Media Mediated: NBC Sitcoms

I don’t watch much TV. At least not in the radio-wave-receiving-box-in-my-living-room sense. I never have, really–but as streaming video has come into its own over the past five or so years, I’ve been watching more TV shows on the internet, simply because I’m on my computer so much. Most notably NBC comedies.

I first got hooked on The Office, coming in on Season 4: so that I only enjoyed the good Jim-and-Pam stuff retroactively via Netflix streaming. Then, after watching a handful of episodes with my friend Anthony, I got into 30 Rock. Tina Fey’s meta-in-a-box skewering of network-television weirdness and celebrity insanity seized me like an epileptic fit and didn’t let go. I gave Community a try, and while it’s an amusing and only occasionally painful diversion, it lacks the verisimilitude of The Office, and hasn’t become a regular watch for me.

(That’s right: Community is less believable than The Office.)

I don’t catch my funny on Thursday nights, either. I watch on Saturday morning, sometimes tweeting a running commentary that I call “Saturday Morning Office Cereal.” This past weekend I caught up as usual, getting some good laughs out of Jack’s attempts to fix Liz’s sex life, and Michael’s “return” to sales to compete with a rival salesman. But despite their better spots (including a brilliant cold open from The Office’s season premiere), the current seasons seem pretty mediocre to me: recently we’ve had a lackluster and somewhat gimmicky live show from 30 Rock, and the Office writers employing contrivance after contrivance to drag out the Erin-and-Andy dramatic tension now that Jim and Pam have been relegated to Beta Couple status.

No, what I’m really looking forward to is Parks and Recreation.

Parks and Rec focuses on small-town government, specifically on the Parks Department’s Deputy Director, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). Leslie is a gung-ho worker with a can-do attitude who believes in the power of government to positively affect the community. Episode after episode, her optimism runs headlong into the bureaucratic reality of limited budgets, apathetic officials and citizens, and her boss, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), who firmly believes that the government operates at its best when it does as little as possible. Most of the first two seasons centered on Leslie’s attempts to turn an enormous pit into a park, but what’s kept me coming back after the filling of the pit is the cast of characters. From womanizing wannabe-slickster Tom Haverford, to meathead musician Andy Dwyer and his blossoming relationship with apathetic office assistant April Ludgate, everyone is endearingly ridiculous and almost entirely self-unaware–as with The Office at its best. And why should we be surprised? It’s from the creators of The Office.

So: I love Parks and Rec, and I’m looking forward to new episodes this season. If my blatant fanraving has made you curious, you can catch the most recent episodes online. I recommend “94 Meetings” as a good jump-in point.

In other news, new comic tomorrow! Hooray.

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