With Amy Poehler handling the writing and directing (and acting!) chores this week, she crafts a sensational episode of Parks and Recreation, where her Leslie Knope finally gets into the debate ring with Bobby Newport. And that means the welcome return of Paul Rudd. The show is running full steam ahead as it prepares for the finale of season four, which has been excellent throughout.

Check out our full review below…

The Players:

  • Director: Amy Poehler
  • Writers: Amy Poehler
  • Cast: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, Adam Scott, Aziz Ansari, Jim O’Heir, Retta, Aubrey Plaza, Rob Lowe, and Chris Pratt

Episode Title: “The Debate”

Leslie goes toe-to-toe with Bobby Newport in their big televised debate. Ann, Tom and Chris work in the media spin room, while Ron goes the extra mile to save a party for Leslie’s donors.

The Good:

  • April: Leads things off because of her line about the “$100 lap dances”.
  • Andy: Maybe, kind-of stole the episode with his acting out of classic films like Roadhouse and Babe. And watching he and April act like rich snobs was also a lot of fun.
  • Leslie: Poehler did superb work as writer, director, and yes, actress. Her reactions to porn star Brandi Maxxx during the debate were great.
  • Speaking of Brandi Maxxx: She’s dressed just like Leslie. Nice! And she’d do porn with everyone on stage.
  • Joan Callamezzo: Nice to see Joan working the debate. She’s newly single, if you hadn’t heard. Had to laugh at her comment that Twitter is “…something that happens now”.
  • Chris & Ann: They were kind of back together, as the Spin Team. It was sweet to see Chris reach out to Ann, and a touch sad when she rejects him. But he is far too good-looking to be alone for too long.
  • Speaking of Ann: Nice to see the cutie pie suddenly the ‘it’ girl.
  • Ron: He climbed a telephone pole, sang a few lines from the Glen Campbell classic, “Wichita Lineman”. And it was damn good.
  • Paul Rudd: His Bobby Newport character is pretty terrific. He just looks funny; his mannerisms, that is. His, ”Holy sh*t, Leslie, that was awesome”, line at the end of Leslie’s closing comments in the debate was also ‘awesome’.
  • Montage: The answers from the candidates from what had to be some silly questions from Perd and Joan were all over the place and very funny.

The Bad (but not that bad):

  • Ann/Tom: Awful together. Awful broken up with even the slightest chance they might get back together. Let us pray Ann does not get back with Tom.
  • Tom: The sad baby routine over Ann is annoying. There are episodes when Tom owns it, but with this Ann stuff his character is kind of a d-bag.


There is a quick shot near the end of “The Debate” of Jerry watching Leslie’s closing comments while surrounded by nuns. Hello!! How does one even continue?

Poehler gets a standing ovation for her work as writer-director-performer on “The Debate”, which might be one of the top three best episodes of the season. Everything just flowed perfectly. Looking back, there were no wasted moments, just lots of laughs. A sweet moment here and there and Leslie’s home run of a debate closer, but mostly just superb work from an ensemble working off an outstanding script.

There was a throwaway line from Jennifer to Ben about Chris. Wonder if that sets up something in the final episodes? It was hard to watch Chris get the Ann rejection, but now he can put her and Millicent in the rear-view mirror, go run some stairs to burn off the emotion, and prepare for new love.

Paul Rudd delivered the funny once again as loveable Bobby Newport, while Andy, April, and Ron each had episode highlights. Who wouldn’t want to watch Andy act out like 15 more of his favorite movies?

There’s been Leslie bashing from time to time around here, but she was solid as a rock in the episode.

“The Debate” was aces start to finish.


Rating: 9.5/10

Parks and Recreation airs on NBC at 8:30 pm (ET/PT) on Thursday nights.

What did you think of last night’s episode?