Sunday, February 14, 2021

Parks and Recreation: "Galentine's Day" (2010)


Premiered February 11, 2010.

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, Leslie Knope and her lady friends leave their husbands and their boyfriends at home and just kick it breakfast style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus, frittatas!
-Leslie Knope

It's the day before Valentine's Day in Pawnee, Indiana.  Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Pawnee's deputy director of Parks and Recreation, has gathered her women friends and colleagues for her annual celebration of Galentine's Day. 

 Leslie's friend Ann (Rashida Jones) and her boyfriend Mark (Paul Schneider) are celebrating their first Valentine's Day together.  

Leslie asks her mother Marlene (Pamela Reed) to tell her romantic story about falling in love with a lifeguard who saved her from drowning in 1968.  Marlene fell in love with the lifeguard, they got engaged, but their parents didn't approve of the relationship and she lost touch with him.  Leslie's lawyer boyfriend Justin (Justin Theroux) offers to track down Marlene's long-lost love and reunite them on Valentine's Day.      

Knope and her Parks and Rec staff are also busy planning and organizing a Valentine dance for Pawnee's senior center.  

Justin locates Marlene's lifeguard in Illinois and decides to bring him back to Pawnee.  His name is Frank Beckerson (John Larroquette), he's a bit eccentric, has led a nomadic life and is prone to panic attacks.  When Leslie meets Frank, she changes her mind and tries to prevent the reunion. Unfortunately, Frank sneaks away from them and goes looking for Marlene at the seniors dance.

The music at the dance is provided by Mouse Rat, a local rock band fronted by Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt).  They perform rock versions of standards like "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Under My Skin."  

April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), another Parks and Rec employee, attends the dance with her "gay boyfriend" Derek (Blake Lee) and his boyfriend Ben (Josh Duvendeck).  Derek and Ben spend most of the evening mocking the senior citizens. 

April, who normally joins in with their mockery, gets tired of them and seems to be genuinely moved by the senior couples who are still very much in love. She also seems to be developing a bit of a crush on Andy. 

Will the reunion of Marlene and Frank lead to a rekindling of their youthful passions?  Or will it be a Valentine's Day disaster?  

J.A. Morris says:
This is a good Valentine's Day episode.  It's a tribute to "Galentine's Day" that fans of this series have been inspired to organize their own Galentine's Day celebrations.  

Lots of romantic stories involve "the one that got away."  This episode shows us that sometimes it's best to remember the good parts of the past and not revisit them.  

For Galentine's Day, Leslie gives everyone a mosaic portrait made from the crushed bottles of their favorite diet soda.

For some people, Valentine's Day is treated like a big deal.  For others, it's just a reminder that they're single.  I appreciated that "Galentine's Day" features several different Valentine's Day experiences.  Ann and Mark's relationship is in a good place and they have a good time.  Leslie is beginning to have question her relationship with Justin.  The normally cynical single April is moved by the older couples' love on display at the dance.  

Parks And Recreation had one of the best ensemble casts of any recent series, some of them are still among my favorite actors.  In addition to the regulars, "Galentine's Day" also features John Larroquette and Pamela Reed, two of the best character actors of the last 40 years.  They're both great here and their reunion is a highlight of the episode.  I also liked Mouse Rat's "rock" version of old standard love songs.  

If I have any problems with "Galentine's Day," it's the same problem I had with every episode of this (otherwise great) series.  By the time Parks And Recreation premiered, I'd had enough of the "fake documentary"-style comedy shows, best exemplified by UK and Us versions The Office.  However, being a fan of holiday episodes, the story and acting in "Galentine's Day" make it rise about the series' usual "documentary" storytelling device.  

"Galentine's Day" is recommended for fans of these actors and fans of (somewhat) unconventional Valentine programming.  

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 Valentine Hearts.

RigbyMel says:

"Galentine's Day" is a great episode of a great series.   I must part company with my esteemed co-blogger's objections to the faux-documentary format of the show.   If it's well done -- as it consistently was on Parks and Rec -- it allows for some fun direct address moments. 

I quite like the way that Parks and Rec manages to balance sweetness with the absurd and this episode manages to do well by that balance.  Andy isn't quite sure about performing standards rather than Mouse Rat's original tunes at the senior dance, but manages to do a good job with the standards regardless, thereby feeding into April's growing feelings for him.  I also appreciate that April grows to see that her "ironic" relationship with her gay boyfriend isn't really very fulfilling.   

Leslie loves the *idea* of reuniting her mother with her lost love, until said lost love turns out to be a bit of a disappointment in reality.  The distance between ideas and reality can often throw a wrench into relationships.  

Speaking of said lost love and his quirkiness, John Laroquette gives a great  comedic performance in this episode.  I also appreciated the meta-humor inherent in that Leslie asks Frank if he was ever a lawyer, since Laroquette has played lawyers in several other series over the years (including Night Court, The West Wing and Boston Legal).  However, this character has to answer the lawyer question in the negative.

We see all kinds of different relationships playing out in the course of this episode.  Ann and Mark and celebrating their first Valentine's Day together, senior citizens are still in love after decades of being together, Tom (Aziz Ansari) is unsuccessfully (and rather gauche-ly) trying to get back together with his ex, April is realizing her feelings for Andy, and Leslie is discovering that maybe she and Justin aren't going to work out in the long run.  And of course, there's the main plot point of Leslie and Justin trying to reunite Leslie's mom and her long lost love. They pack a lot of character development into a 22 minute episode but it's so well written that it doesn't feel overstuffed.

I also love that the concept of Galentine's Day -- a celebration of one's female friends as articulated on the show --  has spilled over into real life.   

"Galentine's Day" is recommended for anyone who enjoys smart and well written comedy with a holiday flair. 

RigbyMel's rating:

 4 Valentine Hearts.   

Sunday, February 7, 2021

A Flintstones Christmas Carol

Premiered November  21, 1994.

It's Christmas Eve in the town of Bedrock.  Fred Flintstone (Henry Corden) is busily preparing for his role as Ebonezer Scrooge in the Bedrock Community Players production of A Christmas Carol.  In fact, Fred's devoted so much time to learning his lines that he's neglected other duties and has taken the needs of his family for granted.      

Fred runs a red light because he is too busy working on his lines.  He also treats his fellow actors with disrespect.  Fred appears to be taking on the characteristics of Scrooge while preparing to play him.  

Fred's wife Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl) is also involved with the play, working as its stage manager.  Her duties increase when the play's costume designer gets sick with a flu known as "the Bedrock Bug."  Wilma has to go to the theater early, so she asks Fred to pick up Pebbles (Russi Taylor) from cave care.

On the way to the theatre, Fred realizes that he never bought any Christmas presents for Wilma and  Pebbles.  Fred has to scramble at the last minute to get gifts before showtime.  

When Fred arrives at the theatre, Wilma is very angry at him because Fred forgot to pick up Pebbles from cave care.  Wilma tells her husband that ever since he was cast as Scrooge, he's only thought of himself.  

When the play begins, Fred gives the performance of a lifetime.  The audience loves him, but Wilma still isn't ready to forgive him.  This creates tension backstage.  

Barney Rubble (Frank Welker) portrays Bob Cragit in the play.

The play gets more complicated when several actors catch the Bedrock Bug and are forced to drop out. This means that in addition to her stage manager duties, Wilma is forced to take over multiple roles.  

Will Fred take the message of A Christmas Carol to heart and stop acting like a Scrooge offstage?  Can Wilma keep the play going while the Bedrock Bug keeps infecting actors?  

J.A. Morris says:

This another special that was new to me and I enjoyed it. 

It's sometimes unconvincing when characters from TV series who are generally nice start acting like Scrooge in order to shoehorn a Dickens adaptation into the story.  Fred is a good guy, but in various series, he's occasionally displayed boorish behaviors.  So it's believable when Fred begins to channel Scrooge on and offstage.  

Mr. Slate (John Stephenson) plays Marley's Ghost.

The heart of the special is a stone age stage performance of A Christmas Carol.  It's a good adaptation that hits most of Dickens' most important notes, while skipping "Ignorance and Want."  For a production that takes place in the stone age, the Bedrock Community Theater has very impressive special effects, including the ability to project "ghosts" on to the stage.

Like previous Flintstones holiday offerings, A Flintstones Christmas Carol features a strong cast of voice actors.  Henry Corden and Jean Vander Pyl, longtime voices of Fred and Wilma, are excellent as the leads.  Voice acting legends Don Messick and Frank Welker are also great.  Charles Brickens, author of A Christmas Carol in this special, is voiced by film actor John Rhys-Davies, who is best known for his roles in the Indiana Jones and Lord Of The Rings franchises.

Charles Brickens and Wilma prepare for the play to begin.

No Flintstones special would be complete without some clever modern stone age technology.  A Flintstones Christmas Carol features a dinosaur-powered snowplow.

But it's not a perfect holiday special.   A Flintstone Christmas Carol feels a bit too long.  There are several scenes and moments that don't move the plot forward and they feel like filler.  It has a running time of one hour and nine minutes and it could've probably been 45-50 minutes.  

Tiny Tim is played by Bam-Bam (Don Messick). 

Wilma and others repeatedly scold Fred for acting like Scrooge in his personal life.  Since we know that like Scrooge, Fred will (SPOILER ALERT!) eventually see the error of his ways and make things right, the scolding gets a bet old.  

Other than that, it's a good retelling of Dickens' story.  

If you're a fan of A Christmas Carol and the Flintstones, you'll probably enjoy this special.  It's a clever adaptation and I recommend it, but it's slightly over-long running time prevents me from giving it my highest rating.

J.A. Morris' rating:


3 and a half candy canes.