As usual, Parks and Recreation is on fire this season (and as a matter of fact made me cry a few weeks ago), so after this week’s particularly strong episode (“Leslie vs. April”), I just couldn’t resist posting some of the most ridiculously hilarious moments. It is also worthwhile to note how the show seamlessly ties in the same themes across its multiple narratives to form one coherent half hour. Most sitcoms struggle to cohesively integrate B (and sometimes C) plots around their A plot. On Parks and Rec, Leslie and April are the stars of the half hour, but both Andy, Tom, and Ben all experience forward momentum in their own arcs. This episode focuses on personal growth; whether it’s finally showing initiative or presenting new job opportunities, Pawnee is a-changing, and yet it seems like a natural transition.
Tom and Ben
After getting out from under the dead weight that is Jean-Ralphio, Tom’s Rent-a-Swag business is actually coming together, so much so that Ben is willing to help him out — even though he just accepted the accounting job he turned down last season. Doors just continue to open for Ben; Tom asks him to be his CFO, he gets offered a job at Sweetums, as a news correspondent, and a management position at Urban Outfitters (Pawnee has an Urban Outfitters?!) while Tom cannot find any backers for his business. However, Ben decides that accounting is too boring (especially since there is no A&E show about it) and he decides to help Tom and maybe take one of the other positions offered to him.
Tom: (to Ben and Chris) Well, well well. If it isn’t Mr. Looks and Professor Books. (points to Chris). He’s looks.
Ben: I got it.
Tom: Of course you do, Books.
Ben: What’s the new company?
Tom: We specialize in making stacks on stacks on stacks on stacks.
Tom: It’s like The King’s Speech. But the first part, before he’s fixed!
Leslie and April
April finally shows some initiative by proposing that Pawnee create a new dog park. Unfortunately, the best local for the dog park appears to be Lot 48, a site Leslie has been trying to develop into a park for the entire series run. Her new position on the city council gives her a closer proximity to the issue, since April brings it up at the meeting. Leslie and April may spend the majority of the episode at odds, but they reunite to take down Councilman Jamm, who wants to exploit the discussion of Lot 48 to build a Paunch Burger there.
Leslie: I don’t want to whip out the legalese on you right now, but I’ve got dibs.
Leslie: (showing April a site designated as Zone 14B, Industrial Waste Cleanup) There’s something about this place…just a really good energy here, ya know? Lots of natural light.
Leslie: Ron, thanks for agreeing to see me.
Ron: I didn’t, you just walked in and started talking.
Leslie: I don’t have time for a history lesson.
Leslie: Those were distraction waffles?! I thought they were friendship waffles!
Ron: Breakfast food can serve many purposes.
Guy at Human Farm: Here’s your animal feed. DON’T feed the animals.
Ann: I hate Paunch Burger but if there was one in my backyard, I would eat there like every night and that’s no good.
Leslie: I have an idea. It’s very uncool. But it’s not illegal, technically. But it is…a dick move.
Andy (and Chris)
Since beginning his regime to become a police officer, Andy hinted to his colleagues that perhaps they should steal something from his desk so he could have experience solving a crime. When he realizes his computer is missing, he instantly begins interrogating the office, revealing how unprepared he truly is for this work. When Chris brings an actual police officer in to report the crime, Andy realizes it isn’t exactly the exciting career that he imagines. Chris offers Andy a part time job as a City Hall security guard and he accepts it as a sort of proving ground; should he pursue the idea of becoming a cop?
Chris: Fun fact: Ben just got an amazing accounting job. Regular fact: I have to go to a meeting. Un-fun fact: My uncle just had a stroke. Well, I’m off.
Andy: (after realizing someone might be inviting him to investigate his missing computer) A game…is…the foot.
Andy: (to Chris) You’re as guilty as you are sexy.
On the 50th anniversary of James Bond, I celebrated by watching Dr. No for the first time. Seized by the unexpected desire to watch all 22 official Eon Bond Productions by the U.S. release of Skyfall, I set out to do just that. And lo and behold, I accomplished my mission. Honestly, my previous experience with Connery/Moore was limited to holiday marathons on television, which meant they all blurred together and left no lasting impression. So, it was a great to finally commit to the full experience, and in true blogger form, I have some observations.
How to approach this integral part of the Bond franchise? Well, I went with number of different women Bond sleeps with in a given film, not necessarily how many times he sleeps with someone. Certain lucky girls get multiple encounters, after all. And of course the films rely heavily on innuendo in some cases, so Bond being Bond, I counted those in most cases…although I really had to extrapolate on the data presented. In any case, the average number of women per film: 3. They ranged from 1-4 with 2 being second most prevalent. Impressive: an implied threesome in From Russia with Love and an underwater hookup in Thunderball. Also, before Bond descended into formula, one girl had the distinct privilege to be reoccurring paramour: Sylvia (Eunice Gayson) appears in Dr. No and From Russia with Love.
Bond Girls In Focus
Honey leaves huge shoes to fill in terms of what a Bond girl could bring to the table. In typical fashion, she joins the action halfway through the film by just showing up and actually having direct relation to a plot point, but that’s fine. No, she has the gumption to show horror at the fact that Bond sometimes, just kind of, murders people. I concede in this case it was necessary, but she still asks “why?” and sometimes it is nice to actually reflect on the implications of our action movies. But I also like the fact that when she was a young girl she killed her rapist with a black widow spider. Can’t argue with the “why” of that.
Domino is unknowingly the mistress of the guy that was responsible for the death of her brother. Disclaimer: Thunderball is one of my least favorite Bond installments and for the most part, Domino didn’t display much prowess in the Bond girl department. But when she finally gets a clue as to the plot that got her brother killed, she gets the satisfaction of killing her lover. And I thought that was a powerful moment, given the fact that most people like to see Bond directly save the day.
You might say, hey, you feel special kinship because you share the same name. But you would be wrong gentle audience, because I liked Stacey before I knew her name. Educated in earth science and looking after her father’s legacy, she was already standing up to Christopher Walken’s character before Bond entered the picture. I also like her cat. I also appreciate the fact that, as an everyday rich girl, she takes a lot of initiative at the end to stop the baddies.
A former Army pilot and current CIA informant, Pam is on Benicio del Toro’s hit list. However, Bond swoops in, charms her and needs a pilot. However, it soon becomes clear to her that Bond is also charmed by Talisa Soto. And, unlike the other scores of women he sleeps with, she actually gets outraged about it. Which while a common human emotion, isn’t usually on display in these films. And best of all, the romantic tension comes to a head at the very end and Bond is forced to make a choice.
Top 10 Recognizable Faces
1. Robert Shaw: Years before he was Quint, he’s still awesome. (From Russia with Love)
2. Donald Pleasence: I like his take on Blofeld, or maybe I just really like Austin Powers films. (You Only Live Twice)
3. Christopher Lee: It is just sort of weird to seem in an action-y kind of role, as opposed to creepy…(The Man with the Golden Gun)
4. Christopher Walken: A Hyper-Intelligent Nazi Experiment with Christopher Walken mannerisms…yes please! (A View to a Kill)
5. John Terry: You might just identify him as “Jack’s Dad” from Lost, but I really enjoy seeing John Terry pop up in random ’80s films. (The Living Daylights)
6. Benicio del Toro: So young! (Licence to Kill)
7. Everett McGill: This guy…he is always evil. Silver Bullet! But he’s a nice guy on Twin Peaks. (Licence to Kill)
8. Sean Bean: This is the quintessential role that can explain Sean Bean’s reputation to anyone uninitiated. First few minutes, he dies. Already typically Bean. But then, you might notice his name pop up right after Pierce Brosnan. He’s revealed to be primary antagonist. Another Bean signature. And then still dies at the end. SEAN BEANNNN in a nutshell. (Goldeneye)
9. Alan Cumming: He’s a true chameleon. (Goldeneye)
10. Vincent Schiavelli: This guy was literally the only tolerable part of Tomorrow Never Dies, in my viewing experience. Uncle Enyos on Buffy! Teaching positions in both Better Off Dead and Fast Times at Ridgemont High!
The Icky Business of Political Correctness
Horrible writing for women (especially in Roger Moore years) isn’t the only cringe-inducing treatment of “others” in the series. “Gypsy” stereotypes are in full view during From Russia with Love. All of Live and Let Die has issues, like, being on the lookout for a “white pimp-mobile.” See also, the use of “ghetto blaster” in The Living Daylights. Perhaps the most egregious line is from Octopussy, while Bond is in India: “that should keep you in curry for a few weeks.” In India, the camera shots also include a snake charmer and a scene of men walking on hot coals.
But what about the women issue? It’s terrible. Even Connery pushes a girl in the face and dismisses something as “man talk” in Goldfinger. The Man with the Golden Gun features some nice woman-slapping and a promise from Bond to Goodnight that “your turn will come, I promise.” In The Spy Who Loved Me, Agent Triple X not only can’t drive a truck but Bond gets to exasperatedly say “women drivers!!” Original. Also, a “compliment” in Moonraker? “I keep forgetting you are more than just a beautiful woman.” Can’t say I was pleased with Bond ripping off a woman’s clothes to create a distraction in The Living Daylights either.
One Liners and Double Entendres
Bond is also famous for his cheeky send offs to villains. Some of them are groan-inducing cheesy, but a few are quite good. And he isn’t the only one who has a sense of humor in the Bondverse.
“Say, what is this? A merry-go-round?” — one guy’s objection to Goldfinger’s rotating floor.
“He’s playing his golden harp.” — Bond’s answer to the location of Goldfinger.
“I think he got the point.” — Bond, moments after harpooning a guy in Thunderball.
“Wrong pussy.” — Bond, after targeting the wrong Blofeld cat in Diamonds are Forever.
“An ice palace can be such a treacherous place.” — Graves in Die Another Day. The ridiculousness of this line makes it hilarious, even if Graves was being serious.
WORST: “He had a lot of guts.” — Bond after a ski pursuer gets shredded. Come on, you don’t know if he figuratively had a lot of guts, only literally! Actually I think all of Lazenby’s were horrid and just not timed well.
I will admit to sometimes being scandalized by the double entendres being employed in these films. It isn’t necessarily the subject matter, but the fact that any human being would ever say some of these things to begin with, especially in a wide variety of situations. And this is more of an indication that I am always on the look out for “that’s what she said” moments so much so that my mind is definitely in the gutter, but sometimes I wasn’t sure if something even was a double entendre, but this is Bond, so I usually assumed the intent was there. At least in Octopussy a woman takes Bond off guard with one: “I need refilling..” “Huh?? Oh…” (as he realizes she meant champagne). But I was never more scandalized than when Q, in Moonraker, says “I think he’s attempting re-entry.” Q!!!
Variations on One Martini
I think a good argument can be made that Bollinger is Bond’s actual preferred drink of choice because it seems to appear way more frequently, and with little alteration (except maybe to vintage). But writers like to get creative, especially when it comes to the Bond martini mythology. They alternate speaker, location, and even phrasing to introduce Bond’s signature drink. By my count they appear in fourteen Bond films. Here are some favorites:
“Vodka, rather shaken” — Bond, A View to a Kill
“Would you get me a medium dry martini, SHAKEN, not stirred?” — Bond, Licence to Kill
“Lucky I asked for it shaken” — Bond, on turbulent plane in Die Another Day
But the most rewarding usage, and my favorite, happens in Casino Royale. If you had to describe the formative Bond that we get in Casino Royale, all you need is this sequence:
Bond: Vodka martini.
Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
Bond: Like I give a damn.
The Curious Case of Felix Leiter
While there are many missed opportunities to be observed in the franchise, one that boggles my mind is the revolving door of actors that play Bond’s CIA friend, Felix Leiter. In nine movies, only two actors play the role twice. It’s no surprise that the role needs to be recast from time to time, but they made the odd choice or foregoing any basic description of Leiter. He could be young, old, skinny, fat. Whoever was available I guess. And in the pre-reboot days, the one guy to play him twice, David Hedison, did not even appear in consecutive films! He stars in Roger Moore’s first (Live and Let Die) and Timothy Dalton’s second (Licence to Kill). Why was he cast again, at the age of sixty-one, when his character was not only getting married but the main driver of narrative action, is beyond my reasoning. Especially after John Terry is wasted in the role in the previous installment? (Still bitter). The other actor, Jeffrey Wright, who appears twice is an absolute necessity — since Quantum of Solace is a direct continuation of the Casino Royale timeline. But I hope that if they use Leiter in future Daniel Craig movies they can also get Jeffrey Wright.
Creatures: what are you most likely to see in a Bond film? The answer should always be SHARK. Pet sharks, wild sharks, sharks everywhere! Thunderball, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Licence to Kill. Also a lot of shark cruelty. with the worst example being what I dub “Jaws biting ‘Jaws'”in The Spy Who Loved Me. Poor sharky. You’ve also got a spider in Dr. No, piranha in You Only Live Twice, and snakes in Live and Let Die, Moonraker (poor python!), and Octopussy.
Space: Satellites! Rockets! Space Stations! Bond’s got ’em all! Dr. No, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker, Goldeneye, and Die Another Day all feature some sort of space related narrative.
Casinos: Now I know that casinos are a great place to stage spy scenes but I had no just how prevalent they would be, so much so that I actually might be missing some of the films in this list: Dr. No, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, For Your Eyes Only, Licence to Kill, Goldeneye, The World is Not Enough, and of course, Casino Royale.
Locales: Where does the Bond franchise love to visit? The Bahamas (in particularly Nassau), Italy (in particular Venice), and as an extension of its numerous South American action scenes, Florida. Miami is constantly mentioned, and an actual target for attack in Thunderball.
Now, an issue close to my heart. Forget the fact that arch-villain Blofeld, leader of SPECTRE, is played by numerous actors who never resembled each other. No, consider his feline companion. For something that he seemed really attached to, that cat was left in the lurch at the conclusion of every film! So how did it magically return, always? You Only Live Twice: cat is left in imploding volcano. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: cat disappears as Blofeld’s research facility is destroyed in the Alps. Diamonds Are Forever: multiples of the same cat, and yet one of them is meant to be THE cat. Blofeld attempts to escape in a mini-sub, sans cat. Finally, the cat appears in the opening of For Your Eyes Only, proving that it had escaped yet again. I hope other people are just as concerned as I am about how impressive the nine lives of this cat prove to be.
One year later, and mission accomplished: literally more pop culture was brought to DC in the form of Parks and Recreation filming! But seriously, for a year I have used this blog as an outlet for mostly all entertainment-related raves, rants and curios that crossed my pop culture-raddled brain. And I hope to continue with the same vigor in the next year. I would say grad school is slowing me down (it is) but I am writing this instead of working on a paper, so clearly I know where my priorities are.