PARKS & RECREATION: Boys' Club - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote


May 1, 2009 by  

Though we say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there are a substantial number of viewers who feel that Parks & Recreation has borrowed too liberally from the successful template of The Office. Each week, our discussions here at GMMR delve into the noteworthy moments of each episode, along with any possible links to the Scranton playbook for sitcom success. With mixed reviews and passable ratings, the Pawnee crew appears to have taken a fall into an underwhelming pit of expectations.

Here’s a little secret about P&R. It has come a LONG way since the premiere episode, and I strongly encourage anyone who dismissed the show after its maiden voyage to take a peek at episodes 3 and 4 on Hulu or at The laughs have been bigger, the actors have stretched their creative muscles, and the seeds for a number of long-term storylines have been planted. If you can embrace the comedic sensibility that guides both The Office and P&R, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how much fun you can have being stuck at City Hall.

This week’s cold open was a perfect showcase for the duality of Leslie Knope. As the woman who is unabashedly committed to public service, she is appalled that local teenagers would be hurling bags of dog droppings at each other. Once engaged in the conflict, however, it was easy to see how quickly Leslie became the girl who is still learning how to have fun. As the transformation took place, Amy Poehler’s talent for unearthing the childlike qualities in a character took center stage, all while armed with a garbage can shield.

Chris Pratt has a good life. As a veteran TV actor, best known for his roles on “Everwood” and “The O.C.,” Pratt spends his down time with his fiancé, Anna Faris. That is what I call upward mobility! Andy is a lovable loser, and this week’s storyline gave Pratt the chance to “expose” his comedic instincts. In the best streaking scene since Will Farrell took to the streets in “Old School,” Andy was the world’s fastest naked man on crutches, all for the sake of saving the twelve new batteries in his stolen boom box. In his softer moments, the injured hero expresses his love for Ann by saying, “I seriously love her….hard!” Week after week, Andy’s role as boyfriend, band leader, and poorly chosen human interest story have generated positive responses from GMMR readers. Regardless of Ann and Andy’s future, I believe that Chris Pratt must become a series regular in order for P&R to hit its creative zenith.

This week’s primary storyline, Leslie’s decision to violate ethics laws by breaking into a gift basket, pushed a number of cast members to the forefront. Amy Poehler remains pitch perfect, delivering laughs with her videotaped confessions and taking pause as she described Leslie’s feelings for Mark. Paul Schneider added a dose of humanity to the Brendanawicz reputation, as he continued to serve as a friend and mentor to Ms. Knope. On the other hand, the reactions of his cohorts in the boys’ club to Ann’s appearance tell me that Mark has noticed Leslie’s new friend, and there could be fireworks and tension in our future. Aniz Asnari killed it this week, whether he had Tom running from the scene of the poop fight, or interrogating Leslie with laughably inappropriate “test questions” before her administrative hearing. P&R’s secret weapon, Ron Swanson, gave the slightest hint of compassion by intervening on Leslie’s behalf at the hearing, but remained strident in his anti-government views.

Finally, April the Intern was unleashed, and it was delicious! Aubrey Plaza is a talented young woman, and her contributions to this episode were phenomenal. This may sound like a stretch, but I look at April as a younger, smarter version of Kristin Wiig’s “A-Hole” character on Saturday Night Live. April is completely unimpressed with the adults in her midst, and flashed her first smile of the season due to the shine in her hair. Simultaneously disengaged and completely self-interested, April is the sister you would never want and the girlfriend you could never have. What will she do next?

I have officially jumped on the P&R bandwagon, and I encourage you all to jump aboard. This episode featured a fantastic script by Alan Yang, and was the best ensemble effort of the mini-season. With just two episodes left, I would strongly encourage the Costco-style treatment of P&R: take a free sample during your free time, and think about adding it to your DVR pantry in the fall.

Each week, the P&R writers are taking time to update the “unofficial” web site of Pawnee, so I decided to give them a little love before signing off.

This week’s Fun Facts from

  • In order to deal effectively with an excess raccoon population, the city is asking for written drawings of your Raccoon Eradication Initiative (REI) ideas
  • Maplewood Park & Recreation Center, housed at the site of an old chemical factory, features a Community Garden. Unfortunately, the produce is not safe for human consumption
  • Parks & Recreation Department Director Ron Swanson does NOT accept public e-mails. Please direct correspondence to

Are you looking forward to P&R each week? What changes have you noticed in the show’s presentation since the pilot? How would you have answered Tom’s list of practice interview questions? Are there characters who have grown on you in the past few weeks? Is anyone growing a Ron Swanson-style mustache? I am looking forward to chatting with all of you about this episode!

How does Erik combat writer’s block? He indulges in Adam Carolla’s new daily podcast at and reads Bill Simmons’ columns on Along with covering Parks & Recreation and House for GMMR, Erik is preparing to attend his 35th and 36th Dave Matthews Band concerts in Las Vegas. Officially, this makes him a nerd, and he’s ok with that!


10 Responses to “PARKS & RECREATION: Boys’ Club”

  1. seeleybaby on May 2nd, 2009 7:54 am

    Great recap, and we all know that the pilot epi of The OFFICE US wasn’t something a lot of people wanted to write home about, either, but then Diversity Day…etc…and then the path to amazingness, so yes, I agree. It’s good to check out more than just the pilot.

  2. Andrew Miller on May 2nd, 2009 10:19 am

    I still think that Amy Poehler’s character is the weakest on that show. Complete rip off of Michael Scott, but less funny. Aziz Ansari is absolutely hilarious though, I find myself watching the show just because of him.

  3. Ryan on May 4th, 2009 12:00 am

    I agree. I wish Ms. Knope was less Michael Scott like.

    Overall i’m digging the show though. There isn’t a single supporting character i don’t find hilarious. Ron Swanson continues to be my favorite.

  4. Erik on May 4th, 2009 1:45 am

    seeleybaby: I think it is counterproductive for networks to air pilot episodes anymore, since so many programs are repositioned before they are brought to air. Since so many viewers affix themselves to new programs based on that initial impression, I am shocked that a show like P&R didn’t rework the first episode with new scenes or reshoots. The premiere doesn’t measure up to the other three, and I hope NBC spends some time & effort this summer promoting the entire ensemble.

  5. Erik on May 4th, 2009 2:17 am

    Andrew: Despite my love of all things Amy Poehler, I understand how Leslie’s similarities to Scranton’s Regional Manager can negatively impact your view of the show. Anything that takes a viewer “out of the show” is the responsibility of the creative team to avoid. Hopefully, Aniz & the other cast members are entertaining enough for you to stick with the show until it all comes together.

    Ryan: Ron Swanson is a comedic juggernaut, and I have a feeling that those who have watched the full P&R run are looking forward to hearing his next rant against our system of government. At the risk of making another comparison to The Office, Ron’s steadfast opposition to wasteful bureaucracy is similar to Dwight Schrute’s overarching obedience to power structures back in the early Dunder Mifflin days. There are limitless ways to capitalize on Ron’s world view, and I look forward to hearing more.

  6. Angela on May 4th, 2009 10:11 am

    I agree that the show has come a long way from the pilot. I also felt Rashida Jones was given a little more room in this episode as Ann expressed her obvious dislike for Mark. I think that will be something very interesting to explore in the future. Aubrey Plaza was also awesome in this episode. If you have not been on to check out the extended cut of April getting drunk, you should do so right now! It is very very funny.

  7. SB on May 4th, 2009 10:17 am

    Once again, I think I’m kind of blessed with the ability to actively ignore things when watching TV. I can actually put The Office more or less out of my mind while I watch this, and I think it really helps. I laughed a LOT at this episode–there was so much hilarity and great one-liners, and I think that the best sign of all is that I think every single episode has been better than the last.

    But then I read the internet and I DO think about it in terms of The Office, and I guess I can see the similarities. I think Leslie and Michael are starting to differentiate, but the unrelenting optimism seems pretty core to both their characters. I can handle that, though. Leslie seems a little more self-aware, and is a Dwight-like stickler for rules (since I’m making the comparison now!), whereas Michael is usually all about covering his own ass.

    Mark strikes me as a Ryan character with an inner Jim, and Aziz Ansari is like a coherent Creed, which is practically an oxymoron. But I can’t really think of any comparisons for Ron or April, or even Ann and Andy, now that I think they’re wanting to keep Andy and trying to make him more likeable and less “Roy”.

    I really like this show, though. I’m hoping that people can put aside the expectations, because the dog poo fight and the naked chase for the boombox were hilarious, as was, “I will be getting gently laid tonight” and Ann’s commentary on Mark’s friends on his social networking site. OMG, I really laughed at this episode for like a half an hour straight and I’m enjoying reliving it in my memory right now.

    Plus, I like how it gets back to the roots of a little group of people who hate their jobs. That’s really funny to me.

  8. Erik on May 4th, 2009 5:10 pm

    Angela: Thanks for sharing the link so that we can all enjoy more of drunk Amber. SB mentioned her love for drunk Leslie after the pilot episode, and it seems that this cast is well-equipped to make us laugh while feeling no pain.

    Rashida Jones had more to do this week, after disappearing into the background as the remaining cast members shined in the past two episodes. I still get the same Pacey/Joey vibe from Ann & Mark that is familiar to Dawson’s Creek aficionados, but there is a long way to go until they set that storyline in motion.

  9. Erik on May 4th, 2009 11:48 pm

    SB: I expect to read feedback that outlines the various connections between the two shows, but I am lucky to share your talent for single-minded television viewing. When I take a second glance at each episode on Hulu, primarily to double-check quotes or other details for the recap, I notice more of the overlapping items that strike some fans upon first viewing.

    Since the pilot, I have been struck by the similarities between P&R and Christopher Guest’s brilliant mockumentaries, particularly Waiting For Guffman and For Your Consideration. In particular, I look at Ron Swanson and see a slightly more serious take on Corey Taft, the studio P.R. rep in F.Y.C. that seems to have little talent for promoting his movies.

    No matter the inspiration, I think we are seeing a solid sitcom coming together over the past three weeks, and NBC’s decision to renew the series will undoubtedly lead to a broader mix of characters and storylines in Season Two.

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