BBC4 acquired and began airing Parks and Recreation (10PM Wednesday) in the autumn. Based on the knowledge that it was written by US Office writers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur we might have expected Parks and Recreation to be in line with the tragic workplace tone pervading the Gervais and Merchant masterpieces or perhaps Jo Brand’s Getting On. In fact, it is the antithesis, the antidote, to the depressing workplace.
What drives the show is the relentless optimism of the main character, Leslie Knope, played to vivacious perfection by Amy Poehler, who takes her job as the Deputy Parks Director of Pawnee extremely seriously. Alongside her is a genuinely warm set of characters including the large and moustachioed Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) who steals every scene he participates in (who, should it take your fancy, has a website offering the finest information on grilling meat). Also deserving of mention is the brilliant title music, which is one of the best themes on TV at the moment; its infectious upbeat tone compliments Poehler’s temperament perfectly.
Parks and Recreation is certainly not perfect; the bafflingly weird office ‘Shoeshinist’ Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) sometimes misses the mark and Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) doesn’t seem to serve any noticeable purpose, apart from being Ann Perkins’ (Rashida Jones) boyfriend and the slightly awkward straight man to many other characters’ jokes. But the overall, upbeat tone, typified by Poehler, means the show is inclined to overcome these shortcomings; even the weaker storylines, the ones with fewer genuinely laugh inducing moments, don’t spoil the show because it’s a breath of fresh air to watch some people happy at work for once.
To catch the last few episodes of Parks and Recreation tune into BBC4 on Wednesdays at 10PM.