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The Joys of Watching Parks and Recreation

Howdy people of the internet, time for a semi-review of sorts. Today I wish to talk about one of my favourite TV shows in recent history, Parks and Recreation, one of the best comedy TV shows I have seen for a long time. If you have read this blog before then you will know a little while ago I did a blog post about my history with TV shows and some of my favourites of all-time, but the one show I was probably missing and I would add now is Parks and Rec. It is THAT good. Now that the show is in its final season with the final two episodes set to air tomorrow, I thought it would be nice to talk about this show and why it kicks so much ass.

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Before talking about the show, I wanted explain why I started watching it. basically I had heard some talk about Parks and Rec back in 2012 and 2013 on various websites and fair amount on AMC Movie Talk. But it wasn’t until Chris Pratt was cast as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy that I decided to give the show a watch (that and the fact that John Campea of AMC Movie Talk spoke so highly of him on the show). And that’s where it all started.

So why do I love this show? Allow me to explain…

In a nutshell the story of Parks and Rec follows the absurd antics of the town’s public officials as they pursue sundry projects to make their city a better place. The show is set Pawnee, Indiana and follows the adventures of Leslie Knope as she attempts to improve the town through government with her crew from the parks department.

The reason the show works is because of the following three main reasons: 1) It is funny, 2) The cast is brilliant and 3) It never stays the same.

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I have to admit that the first season did take some time to get into, it was fine, but the show didn’t find a focus and it’s funny factor until season two. From there all of the stories have more focus and energy, the jokes are much better and the characters really start to show their more unique and hilarious personalities. Each season afterward presents new, exciting and absurd stories for us as viewers to see, nothing ever stays the same for too long and thankfully things change for the better rather than ruining the formula of the show. The are surprises to be found and plot twists that happen in the most surprising of ways, the show’s almost like a comedy mixed in with a soap opera. There is good humour but also a lot of drama to be found (but I’ll get to that later in this post.

One of the main things that make this show work so well is the humour. People who read this blog know that I’m not the biggest fan of comedy-based stuff, though when I find a TV show that I find really funny, then I’m a happy place. For a time I thought Community was the funniest US TV show I’d watched, but then Parks and Rec, came along and blew the former out of the water. Parks and Rec is funny, it is really funny. The show has some of the snappiest humour I have seen in any show in a long time. Whether it be verbal or physical humour, it works so well and as the seasons go on the show’s funny factor stays consistent and provides many laugh-out-loud moments. Plus since the show is done in a documentary style with characters able to the break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, it just adds a level of intimacy and humour that other shows lack.

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The best thing about the show is its characters. The characters of Pawnee happen to be some of the most absurd fictional human beings ever conceived, they’re like all of the people that go to Community‘s Greendale Community College, except on a much crazier level. Whether it is the primary, recurring or guest cast members, everyone gets their chance to shine in this show. What is neat about the citizens of Pawnee is that most of them are all given plenty of screen time for you understand who they are and why they are funny, so when they make future appearances you remember and appreciate them more.

Firstly we have Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope who is delightful to watch. Leslie is a woman crazy obsessed with government and a lot of strange habits, however she is also very kind and is a brilliant friend to all of her coworkers. Poehler is just perfect for this kind of role and I love how much her character’s progressed. The gorgeous Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins is also great, she start’s out as an outsider and a nurse but eventually become integrated into the government through her friendship with Leslie. Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford is one of the most funny people in the show, the man is classy, but also selfish, arrogant and sarcastic, but all of those traits make him so likeable. Then there’s Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson who is arguably my favourite character. He is a man of few words, hates government, loves meat and normally likes to distance himself from his coworkers, and that’s just a few elements that makes him amazing. I LOVE Offerman’s performance and he just makes me smile whenever he has key scenes in the show.

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Another great person is Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate. Here we have a live-action version of Daria, except much more creepy, cynical and lazy. April is SO much fun because she is cute and yet so awkward and strange. And then there’s Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer who is the character I think it arguably the best person in the show. The guy is incredibly stupid and child-like, but he’s also very sweet and his singing and physical humour makes the show SO much fun to watch. Pratt’s energy and charisma really elevate the show and provide some of the most memorable scenes in the series. Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt is probably my least favourite character in this group, that being said he has his moments where he is pretty funny (and that mainly comes from being around Leslie). Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger is just one of the best people ever. He is inhumanly heathy, absurdly positive and has such a great relationship with everyone. Jim O’Heir and Retta also bring me much joy as Jerry Gergich and Donna Meagle. Donna is a surprisingly funny and sophisticated woman who has great moments with Tom while Jerry is a man who just suffers, whether he is getting into accidents, being ignored or just being pranked by his colleagues, there is never a dull moment when he is around.

I also love small recurring characters like the brilliant Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz), the sassy/crazy Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins), the absurd/sexy Tammy II (Megan Mullally), the humourous Brandi Maxxxx (Mara Marini), the absurd Bill Dexhart (Kevin Symons), the always entertaining  Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson) and quiet and creepy Orin (Eric Isenhower) just to name a few.

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Watching this show feels like more than just 30 minutes for fun TV, it feels more like checking on good friends and seeing what they’ve been getting up to from episode to episode. What the writers and actors do so well with this show, more so than a lot of others, is make you feel connected to these characters and their situations with very real, emotional and relatable stories. For all of the humour that takes place in this show, there is a A LOT of heart, so much so that there are episodes that make you want to cry tears (sometimes of joy and sadness). I love the show so much that I re-watched the whole thing again (before season seven had aired) and now we’re on the final season and I’m not quite ready for another one of my favourite shows to end, but I guess this rollercoaster ride has to end at some point.

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In conclusion Parks and Recreation is pretty much one of the best TV shows I ever decided to watch. Few shows have the power to engage me on such a level where I am addicted and need more like a crack-head junkie. The cast is brilliant, the humour is great and each season beyond the first brings something new, strange and fun to the table in ways that most shows can’t. If you haven’t experienced the awesomeness that is Parks and Rec then I implore you to do so, you’re missing out on some good stuff yo. 😀

So have you seen the awesomeness that is Parks and Recreation and if so what do you think or it? Whatever your thoughts be sure to drop them in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next blog post.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Media, Reviews, Television, TV Reviews

 

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Life After Beth Review

Howdy ladies and gents, time for another film review and today’s review comes in the form of Life after Beth. Now I hadn’t heard of this film until last week when I saw a TV spot for it and while it looked like some sort of silly zombie comedy, the fact that Aubrey Plaza and Dane Dehaan were in gave me a reason to seek it out. So luckily while I was up in Sheffield earlier this week I got to watch it and now I’m ready to give you my thoughts. Minor Spoilers Follow 🙂

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The story can be described as the following:

“Zach is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend, Beth. When she miraculously comes back to life, Zach takes full advantage of the opportunity to experience all the things he regretted not doing when she was alive. However, the newly returned Beth isn’t quite the way he remembered her, and before long, Zach’s world takes a turn for the worse.”

I thought from the way the film was advertised that it was going to be some sort of comedy and while it certainly comedic at various points in the film, this is not Zombieland. This is like a dark comedy with a minor focus on zombies There’s a much bigger focus on Zach and his relationship with his girlfriend, Beth, the story is focused around them until Beth starts to become uncontrollable and the film opens up to this small epidemic that is taking place all over the local town. The film did not play out how I imagined and there were a few things about the way in which the small zombie apocalypse was handled was different and interesting. The humour in the film did feel a little lacking and I’m sure there were points where jokes or funny lines were spoken which were supposed to make me laugh, but I, along with the rest of the members of the cinema screen stayed silent. Another bummer was the fact that the film went on a bit too long, part of what happens towards the end of the film is a long time coming, but I feel like it could have been done a lot sooner.

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As for the cast, they are all good for the most part. Aubrey Plaza as Beth Slocum is great, she really gives 100% in this role as human-like zombie who at first seems normal, but eventually starts to deteriorate and go a bit psycho as the film progresses. What I liked about Plaza here is that this role felt like an extension of her character April in Parks and Recreation, like if April wanted to go crazy and eat people I feel like this is the kind of stuff that she would do. But beyond that, Beth is a beautiful, caring and well-mannered girl, that being said when she freaks out, she can be very similar to the Hulk in terms of strength, anger and all-round chaos and I loved it. Dane DeHaan is also good as Zach Orfman. Zach is a guy who basically goes through hell and back when he loses his girlfriend, gets her back, then has to deal with her mood swings, angry outbursts and much more, so you can’t help but feel bad for the guy in a lot of ways. That being said the dude is a bit too lovesick for my liking and can come across as a bit of a whiny bitch at times. DeHaan did well with his material and I like how far he has come as an actor since 2012.

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John C. Reilly as Maury Slocum was interesting, he is a well-mannered man who loved his daughter and had a good relationship with Zach, however, once Berth comes back to life and becomes involved with Zach again, he starts to get very protective of his daughter and aggressive towards Zach. Reilly is a funny guy and I’ve seen that in the past, but I don’t believe he was nearly as funny as he should have been. Molly Shannon doesn’t fare any better as Geenie Slocum, she is just there to support her husband but doesn’t really have many stand-out moments to herself. Both of them together work well together and they have interesting banter, but considering the situation with their daughter, I thought there could have been funnier and more serious moments for them to take on in the story. Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser as Judy and Noah Orfman are fine as Zach’s parents, but they aren’t really all that interesting to be honest. Of the Orfman family the funniest would be Matthew Gray Gubler as Kyle Orfman as his job as a security officer puts him in some funny scenarios with his brother and other members of the community throughout the film. Also the lovely Anna Kendrick was nice as Erica Wexler. Erica is a cute and good-hearted person, but is also a bit of an airhead and this is the first time I’ve seen Anna Kendrick in such a light-hearted and silly role, but she was definitely entertaining. Oh, and I was so happy to see Jim O’Heir as Chip the Mailman, (another member from the Parks and Rec TV show for those paying attention).

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In conclusion Life after Beth is a pleasant bit of zombie fun with a great central performance from Aubrey Plaza and good back up from Dane DeHaan. And while the film’s humour is a bit hit and miss, and film’s length is extended a bit longer than it should have been, otherwise it was a good time.

Rating: 7/10

So have you seen Life After Beth and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to comment below and let me know. Until next time peeps, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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