The greatness of Parks & Recreation

There are plenty of reasons to love Parks & Recreation.

For a start, there is the cast. Parks & Rec was originally conceived as a post-SNL vehicle for star Amy Poehler. But somewhere between the first season and the middle of Season 2, the writers realised the depth of talent they had, giving more opportunity to vastly underused supporting players like Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza and Nick Offerman and bringing in Rob Lowe and Adam Scott (who, alongside Poehler, is now the heart of the show) and making Parks & Rec a more traditional ensemble show.

Then there is the fictional world of Pawnee, in which the show is set. As time has gone on, from the first episode through to the mid-point of Season 4, the town of Pawnee has grown and become populated with a range of memorable characters: Perd Hapley, Jean-Ralphio, Crazy Ira & The Douche, Brandi Maxxxx, Shauna Malwae-Tweep  ... at this point, Pawnee is to Parks & Recreation as Springfield is to The Simpsons. Only live-action, obviously.

Parks & Recreation is also incredibly flexible.

Some episodes are riotously funny: this season's Ron & Tammys, in which Ron Swanson is stuck between his first wife (like his second wife and his mother, named Tammy) and the parks department, while Ben Wyatt (Scott) helps Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) manage his ridiculous new business Entertainment 7Twenty had me in stitches.

Other episodes are incredibly touching: last season's April & Andy's Fancy Party and this season's Meet 'N' Greet had their fair share of emotional moments, tugging at the heartstrings even as they had us rolling on the floor in laughter. Last night's Citizen Knope (Four, 9.00pm) qualifies here as well, with the final scene in which the staff of the Pawnee parks department (and Leslie's best friend Ann, played by Rashida Jones) agree to help her try and get elected to city council, setting up the second half of the season, one of the shows best.

This is where the cast come in again, because the stars - Plaza, Offerman, Scott, Jones - are much more than one-dimensional actors who are only capable of selling a punchline. These are really good actors who are able to take the dramatic fare they're given and turn it into some of the most touching, engaging television you'll see.

There is, however, one thing that puzzles me about the show. As good as it is now, as good as it has been for the past couple of seasons, it seems incredible to me that the first season is so bad.

I don't mean that it just isn't as good as the later seasons, but is still half-decent. No, the first season of Parks & Recreation - a short batch of six episodes which introduced the cast and premise - is terrible. It is so unlike everything that came along later that it's hard to believe the show we're watching now has anything to do with that first season.

Still, Parks & Recreation is one of my favourite shows right now - and probably my outright favourite comedy show in production right now, if I'm being honest. It is entertaining, it is riotously funny, and it features (arguably) the best and most likeable cast on television. I look forward to every new episode. I absolutely love it. Just in case you couldn't tell already.

Do you like Parks & Recreation? What do you like most about the show?

Make sure you like On the Box on Facebook and add Chris on Twitter.
Or, feel free to
 email Chris with any questions or ideas.
This is a spoiler-free blog - please comment responsibly.

Stuff