Comedian Patton Oswalt is vying for two guest-acting Emmys this year. He did great work as a local gadfly who hijacks a city council meeting on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” and he probably has a decent shot of getting a nomination for his work there.
Oswalt played Constable Bob Sweeney — a local law-enforcement figure with so little actual power that he has to drive his own car, an AMC Gremlin — in several episodes of Season 4. He was introduced as little more than comic relief, a gung-ho but ineffectual little guy who was watching Raylan’s (Timothy Olyphant) dad’s house and drawing wry smiles from the taciturn U.S. marshal — when he wasn’t just being annoying.
Bob kept going on and on about how he had been bullied by a football player in high school, until one day he put a stop to it by hitting the other kid with a hammer. It seemed like just a story to help us see how deluded Bob was about his own toughness — until the “Decoy” episode, in which Bob endures a hellacious beating at the hand of a Detroit muscleman, making increasingly obscure and hilarious puns on the name “Drew” (the name of the guy the Detroit crew was hunting) and, finally, turning the tables on his torturer.
It’s a brutal and amazing sequence, which you can watch here, courtesy of Slate (NSFW language and violence):
Later in the episode, Bob helps Raylan stare down a larger and better-armed crew and devises the way to get Drew (Jim Beaver) out of Harlan undetected, as if he hadn’t already proved his worth. It’s a tour de force performance from Oswalt, who absolutely steals the episode from Olyphant and the rest of the regular cast. That’s evident even in watching the episode on its own, but seeing where the show took Bob from his introduction in the Season 4 premiere to this point was one of the better small pleasures on TV in the 2012-13 season.
The designated funny guy in a drama tends to have the odds stacked against him when it comes to awards, but Oswalt richly deserves to be nominated for his turn on “Justified.” It would be great if he scored a nomination for his “Parks and Rec” role, and even better if he could pull off a double.
Who’s on your Emmy wishlist for this year? See more of Zap2it’s picks at our Emmys page.