3. Parks and Recreation

Creator: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Years: 2009-2015

When this countdown began I had only seen one episode of Parks & Rec. I knew I’d be slotting it somewhere so I allowed for it. And as I kept watching it kept moving higher and higher. When I finished the show, I had it slotted around number ten. But now I’ve caught a lot of episodes on reruns. I’ve caught jokes I didn’t catch the first time and more than that, I find myself constantly grinning whenever it’s on. I just love these characters so much.

I almost slotted it at #2, but then I remember a bunch of things I didn’t like. Season one was very uneven, though it was short and most first seasons of comedies are uneven. If not for Nick Offerman I might have given up on it. Chris Pratt’s character was beyond stupid and I was begging that he would be written out (holy shit was I wrong about that). Season two was really slow at first. Paul Schneider’s character did nothing for the show. He saps the fun out of most every scene he’s in. I was reading the whole intention was to have the character of Mark leave, then come back, then leave, then come back, as sort of an ongoing joke and a testament to the good and bad of working for the government. However, Schneider got a lot of movie roles and they just didn’t need him after hitting home runs by casting Rob Lowe and Adam Scott.

The second problem with the show to some extent is Aziz Ansari. His range is limited, and he has the only character for the first four seasons that doesn’t grow a lick. The obnoxious guy who never changes is not my favorite sitcom trope, and here is no different. That’s not to say I never laughed at him, but things got stale. Thankfully, his character does grow during the final two seasons which also helps the jokes land better as well.

Seasons three and four are my favorite of any comedy ever, even more so than the first four seasons of Cheers. Seasons five and six dip a bit, but the characters are so likable by that point I still enjoyed myself immensely.

Michael Schur wrote several seasons of SNL, then produced for and wrote 10 episode of The Office (that reminds me I need to watch The Office). At first I was annoyed he borrowed the whole documentary style where characters look at and talk to a camera man, especially since at no point if there any reference that anyone is being filmed. But the fourth wall breaking still somehow works.

Jean-Ralphio Saperstein makes me laugh every time he’s on, with one of my favorite scenes being where he gets hired, goes on a walkthrough at an office, and gets fired all in the same shot.

Poehler is great. Offerman is great. Pratt is great. Scott is great.

“There’s only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk, which is just water lying about being milk.”

Oh Parks & Rec. I love you and I like you.

10 thoughts on “3. Parks and Recreation”

  1. Only other negative I’ll mention is the (thankfully) brief appearances of Craig in the latter seasons. That character tanked every single scene he was in.

    1. Perhaps for you, but he was a very popular character and has gotten a LOT of work from those appearances.

  2. Bah, I had the all typed up, but then WordPress apparently decided it wasn’t worth saying:

    On a more positive note, I have two Ron Swanson gifts bookmarked for when I’m particularly agitated at work: Ron trying to eat a burger with a hernia and the drunk dancing. Also. One of my favorite exchanges in tv history is a scene in the opening episode of the season right after Guardians of the Galaxy was filmed and Ben asks Andy how he lost all the weight.

    This is almost certainly my favorite tv comedy of ever, and to think I almost didn’t give it a chance because I hated The Office so much.

    1. Yeah, you really gave it a shot – only watching the opening season, which everyone agrees is pretty bad, and a totally different show.

      If you like Parks and Rec, you would like The Office. There’s really no avoiding it (though the dropoff at the end of that show is even bigger than it is on this one).

      1. Without trying to start any arguments, I’ll just never be able to get past my lack of fondness for a certain character, and at this point, there’s far too much tv/movies I need to get to that I just won’t have time to give it any more chances.

        But hey, I did at least learn my lesson and stuck with this one past the pretty bad pilot and very uneven first season.

        1. But as you’ve been told before, the Michael Scott in season one has little in common with the Michael Scott later.

  3. I’m glad you mentioned Jean-Ralphio, who also slays me every time he’s around.

    Two of my friends have appeared on this show. One didn’t speak, but he was used as a joke at Ron’s expense when Ron was dragged to an organic food place and he was in the background, with his long blond dreadlocks, sorting food or something.

    1. Even if I didn’t find him hilarious every time he was on screen, I would still have a spot in my heart for Jean-Ralphio because he hired Detlef Schrempf. (I was a Supersonics fan during those days.)

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