Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TV Tuesday: Casting My Vote for Parks and Recreation

As I've mentioned in many a TV-related post, it takes me awhile to warm up to new TV shows.  So, when "Parks snd Recreation" joined NBC's Thursday night lineup four seasons ago, I initially wrote it off as an "Office" knock-off.  Yet sometime between then and last season, something shifted, causing me to think, "Hey, what have I been missing?  This is a hoot!"  The "Parks" players are as eccentric as any you'd expect to find in the fictional small town of Pawnee, Indiana.  At the forefront is Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), perky Deputy Parks Director extraordinaire.  Her boundless enthusiasm and can-do attitude lights a fire beneath even the most lackadaisical of her staff, namely her bureaucracy-hating, tells-it-like-it-is boss Ron (Nick Offerman) and chronically eye-rolling, deadpan intern April (Aubrey Plaza).  Luxury-loving and perennially besuited Tom (Aziz Ansari), "most beautiful nurse in the world" Ann (Rashida Jones), childlike amateur rocker Andy (Chris Pratt), overzealous health nut and optimist Chris (Rob Lowe), divaesque Donna (Retta), clueless but well-meaning Jerry (Jim O' Heir), and Leslie's level-headed beau Ben (Adam Scott) round out the rest of the public service circle.

This season we're treated to democracy in action as Leslie faces off with none other than Paul Rudd for a seat on city council.  Rudd is brilliant as pretty boy puppet Bobby Newport, spoiled son of Pawnee's premier candy company owner.  In the most recent episode Knope and Newport engage in that time-honored pre-election nail-biter, the debate.  Bobby vacantly delivers answers spoonfed to him by his shark of a campaign manager (Kathryn Hahn) while Leslie stands classily by, hiding her light under a bushel until the very end when she launches into an impassioned speech about her love for Pawnee and her duty to protect it.  The crowd goes wild; really, it's quite moving and inspirational.  Then, with perfect comic timing, Bobby saunters over to Leslie with all the bonhomie of a high school quarterback and tells her that he's so glad that that's all over with and why doesn't she come on over to the after-party at his dad's lake house?  Even when playing a jerk Mr. Rudd can't help but turn out to be nice :)        

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