Friday, February 12, 2010
Nailed the Gig: Parks & Recreation Recapped
To creator Michael Schur's credit, he spent the summer retooling and focusing Parks and Recreation and the early episodes in season two were top-notch; better than even what has become a potentially teetering-on-the-brink season of The Office.
(About last night's episode of The Office: I liked it, but you can't help but sense it was a huge missed opportunity. Having Jim become the sole manager of Dunder-Mifflin while Michael made more money as a salesman could have been fertile ground for comedy, at least for a few episodes. Think: Michael Scott Paper Company. Now with Jim back as a salesman and Michael managing, it feels like so many of the early season episodes were for naught. Like Chuck, The Office is in danger of spinning its wheels too much; there needs to be more consequences to the actions. That said, any time an episode can offer so much Erin, Andy and Kelly goodness, it's fine by me. I'll say it: Erin and Andy are as adorable together as Jim and Pam.)
Unfortunately, after that initial burst out of the gate, I felt that Parks and Recreation stumbled badly. While the chattering class of lemming critics (Alan Sepinwall, Maureen Ryan and their ilk) kept proclaiming from mountains on high that Parks and Recreation was one of the best shows on television, I was seeing ridiculously unbelievable episodes that were nearly devoid of laughs. Perhaps it's because I don't worship at the mustache of Nick Offerman, but the show was always perilously close to dropping off my DVR list; even through last week, I consistently found that it ran a distant fourth to the other NBC Thursday night comedies.
But then an episode like "Galentine's Day" happened and my faith was restored. At least momentarily. Sweet, thoughtful, funny and a showcase for what has become a ridiculously good cast—of everyone, it's clear that Chris Pratt is my favorite; there isn't a funnier character on television right now than his Andy—Parks and Recreation made an episode that would be worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the early episodes of The Office. For a comedy about manners and social interactions and unrequited love, that is the highest compliment I can think of paying.
Bonus: before shuffling off, I have to mention how poor this week's episode of Community was. Perhaps that was because it featured an overload of Ken Jeong (painfully unfunny at this point), but ouch. I got maybe one or two laughs out of the entire episode. Here's a problem I see with Community: Dan Harmon has fallen in love—deservedly—with his ensemble and, as a result, has started to ignore Joel McHale. I've read many interviews where Harmon has said they've tried to both tone down some of McHale's inner smarminess, while simultaneously playing up the rest of the cast. Mistake. Community is funniest when McHale's Jeff Winger is acting like a huge dickhead. That strategy is akin to Ivan Reitman deciding during Stripes that since the rest of the cast was so good, John Laroquette should be given as many lines as Bill Murray. This is a series with great potential... just so long as they don't screw up what allowed it to get that great potential in the first place.