never clear when Ben went on his date with Cindy, for example. The editing also threw the time line off; Leslie stole the painting from Marcia in broad daylight, but then arrived at Andy and April’s place at night. Furthermore, there were a few instances of cutting too fast between shots of characters sitting and standing, not leaving enough time for them to get up or sit down. One would think that the increased running time would have allowed the editors to save some time to make things less choppy, but they instead opted to stuff more content in, which might have worked to the episode’s detriment.

My second concern about this episode (and really, this season as a whole) is that Ron is now verging on caricature. All he did in this episode was make a speech about how much he hated art. Between this and the burger story last week, I think we’re due for a more humanizing Ron Swanson plot line.

But if those were my main concerns about this episode, then it must have been pretty damn good. And yes, indeed it was. This week’s episode might have been a bit loopier than usual, but the zaniness worked. Andy and April had a very funny plot line about their living conditions, which at first seemed like just an excuse to have wacky roommate shenanigans with Ben. But by the end of the episode, it became clear that it was actually quite a sweet story about learning to grow up while still having fun along the way. Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza continue to play so well off each other that it’s a wonder the writers didn’t just get their characters together at the end of season 2. Altogether, this was a very fun, charming B-plot.

The A-plot was what brought the big laughs, though, and it worked much better than last week’s weird romantic misunderstandings. Sure, the premise that Leslie would obsess over a painting of herself as a centaur was a little silly, but Parks and Recreation is a sitcom, and this premise worked within the show’s somewhat skewed concept of reality. Moreover, I loved that it fused both the professional and personal aspects of Leslie’s life together; the show is at its best when it can seamlessly combine the two. It turned out that so far, the fears that I expressed last week about Ben and Leslie’s relationship have been unfounded. This week, the Ben/Leslie dynamic was folded into the episode-specific story about the painting. I especially appreciated that the dynamic didn’t overtake the show. In fact, in a very nice moment, it was Jerry who provided Leslie with the encouragement that she needed to foil Marcia’s attempt to destroy the painting.

Like I mentioned earlier, this story was full of laughs. The show does well with its peripheral characters. I’ve always enjoyed Marcia Langman and her extreme conservatism, as well as Perd Hapley and his extremely weird manner of speaking (“But this where the controversy of this story gets even more controversial…”), and they were pitch-perfect here, as usual. We also saw a new face in this episode, porn star Brandi Maxxxx. (Yes, there are 4 x’s in her name. I counted.) She was a hoot, and I hope to see her back on the show in the future.

I’m tempted just to list a whole bunch of quotes and amusing lines because this episode was so chock full of them, but I think I’m going to end this review here. This might have been a slightly sloppy episode, but damn was it entertaining!

Plus, it featured boobs. And that’s always a good thing.

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