HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Parks and Recreation: The Complete Series
HTS Overall Score:82
“Parks and Recreation” is one of those little engine that could stories. Those of you familiar with “The Office” are well aware of its success with the faux documentary style of TV show. Steve Carell made a killing as the goofy office manager Michael and the similarities of having a sort of spin off show in the form of “Parks and Recreation” are blatantly obvious. Especially when you have long time cast member of “The Office”, Rashida Jones, playing a main character. However, what started off as the padawan, soon became the master (I’m sorry I got “Star Wars” on the brain, the trailers have been driving me NUTS!), as “Parks” took off and became, in my opinion, the better of the two shows. It’s quirky, it’s funny, it’s slightly vindictive, but always sincere and warm hearted, but most of all, it’s probably one of the funniest half hour comedy shows of the last 20 years.
The first season of the show starts off with a rocky charge out of the gate. Given only six episodes, the series is trying really hard to find its footing. Parks and Recreation director for the city of Pawnee, Indiana, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is a drinker of the cool-aid. She believes in the good of the city council and all the good that government can do, despite all of the corruption and LACK of good going on around her. She idolizes women in politics and honestly wants to make a difference for the people of Pawnee. The only problem is that she’s surrounded by jaded city parks and recreation workers. Her boss, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), is a rabid cynic and huger libertarian. A man who takes intense pleasure in ruining the fun of others and spreading around the bitterness that he sees in life. Kind of a “I’ll break their spirit so they don’t get it broken out in the real world” kind of guy. Mark Brandanawicz (Paul Schneider) plays the beaten down, but kind hearted ex lover of Leslie, and is used to bring some romantic tension into the series, especially since Leslie is still holding a torch for him. Leslie happens to make friends with a rather apathetic nurse named Ann (Rashida Jones), who even though she doesn’t work for the city, soon becomes an inseparable part of the team, as well as her lazy, shiftless bum of a boyfriend, Andy (Chris Pratt, in the role, besides “Portlandia” that cast him into the public spotlight). Together they strive to fill in a giant vacant lot that is nothing but a health hazard and create a beautiful park out of it.
You may ask, “How is that starting out rough”? Well, six episode long season one was really a testing ground for the show. The characters were only just starting to grasp their role in the show and their presentations in season 1 is DRASTICALLY different from their later on personas. Characters shift and change over the season and they almost seem like they have personality disorders as the comic cast tries to find their own grasp on who they’re playing. Andy is a shiftless bum, who greatly matures over the course of the seven seasons, and Leslie plays this season very dopey and moronic. Funny as all get out, but still rather ditzy. In the second season and beyond she gains a much more stable take on the character and while still a bit ditzy, is much more competent and forceful in her approach. Season 2 takes off with a change, adding in a lot more character development, as the stories keep away from a lot of the political machinations, but really open up the innards of the characters and we see a lot of fleshing out done. There’s a cheap little romantic fourway between Andy, Ann, Mark and Leslie, but that seems to wear itself out rather quickly, and Mark actually ends up leaving the show in season 2. We see a lot more of the inner workings of Ron Swanson (Offerman) this season, with one of the highlight episodes being an episode where Ron and his ex-wife Tammy go toe to toe (made even better by the fact that Tammy is played by Megan Mullally, Offerman’s real life wife) over the lot that Leslie so desperately wants. We also have guest appearances by Leslie’s new Cop boyfriend (played by Louis C.K.), John Larroquette, and Will Arnett (Amy Poehler’s real life husband at the time).
Season 3 is really where the show hits the groove though, The end of season 2 sets up the new season with the introduction of two “fixers”, in the form of Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), a pair dedicated to whipping up the parks and recreations obvious financial woes (heralding the end of Mark unfortunately). This adds a whole new dimension to the shoe as most of the conflict of the series has been from personal issues and romances. Now we have an internal political struggle as the Pawnee Parks and recreation natives’ battle against the outsiders Ben and Chris, adding a twisted dynamic to the business relationships. To make matters worse, feelings start to form between Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie. Andy and April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) start to pair off and things get serious real fast, which is interesting paring the slacker bum, with the offbeat rebellious April. As much as these bring out belly laughs left and right, nothing is amazing as watching Ron and Tammy get back together for another episode of pure destruction, leaving everyone watching dying on the floor as Ron is decked out with a Japanese Kimono and corn rows. That tidal wave of destruction is probably the single greatest episode of the season, nay, the entire SERIES, in my opinion, and had me restarting the episode several times because I just couldn’t get enough.
Season 4 is back again to the grind, bringing political machinations into the mix and crazier cast additions. The ever funny Kathryn Hahn joins the cast as a campaign specialist who has her eyes firmly set on Ben. Tom starts up a new company and Chris tries to find a new buddy in our loveably cynical boss Ron, all while Leslie is campaigning for bigger and better things (with very mixed results). Don’t worry, we have Tammy and Ron once more, as well as Ron’s FIRST ex-wife, also named Tammy, who comes in to try and whip our boy into shape (with hilarious results)
The 5th season is one of the weaker ones, as Ben heads off to another job, taking April with him, leaving the show rather fragmented and scattered. The show splits off into multiple sub plots, leaving a lack of cohesion, but still plenty of funny moments, especially with the introduction of a new villain in the form of the maniacal city councilman Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser) who really acts as the perfect nemesis for the optimistic Leslie. Ron gets involved with Diane (the ever gorgeous Lucy Lawless) and Tom (Aziz Ansari) is still up to his normal pranks and get rich schemes. Well, don’t forget Tammy 2 of course.
Season 6 brings a whole new twist to the show, with Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe ending their run. This almost caused the entire series to die out, as Rashida especially has been such a big part of the series since the very first episode, and was one of the minds behind starting the series. However the show must go on and even crazier pairings and antics happen between the cast members. Pawnee and Eagleton try to join forces with unforeseen consequences and new characters (the highlight being Sam Shepard) spice up the show. As usual, there is a gaggle of guest stars ranging from big TV stars, to movie stars and some humorous comics.
Season 7 is actually the perfect season. It was knonw that this would be the final season going into the first episode, so the creators made the most out of the show, especially with a dramatic twist. Jumping forward to 2017, three years in the future, the characters are in completely different places in their lives. Leslie and Ben have triplets, and Leslie is working for the feds. Even worse, Ron Swanson is now working for a social media outlet named Gryzzl and the two have formed a bitter rivalry. The first half of the season deals with the whole Gryzzl plot line, as the social media moguls decide to move their headquarters to Pawnee. Once that ends halfway through the season, the show spends the last 5 or 6 episodes wrapping up loose ends and finishing character arcs that have stayed open since the first season. It was a risky move to do, but somehow the show was able to pull it off with style.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47506[/img]“Parks and Recreation” was never given the benefit of a Blu-ray release in any of the seasons, unlike its predecessor “The Office”, which at least had seasons 5-9 given a Hi Definition release. As sad as that may be, the given DVDs that we have for these releases still look quite impressive. They are all given anamorphic 1.78:1 encoded DVD-9’s that boast great colors, shiny glossy digital presentations and plenty of fine detail to go around. The black levels are always impressive and rarely did I ever seen any crush or banding. There’s some mild macroblocking that seems to happen with TV shows on DVD (usually due to the increased hours per disc compared to a movie), but overall the image is beautiful to look at and shows great care to the encodes.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47514[/img]The show is given a single 5.1 Dolby Digital track, without any other foreign languages or stereo tracks. This is no knock against the encode, as the 5.1 track is excellent given the comedy genre style that really doesn’t demand a whole lot. The dialog is crisp and clean, locked up in the front channels with the two mains dealing with a majority of the extra sounds. Parties, crashes, bulldozers dropping tons of dirty on poor Andy, they all sound excellent with good channel separation. There’s some decent LFE to add to some of the more aggressive moments, but the majority of the work is really the three mains, even though we do see some solid surround usage at times. There are no distortions or other idiosyncrasies in the audio encode, which leads me to conclude that we have a definite winner hear. Nothing fancy, but just good quality audio.
• Commentaries For individual Episodes
• Deleted Scenes (over an entire episode's worth)
• Producer's Cut for Episode 6
• Hose - Cold Open
• Music Videos
• Commentaries for individual episodes
• Producer's cuts for 3 episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• Blooper Reel
• Mouse Rat Rocks the Wrap Party
• Guestlove on Parks
• Producer's Cut for 3 episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• Blooper Reel
• Producer's Cut for 4 episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• The Swanson Zone
• Odds and Ends
• Producer's Cut on 2 episodes
• Gag Reel
• Music Video
• Parks And Recreation Promos
• Patton Oswalt's Sci-Fi Filibuster
• Deleted Scenes
• "Parks and Recreation" in Europe
• The Hapley Group
• 100th Episode Feature
• Rashida and Rob Farewells
• T-Dazzle Commercial
• Chipp McCapp Music Video
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes
• Behind the Scenes of the Farewell Season
• Gag Reel
• The Story of Mouse Rat
• The Wisdom of Mayor Gunderson
“Parks and Recreation” was a spinoff that really became its own entity, outclassing “The Office” (in this reviewer’s humble opinion) and became one of the funniest laugh out loud series on Television. The last two weeks have been absolutely gut busting as I’ve revisited the first 6 seasons and wrapped up the fantastic series with the 7th and final season. I’m actually not a fan of the faux documentary style comedy, as “The Office” was only mildly funny to me, but “Parks and Recreation” made me fall in love with Amy Poehler once again and the entire cast just “gels” perfectly. The video and audio of the series is the same that the individual seasons have been, as it is just a chipboard box casing all the individual season releases that have been put out plus the final season which is also available as a single purchase. If you have the first 5 or 6 seasons, I would say just pick up the final season to round out your collection, as there is nothing new but the outer casing, but if you haven’t been introduced to the show, then this is the perfect way to start out, as the box is quite a bit cheaper than purchasing individual seasons. Highly HIGHLY recommended.
Starring: Amy Poehler, Jim O'Heir, Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones
Created by: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 2957 Minutes
DVD Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Buy Parks and Recreation: The Complete Series On DVD at Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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