Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation debuted on NBC between two episodes of The Office last week, and had its second episode last night. The comedy runs in the vein of The Office, in that it’s about a manager who is so not-self-aware in regards to her job that she doesn’t realize how idiotic and stupid she comes off as. The rest of the cast is similar to the hit TV show in that they range from semi-serious to equally absurd; the show itself is created, produced and written by the same folk.
But is Parks and Recreation essentially splitting the talent and jokes with The Office, resulting in two bland shows? Neither the characters nor comedy are identical so one show isn’t right out stealing from the other, and yet one wonders if the creative talent doesn’t have enough time to focus on both shows to the degree they need.
So far, Parks and Recreation has been mildly funny, and that’s about it. It has a lot of intentionally awkward moments, but few have been outright hilarious. Poehler’s character is fun but not nearly as funny or painful as Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott. The supporting cast is fine but unremarkable; none of the characters have stood out as particularly memorable. All in all, it’s a show that seems like a cheap rip-off of The Office, and it only has one or two more episodes to grab my attention before I remove its series recording from my DVR.
Unfortunately, The Office has also taken a downturn the last few episodes. Ever since Michael quit, taking Pam with him, the show has completely lost its edge. The episode that preceded the pilot episode of Parks and Recreation was terrible, and the one that followed wasn’t much better. Last night’s was OK but nothing special; I can’t recall the last classic episode I’ve seen. Having Pam and Jim separated doesn’t help; having Michael running his own company isn’t particularly interesting; many of the other characters have been all but dropped due to the fact that the focus now has to split its time among two locations. We know that Michael is eventually going to return to DM, so why prolong the inevitable?
Unfortunately, NBC’s strategy has so far backfired. Its intention was to create a similarly funny copy of The Office to boost ratings; instead, it has taken away the charm of its hit show while introducing another that isn’t nearly as good as they think it is. You’re treading in dangerous waters, Peacock. Be careful.