Writing about television can be very difficult sometimes, almost as hard as watching it. It is a completely subjective medium; it is easy to lavish unnecessary superlatives on your favourite new obscure Scandinavian crime drama but that certainly doesn’t mean that people should take what you say as gospel.

To be taken seriously as a TV critic you have to avoid lavishing praise upon the studios’ latest shiny offerings, avoid the hype and allow the show to speak for itself. The Radio Times does a fine job of excessively promoting productions that are fulfilling a quota rather than fulfilling the aesthetic demands of its viewers, but it’s all subjective isn’t it?

….how on earth do you think My Family still pollutes the airwaves…

Positive reviews are no indicator of a lengthy TV run though, as there is unfortunately no direct correlation between reviews and ratings: how on earth do you think My Family still pollutes the airwaves with its final series/nail in the coffin being broadcast this summer, while Arrested Development was taken away from us in the prime of its life?

So, we have established that the world of television is not fair. There is no accounting for taste or quality obviously. But every few years a programme crops up that is a breath of fresh air, a pleasant surprise for those viewers who persevere with it, a perfect example of which is NBC‘s Parks and Recreation.

Parks and Recreation is unfortunately not yet broadcasting in the UK right now, although seasons 1 and 2 are available on DVD and there exist several legal streaming sites that host it. This incredible ensemble-led comedy is truly a joy to watch, and if you’re a fan of sitcoms you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

…her rag-tag team of co-workers struggle to contain their apathy.

Created by Greg Daniels, writer of The Simpsons, Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live, the influence of all these shows is plainly woven into Parks and Recreation’s characters, but it is his involvement with producing and writing for the US version of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s global smash The Office that bears the most striking resemblance to the ‘mockumentary’ style of Parks and Recreation.

Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope; an upbeat, low-level bureaucrat determined to make the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana a better place while her rag-tag team of co-workers struggle to contain their apathy. Joining Knope are her disinterested boss Ron (Nick Offerman), even more disinterested intern April (the scene-stealing Aubrey Plaza), self-styled player Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Leslie‘s best friend and the voice of reason Ann (Rashida Jones).

With a stellar supporting cast, including the legendary Rob Lowe and Adam Scott as their governmental superiors, writing that is machete-sharp and enough charm to seduce a nun, this is a show that continues to both be funny and full of pathos.

But don’t take my word for it; the best summary of Parks and Recreation that I have seen comes courtesy of Questlove drummer and producer of the Hip Hop group The Roots, “Parks and Recreation is the Wu Tang of comedy. an ensemble cast of which all the cast shines.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

4 1/2 Stars

 

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