The 20 Specials of Christmas: Parks and Rec

On the sad side, “Christmas Scandal” is the last appearance of Louis C.K. as Leslie’s boyfriend, Dave (for this storyline, at least). Boo!

On the happy side, “Christmas Scandal” is a wonderfully subtle Christmas episode. Yay!

By making fun of a sex scandal-prone politician, Leslie accidentally gets involved in a bigger, dirtier sex scandal. And while she hides from the media Ron and the rest of the department are horrified to learn how much work she actually does.

It’s a story that doesn’t work because it’s Christmas, but rather because it’s surrounded by Christmas. Leslie’s excitement about the tree lighting is erased by the scandal, making Ron’s gift at the end all the more cry-baiting. And April and Andy cover more relationship development in their handful of scenes discussing presents than they do over most of the season.

While it’s not an all-out special with dance numbers and claymation, “Christmas Scandal” uses the holiday to focus the emotions of an alternately sad and inspirational episode. And that’s good enough for an assignment that needs 20 entries.

Mike Drucker is a lovely man with many positive characteristics. He has written for Saturday Night Live, The Onion, McSweeney’s, and Nintendo. He’s also a stand-up or something, I guess.

The 20 Specials of Christmas: Parks and Rec