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Parks and Recreation - Season One


TITLE: PARKS AND RECREATION - SEASON ONE


Info:

DVD Release Date: September 8, 2009 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Color / 2009
MSRP: $29.98
Number of Discs: 1
Number of Episodes: 6 (plus producer's extended cut of the season finale)
Running time: Approx. 2 Hours, 37 Minutes
Audio Tracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorpihc Widescreen 1.78:1
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English SDH and Español Subtitles; no closed captioning
Special Features: 6 Episode commentaries with the executive producers, writers, directors and cast; Producer's extended cut of the season finale; Deleted scenes, "Hose" Cold Open, 2 Music Videos


Introduction:

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.


Show History / Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Parks and Recreation premiered on NBC on April 9, 2009. It was co-created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, part of the creative team on The Office. The series stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Paul Schneider as Mark Brendanawicz, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford, Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson and Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate. Chris Pratt is listed as a guest star playing Ann's loser musician boyfriend, Andy Dwyer. The show is set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana.

Six episodes were produced for the first season:

Pilot (04/09/09) - Overly enthusiastic Indiana public official Leslie Knope manages to secure permission to convert an abandoned construction pit into a park for the community.

Canvassing (04/16/09) - Leslie and her committee try to build support for the park project, while Tom uses some rather questionable recruiting tactics. Note: this was the third episode produced but the second to air.

The Reporter (04/23/09) - Things go from bad to worse when Leslie gets a reporter to do a story on the park project. Tom tries to score some brownie points with his boss by throwing the Scrabble games he had been playing with Ron. Note: this was the second episode produced.

Boys' Club (04/30/09) - A casual get-together presents Leslie with a difficult ethical choice, helping her to create a tempest in a teapot.

The Banquet (05/07/09) - Leslie makes an impression at a banquet honoring her mother while Mark and Tom go to a bar to pick up women.

Rock Show (05/14/09) - Leslie goes to a meeting with a local bigwig while her subcommittee members go to Andy's first concert since breaking both his legs.

There weren't too many notable guest stars in the first season. I would expect that we'll see more in season two as the show gets more established. Louis C.K. and Fred Armisen have already been announced. Loudon Wainwright III guest starred as Barry in the "Pilot." Pamela Reed appeared in the recurring role of Marlene Knope, Leslie's mother, in "Canvassing" and "The Banquet." Bruce Jarchow played Frank Schnable in "The Banquet."


Packaging:

This single disc set contains all 6 episodes that aired in the short first season. It comes in an Amaray movie-style black case. The cover art features a photo of Aziz Ansari, Amy Poehler holding a shovel and Rashida Jones. There are trees, grass and the sky in the background with "Because parks don't grow on trees" printed on the shovel. A photo of Amy Poehler sitting at a desk is on the back cover and there are smaller framed photos of Aziz Ansari, Paul Schneider, Rashida Jones and Aubrey Plaza, and Nick Offerman. A synopsis of the show, a listing of the bonus features and the DVD specs are listed. A tiny photo of Amy Poehler is on the spine of the case. There is just blank space inside the case. There is a sheet that promotes some other Universal TV DVD releases and The Jay Leno Show. Unfortunately, there is no episode guide or a listing of the episodes anywhere. Even though this is just a single disc set, the packaging could have been a bit more detailed. The disc has the City of Pawnee, Indiana seal and the Parks and Recreation logo printed on it.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very simple and easy to navigate. The main menu features the same photo of Ansari, Poehler and Jones but the background of trees, grass and the sky is more visible. Options are available for Play All, Episode Index, Bonus Features and Set Up. Your highlighted option has a red underline that turns light blue upon your selection. The catchy theme by Gaby Moreno and Vincent Jones is played in the background. When you select Episode Index, it takes you to another menu where there are still images from the episodes broken down by 3, 2 and 2 per screen. The episode title is listed with the deleted scenes and commentary options underneath that. A photo of Ansari, Plaza, Schneider and Pratt (in a kid's pool) are reatured on the Bonus Features menu. The theme can also be heard on this menu. Plaza and Offerman are on the Set Up Menu. You can go to the commentaries section from this menu or turn on the English SDH or Español subtitles here. Jones is on the Commentaries menu. A photo of Pratt (in a wheelchar), Jones and Ansari is on the Deleted Scenes menu. Offerman and Schneider are featured on the Music Videos menu. A series of Previews (3:52) for 30 Rock Rock Season 3, The Office Season 5, various Universal movies and The Jay Leno Show can be viewed or skipped when you first insert the disc. Chapter stops are available within the episodes but no scene selection menus are offered.


Video and Audio Quality:

Since this show just aired in the spring, the video and audio quality couldn't look any better than when these were originally broadcast. The episodes are presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 format. There seems to be only one main sound stage set, which is the local government office. Most of the other shooting is done outside or at actual locations. The lighting on the show is excellent. All of the episodes have running times of a little over 21 1/2 minutes in length. An extended producer's cut of the season finale runs 26:49. The episodes are presented in their original broadcast order. NBC decided to broadcast the third produced episode as the second one to air. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there are ones for Deedle-Dee Productions and Universal Media Studios.

The audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. There are no major problems with it. The dialogue is at a good level and easy to understand. I noticed that there is no musical score used in the episodes. Any music they use is on boomboxes or CD players. I do like the opening and closing theme. It sounds a little like The Office theme but with more of a midwestern style. English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and Español are available. Bonus features are not rated and not all are subtitles.

Here is the episode list, including the running times:

Disc 1
---------
Pilot (04/09/09) (21:32)
Canvassing (04/16/09) (21:25)
The Reporter (04/23/09) (21:47)
Boys' Club (04/30/09) (21:24)
The Banquet (05/07/09) (21:48)
The Banquet (05/14/09) (26:49 - extended producer's cut)


Special Features:

A decent amount of special features are included for a first season set. Commentaries are available on all 6 episodes (although not the original 6th episode, only the extended producer's cut). All of the main cast members except Aziz Ansari and Aubrey Plaza participate on at least one of the commentaries. The commentaries are quite interesting and enjoyable. They talk a lot about the shooting locations, guest stars, technical aspects of shooting the episodes and other behind the scenes trivia and details. Deleted scenes are available for 5 of the 6 episodes. The producer's extended cut of the season finale, "Rock Show", has some deleted scenes re-inserted into it. I won't detail the deleted scenes, but you should definitely check them out. They film 35-40 minute versions of the episodes and have to edit them down to 21 1/2 minutes each week, so there is a lot of good stuff that gets cut out. There is also a "Hose" cold open and 2 short music videos included. I had read the original press release that a gag reel was going to be included on this set, but unfortunately they later updated it and it was no longer listed. Some cast and crew interviews and original network promos would also have been nice to watch. Here is a detailed breakdown:

1. Pilot
Deleted Scenes (8:20)
Commentary with Greg Daniels, Rashida Jones and Michael Schur

2. Canvassing
Deleted Scenes (5:53)
Commentary with Dan Goor, Seth Gordon, Nick Offerman and Michael Schur

3. The Reporter
Deleted Scenes (1:11)
Commentary Dan Goor, Nick Offerman, Morgan Sackett, Paul Schneider and Michael Schur

4. Boys' Club
Deleted Scenes (3:32)
Commentary with Greg Daniels, Dan Goor, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt and Alan Yang

5. The Banquet
Deleted Scenes (3:58)
Commentary with Amy Poehler and Beth McCarty Miller

6. Rock Show (Producer's Extened Cut)
Commentary with Greg Daniels, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Michael Schur and Alan Yang

"Hose" Cold Open (1:18) - Leslie Knope encounters some teens smoking at a park and they pay the consequences.

Music Videos
Pit (1:31) - A music video by Mouse Rat (formely Scarecrow Boat and many other names)
Ann (1:57) - Another song that was featured in "Rock Show." This video features a montage of some moments of Ann and Andy.


Final Comments:

This was my first time watching the show. I am a big fan of The Office and mockumentary style movies, so I was pretty sure that I would like this series as well. After viewing the first episode, I was hooked and watched the rest in one sitting. Although it has the same filming style of The Office and Rashida Jones is on it, it's not a spin-off as she plays a different character than she did on The Office. While The Office has a lot of shooting at one main location, Parks and Recreation seems to do more on location shooting. There is a lot that I liked about the show. Amy Poehler is a gifted physical comedy actress and she's hilarious in the show. The ensemble cast is very strong. I wasn't very familiar with many of them besides Rashida, but I think they came quickly together and have some good chemistry despite the limited number of episodes. Aziz Ansari is a scene stealer and very funny with his stand-up background and improv scenes. I like the dry humor style and writing of the show. The show does have some flaws. I think they made Amy Poehler's character a little too dumb. They should make her smarter and explain how she got the position. The April character was given very few lines or they were cut for the final broadcast. They should either make her more involved or cut the character if she isn't going to be used. This show seemed a bit rush to air because of the uncertainty of whether they were going to make it a spin-off or not. Hopefully with more time to work on the episodes, they can have even better scripts in season 2.

This is a show that people should give more of a chance than 1-2 episodes. Many people, including fellow DVD reviewer Seth, hated the first season of The Office. Now he thinks it is the funniest show on broadcast tv. What if he and others had given up on it after those first 6 episodes? If you haven't yet checked out the first season or gave up after the first couple episodes of Parks and Recreation, then you shouldn't definitely buy or rent this set to check it out before the start of the second season. This is a promising show that will only get better with time. I'm sure they will make any necessary tweaks to the cast and writing. Sometimes I think it would have been better if they had waited to launch it in the fall when they could have fully promoted it with a full push. Tune in for the second season premiere on September 17. It airs on Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 09/06/09

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002DPPH6W/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=252937


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