Saturday, May 21, 2011

Parks and Recreation - Season 3

The constantly-reinventing-itself Community is still my favorite comedy on TV, but if it didn't exist, Parks and Rec would be a perfectly admirable substitute. The additions of Adam Scott and Rob Lowe as regular characters does a good job of growing the show a bit without interfering with the chemistry that had already been built. They fit right in, with Lowe as Chris, the super eager and optimistic new guy running the city government, and Scott as Ben, a disgraced former 18 year old mayor who's now a budget expert. They were introduced at the end of season two to kind of push the plot along, but they're fully integrated into the cast this time, with Chris' new ideas disrupting the flow in the office, especially for Ron, and Ben being both lovably awkward and an interesting match for Leslie. I like how the show has handled relationships, not wasting too much time dancing around the idea before having actual fun with it.

It's not just there where the show is as enjoyable as ever - every character seems to be getting better with age. Donna isn't quite as funny as the show wants her to be, but she at least has a full personality now, and the way they've explored Jerry's interests makes him a more worthwhile punching bag. Tom's big city attitude in a small town schtick gets a lot of play to, and the end of his arc this season is one of the things that has me most excited for this fall, when the show is thankfully returning this time. They only had 16 episodes to screw around with, but they generally made the most of them,  expanding on the insane little universe the show takes place in, with some of my favorite bits being Perd Hapley's talk show and the fabulously wealthy citizenship of nearby Eagleton. I like that there's a continuity in there too, with certain wacky citizens coming back when appropriate, and basically any scene where a bunch of town folk are in the room together is fun. Not every moment is great, and the show has some really weird identity issues that revolve around the whole mockumentary thing. But it's still an exceptionally funny and joyful show, with a fantastic and growing cast (I didn't miss Mark once) and a great sense of where it's going. I don't want to speak too soon, but when all is said and done, I think Parks might end up being viewed as a better series than The Office. At least by me.

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