Parks & Recreation was able to find a winning formula this week with the very funny and surprising "The Practice Date." I loved watching both Ann (Rashida Jones) and Mark (Paul Schneider) split off from each other and enter into the "insane Olympics" with everyone else. That's not to say that these two aren't the dry, eye-rolling characters on the show, but it was definitely a step forward having them enter into, shall we say, "antics." Just the fact that it was Ann's idea to take the nervous Leslie (Amy Poehler) out on a practice first date to prepare her for her first outing with Dave was unexpected. They were able to make it work by having the practice date actually be the lesser of two evils - with Leslie's plan being to wear a hidden ear-piece that Ann would speak into.
Then, while on the date, Ann gets a little spark of ingenuity and decides to scare the crap out of Leslie by being the worst fake date ever. Rashida Jones is sexy and funny, but a lot of her humor is subtle and thankless. This was a good chance to see her let her comedic hair down, so to speak. I also really liked Mark joining in on the "Who Can Uncover The Worst Dirt?" contest. In fact, it was a good idea to have all the Parks and Recreation office bees come together for a hilarious, and somewhat mean spirited and damaging contest. The show is trying on new dynamics and they've mostly been a good fit. I loved the fact that Jerry (Jim O'Heir) objects to the contest, but then feebly tries to enter it, only to get absolutely destroyed by a dark secret that he didn't even know he had.
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