Thursday, April 09, 2009

Parks and Recreation, "Make My Pit a Park": Thoughts?

I gave you my thoughts on "Parks and Recreation" with this morning's column, so feel free to fire away with your own.

54 comments:

Brandy said...

That did nothing at all for me. Hope other people like it.

55 said...

Yeah...love the cast, but I thought it was rather dull.

Dan said...

It certainly fits into the Thursday lineup better than Kath & Kim ever did.

I love this cast, so I'd be willing to bet it gets a lot better.

Solid first episode to introducing the characters.

Dan said...

The part where she whispers under her breath "my clavicle is broken" had me laughing out loud. Aziz is excellent as well.

JoeE said...

Not bad at all. Not great, but as Alan said earlier, neither was the US Office at first. And as a pilot episode, this was certainly better than the first Office episode. I trust this team.

Leslie's boss is a great character. I can tell that the Bobby Knight poster is something that I'm never going to be able to not laugh at.

J said...

Nothing I'd go out of my way to watch, but I wouldn't light it on fire and leave it on a neighbor's doorstep, either.

Unrelated psycho ramble: I just watched The Assassination of Jesse James the other night, and was shocked to see Paul Schneider. Now I was shocked to see him again. Between this and all the play Danny McBride's been getting lately, I feel that God is telling me to go back and watch All the Real Girls another 150 times. Swoon.

DonBoy said...

You know, I really want her to build that park. So: Mission Accomplished.

Nilco Walker said...

I nearly quit watching after the first 10 minutes thinking I don't need another OFFICE. But I began to see Poehler as the whatever happened to the Reese Witherspoon character from ELECTION and enjoyed it a little bit. It earns one more chance so I'm hoping it has a strong second effort. Because PARTY DOWN is the only other new show I'm excited about.

Jim said...

I'm not giving up on it... yet. But the main character is definitely too close to Michael Scott.

Anonymous said...

Paul Schneider is one of my favorite actors and I'm delighted at the prospect of seeing such a smart and distinctly charming artist on a weekly basis.

Poehler is good - so is Jones, but Schneider's got the spark the show needs to become something more than a lower-key version of "The Office."

The first episode of "Parks and Recreation" had its moments, but felt like a pilot. Looking forward to see how it changes once the creative team gets a few episodes under their belt.

Anthony Strand said...

My favorite moment was actually right at the end, with Rashida Jones moving her head to "Lady Marmalade." Not laugh-out-loud funny, but a nice little moment that made me think it has potential to develop its characters well.

And I agree with those who say Aziz Ansari's character is the funniest part of the show. The one time I laughed out loud was his "quote" from Amy Poehler.

Brian J said...

Its parts were funnier than its whole, but that doesn't really worry me right now, since it's hard to really hit the ground running. I'm more worried--well, not necessarily worried, but curious--to see where they decide to take the show. I guess that her quest to build the park where the pit is will be the show's main focus for a while, but it's clearly not something that can sustain the show for many seasons.

ACyclcUniverse said...

"I guess that her quest to build the park where the pit is will be the show's main focus for a while, but it's clearly not something that can sustain the show for many seasons."

Well, let's remember that The Office successfully milked the hell out of whether or not the Scranton Branch would be closed over 2 and a half seasons, so I'm somewhat optimistic.

It'll definitely have to be resolved within a similar time frame, but I think it has the potential to pull it off in the meantime.

JD said...

It'll take a few episodes to get going. I'll stick with it for now since I gave up on Samantha Who finally.

Mike F said...

3-4 laugh out loud moments...but mostly felt very contrived...willing to give it time to find its legs

loved the bobby knight poster, but they didn't need to say anything about it

I guess I felt like they were trying to ram the jokes down our throats a bit...would have preferred more subtlety

Brian J said...

"Well, let's remember that The Office successfully milked the hell out of whether or not the Scranton Branch would be closed over 2 and a half seasons, so I'm somewhat optimistic."

You have a point, but still, that show didn't focus on the same sort of topic week after week. It also had what seems like a bigger question in whether the branch would be shut down, versus whether or not the park will be built. If this show follows a similar path, I imagine it'll be fine, but it needs to have a larger...purpose, I guess, if that's the right word.

Number Five said...

I wasn't expecting a lot based on commercials and buzz (I know, like those are reliable), but I really enjoyed it, considering it was a pilot.

The key is definitely the cast. The supporting people were all very funny and Amy Poehler has the chops to carry the show the way Steve Carell did with The Office. The writing did mirror its predecessor show a little too closely, but was generally very good. They actually explored local government life more than The Office usually delves into corporate life, so it'll be interesting to see if they keep that up.

I agree with JoeE about the Bob Knight poster. Perfect for establishing his character and realistic for a resident of Indiana.

I absolutely cracked up when Rashida Jones said she was so committed she wouldn't back down, even if it took two entire months to finish the project. That will be the first illusion to go!

I really liked the credit sequence and how it was even longer than The Office's, when the trend is shorten them or remove them altogether.

SteveInHouston said...

I'm with pretty much everyone here: It was OK, and worth further attention. Good cast, good production pedigree. I just hope they can find ways to differentiate it from the mothership.

Still, it didn't make my skin crawl the way K&K often did.

Poehler and Jones getting drunk & crunk on ... well, it wasn't champagne, but whatever ... was pretty funny for me. And the shotgun bit cracked me up.

I've run into some of those "I hate the government" folks who work in government. I follow the rhetoric, and agree with a smidgen of it, but what's funny is the reactions you get if you ever suggest they go out and, you know, start their own businesses or something. You've never heard so many hems and haws in your life.

It gets even more sublime if you ever suggest that they freeze their salaries or benefits in order to save taxpayers some money.

Rachel said...

J said...

I feel that God is telling me to go back and watch All the Real Girls another 150 times. Swoon.


I am really excited he is on this. I had no clue that he was going to be part of the cast, which made it a nice surprise. My friend, who lives on the east coast, called me to tell me he was on the show to which I responded that I loved him in "Lars and the Real Girl" and "All the Real Girls". This made me realize that he must really like "real girls". It gives me hope, haha.

Brian said...

As someone who works in local government I will say there were some really nice touches. The crazy guy who shows up to give complete non sequitur public comment being the top of the list. Also nice is the big breakthrough being forming a subcommittee.

David J. Loehr said...

I can't say it did much for me, though I'll give it time. They really didn't do it any favors surrounding it with Office episodes, though.

But I will say this. As someone who lives in a similar town in Indiana--and has been to similar meetings and deals with similar people--it's very difficult to watch. They've certainly nailed the reality of it. Whether that will hold me or drive me away depends on the characters and the writing. But it is difficult...

Anonymous said...

You know what it means when you watch the premiere of a really, really bad television show, and you try real hard to come up with a reason why it was actually good, and how you are going to give it another chance? It means you really need to get a life. I'm not just saying this to be snarky on some message board where I can post anonymously. I'm saying this because if you are an adult and you feel what I'm saying describes you, you really should make some changes in your life. This is the best advice you are going to get today.

La said...

Aziz was damn funny. I think the show holds promise and I certainly like it better than Earl or Kath and Kim.

Toby O'B said...

I wasn't bowled over by any of the episode really. This will be something I'll probably dvr only to check out the first five minutes before erasing. (The fate of 'Surviving Suburbia' on Monday, but that won't get a second chance.)

Okay, I did enjoy one throwaway bit: during the public forum, when Loudon Wainwright as Barry said he wanted to talk about Laura Linney. That was so out of left field that I laughed out loud.

I hope Loudon's looniness becomes a recurring feature in the show.....

Anonymous said...

After hearing all the mixed reviews I went in with REALLY low expectations and ended up liking it quite a bit. I can see where a lot of the criticisms are coming from, but I still found myself laughing more than I expected to. My favorite parts were when Aziz Ansari says he's spent a lot of time around attractive women and Amy Poehler smiles and nods and when Poehler says she spent a lot of time disinfecting sandbox sand after the incident with the cats.

One thing I am a little unclear on is how they plan to continue to work in Rashida Jones and Chris Pratt's characters. At least Rashida Jones seems involved in the building of the park, but with her boyfriend stuck on the couch it seems like working him in will be tough.

Ostiose Vagrant said...

Is this Kurosawa's Ikiru: The American sitcom version? They're George Lucas-ing Kurosawa again, oh man.

This better not end with Poehler's character dying from stomach cancer. That's all I'm saying.

alf said...

I agree with the poster above. I wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised! I loved the boss's disdain that the documentary folks were probably working off of a grant.

Ostiose Vagrant said...

Um...apparently the Ikiru thing has been mentioned quite a bit as it is very obvious to anyone whose seen it. So I apologize if bringing that up was lame.

Lasse said...

Aziz Ansari was a blast. "I'm what you might call a Redneck"...

Amy Poehler was solid and seem's like a good lead for this show, stupid but sweet just like Michael on the Office, and she's a very funny and talented actress.

All in all I think there is a lot to build on and I'm looking forward to more episodes from this show.

Linda said...

I kind of dug it. Leslie isn't Michael Scott, to me -- she's not an incompetent manager, and she has a sunniness that Michael doesn't have, for me. I don't think she's as despised, either.

To me, the differences between this and The Office are easy -- applying the same sensibility to local government and to business are totally different. Setting this at a local government level was GENIUS, and I agree with those who have mentioned what a great job they did at nailing how legitimately thankless it can be to work in local government. The business where your constituency is made up of 98 percent people whose attention you will never get, no matter what, and 2 percent people who are cranks? That's very real, and makes it a really hard job.

I didn't laugh hysterically, but I was entertained and I enjoyed it. I feel like it's a great comedy setting and a great cast, and it's not like these writers can't write jokes. I'm not worried. I think the pilot was more about setup.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

This was a perfectly pleasant and harmless way to spend a half hour, which is not at all a bad start for a sitcom.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't think she's as despised, either.

I'd say Aziz and the intern despise her pretty much.

To me, the key scene in the pilot is the Paul Schneider character deciding to cash in his chip on her sub-committee because he admires Leslie's relentless optimism after years in the job, and also because he's mad that other people are laughing at her behind her back. It sets him up as one of the more human characters on the show, but it's also a clear delineation between Leslie and Michael. Michael's good at the selling part of his job, but for the most part when people like Pam do nice things for him, it's solely out of pity and not respect.

bill said...

As a couple others mentioned, loved Loudon Wainwright III as "crazy conspiracy guy." Hope to see more of him.

Otherwise, too much like The Office to be sandwiched between Office episodes. Mark Brendanawicz even looks like Jim

mj said...

I wondered how the producers were able to find an actual pit, or did they spend the bucks to build one? I liked how the view out of the window of most of the offices were windows of other offices. At one point, in the background through the windows, you could see one of the government employees playing Guitar Hero.

Mike said...

One thing P&R did that I don't remember ever seeing on the office: the "documentary team" fundamentally impacted the plot.

The Paul Schneider character only remembers that he'd slept w/ the Amy Poehler character when ASKED by the film crew. This set everything in motion. (And the fact he'd forgotten was my favorite moment of the episode.)

Maybe not significant, but it was the one thing that felt very un-Office to me.

Brian said...

Maybe it was the low expectations set out by reviewers, but I found it hysterical. A few of Leslie's lines were too much like Michael, but i think they'll have her find her niche soon enough. My wife and I laughed a lot.

blinda said...

I totally expected to be disappointed about this, because I like the cast so very much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Obviously it's not firing on all engines yet in terms of the actual jokes and writing, but in the first episode they already established the various characters rather well, and I already like them as a bunch, which I can't say for a lot of pilots out there. But yeah, would love to see how this show develops, and hopefully we'll see its own voice, and not have it be too much of an echo of The Office (not that I don't love The Office, but it would be pretty annoying to have a clone of the same show.).

Jordan said...

Ken Tremendous has a lifetime pass with me, so I'll give this show however long it needs. There was one great moment and one horrifying moment. The prior when Mark is asked about Leslie and says "No, no...you know what, like five years ago" and kinda grins and shakes his head. The latter, late in the episode when I came to the realization that I once worked for Leslie Knope. Everything about her (except her personal work ethic) is exactly like one of my old bosses. Get out of my head Shur.

lungfish said...

Wow, I'm surprised at the negative/ lukewarm comments. I liked this episode. I actually think Leslie is the opposite of Michael Scott, in that she's extremely gung-ho and Michael is always goofing off and slacking.

Tara said...

Not at all as good as I had hoped, but like others have said, I'm willing to give it a chance to find itself over the next few episodes.

For me, the problem is Rashida Jones. I don't have any anti-Karen/Office bias against her, I just don't find her particularly compelling or watchable. It's kind of like how I feel about Linda Cardellini's role on ER - she's just kind of there and doesn't really do anything special to elevate the material.

Oh, and I agree with whoever mentioned the "My clavicle is broken..." line. That was my one laugh out loud moment of the show.

David J. Loehr said...

The weird thing about it is, on reflection, it was the moments where Leslie seemed more like an Amy Poehler character--the "My clavicle is broken," the relentless pestering of her boss--that's when the show stood out, that's when she was less a Michael Scott clone and more of her own person. That's when I smiled.

The empty optimism isn't funny or compelling. The paper tiger for Aziz and the intern to keep mocking, that's really not very funny either. The hint of sarcasm, the slight edge underneath, the thought that she's aware of what she should and shouldn't do in her position (and still might do the "wrong" thing anyway), that's where they're going to find her voice. Assuming it lasts beyond the initial order.

I think I'd watch that show.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was hilarious, and I'm surprised at some of the negative comments here. I'm totally on board. Between this show, Party Down, and Better of Ted there are finally some new comedies on TV with real potential.

Rachel said...

Jordan said...

Ken Tremendous has a lifetime pass with me, so I'll give this show however long it needs.


Same here! I miss reading awesome baseball posts by the amazing Ken Tremendous :(

Anonymous said...

To be perfectly honest, the only reason I watched the show is because I'd follow Ken Tremendous to the ends of the earth. Even if he is a Red Sox fan.

dez said...

Who is Ken Tremendous?

Between this and "The Office," I think I work with almost all of those people, which I admit to finding pretty hilarious. I'll keep watching this one for awhile.

Rachel said...

Anonymous dez said...

Who is Ken Tremendous?


It is the blogging name of Mike Schur who is the creator of P&R, was a writer on The Office and played Mose on Office.

He blogged for a site called http://www.firejoemorgan.com/ where he and a group of friends would post about sports news stories. Mike Schur, aka Ken Tremendous, would write the most hysterical posts and comments on bad sports journalism pieces. Plus he is a Red Sox fan! Sadly they decided to go dark and FJM hasn't been updated since last November.

dez said...

Thanks, Anonymous Rachel :-)

Anonymous said...

1) I liked the show but didn't love it. I'm going to give it time, though. There's a lot of potential.

2) I think the show is suffering from being "The Amy Poehler Show." Her character felt very fake and was way too much like Michael Scott.

3) If they keep the Leslie character the way she is, then she needs to be a side character, much like Michael is a lot of the times.

4) She would work better as a character if she was more cravenly ambitious and machiavellian. Her being "sweet and believing in government" is going to get a little stale. But if she was manipulative in her quest for petty power, but still was rooted in doing the right hing, the character would be pretty great.

4) As it stands now, the main character should be the Bobby Knight boss. A libertarian gun nut public servant who has to balance out petty inter office issues between people who really don't give a hoot about their jobs,, or are power mad, etc.? That's a pretty brilliant character to center a show around.

DolphinFan said...

A good, if not particularly LOL funny, pilot episode. They did a terrific job of quickly fleshing out these new characters; I'm already on Leslie's side, impressed by Mark, disgusted by Tom, eager to see someone slap that rude intern, and wondering what the hell someone who doesn't believe in government is doing as leader of a local bureaucracy!
It might take until next season for P&R to move beyond being "THE OFFICE in the public service sector" but with the talent involved, it's likely they'll get there.
And frankly, it's about time someone noticed Amy Poehler has superstar talent and gave her the chance to carry a show.

So Cal said...

I enjoyed it. Me and my roommates got a few good laughs. Liked the intern and Aziz was the best part of the show.

I'll give it a few more goes.

J.J. said...

I liked it. I enjoy the documentary format, first of all, and I'd like this show to do well if only to encourage more shows that take a crack at the style.

I loved the boss. The weird anti-government ranting, the Bobby Knight stuff, and that bit about forcing people to literally stare down the barrel of a gun when they come to his office. I found myself wishing the show would have focused more on him. I'm weirdly curious about what that guy is up to throughout the day.

I enjoyed the assistant. With his blatant hitting on the broad at that meeting. His fake squiggle notes when his boss tells him to make a note of some brilliant nugget she just came up with. Passing around the up-skirt shot of from when she fell in the pit.

I even enjoyed Amy Poehler more than I thought I would. She's not nearly as much like Michael Scott as I feared she would be. The fact that she's had some minor social successes right away tells me she won't be loaded down with quite the same baggage as Michael Scott. I mean, one episode into the show and we already know about one lover she's had (plus a story about her drunkenly making out with somebody else) -- so she seems to get more action than Michael, not that that's saying much. Also, I like that she has different aspirations than Michael Scott/David Brent. I'm glad she's not a wannabe entertainer.

I agree the show still needs time to grow into it's comfort level and it needs to get better, but it's better than I expected.

Tyroc said...

I'm not seeing the potential others see. I thought it was a pretty awful pilot with a few (very few) sharp jokes.

I wish they had used a different format. The mockumentary format feels really played out to me, and does nothing but make one compare the show to the much funnier, The Office. (As that show actually tries to make one laugh often, as opposed to this show which had long stretches of neither comedy nor emotional drama. Just boredom.)

Also, I could be remembering it wrong, but it seemed we were in Rashida Jones' character's house with her boyfriend and then Amy's character surprised her by showing up. Why were there cameras in Rashida's house before Amy arrived? Why would she let them film her and her boyfriend? So odd.

And it very much felt like the line Rashida Jones had where she called Amy's character goofy but sweet, was put in there so audiences would feel that way about Amy's character, too. (much like the famous story of how Mary Tyler Moore said "I like that Rhoda" in the MTM Show pilot so that audiences would like brash Rhoda.)

Anonymous said...

Loathed it.

Steve said...

I liked it a lot. Another show that is easy to watch. Poehler and Jones are so likable, and Aziz Ansari is hilarious. He kills in every scene on Scrubs too