TITLE: PARKS AND RECREATION - SEASON THREE
Release Date: September 6, 2011 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 16
Running Time: 447 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 85 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles and Captioning: English and Spanish Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; Promos; Li'l Sebastian Tribute
It is time to head back to Pawnee, the small town in Indiana where the most important job is apparently being the deputy director of the department of Parks and Recreation. Being her own "small town Hillary Clinton," Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) devotes her entire life to what is, but almost all observers, a very meaningless job, trying to run the department as well as she can. Along with her are Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), and April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza). But in the third season, state auditors Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) have joined them in the office to see that the office is being run as efficiently as possible. The state of Indiana briefly shut down the office at the end of the second season, but now, in the third season, the department is back up and running and you can see it all in the sixteen episodes of Season Three of Parks and Recreation.
Everybody has to "Go Big or Go Home" in the season premiere, where Leslie has good news: the team is back to work! In "Flu Season," Leslie has the flu, but is determined to not stop working. The whole town erupts in chaos over a time capsule in "Time Capsule." In "Ron & Tammy 2," Ron's ex-wife Tammy is willing to do anything to get him back, but why? Ben's past as a teen mayor is unraveled and the media is hungry for more in "Media Blitz." In "Indianapolis," Ron and Leslie are going to the capitol, but it means very different things for both of them.
A Native American threatens to destroy a Pawnee tradition in "Harvest Festival," but a little horse may save the day. Leslie plans a mandatory camping trip that nobody wants to go on in "Camping." In "Fancy Party," there are plenty of surprises at a party held by Andy and April. Which city is the fourth most obese in America? Well, according to the episode "Soulmates," it is our favorite Indiana town, Pawnee! Jerry paints a topless centaur in "Jerry's Painting," but it looks just like one of our favorite characters.
A neighboring town puts up a border to keep the Pawnee kids out of their park in "Eagleton." In "The Fight," Leslie and Ann's friendship gets a bit strained. Will a statewide softball tournament come to Pawnee? Leslie is determined to make it happen in "Road Trip." A department reorganization puts the workplace into chaos in "The Bubble." The season ends with "Li'l Sebastian," where Leslie and Ben's secret relationship is about to be unraveled after an unfortunate death of a beloved four-legged citizen of Pawnee.
The episodes all appear to be unedited, with consistent runtimes around 21:20. There are extended producer's cuts included for a few episodes as well. It is important to note that the episode "Jerry's Painting" runs at nearly 27 minutes, but this is due to the fact that it was used to fill some of the overflow time used by the episode "Goodbye Michael" of The Office, where Steve Carell made his final appearance as a regular in the series.
1. "Go Big or Go Home" (21:13)
2. "Flu Season" (21:19)
3. "Time Capsule" (21:20)
4. "Ron & Tammy 2" (21:20)
5. "Media Blitz" (21:19)
6. "Indianapolis" (21:20)
7. "Harvest Festival" (21:20) - Extended Producer's Cut (26:10)
8. "Camping" (21:19)
9. "Fancy Party" (21:19)
10. "Soulmates" (21:20)
11. "Jerry's Painting" (26:37)
12. "Eagleton" (21:02)
13. "The Fight" (21:20) - Extended Producer's Cut (25:00)
14. "Road Trip" (21:24)
15. "The Bubble" (21:10)
16. "Li'l Sebastian" (21:19) - Extended Producer's Cut (27:51)
Universal has gone with the same kind of packaging that was used for the previous season (as well as most of the releases of The Office), with a standard digipack inside a cardboard sleeve. On the cover this time, we have head shots of many of the main cast members, with Amy Poehler's picture being the largest. On the back, we have a few episode snapshots, along with a description of the season and a mention of some of the guest stars. Inside, we have a three panel digipack which contains descriptions of all of the episodes, and there is also a photo of the entire cast in front of the state seal. The disc artwork is simple (like most Universal sets), with the series logo on a red background. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-6, Disc 2 contains episodes 7-11, and Disc 3 contains episodes 12-16.
Menu Design and Navigation:
You won't find anything fancy about the menus. The main menu just has options of Play All, Episode Index, Bonus Features, and Setup, with a photo of Amy Poehler (same one seen on the cover art) and the theme song playing in the background. You WILL get annoyed by hearing the theme song over and over again if you leave the disc on the main menu. Episode Index takes you to a menu where you can see the episodes, approximately 2 or 3 per screen, along with options to see deleted scenes, commentaries, and extended producer's cuts of the episodes. Of course, those options can also be found on the Bonus Features menu, along with a listing of all of the other special features. Finally, Setup is just a menu where you can turn on subtitles as well as the commentaries (plenty of places to find the commentaries, obviously). Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
There is nothing to really complain about here, with every episode being very crisp and clear with excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound audio. Of course, the video is presented in the original aspect ratio, which is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The set contains subtitles in both English and Spanish. This series could really shine on Blu-ray, but this set is pretty good, too.
The set contains quite a few special features, though it seems that they are not as numerous in the past. They begin with a few commentaries, with episodes and commentators as follows:
"Flu Season" - Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Michael Schur
"Ron & Tammy 2" - Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Retta, Jim O'Heir, Michael Schur
"Harvest Festival" (Extended Producer's Cut Version) - Retta, Jim O'Heir, Harris Wittels, Daniel Goor, Dean Holland, Michael Schur
"Camping" - Tom Magill, Shana Hagan, Doug Smith, Josh Swoveland, Paul Boydston, Alisha Baldwin, Michael Schur
"The Fight" (Extended Producer's Cut Version) - Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Michael Schur
"Li'l Sebastian" (Extended Producer's Cut Version) - Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Retta, Jim O'Heir, Dean Holland, Daniel Goor, 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:
Once again, there are deleted scenes included for MOST episodes on the set. Two of the episodes with extended producer's cuts ("Harvest Festival" and "L'il Sebastian") are not included in the deleted scenes options, but I'm assuming this is only because you can watch the "deleted" scenes reinserted into the episodes. You can access these either through the episode menu (they are listed under the episode) or through a Deleted Scenes option on the Bonus Features menu. Runtimes for the Deleted Scenes, by disc, are as follows: Disc 1 (21:28), Disc 2 (15:23), Disc 3 (10:30)
Disc 1 contains a gag reel (23:26), which is rated "TV-GAG" as it indicates in the beginning of it. Be warned, it isn't safe for everybody to watch, but it is definitely hilarious to watch all of the cast members as they make flubs in the episodes. "Ron & Tammy 2 Trailer" (2:04) is a trailer for the episode "Ron & Tammy 2" in the style of a movie trailer. I'm guessing that this was used as an online feature, but I don't know for certain. "Crazy Ira and the Douche Commercial" (0:26) is a brief promo for the radio series that is often featured in the series. Again, I'm guessing that this was an online feature.
On Disc 4, there are several commercials/promos related to the series. No, these aren't promos telling you to buy some random Universal movie on DVD, but actually related to the series itself. For the Commercials options, we have Tom Haverford trying to sell his products and services, including "Snake Juice" (0:30) and "Entertainment 720" (2:09). We also have a commercial for Ya' Herd? With Perd" (0:30), Pawnee's local news source. Promos begins with "Rob Goes Nuts" (1:48), where Rob Lowe realizes that the show is done for the season and wants people to get off of his set and literally goes nuts. "Aziz New Main Title" (1:40) is a remix of the opening credits of the series as Aziz Ansari (who plays Tom Haverford) would make the opening credits of the series if he ran the series. Finally, "Parks and Recreation 3D" (2:57) is a feature where Amy Poehler announces that the series is going to be in full 3D and shows us all of the effects that the series will now have (while failing to listen to the fact that the series is in fact not in 3D nor will it ever be, and in fact the feature isn't even in 3D despite attempts by her and other cast members to demonstrate the new effects). All of the commercials/promos are very cheesy, but they're actually fun to watch. Finally, Disc 4 contains the "Li'l Sebastian Tribute" (2:00), where the tribute to the horse (as played in the episode "Li'l Sebastian") is aired as a standalone feature.
I've really grown to like this series, but there is something about the dynamics of the third season that lacks some of the charm that the second season had. While I do like the new characters of Ben and Chris, I feel that they have kind of taken some of the spotlight away from the central cast that used to be there. The entire cast is great, but I kind of wish that the new characters would take more of a backseat once in a while. Still, this is one of the funniest series on television in my opinion, and while this DVD set seems a little "less" than the previous one, it is still a fine set. Luckily, the Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee has been funded through the end of May 2012 (which is great news after the episode order was cut down to 16 last season, something which may have made some fans paranoid), so we'll get to see more of the series, and hopefully it'll regain some of the second season charm!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/02/11
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