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Amy Poehler on series-changing Parks and Recreation scene: “I cried.”

- October 26th, 2012

Adam Scott, Amy Poehler

So just how series-changing is the series-changing moment that we just saw on Parks and Recreation going to be?

SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know what happened in the Parks and Recreation episode titled Halloween Surprise, which aired Thursday on NBC and Citytv, now’s the time to bail.

We all know of sitcoms that changed forever after a hookup or a proposal or an engagement or a wedding. Well, Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler, above right) and Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott, above left) now are engaged after a simple but emotional proposal scene.

“Well, starting next week it’s an hour-long medical drama,” joked Parks and Recreation co-creator and executive producer Mike Schur in a conference call with TV reporters on Friday. “So it definitely is a before-and-after kind of a situation.”

Poehler and Scott were asked for their thoughts on the big moment.

“When I read that scene, I cried,” Poehler said. “Because I was so happy that I had my job at Parks, and I got to do that scene with Adam, and that Mike Schur wrote it, because I knew it would be great. I was really happy for Leslie.”

Added Scott, “I felt like this was a really big deal for all of us. We, of course, are well aware that these are fictional characters that we are playing on television, but we all care about them. Speaking for myself, I care about them quite deeply. There was a feeling that this was very special, and we wanted it to be special for the fans and for the characters.”

Just a reminder, don’t forget to tune in next time for the debut episode of Leslie Knope, M.D.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Parks and Recreation and the politics of hope

- May 18th, 2012

Picture 5

[Warning: This post contains spoilers up to the most recent episode.]

Parks and Recreation, the NBC sitcom about an adorable group of city workers in the fictional town of Pawnee, Ind., has a refreshingly optimistic outlook on government, especially in a TV landscape where shows about politics tend to revolve around corruption, power and greed.

Take Veep, HBO’s new comedy about a fish-out-water vice-president and her staff, which tells us that nothing in politics is genuine or heartfelt. Everything from major legislation to the vice-president’s choice of frozen yogurt is a carefully crafted political maneuver devised by a team of clever and ambitious staffers. Or The Wire, which shows how individuals, no matter how well-intentioned, are powerless against the deeply entrenched corruption of institutions. (Ironically, Parks and Rec show-runner Michael Schur is a big fan).

These kind of shows are often hailed for their realism, and for good reason. Poll after poll has found that people do not trust politicians. Governments are mired in scandals. Elections are mired in mud-slinging. North American politicians increasingly want to either control our every move or cut the public service until the government, as Parks and Rec’s beloved libertarian boss Ron Swanson puts it, “is one guy who sits in a small room at a desk, and the only thing he’s allowed to decide is who to nuke.”

Our collective cynicism about politics is such that even a bright and shining moment in history, like U.S. President Barack Obama announcing his support for same-sex marriage, is dismissed as insincere politicking.

That’s why we need shows like Parks and Rec, where politics is people — good people with good intentions — and political institutions can make a difference.

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