The greatness of Parks & Recreation

Last updated 12:34 26/09/2012

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.

20120926Then 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?

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31 comments
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Lanthanide   #1   12:44 pm Sep 26 2012

How odd, it seems I don't need to register to comment here?

It must've been the first season episodes I tried watching, because I found P&R to be incredibly unfunny and lame.

Recently I've been catching a few ending snippets as I've switched over to Four at 9:20-9:30 in preparation for 30-Rock, and it has managed to be fairly funny.

Pamela   #2   01:02 pm Sep 26 2012

I adore Parks and Rec. And you are right with your Springfield:Simpsons analogy for the townsfolk. Not that I wont keep watching, but now dying to see if the cat lady shows up in Pawnee.

I love the ongoing stuff - the Tammys, Lil Sebastian, Tom's appalling business schemes, Mouserat. And I am pleased they have involved more of the office staff in the stories - not just those you mentioned but Jerry and Donna as well. This is one great ensemble.

Last week's episode with the ethics "trial" was masterful as well. Leslie defending herself in Law and Order mode (as she referenced herself); dragging the stenographer around with her. Absurd.

Julz   #3   01:06 pm Sep 26 2012

Fricken Love this show! Has me in stitches every time!

Moata   #4   01:22 pm Sep 26 2012

I can't believe you didn't mention Li'l Sebastian.

Have you no heart, man?

NK   #5   01:47 pm Sep 26 2012

I agree about Parks being terrible in the first season, but now - oh how I laugh! It is my favourite comedy currently playing and I cannot understand why more people don't love it. The deadpan dry humour is what makes me love it so much.

While every single character contributes to the enjoyment of the show, it is Ron Swanson who handsdown gets the most laughs from me. His life philosophies provide endless humour and quotable lines.

I also have a massive soft spot for Donna, and the whole Treat Yo Self episode with Donna, Tom and Ben is possibly my favourite TV comedy episode of all time.

Hazzard County Cricket Club   #6   02:09 pm Sep 26 2012

Parks & Rec = BEST SHOW EVER!

The Simpsons, Larry Sanders, Seinfeld, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Louie, Veep - all great shows - but Parks & Recreation has got them BEAT!

you had me at meat tornado...

Johnny2   #7   02:20 pm Sep 26 2012

Each to their own but I didn't find it funny at all (tried 4 episodes). Still it wasn't as bad as Community which has to have some of the most irritating characters on TV ever.

Laura   #8   03:05 pm Sep 26 2012

P & R is great to watch in conjunction with Community! Both amazing shows, both highly underrated... Especially by NBC. Why a network would treat their own shows so poorly is beyond me! Season one was a let down. It just needed to find its feet, and now it runs all over the place :)

commentkid   #9   03:25 pm Sep 26 2012

Definitely best comedy currently on television. Possibly best show currently on television. Not a single cast memeber, no matter how small their role, is anything less than perfect.

We just pretend the first season didn't happen.

bahhgarr   #10   03:57 pm Sep 26 2012

i love this show.this community and Louie are definitely my favorite comedy shoes that are on at the moment


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