Parks and Recreation, “Make My Pit a Park”

Maybe the initial reviews lowered my expectations to the point where they could be easily met, but I really enjoyed this pilot episode.

When Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) requests that the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana fill a large hole in her neighborhood, idealistic Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) decides that she’ll put a park there. Knope encounters bewilderment and opposition from the outset of what seems to be a quixotic quest.

Although we don’t know a lot about the characters yet, I think the show has immense narrative potential beyond those characters–something that separates it from The Office, its clear relative in network comedy.

1. The building of a park is a seasons-long project, tv-wise. “P&R” is going to have a longform narrative arc revolving not just around character development, but around larger goals. It’s like what the Office would be if the overall goal was actually to document Dunder Mifflin’s rise and fall as a company. I’m hoping, with the potential park in the foreground, that characterization will be eked out, as was often the case in The West Wing.

2. From the outset, this show has overtly courted a political lens. From the meetings with community members to Ron Swanson’s (Nick Offerman) hatred of government interference, it seems like the show and its main character are going to produce an argument about what governments should do and what it means to be a part of a community. Knope’s dreams of making a splash in politics also promise more polarizing content.

A few caveats: the show’s depiction of Pawnee seems less organic than the Office’s references to Scranton, some of these characters may never show a second dimension, much less a third, and the ambitions it courts could result in preachiness.

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