So sayeth Bobby Knight, current Guitar Hero pitchman and poster on the wall at the Pawnee, IN, government offices. Leslie Knope, however, has the will to prepare to win–the question is whether you want to watch her try.
I’ve been accused of attending town hall meetings merely for the entertainment value. This accusation is 100 percent true. I have even stopped at the store to get peanut M&Ms on the way to the aforementioned town hall meetings because all entertainment deserves snackies, and they don’t sell popcorn or Cracker Jacks in public forums (they totally should–they could fund new parks!). I think my favorite memory from one of these meetings was seeing an old man screaming, “Stifle! STIFLE!” at a sitting Congressman. Good times. Parks and Recreation is going to have a hard time topping that kind of hilarity, even with Loudon Wainwright III threatening to list Laura Linney’s shortcomings.
But it might get better. Parks and Recreation is famously from a lot of the same people who make the US version of The Office, and it shows–the same documentary style, the same earnest kinds of characters. In fact, P&R is very much what The Office would be if Toby Flenderson really, really cared about Dunder Mifflin and Michael Scott had a poster of Bobby Knight hanging on his wall. P&R has something else in common with The Office–the pilot wasn’t particularly funny. There, I said it–the pilot for The Office didn’t have a lot of laugh out loud moments. Neither did Parks and Recreation, but it did have snarky coworkers, obtuse bosses, and a lead character who will kill herself trying to change the world with her smile and a hard hat. With a similar pedigree, a similar setting where the mundane becomes the ridiculous, and a similarly talented cast (Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, and yes, NBC, I would date Aziz Ansari, thanks for asking), why not give Parks and Recreation a chance to blossom into something in the same ballpark as The Office? I actually did laugh out loud at the idea of do-gooder Leslie drunk-faxing people fruit roll-ups, so I’m willing to come back for another serving next week. The second episode of The Office? Was “Diversity Day”. If P&R can come up with something that uncomfortable and funny, they’ll be fine. Fingers crossed they don’t fall into a big hole instead.