Three weeks ago sources revealed that Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe would be leaving Parks and Recreation midway through its upcoming sixth season. News about the impending departure of unlucky in love Ann Perkins and perfectionist City Manager Chris Traeger was expectedly met with some sadness and disappointment by devoted Parks and Rec fans. The cast of the NBC comedy has developed into one of the strongest ensembles on television, and, with the exit of The Office and 30 Rock last season, Parks and Rec is poised to be NBC’s number one workplace comedy, with the citizens of Pawnee providing the most colorful and entertaining array of recurring characters and bit parts this side of Greendale Community College. Losing two main cast members is a bit of surprise, a curious altering of a formula that seemed to be working so well. But here’s the thing: we actual welcome the change, as it will solve the show’s most glaring problem, a significant flaw that has existed since episode one: what do you do with a problem like Rashida?
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This week we’re checking in on NBC’s Thursday night comedies as they finish their respective seasons. Today: ‘Parks and Recreation.’
Perhaps the greatest compliment you can offer Parks and Recreation is that it’s no longer referred to as the quasi-Office spin-off (ignore the fact that we just did that in the first sentence). We’re now multiple seasons into an excellent run where Parks and Recreation has cast off the chains of its origins, found its own voice, become its own show, and surpassed its progenitor by all metrics save for Neislen ratings. We still maintain that Community is the best show of the night, but Parks and Rec has not been behind by much, outpacing The Office during its second season.
At the end of Parks and Rec‘s brief, unimpressive first season, we laid out a plan for how the show could not only improve but excel, and we revisited this primer just prior to the start of the show’s brilliant third season. We also presented three more key points as the show moved forward and they were as follows:
With Parks and Recreation making its long, long-awaited return tonight, we thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at a post we wrote in September of 2009, just before the show returned for its sophomore season. Right now, in January of 2011, Parks and Recreation is widely recognized as one of the best, if not the best, comedies on television (which is why it was so excruciating when the series was pushed until mid-season to make room for the abominable Outsourced), but just about 17 months ago when it was coming off a lackluster, somewhat disappointing first season the story was much different. It’s developed into one of the most reliable, warmest, funniest shows on network TV or any other channel, and boasts perhaps the deepest ensemble cast, but back before its second season the jury was still out, and it was a show very much still finding its footing. But Jumped the Snark went ahead and asserted the potential of the show, watching the first season and finding much room for improvement but also much room for greatness. And we think its fair to say that both this blog and Parks and Recreation were vindicated.
In that post we outlined three areas where Parks and Rec most needed to progress to reach the quality of a show like The Office, its spiritual forefather (and not only has Parks and Rec equaled its progenitor, it’s now surpassed it. The student has become the teacher). Let’s take a look at those recommendations and how Parks and Rec took them into consideration.