Reviews: Parks & Recreation Season One DVD

Ben Vernel takes a look at the first season of quasi-The Office spinoff Parks & Recreation.

Parks & Recreation (P&R) follows Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), deputy director of Parks & Rec. in the town of Pawnee, Indiana. Pawnee is a fictional town, which allows the creative team to go basically wherever they want, storywise, but otherwise has no real impact. Poehler is Steve Carell-esque in her portrayal of Knope, and is supported by a pretty great cast. Aziz Ansari plays jerk Tom Haverford, Nick Offerman plays head of the department Ron Swanson (with deadpan delight), and Paul Schneider plays city planner and potential possible on-again-off-for-a-while love interest Mark Brendanawicz

P&R is the brainchild of Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. For those who have absolutely no idea who those two people are, allow me to bypass that pending Google search; Greg Daniels was a writer for The Simpsons before creating King Of The Hill and, subsequent to that, the American version of The Office. He is a writer, producer and director and has produced some of the best television of the past decade-plus. Michael Schur played Dwight’s odd cousin Mose on The Office, as well as writing many episodes of the series.

Anyway, as alluded to above, P&R was intended to be a spinoff of The Office. The style, both visually and verbally, is almost identical (the one difference being the propensity of P&R to use multiple angles in close-up). However, while it’s possible for the two series to exist in the same ‘world’, the double-dipping of Rashida Jones (who played Karen Fillipelli in The Office and plays Ann in P&R) ¬†detracts somewhat from the realism of that prospect. However, P&R isn’t a huge devotee of the dour realism that defined the British Office and earlier seasons of the US one; it takes more, tonally, from the later seasons of the US Office. It’s light, sharp, weird and fun. It’s not as purely ‘joke factory’-ish as something like 30 Rock, but it’s certainly not too far removed.

The DVD features commentary on every episode (of which there are six) as well as the extended cut of the season finale, and a bunch of other extras which I don’t really care about because I only listen to the commentaries. I picked this up for $19.95 and I’m pretty pleased with that, in terms of value for money and quality of content.


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