You know, I've come to enjoy NBC's Parks and Recreation far more than I ever enjoyed The Office. It managed to escape the initial first season's awkward Pam-and-Jim-like relationship and build on it's own cast and concept.
So now, it's with a certain pain that I come to recognize that it is beginning to fall into the same traps that ultimately destroyed The Office for me. I never really cared about the politics of that show, but week after week, the writers always found a new way to shove that down my throat. I could care less that the paper company was going out of business... or that a printer company was taking over... or the whole plot about which branch was going to survive. After all, that storyline only wielded one true mainstay character. Events like that always feel like a cop out to me. The genre of The Office didn't call for it. And once the leads began to get other gigs and slowly depart the show, the quality clearly sagged into oblivion.
I'm about to watch the most recent hour-long episode of Parks and Rec... and I'm trying to hope. But I'm very much aware of the potential blow that's coming.
Within the next few episodes, Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones will be leaving the show. Couple that with Chris Pratt's consistent absence due to bigger jobs (Guardians of the Galaxy), and you have an incomplete show. Parks and Rec is at its best when it feels like a complete ensemble piece. So losing three of its biggest players feels like a heavy blow.
Potential Spoiler if you are a couple seasons behind...
Then the new subplot kicks in... Pawnee and its neighboring town are merging which is supposed to add new character depth and continuing plot motion. Okay... this sounds familiar (see paragraph two, line five). While I thoroughly enjoyed Leslie Knope running for political office... and was impressed by the fact that they actually let her win (a sign that the format of the show would be changing)... I can't help but feel that this new plot line is a massive step backwards.
While it's hard to imagine Parks and Rec ever getting as bad as The Office did in its final seasons, the future is looking somewhat bleak. If I'm right about this (and believe me, I hope I'm not) I guess I have to just be glad that there were about three seasons of just plain excellent tv.