Monthly Archives: October 2012
Take out the last 2 minutes of “Halloween Surprise” and you’re left with a solid B or B+ episode of Parks and Recreation. It has consistent laughs, a healthy dose of character development – Ron setting aside some of his manly bravado, and pushes forward the story just a bit – with Ben preparing to take his career to that next step. But something just felt off, that maybe the episode was building to something greater, that maybe Ben’s reluctance to take the Florida job meant something, and because it just seemed inconceivable that Parks and Rec would end an episode with Leslie’s sadness being unresolved.
There is little doubt that Happy Endings is the funniest show on television, with each member of the talented cast capable of delivering perfectly timed zingers and each willing to make the sacrifice of performing hilarious physical. But there was always the fear that the show doesn’t really have direction. Early on in the show’s run we saw the characters encounter wacky situations, but there was never a moment where they experienced any sort of growth, nor was there ever a time there actions seemed to have any consequences, with their actions seemingly forgotten in the next episode. And although this episodic approach may have worked in the past, the 21st century audience demands a bit more from their comedies than one-liners, however well written they may be.
In an effort to keep my posting on a somewhat regular schedule and to increase the number of shows I review, I have decide to borrow an idea suggested by Thomas. Rather than providing a lengthy, in-depth post for one episode, I will offer short, broader assessments of most of the shows I watched in the past week. I’m uncertain if this will be a regular occurrence or just a one-time experiment.
We like to believe that our government has our best interests at heart, but as the election season drags on it becomes harder and harder to believe that it’s the case. It’s not difficult to see that people are tired, that they are tired of the rhetoric, that they are tired of the promises, they are tired of politicians who just don’t seem to care. Enthusiasm about the democratic process has given way to indifference and discontentment.
And television has reflected this growing trend of unrest. Shows focus more on government corruption or political scandals than the tireless few who are there to preserve the better good. Sure, that may make for more entertaining television, but that doesn’t mean the democratic process can’t make for engrossing television (The West Wing being a prime example). Most of what is on today media government portrays a bloated, heartless machine whose sole purpose is to serve themselves. There is far more criticism than praise. So much so that I’d imagine even The West Wing may have trouble staying afloat these days.
So maybe that’s why Parks and Recreation isn’t as popular as it should be. Maybe we find it hard to believe that there are Leslie Knopes out there, that some of our elected officials really are there to better their communities, that they truly believe in what they preach. We are more surprised to see a politician who is actually excited about politics than we are when one is caught in a scandal. There aren’t many shows that are willing to talk about the democratic process, let alone highlight the brighter aspects of it.