So… let’s get it out of the way first. NBC’s Parks and Recreation is basically The Office. The only differences are it being set in small town government, Amy Poehler instead of Steve Carell, and using two cameras for the talking heads instead of one.
The pilot had a few amusing moments, but most of the episode fell flat, a couple of moments even forced and over-the-top not funny.
So Parks and Recreation, the series that was spawned from the planned Office spin-off that was picked-up before it even had a premise.
There is no avoiding the comparisons to The Office. Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, is a female, more perky, less rude version of an early Michael Scott. She wants to follow the footsteps of Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Nancy Pelosi. As the head of the Parks and Rec department of the Pawnee town government, Leslie wants to and tries to do her best to serve her town.
Rashida Jones plays nurse Ann Perkins, a citizen who brings up the issue of a huge abandoned construction pit to the attention of Leslie after her musician boyfriend (Chris Pratt) falls into it and breaks both his legs.
Then there’s Leslie’s love interest mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider). They had a one night stand, but Brendanawicz (as they all refer to him) doesn’t really pay much attention to her until he sees a upskirt picture of her and I guess remembers their night together.
And the other people at the Office, Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) who serves as Leslie’s assitant on the new project (and loves the ladies very, very much apparently), Leslie’s boss Ron (Nick Offerman) who could give Dwight a run for his money, and Aubrey (April Ludgate), a college intern who appears bored with the whole thing.
The episode started out with a few chuckles; the homeless man in the slide, the random citizens at the open forum, the locked door.
But it seemed to lose steam there. The rest of the jokes in the episode either fell flat or were so WTF? that it depended on the performances, especially by Amy Poehler to save it. Amy was great in it and proved she can carry a show.
But the lame, over-the-top moments? Leslie rolling into the pit, any scene with Ron, and the drunk talking head at the end. They didn’t work.
The show has potential, and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it being almost exactly like The Office. But if it isn’t funny, then what’s the point?
I’d like for it to get better and it has potential to, but who knows. They can do a lot with small town government, but if its just going to be sight gags and unfunny one-liners, they’ve got a lot of work to do to fix it up.
As for its ratings chances, I think it is a foregone conclusion that shows like this and The Office, 30 Rock, Scrubs, Arrested Development with all its dry humor isn’t going to bring Friends or Frasier heights of success.