It’s been a while since I said anything about Parks and Recreation here… and it’s been, oh, never since I’ve talked about 30 Rock. So, I figured I might as well check in on the shows and let you know what I think about them at their current state. (If you care, of course.)
The last episode of Parks and Recreation that I reviewed (it was sort of a mini-review, thought-thing) was 4.08 “Smallest Park” also known as the Ben and Leslie reunion episode. I loved that episode. It was fantastically executed. And after watching five more episode of the show, today’s was 4.13 “Bowling for Votes,” I still love this show. Parks and Recreation very well may be the most consistently hilarious show on television currently. And the crazy thing is that its comedy all stems from people just being nice.
Well, except to Jerry, of course.
But it very much is a show about people just trying to be nice to other people, to help them out, and to li-tra-ly cheer them up. That’s even what tonight’s episode was about. April wants to crush Chris but then ends up feeling sorry for him and offers him tickets in a heartwarming gesture. This show made giving someone free tickets funny.
The main plot, however, was Leslie trying to win over someone who just doesn’t like her. She just can’t let it go. Perhaps this episode didn’t exactly showcase Leslie’s most desirable side (but it still made me laugh, “I’d like to introduce this guy’s ass to my foot”), but the episode prior to this one was the perfect example. In 4.12 “Campaign Ad,” the entire episode surrounds Leslie’s inability to make a negative ad against a competitor even though he’s (A) Completely unqualified and (B) An idiot. I just don’t know how any show can top that.
Parks and Recreation is doing something the Republican GOP debates could never do: be interesting. I’ve never been more invested in a political campaign than I am in Knope 2012 (which is probably just sad on my part). Thank goodness they ditched that god-awful Entertainment 720 story, got Ben and Leslie together (who are amazing), and went full throttle on Leslie Knope’s guerilla campaign.
Also, I have to add that the scene in 4.11 “The Comeback Kid” when everyone is walking on ice may already be the most hilarious scene on television in all of 2012. I almost fainted.
On the other hand, you have 30 Rock which many times thrives on everyone’s subpar qualities. There’s no other way to put this: 30 Rock just hasn’t been funny this year. I don’t think I laughed during the past three episodes. During its three episode arc in which Liz has a new boyfriend, the show sort of lost some sort of quality, a je ne sais quoi (which is what bloggers say when they have no idea what to say) that just feels lacking.
The jokes have been predictable, the timing as cartoonish as ever, and the writing less smart. I will say that I enjoyed the Idiots saying stuff incorrectly (like “for all intensive purposes”) but that may be just about it.
That’s not to say I haven’t been enjoying this season. I think having 30 Rock be my favorite comedy of this century has allowed me to forgive its many faults. I just like spending time with these people, and even if they don’t make me laugh, I’m okay with that. The problem usually is that once you realize you’re not laughing at 30 Rock, it seems like they’re just failing.
See, you can not laugh at Parks and Rec and still feel like you’re enjoying yourself regardless because there’s much more sincerity and heart associated with that show. But when Jenna, Kenneth, and Kelsey Grammer freeze-frame a fist in the air and you find yourself mildly bemused, you think: was that joke just a hit and a miss?
However, that said, the latest new episode (tonight’s special 9PM episode) 6.04 “The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell” was a step in the right direction. It was focused more on the inner-dynamic, it was much more witty (“Maulik Pancholy on Whitney“), and it had that 30 Rock charm that seemed to be missing. I very much look forward to when the show begins to tackle real-world issues (and even NBC ones), which is when it’s at its creative peek (at least I think so).
What are your thoughts on the new 30 Rock season? And what have you thought about Knope 2012?