On Thursday’s (May 13) episode of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” Rob Lowe begins a multi-episode arc as Chris Traeger, an auditing consultant from the state budget office in Indianapolis.
He shows up in Pawnee to look into the city’s finances, torpedoing civil servant Leslie’s Knope’s (Amy Poehler) master plan for a new park (and quite possibly a whole lot more).
Lowe shows off his light-comedy chops in the episode, delivering bad news in sugary language with a charming smile on his pretty, chiseled face before swanning off and leaving the dirty work to his aide (Adam Scott, “Party Down”). And, unsurprisingly, he gets involved in a little romance.
It’s hard to believe a word Traeger says, no matter how delightfully he says it, and that’s probably a wise move, since he’s sticking around on the show into at least a few episodes of season three.
Playing a charming rogue well is harder than it looks. All this leads one to wonder what other shows could benefit from a dose of Lowe’s twinkling eyes, million-dollar smile and bankrupt sincerity. Hmmm, let’s imagine…
“Justified” (FX): Kentucky U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) thinks he has trouble with Internal Affairs, but things get really dicey when Brad Crowder (Lowe), the long-lost cousin of presumably reformed white supremacist and bank robber Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), shows up in Harlan. Brad’s from the branch of the Crowder clan that doesn’t turn back on itself quite as much, and he’s using his Ivy League smarts to buy up half the town and turn it into Daniel Boone theme park (rented out as a terrorist training facility after hours for a little extra scratch — he is a Crowder, after all).
“Community” (NBC): Disgraced former lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is cooling his heels at Greendale Community College, where his quest to really get a real bachelor’s degree has actually led him to discover himself. with the help of a study group full of oddball pals. But that may all be over the day that a sharp-dressed man (Lowe) arrives on campus, bearing promises of the restoration of Jeff’s law license if only he will do one little, very likely larcenous favor. Eager to get his old life back, Jeff seriously considers it, until he sees his erstwhile savior also putting the moves on study-mate Britta (Gillian Jacobs).
“Mad Men” (AMC): Don Draper (Jon Hamm) may be feeling on top of the world as a partner in his own 1960s advertising agency, but his position as the movie-star-handsome front man of the firm falls into question when a honey-tongued Californian (Lowe) breezes into his Manhattan office, all Coppertone tan and dazzling Crest smile, creased khakis and crisp blue blazer. He’s also got a pocketful of miracle ideas and more than a little dirt on Draper put aside for a rainy day.
“The Mentalist” (CBS): Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) uses his wits and powers of observation — along with his classic good looks and perfect, sun-kissed hair — to befuddle, bother and bushwhack witnesses and perpetrators while helping the California Bureau of Investigation solve crimes. He also used to pretend to be a psychic, so it’s a tough day when an equally smart and observant investigator (Lowe) joins the CBI. It’s hard to tell which bothers Jane more, that the guy just may have real psychic powers, or that he has equally good hair.
“Top Gear” (BBC America): The free ride may be over for hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard “Hamster” Hammond and James “Captain Slow” May when the BBC sends a Harvard Business School MBA (Lowe) behind the scenes to see just how much money the trio is wasting on extra gas, luxury hotel rooms, booze, Hammond’s shoe lifts and mousse to give May that artfully tousled look. If the boys aren’t careful and don’t manage to hide the receipts, they just might wind up doing “Top Gear” while pedaling adult-sized Big Wheels.
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