October 16, 2009 - It's wonderful how this week's episode of Parks and Recreation could start off so hilariously prejudiced and then flip the tables around and provide a whole new level of comic bigotry. In "Sister City," Leslie (Amy Poehler) makes the mistake of thinking that the visiting Venezuelan Parks Department officials will be blown away by the luxury of Pawnee, Indiana when, in fact, they're accustomed to a life of power and splendor that puts Pawnee to shame. And not only are they used to a certain opulence, but they think any woman they see is theirs for the taking. And bedding.

It was a funny twist that didn't completely wear itself out, although it came close. The trouble with bringing in a funny guest star like Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen as the foreign Parks Director is that it runs the risk of overshadowing your series regulars. The upside of the deal is that Fred was very funny, and the people he over-shadowed were characters that aren't really a laugh-riot to being with. Ann (Rashida Jones) and Mark (Paul Schneider) were pretty much side-lined this episode, and there was no room at all for Chris Pratt's Andy (who is funny, actually). Maybe that's, in fact, how Parks has improved the most this year. They only use characters as needed and don't feel bad about shoe-horning them in when it isn't necessary. Nick Offerman's Ron didn't have much to do in this episode either, but thinking back, now I see that the times that he has been more involved in Season 2, he's been amazingly funny – which is something I couldn't say at all about his character in Season 1.

- NBC
April (Plaza), playing hard to get.
April (Aubrey Plaza) was great in this one. As dry as she is, they're still finding great ways to use her sardonic apathy to get laughs. After she becomes the object of a visiting intern's affection, she relishes every chance she can to turn him down and torture him. The best part about it was that we all knew that she wanted to go with him, but that she found it more fun to reject him. "My mom's Puerto Rican. That's why I'm so lively and colorful," April, somewhat ironically, admits.

Not only do the visiting Venezuelans mistakenly think that they can choose any woman they want to for the night, but they actually mistake a real, thriving Pawnee park for The Pit. I like the fact that Parks decided to bring back the "Building A Park" storyline for this one. It could even act as a storyline ender if they wanted it to - with Leslie deciding to reject the surefire money for a park in the name of national pride. If the "park" business never got mentioned again, I'd be fine. As it is, I think it works best when it's only brought up every once in a while.

Tom (Aziz Ansari) decides to make some cash by acting like Leslie's servant and fetching drinks and candies for the dignitaries. It wasn't the funniest of stories for Tom and it fell a little flat. The real focus in this one was on Armisen's Hectivo and his wonderfully rude and callous snobbery. Hectivo, you see, is used to a military state where he, because of his government position, is treated like royalty. "This is not personal," confesses Hectivo. "We just think you are weak and your city is disgusting."

IGN's Ratings for Sister City
Rating Description  
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8.4 OVERALL
(out of 10 / not an average)
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