[9.0/10] It’s impressive how well-sketched out so many of these characters are in the early going of the show, especially after the certain amount of retooling after the first season. Amy Poehler in particular is just a singular talent as Leslie Knope, and it will forever be an indictment of the Emmys that they never recognized her for how amazing she is in this show.
The A-story, with her going on a practice date with Ann to calm her down for her real first date with Dave was the best. Her total overprepared nervousness about the whole thing was adorable, and as much as I rag on Ann occasionally, the character works really well as a straight man for Knope to bounce off of. Ann attempting to do “exposure therapy” by giving Leslie the worst fake date imaginable was hilarious, and it’s a clever way to show Leslie realizing that it’s no big deal.
But where other sitcoms might leave it at that, Leslie showing up drunk to Dave’s house and making a fool of herself being cool and confident (and yes, very very drunk) takes it one hilarious step further. Dave returning to the office the next day and not only implicitly understanding Leslie’s nervousness, but eliding it by saying that he’s excited for their second date is the perfect and sweet grace note.The B-story, with the rest of the characters trying to dig up dirt on one another is an absolute winner as well. The peak of it is Jerry, whose sad sack routine hadn’t been taken to extremes just yet and was still funny. His not wanting to play and the finding out that he’s adopted is mildly dark and awkward in that perfect P&R way (and Mark’s reaction sells it). The bit with Mark spilling his secrets to Ann is a bit cheesier, but they’re still going for a Jim & Pam vibe with the two of them, and it works well enough, albeit not as well as the rest of the episode.
The other highlight is the dirt-contest leading to a standoff between Ron and Tom. Ron using his “scientifically proven” method for rating human attractiveness to sniff out that Tom’s wedding was a green card marriage is a nice twist. And the reciprocal discovery from Tom, that Ron is the legendary Duke Silver, is such an amazing and unexpected place to take the character. (“Memories of Now” had me in stitches.) It’s damn fine comedic writing.
Overall, one of the funniest and most-packed half hours in the show’s second season.
"Now, relax, and let the Duke Silver Trio take you on a little journey to yourself."
alright, let's do this, bitch