Friday, May 08, 2009

"Parks and Recreation," or "How to take Amy Poehler and turn her into Steve Carell"

So along with many others I've been watching "Parks and Recreation," NBC's new comedy, these past few weeks. And along with many others (at least the others I've talked to) I've been a little less than thrilled.
My first impression after viewing the pilot was one of disappointment. I felt cheated as an audience member since the show left me imagining it's director giving Amy Poehler a pep talk before shooting and telling her just to mimic "The Office's" Steve Carell as much as possible with every line and every gesture.

Now I will say that Poehler seems to be coming into her own a little more with each new episode, so it's promising. Yet I think that the entire premise, style and feel of the show has made it difficult for her to fight that crazy, out-of-touch boss talking to the mockumentary cameras character type that Carell popularized and validated first.

TV comedies in general seem to be sadly following this pattern these days. Of course, I realize that trends have always happened in the entertainment industry. Somebody starts something fresh, creative and fun, and that thing takes off. Soon it's so popular that everyone wants their turn to take it and make it their own. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but I do think we should be careful about it. It's just so easy for media producers to fall into creative ruts and stick with something that audiences have already proven they liked instead of leaping into a new set of untested waters.

My hopes for Poehler's character and for the rest of "Parks and Recreation's" development are that she will be allowed by her writers, directors, etc. to take "Leslie Knope" wherever she wants to or wherever she feels will work and be fresh.

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