With all due respect to fans of Modern Family, The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm, when ?uestlove of The Roots wrote last week that Parks and Rec is the Wu Tang of Comedy, he nailed it. This, no doubt, comes as a shock to people who dipped their toes in last season and left disappointed. We know. We understand. The first six episodes blew. The creative team has said that run last spring was really one extended pilot. That's true—and a shame. Because it turned off a lot of viewers
But while no one was watching, the focus changed. Amy Poeher's parks commissioner Leslie softened. The limp romance between Mark (Paul Schneider) and Ann (Rashida Jones) moved to the background. The true lunatic weirdness of the show—from Chris Pratt's pit-dwelling, shoe-shining, Deal Or No Deal-auditioning Andy to Nick Offerman's lover of brown haired ladies and breakfast food Ron Swanson—started to emerge. It's got the deepest bench on TV. (Aziz Anzari = brilliant. Aubrey Plaza is our biggest entertainment crush right now.) The best guest stars. (LouisCK, Megan Mullally, Fred Armisan.) And, of course, Amy Poehler, whose warmth and willingness to totally humiliate herself confirmed what we always knew: she's one of the best comedians working today.
For all that, though, the real star of the show is Pawnee. Unlike The Office, which exists in a hermetically sealed lucite box of sadness that hits WAY too close to home these days, Parks and Recreation pulls back the lens and lets the town become a character. Just off the top of my head, here are a few details of what we've learned about Indiana's finest city. It has...
–An anti-semitic past that is celebrated in mural form
–A library department that is a group of "punk ass book jockeys" and the "worst group of people ever assembled"
–Raccoons that aren't nocturnal and tend to attack children
–A sewer department overrun with floozies
–A gay bar and a strip club and a nipple factory and a restaurant named The Jurrasic Fork
–And, of course, a giant pit that the government can't seem to get filled
Reminds you of something, doesn't it? Springfield. And while we know that any comparison's to the Golden Age of The Simpsons is heady praise that borders on sacrilege, it's deserved. Parks and Recreation is absurd. Hilarious. Packed with polished jokes, unexpected turns, and boasting real heart. Simply put, this is the funniest show on television right now. America, start watching. You're missing something special.
(We'll return to our regularly scheduled power rankings when the NBC lineup returns after the holidays.)
— Dan Fierman