"I'll push anything... through anything... you know me." -LeslieI liked the pilot episode, but I thought "Canvassing" was an improvement across the board.
First, they've quickly started nudging Leslie away from being a Michael Scott clone. Yes, her reach vastly exceeds her grasp, and her tunnel vision can blind her to the bigger picture, and several other cliches I won't bother to mix together here, but she already seems much more self-aware and aggressive than Michael. It took the "Office" writers until well into the second season before Michel stopped being a cartoon, but there were moments here -- notably Leslie with her mom (played by the great Pamela Reed), but also Leslie hearing about the project being fast-tracked, and Leslie catching the others playing Rock Band with Andy -- where she seemed very human.
Second, after rightly devoting most of the pilot to establishing Leslie, "Canvassing" gave the supporting cast more to do.
I've only watched a few minutes of the David Gordon Green movies, and I never saw "Lars and the Real Girl," so "Elizabethtown" was my only real previous exposure to Paul Schneider. But I'm already liking the way his more laid-back, natural style fits into this more anarchic, comic world. His delivery of "April, please stand behind me" as they realized they were talking to a pedophile was hilarious precisely because it was so low-key.
We also got to see more of Aziz Ansari in action as Tom, and to see that he isn't so much a slacker as a hustler, working the phones (and making more corrupt deals) while the others were pounding the pavement. He also got the episode's second-biggest laugh with the way he said he was oddly attracted to Kate Speevak.
If I have a concern at this point, it's the singular focus of the series. Mike Schur has talked a lot about how these kinds of public works projects can go on for years, even decades, and I'm not really worried about the realism of it. I just think the show would benefit from having subplots that are unrelated (or tangentially connected at best) to the park subcommittee. Episode two, when you're still getting the audience used to the idea, may be too early for that, but "The Office" and "30 Rock" both benefit (as they did tonight, which I'll blog about later) from being able to toggle between at least two different stories, and I'd like to see some of that here, if possible.
Still, a good second building block on a project that's coming together much better and more quickly than Leslie's.
What did everybody else think?