Dec 1, 2011

[TV] Parks and Recreation: Season 3

Parks and Recreation is clearly one of those shows that could have very well died in its first truncated year and yet managed to turn things around for the better. Based on the first season alone, I never would have followed the show. But since I did stick around, things just got better and better and now I can admit that I'm pretty hooked on the series.

I'm sure that I wasn't alone in thinking that this show was just going to be a rip-off of The Office or something. But over the years the show has grown and developed and has pretty much come into its own.

I doubt any of us could project the effect that the addition of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott at the end of season 2 would have on the show as a whole, but it all worked our rather well. This season had them more or less officially joining the permanent cast, and I think the show was all the better for it.


Parks and Recreation is an NBC comedy series created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur of The Office fame. The show follows a similar one-camera, mockumentary-style of shooting and has received numerous award nominations starting with the second season.

The last season ended with the government of Pawnee being shut down due to a budget crisis and the show resumes after about three months of inactivity for the quirky crew. The auditors Chris (Rob Lowe) and Ben (Adam Scott) are still in Pawnee overseeing things and keeping tight control over the entire budget. Naturally this gets in the way of Leslie's (Amy Poehler) efforts to even just run the parks as normal so she eventually comes up with a brilliant idea that becomes a major focus for the season - to revive the Pawnee harvest festival as a way to support interest in local businesses.

English: Members of the regular cast of the Am...
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This season also features a number of interesting character developments, especially with the new members of the cast. We know that the writers had planted the seeds for a potential Ben and Leslie romance, and thankfully they resist in terms of pulling out all the stops for this little adventure. We avoid the usual tropes that come with such romantic entanglements on TV and instead have to deal with the quirkiness of Leslie paired with the social awkwardness of Ben. It's all actually rather endearing, in a kind of geeky kind of way.

Then there's the weird relationship between Ann (Rashida Jones) and Chris given how surreal Chris' character is as this major fitness buff. The man is like a cyborg constantly trying to work out and stay healthy why Ann may have been changed by her past relationship with Andy more than she had realized. And of course there's the rather mixed up relationship between Andy (Chris Pratt) and April (Aubrey Plaza) that ended on a rather sour note a the end of the last season. Of course things get better for the two of them, but I doubt even you could predict how things would turn out based on the progress of the show.

The greater focus on inter-character relationships does make it feel a lot like how The Office progressed over the years, but that would be attributing too much to that one show. It's not like they have unique ownership over this sort of thing - all shows eventually get to explore greater character development over time and this inevitably leads to various characters hooking up. At least it's not as blatant as some of the other shows where characters barely know each other before deciding to hop into bed together.

The humor remains rather great all throughout and I think to some extent I appreciate this show a bit more than The Office, for one reason or another. Maybe I can just better relate to the challenges of running a government department for some reason versus running a paper company. This feels ironic on so many levels given my lack of involvement in our won government processes and how my current business development job puts me closer to the types of sales jobs that are the mainstay of The Office. Go figure.

Parks and Recreation is definitely one of the more intelligent shows on the air today and one that does a great job of capturing a bit of the current issues related to the US government's budget woes. This season was a most enjoyable one indeed and it gets a full 5 excuses to bring in Megan Mullally for a cameo appearance out of a possible 5.




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