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Parallel Parks and Recreation

Thursday night's "Doppelgangers" episode of Parks and Recreations may have actually provided viewers with a small glimpse of the show's future.

Ron meet Ron

Cast regulars Rob Lowe, Chris, and Rashida Jones, beautiful lovable amazing adorable Ann, are set to leave during the middle of this season, so Pawnee will be looking for new municipal employees. The merger of Eagleton and Pawnee introduced a whole new cast of characters that could become new regulars, but the most recent episode whittled down the list to just one possible candidate: Craig, played by Billy Eichner.

While his IMDb page doesn't give an obvious hints to whether he'll return, the fact Craig fit in very nicely with the office and Leslie had yet to decide his fate by the end of the episode suggests he will be on the show for the immediate future. Based on his interactions with Donna, who is his new best friend, I think this loud, surprisingly competent at his job and pop culture happy character will fit right in on Parks.

Actually all of the doppelgangers were a fun addition on Parks.

Eagleton provided us with an alternate version of Ron, played delightfully by Sam Elliot and his mustache, a 21st century Valley Girl version of April, played by June Diane Raphael, and a more competent version of Tom, played by a computer program.

The biggest laughs definitely came from Elliot, who isn't known for comedy, but delivered a very dry performance that provided the most accurate alternate version of a cast regular. Instead of being a meat loving, tight-lipped, anti-hippie, very private parks director with a mustache, like the Ron fans of the show love, he played a vegan, groovy, peace loving parks director with a mustache, who quickly became our Ron's enemy.

In the case of April, it was more amusing to see her take advantage of her chameleon skills and imitate her shallow carefree doppelganger, who she turned on by the end of the episode. Tom was able to defeat his doppelganger in classic Tom fashion, by being underhanded and sneaky, but the bit was a little played out, as every sitcom seems like it has had a character battle an imaginary enemy (Think George Costanza working with the Yankees on Seinfeld, when he just created problems).

Most of Leslie's time on the show was spent dealing poorly with the likelihood that Ann will be leaving her. The resulting overreaction, which came on the heels of her going over the edge in the last episode in response to Eagleton's fiscal crisis, was a little too much to handle. Amy Poehler was able to salvage the uneven writing of her character, who is always a tough balance of sentimentality, professionalism and a desire for waffles, but it was still a little too much.

Could Craig be a temporary/permanent addition?

It was fun in this episode to watch Chris and Ben relive the purpose that first brought them to Pawnee. Watching them deal with the budgetary problems of Eagleton was amusing, although it was a bit confusing, because I have no idea what Ben's actual job is anymore. It seems like Ben was just called in off the bench by the Indiana governor because of the great job he did turning around Pawnee, despite the fact he is just some private citizen.

But I'm not complaining about how Chris and Ben got teamed up again, because it was nice to see both characters in this dynamic again. They've been defined recently by the female partners, which is fine as long as there is this element too. Hopefully when Chris leaves, Andy will return and give someone to play with again.

Speaking of someone to play with, Craig and Donna should be allowed to interact more in the future. He is also easy to imagine in great interactions with Tom, whose laid back style will contrast with his, or Leslie, who might have met another eager beaver.

And while I didn't care for the Larry/Jerry/Gary arc, the most unfortunate part of this episode was the fact we'll never learn who Andy's doppelganger was.

Best Quotes
You're so awesome right now. You're like a skinny Mother Theresa
My DVR is 13 months pregnant with episodes of Scandal
Pawnee has the first documented case of mega-diabetes

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