Parks and Recreation Wiki

If we're going to beat all the other departments, we have to choose something that will stand the test of time. Like the Mona Lisa, or the music of Squeeze.
Leslie Knope

"The Camel" is the ninth episode of season 2 of the NBC television series Parks and Recreation. It originally aired on November 12, 2009 to 4.67 million viewers.

In the episode, Leslie and the parks department bicker as they work on a proposal for a new town hall mural, while Ron and Andy share an awkward moment at Andy's new shoe-shine job.

The episode was written by Rachel Axler and was directed by Millicent Shelton. The title refers to the figure of speech that a camel is a "horse made by a committee", and refers to the final mural proposed by the parks department. "The Camel" included references to several Indiana celebrities, including Greg Kinnear, John Mellencamp, Larry Bird, Michael Jackson and David Letterman, all of whom are placed in a mural resembling Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper.

Stand-up comedian Kirk Fox made a guest appearance as Joe, from the Pawnee sewer department. According to Nielsen Ratings, "The Camel" was seen by 4.67 million households, a drop from the previous week. The episode received generally positive reviews, with particular praise for the Ron and Andy subplot, and the jokes involving Jerry's "murinal".


The Pawnee council decides it will replace the town hall's "Spirit of Pawnee" mural, which has been repeatedly vandalized because of its racist undertones. When each Pawnee department is asked to propose a new mural, Leslie becomes determined for the Parks Department to win, especially after she is taunted by Joe in the Sewage Department. Everyone in the Parks Department is told to come up with a possible mural. Tom pays a local artist at the Pawnee School of the Arts University to make a painting for him, and he is initially unsatisfied with the result, a colorful abstract painting. When presenting it to the staff, however, he suddenly experiences his first emotional reaction to a work of art. Ann, who acknowledges a lack of creative talent, presents a rendering of a park that is widely panned by the others. April presents a dark and bizarre piece made of garbage she found in a dumpster. Donna presents a version of The Last Supper with famous people from Indiana. Jerry presents a beautiful pointillist photomosaic of city hall, but he is laughed out of the room when he accidentally calls his mural a "murinal". Leslie proposes a picture of a historic Pawnee bakery fire, which she thinks will win because it is dark and depressing.

When the parks department casts votes for the best mural, they each vote for their own artwork. As a compromise, Leslie creates a mural using pieces of everybody's artwork, but the result is an ugly, confusing mess. Leslie enlists the help of Mark, who draws a bland but skillful sketch of an old man feeding pigeons in the park. Mark himself admits the sketch is dull, but claims it will win because it has mass appeal. Nobody in the Parks Department likes it except for Ron, but Leslie insists on entering it so they will win, much to everybody's disappointment. While waiting to present the sketch, Leslie sees how much fun the Fire Department had in making their mural, and she decides to enter the Parks Department's original mural after all. The town council committee are confused by the proposal, but the Parks Department have fun presenting it and break into laughter. In the end, the town decides not to spend any money on a new mural and simply renames the old one "The Diversity Express". The Parks Department is nevertheless proud of their work, which they hang in their office.

In a subplot, Andy is doing well in his new job as the Pawnee shoeshiner, and Ron pays for a shine. Ron is impressed when Andy actually eases the pain from his bunion, and he later purposely scuffs his shoe so he can get a second shine. Andy is initially flattered, but starts to grow uncomfortable when Ron returns for a third shoeshine. This time, Ron makes an involuntary noise that sounds like a sexual moan, seriously embarrassing both men. After a day of avoiding each other, Ron and Andy discuss the noise and decide it would be best to simply pretend it never happened.


Joe: Sewage! Let's roll.
Tom: Damn! How does sewage always get the hottest interns?

Ron: I got my first job when I was 9. Worked at a sheet metal factory. In two weeks, I was running the floor. Child labor laws are ruining this country.

Andy: I feel right at home as a shoe-shiner. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I know I'm doing it really, really well.

Jerry: For my murinal, I was inspired by the death of my grandma.
Tom: You said "murinal". [laughs]
Jerry: No, I didn't.
Ann: Yes, you did. You said "murinal"; I heard it. [she laughs]
Jerry: Anyway, she-
April: [interrupts] Jerry, why don't you put that murinal in the Men's room so people can murinate all over it? [everyone laughs]
Tom: Jerry, go to the doctor - you might have a murinary tract infection. [everyone continues to laugh]

Tom, April, Donna: [chanting] Murinal! Murinal!! Murinal!!!

Jerry: [describing his mural] It's Pointillism, and each dot is a photo of a citizen of the town.
Tom: No one cares. At all. [laughs at Jerry's expense]

Leslie: June 8, 1922. The Pawnee Bread Factory burned to the ground. We lost a lot of good bread that day, as well as several human lives. And it also made the whole town smell like toast, which one resident described as "disturbingly enticing."