Consider season one of Parks and Recreation
the series' awkward toddler phase, in which Greg Daniels and Michael Schur's comedy about midlevel town politics not only attempted to stand on its own but separate itself from its parent (of sorts), Daniels's wildly successful take on The Office
. Comparisons to that show weighed down much of Parks
' freshman year, with critics and fans alike suggesting that deputy parks director Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the series' relentlessly cheerful but socially awkward focus, was a wan carbon of Steve Carell's Michael Scott, with similar charges levied at its single-camera mockumentary style, aggravating office sycophant Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), and the awkward relationship between Knope and city planner Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider, who left the show after its second season). In truth, the similarities were mostly superficial: Parks
played closer to a sweet if cracked indie character piece about the hothouse effect on the eccentric if likable personalities who clung to the lower rungs of government, while The Office
took a harsher look at the more aggressive flora and fauna of the American workplace. That gentler tone, embodied largely by Poehler's energetic turn and Chris Pratt as Rashida Jones's dim but ingratiating Andy Dwyer, may have put off Office
fans hoping for a similarly acidic take which, in truth, was still present in Ansari and especially Nick Offerman, the show's breakout star, as the disgruntled parks director Ron Swanson. Thankfully, its network allowed Parks
the time to smooth out the rougher edges and continue to develop its characters (most notably Aubrey Plaza's April, who was largely trimmed from this season), which resulted in one of the more ingratiating and proudly offbeat comedies in recent years.
The season one DVD features commentaries on all six episodes by Daniels, Schur, and directors Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) and Beth McCarthy Miller, who are joined by Poehler, Offerman, and Jones, among others. The tracks are lively and informative about the show's technical aspects and behind-the-scenes relationships. Deleted scenes, many of which are as funny as the broadcast episodes, are also included, as are a pair of amusing videos for "Pit" and "Ann," two hapless songs from would-be rocker Andy (and written and performed by Pratt) that feature several gag-reel moments. --Paul Gaita
From the people who bring you The Office comes Parks and Recreation, the hilarious saga of government employees and local citizens turning a neighborhood hole in the ground into a new public park. Comedy superstar Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live, Baby Mama) stars as Leslie Knope, an ambitious and hopeful small town government worker, whose dreams are way bigger than her political talents. Created by Primetime Emmy® Award winners Greg Daniels (The Office, King of the Hill, The Simpsons) and Michael Schur (The Office, SNL), and featuring a stellar ensemble cast, Parks and Recreation is a “genuinely funny comedy” (Daniel Carlson, Hollywood Reporter) about bureaucracy, hope and America at the dawn of the Obama age.