TITLE: PARKS AND RECREATION - SEASON TWO
Release Date: November 30, 2010 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 24
Running Time: 518 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 180 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles and Captioning: English and Spanish Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries; Deleted Scenes; Bloopers; "Pratt on Parks" Featurette; Mouse Rat Performance; ?uestlove on: Parks (RZA Screen Test); Live Theme Song Performance; Season Three Preview
Government in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana may seem like a small and meaningless job, but if you seriously believe that, then I have one word for you: Knope! As in Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the deputy director of Parks and Recreation in the small town, who sees herself as Pawnee's very own Hillary Clinton. She is determined to make her job her entire lifestyle and do the best as the director of the department, despite the fact that nobody else (even those in her own department) do not take the job nearly as serious as she does. Not even department head Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) takes his job seriously. Department employees Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) are also apathetic, but have their own ways as well.
At the beginning of the first season, Leslie Knope made one promise: to fill an empty pit next door to Nurse Ann Perkins' (Rashida Jones) home. Many problems have resulted since she made that promise, and the pit hasn't been filled. In fact, Ann's ex-boyfriend Andy (Chris Pratt) has taken up residence inside the pit. Throughout it all, Leslie and Ann have become best friends, and Ann has essentially become an unpaid employee of Leslie's office in between her long shifts at the hospital. But it doesn't seem to bother Ann one bit. You can see it all in this four disc set from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
There are so many great episodes in the second season, beginning with "Pawnee Zoo," where Leslie performs a cute little marriage of penguins at the zoo, but experiences major backlash (including a call for her resignation) when it is revealed that both of the penguins are, in fact, males. A stakeout to discover who is growing marijuana in the community garden causes more trouble than it is worth in "The Stakeout." In "Practice Date," Ann takes Leslie out on a date, but it is only to practice for a real one. Fred Armisen guest stars in "Sister City," where Leslie and the gang welcomes a delegation from Pawnee's sister city in Venezuela who insists upon humiliating the United States. Leslie tries to single-handedly take care of a high school prankster on Halloween in "Greg Pikitis."
Megan Mullally appears as Tom's ex-wife Tammy in "Ron and Tammy," where it is a showdown between the library and the parks department. The entire department takes a hunting trip in "Hunting Trip," but everything goes wrong when somebody shoots Ron. In "Tom's Divorce," it is time for Tom's sham of a marriage to come to an end. Too bad Leslie doesn't realize it is a sham. A sex scandal is brewing with Leslie at the center in "Christmas Scandal." Will Arnett guest stars in "The Set Up," where Leslie has a date that ends with an unnecessary MRI.
It's a house party at Leslie's house in "Leslie's House," but maybe somebody should call the producers of the series Hoarders first. Leslie attempts to reunite her mom with an old boyfriend (played by John Larroquette) in "Galentine's Day," but it turns out that he is not quite the man that Leslie envisioned him as being. In "Woman of the Year," somebody in the parks department gets the coveted award... but it isn't Leslie. Jerry reports being mugged in "Park Safety," but was he really? Andy Samberg guest stars as park ranger Carl. Leslie tries to reunite all of the former parks directors for a picnic in "Summer Catalog," but as it turns out, one of them hated his job, one of them hates women in government roles, and the other (played by Michael Gross) loved his job, but lost it because of his love for marijuana.
In "94 Meetings," April has scheduled all of Ron's meetings for a date that she believes doesn't exist for the past year, but as it turns out, March 31st is a real date. An all-night telethon becomes a potential disaster in "Telethon." Ben (Adam Scott) and Chris (Rob Lowe) make their first appearances (they'll be regulars next season) as state auditors in "The Master Plan," where major cuts are going to have to be made in city government. Things only get worse in the season finale, "Freddy Spaghetti," when the city government is ordered to be shutdown... but Leslie will go to any extreme to hold a previously promised community concert.
The episodes all appear to be unedited from their original broadcasts, with all music from the episodes intact as well (including Leslie's hilarious karaoke performance of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" in a gay bar). Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Pawnee Zoo" (21:36)
2. "The Stakeout" (21:36)
3. "Beauty Pageant" (21:36)
4. "Practice Date" (21:32)
5. "Sister City" (21:31)
6. "Kaboom" (21:28)
7. "Greg Pikitis" (21:35)
8. "Ron and Tammy" (21:41)
9. "The Camel" (21:36)
10. "Hunting Trip" (21:34)
11. "Tom's Divorce" (21:37)
12. "Christmas Scandal" (21:46)
13. "The Set Up" (21:34)
- Producer's Extended Cut (27:21)
14. "Leslie's House" (21:33)
15. "Sweetums" (21:36)
16. Galentine's Day (21:26)
17. "Woman of the Year" (21:35)
18. "The Possum" (21:36)
19. "Park Safety" (21:36)
20. "Summer Catalog" (21:35)
21. "94 Meetings" (21:36)
22. "Telethon" (21:33)
23. "The Master Plan" (22:06)
- Producer's Extended Cut (29:55)
24. "Freddy Spaghetti" (21:37)
- Producer's Extended Cut (25:14)
The packaging style used for this set is basically the same as the packaging style used for the releases of The Office, with a standard digipak in a cardboard sleeve. The cover art shows the cast standing in front of one of the (many) politically incorrect city murals, and the back has a picture of Leslie with some small snapshots from the episodes. Inside, the three panel digipak has two trays for the discs (each holding two discs), and the remaining panels list all of the episodes, along with brief descriptions. Behind the discs, there is another politically incorrect mural, showing a Native American having a cannon pointed towards him. The discs themselves are all green with no artwork, just the series logo. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-13, Disc 3 contains episodes 14-20, and Disc 4 contains episodes 21-24 as well as most of the special features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are fairly standard, but definitely functional. The main menu has the series theme song playing with another one of the infamous (but hilarious) Pawnee murals in the background, and options of Play All, Episode Index, Bonus Features, and Set Up. When you go to Episode Index, it shows two or three episodes per screen, with a photo from the episode. Underneath the episode title, it gives you the option of viewing the deleted scenes, and extended cuts of the episodes and commentaries on the episodes which contain them. Bonus Features lists all of the special features on one screen. Finally, Setup allows you to turn on subtitles. Each of these menus has other politically incorrect city murals in the background. Chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
There really aren't any issues of concern with the video and audio quality on this set. The video is crisp and clear, as well as the audio. I love being able to say that there really aren't any problems to report here, at all. The video is presented in 16x9 widescreen (as it should be), and the audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. There are subtitles available on the set in both English and Spanish. The only thing that could make this any better would be a release of the series in true high definition on Blu-ray. The episodes that were included on the season six set of The Office really shined in Blu-ray, but I suppose that Universal recognizes that Blu-ray is still somewhat limited for consumers.
There are plenty of bonus features, beginning with the commentaries. They are all great to listen to, but the ones with the series cast are the best. They are all just as funny off-screen as they are on screen, so it is a joy to listen to. Episodes and commentators are as follows:
"Sister City" - Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Alan Yang, and Michael Schur
"Ron and Tammy" - Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Greg Daniels, and Michael Schur
"Hunting Trip" - Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Jim O'Heir, Retta, Aubrey Plaza, Greg Daniels, and Michael Schur
"Woman of the Year" - Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Jim O'Heir, Retta, and Michael Schur
"The Master Plan" (Producer's Cut Version) - Nick Offerman, Adam Scott, Alan Yang, Dean Holland, Harris Witteis, Morgan Sackett, and Michael Schur
"Freddy Spaghetti" (Producer's Cut Version) - Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Jim O'Heir, Retta, and Michael Schur
There are many deleted scenes including on the set, with at least a couple of minutes of deleted scenes for every episode. The only thing that could be better would be for each episode to play with the deleted scenes reinserted, but that isn't a big deal. Runtimes for the deleted scenes for each episode are as follows:
1. "Pawnee Zoo" (12:24)
2. "The Stakeout" (6:20)
3. "Beauty Pageant" (8:34)
4. "Practice Date" (6:03)
5. "Sister City" (11:00)
6. "Kaboom" (2:53)
7. "Greg Pikitis" (5:48)
8. "Ron and Tammy" (8:46)
9. "The Camel" (2:44)
10. "Hunting Trip" (11:30)
11. "Tom's Divorce" (5:14)
12. "Christmas Scandal" (9:35)
13. "The Set Up" (4:41)
14. "Leslie's House" (5:53)
15. "Sweetums" (10:28)
16. Galentine's Day (5:46)
17. "Woman of the Year" (4:59)
18. "The Possum" (5:08)
19. "Park Safety" (5:39)
20. "Summer Catalog" (6:44)
21. "94 Meetings" (4:24)
22. "Telethon" (5:41)
23. "The Master Plan" (5:56)
24. "Freddy Spaghetti" (2:39)
On Disc 3, there is a sneak preview of the first episode of season 3 (3:17), which has not yet started on NBC. Fans of the show will be relieved to know that, despite the final two episodes of the second season, it appears that the department is back in business (after a summer shutdown), and most of the employees are back to work, although not too many details are given away.
The bulk of the special features can be found on Disc 4. First, we have a blooper reel (15:17), where we get to see some hilarious outtakes from some of the episodes. It comes with a "parental discretion" warning, but it is really just for some of the language used in it (like the f-word). Next, we have "Pratt on Parks" (9:04), where Chris Pratt goes behind the scenes of the series for the series. It is fun to watch. I'm not sure if this was something produced especially for the DVD set or if it was some online feature. In "Mouse Rat Rocks the Wrap Party," (9:08) we get to see the season wrap party with Andy's (Chris Pratt) band from the series, Mouse Rat. The band is actually very fun to listen to, even if it is just a made-for-TV band. In "?uestlove on: Parks," (3:04) we get to see a screen test for rapper RZA of Wu-Tang Clan for the character of Leslie Knope. Of course, this is a fake screen test (Amy Poehler was "it" all along), but it is hilarious to see this incredibly out-of-place screen test. In "Parks and Recreation Theme Song," (0:49), we get to see exactly what we'd expect: Gabby Moreno performing the theme song live. It looks like it was taken from the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia. Finally, we have some Parks and Recreation promos for the series from the winter games (1:58), which are very much like the promos that were seen on The Office - Season Six. I really like seeing these original promos on DVD sets, it allows history to be better preserved.
The second season of this series is much better than the first season, and I'm really looking forward to what is going to happen in the third season! This series is definitely one that takes time to get in to (you really do have to understand what is going on and all of the characters), but once you do get into it, you'll be hooked. I actually watched the entire DVD set in less than three days, simply because I was anxious to see what was going to happen next, and that is pretty uncommon for me. If you enjoy The Office, you are sure to enjoy this series. It almost seems like every character on the series is a clone of a character on The Office (i.e. Leslie is another version of Michael Scott, Ron is another version of Dwight Schrute), but that is a good thing, and in this season, each character definitely develops a unique personality. I really hope that this series continues for several seasons, as it has the potential to be NBC's "star sitcom," particularly with the possibility that The Office could become a huge flop after Steve Carell leaves the series.
As for the set itself, fans will definitely be pleased with it, for sure. Complete with unedited episodes and plenty of special features, I can hardly think of anything to complain about with this set. It would have been nice to have seen a Blu-ray release of the set, but the DVD set is perfectly adequate. So head on down to Pawnee and visit your friends in the Parks and Recreation department!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 11/13/10
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