There are so many things to love about Parks and Recreation – whip-smart writing, making mundane local politics hilarious, opening the second season with earnest (and super-square) heroine Leslie Knope giving a passionate rendition of the classic Fresh Prince song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” – but the crown jewels of the show are its each-one-more-hilarious-than-the-next cast of characters. I credit the writers and producers with taking such care to respect and flesh out all the players, each one contributing their own little piece to the ensemble’s whole: Amy Poehler‘s Leslie is the heart, Aziz Ansari‘s Tom Haverford the creative energy, Chris Pratt‘s sweet but dim Andy Dwyer the childlike enthusiasm. Throughout its three seasons all have had moments to shine, but none has done so more brightly than my current character crush Ron Swanson, the stomach of the show.
Case in point, I give you his journal dedicated to meat. Inspired.
Brilliantly played by Nick Offerman, on the surface Ron is a man of simple pleasures: breakfast foods, pretty brunettes, facial hair, woodworking, no BS. He’s a man who just wants a hearty meal and for the government to stay out of his business, and here’s where the beauty in the depth of this character begins: government is his business as he’s Director of the Parks Department. But that doesn’t stop this city servant from making sure no parks are ever built during his tenure and imparting a strong opinion on how existing ones should all be sold to corporations with impressive business models, a la Chuck E Cheese. He’ll even go so far as to influence future generations with his staunch libertarian outlook. This overall brusque demeanor shouldn’t make him so endearing, and yet he is the most cuddly curmudgeon on television.
Even his self-proclaimed Pyramid of Greatness makes me want to hug him closer. How could someone who emulates volatile college basketball coach Bobby Knight bring out the smit in me?
Perhaps he’s so easy to love because underneath that burly gruffness beats the heart of a romantic. He looks out for those he cares for (although he would never admit it outright), so noticeable when he patched up the relationship between his sullen assistant April and the lovelorn Andy and defended Leslie to a board of review threatening to fire her. It could also be the way he handles a saxophone moonlighting as Duke Silver.
Then again, it’s mostly his love of keeping meat real.
As the July 14th announcement of Emmy nominations approaches, I can only hope the protein gods will smile down and ensure that Nick Offerman’s name is on the list of Best Supporting Actors in a Comedy. For how can I live in a world where the man who brought us this is not recognized for his own piece of greatness?
As stated in a post regarding last year’s Emmys, me and awards show have a love/hate relationship – I love them and they seem to hate me, or rather me and the collective viewing audience. Uninspired would best describe them of late, but Academy of Television you actually kept my rapt attention this year. It might be because I didn’t watch them live, but the pace overall for the Emmys telecast was brisk, peppered with many worthy laughs and filler moments that weren’t completely eyeroll-inducing. I credit a lot of this to the stellar hosting job executed by current Late Night helmer Jimmy Fallon. From the amazing Glee-ful opening with four of the hot show’s stars, Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Joel McHale and more joining him in belting out a Springsteen classic, through his moments introducing the various genres with the help of nominees Amy Poehler, Stephen Colbert and Julianna Margulies in the audience and even the “Shows We Lost” montage he never failed to entertain.
Naysayers can say nay about his time on Saturday Night Live – his were never peek performances like Will Ferrell, usually breaking character first and unable to deliver most of his lines laugh-free – but I was always a fan and thought he had his best years behind the Weekend Update desk. It also didn’t hurt he pulled duty next to my Fey-vorite.
He’s also no slouch when it comes to the melding of music and comedy, which seems to be all the rage these days thanks to belle of the TV ball Glee. My first memory of Fallon was his dead-on impersonation of Adam Sandler, another SNL alum known for wacky comedic songs, and a couple of years into his stint on the seminal sketch show he released an album with a track I still frequently revisit, “Idiot Boyfriend.” Just try not to smile at the hilarious video below co-starring then-up-and-coming-now-It New Girl Zooey Deschanel.
Knowing Jimmy had the ability to MC as shown by the success of his talk show’s first year it wasn’t a surprise when he was tapped to take the reins of the Emmys hosting gig, but I had further confidence he would deftly lead the telecast by the sheer merit of his work back in 2002 at the MTV Video Music Awards. That opener still sticks out as one of the most memorable beginnings to an awards show of all time and had yet to be topped on my list of favorites until Fallon, Fey & the Glee gang’s “Born to Run” performance.
The buzz and ratings after Sunday both suggest that Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman aren’t the only song-and-dance men to call on if you want to have a successful live show telecast.
Not to forget about the awards part of the show, Glee took home a couple of high-profile wins with Jane Lynch nabbing Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy and Ryan Murphy getting Best Director for the top-notch pilot episode. Mad Men continued its drama domination with their third-straight year of trophies for both series and writing, and freshman favorite Modern Family went away a big winner with Best Comedy and Writing for its pilot as well as a pleasant surprise with Eric Stonestreet taking home a Supporting Actor in a Comedy trophy for his phenomenal work as Cam in the ensemble sitcom. An additional surprise win in an acting category went to Aaron Paul getting a much-deserved statue for his supporting role along-side fellow winner and co-star Bryan Cranston for AMC’s needs-to-get-more-recognition drama Breaking Bad.
Major category winners:
OUTSTANDING COMEDY Modern Family
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Jane Lynch (Glee)
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Betty White (SNL)
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Neil Patrick Harris (Glee)
OUTSTANDING DIRECTION IN A COMEDY
Ryan Murphy (Glee)
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY
Christopher Lloyd and Stephen Levitan (Modern Family)
OUTSTANDING DRAMA Mad Men
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A DRAMA
Erin Levy and Matthew Weiner (Mad Men – “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”)
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA
John Lithgow (Dexter)
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Ann Margaret (Law & Order: SVU)
OUTSTANDING DIRECTION IN A DRAMA
Steve Shill (Dexter)
Variety, Music or Comedy
OUTSTANDING VARIETY, MUSIC, OR COMEDY SERIES The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
OUTSTANDING DIRECTION IN A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SPECIAL
Bucky Gunts (The Winter Olympics)
OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A VARIETY SHOW
Dave Boone and Paul Greenberg (The 2010 Tony Awards)
TV Movie, Miniseries or Dramatic Special
TV MOVIE Temple Grandin (HBO)
MINISERIES The Pacific (HBO)
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A TV MOVIE, MINISERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Al Pacino (You Don’t Know Jack)
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A TV MOVIE, MINISERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Claire Danes (Temple Gradin)
OUTSTANDING DIRECTION IN A TV MOVIE, MINISERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Mick Jackson (Temple Grandin)
OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A TV MOVIE, MINISERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
David Strathairn (Temple Grandin)
OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A TV MOVIE, MINISERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Julia Ormand (Temple Grandin)
OUTSTANDING WRITING IN A TV MOVIE, MINISERIES OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Adam Mazer (You Don’t Know Jack)
This is the face of post-ageist Hollywood, gentlereaders!
After months of love for the golden girl of comedy have been flying all over the interwebs, it’s now officially confirmed that Betty White will host a special Mother’s Day edition of Saturday Night Live on May 8th. The show’s creator-producer, Lorne Michaels, told USA Today that the Facebook campaign, which kicked in after White’s Super Bowl commercial for Snickers, “…took on a groundswell. [White as the host] isn’t something we would have said no to, [but the campaign] validated that, ‘Oh that’d be fun’ [aspect]… It was the outpouring of affection from fans, and we feel the same way.”
Besides featuring the 88-years-young Mary Tyler Moore and Golden Girls star the episode will also reunite six former female “SNL” cast members, most of whom happen to be moms: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch.
Hello again gentlereaders. No, I didn’t forget about you these past two months, please blame my absence on the most hectic (wonderful?) time of the year. Now that the holiday season has passed, including the glut of repeats that come with it, I am back and focused as ever to comment, critique and celebrate the best of what’s to come in 2010 television. The musings are too much so I must make this a multi-part post.
MAKE ‘EM LAUGH
I’ve made no secret of the insane amount of love I have for comedies, particularly the perfectly programmed 2-hour block on NBC’s Thursday night. While the Peacock appears to be making all the wrong moves in late night (the incomparable Conan in limbo and bland Leno is back, no words) they’ve at least made impeccable choices when it comes to scheduling the primetime funny this season.
Vets The Office and 30 Rock had some of their strongest episodes of their series’ histories – Jim & Pam’s wedding will go down in the annals of TV moments and “Dealbreakers Talk Show No. 0001″ not only gave us crazy Performer Liz who forgot how to wave like a person, we were treated to how HD alters the Rockers – Kenneth is a Muppet and Jack a young Alec Baldwin, classic.
Parks & Recreation became so enjoyable as its second season progressed that I found myself not just choosing it first among my DVR viewing selections the next day but actually watching it in real time! And even though newbie Community had some ups and downs, its ups (Senor Chang’s always quotable lines – “Hasta luego! Come on, hands 90% of spanish!”) far outweighed the downs.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
New episodes of all CNDR shows return this week, save for The Office (which is open for business again January 21st) but with an extra 30 Rock there’s no complaint from this Fey-natic, and we’ve got guest stars galore – Jack Black wandering around the Greendale campus on Community, Will Arnett romancing real-life wife Amy Poehler on P&R and James Franco stopping by as “himself” for an arranged celebrilationship with Jenna on 30 Rock.
Not that I’d go so far as to call its first season a total disappointment, NBC’s Parks and Recreation did come out of the gate rather weak earlier this year with only a pedigree of being led by the minds behind fellow Comedy Night Done Right hit The Office and lead Amy Poehler to keep me hopeful that the excellent creative potential would eventually shine. And it was the second season premiere episode, “Pawnee Zoo” that was so glorious I revisited no less than half a dozen times.
I should have expected that as it was modeled so closely to its predecessor (right down to the hand-held mockumentary feel) P&R would also follow in the footsteps of The Office and finally hit a side-splitting stride in their second year. The show is truly firing on all cylinders – the writing, dialogue, pace and team of actors have all found a great comedy groove that continues to impress every week. So impressive that it was one of only a handful of shows given a coveted full season pick-up earlier this month.
What do we have to look forward to in their sophomore season? On the near horizon a November sweeps installment will feature a guest turn by former Will & Grace star Megan Mullally in what show runner Michael Schur claims as “the best episode we’ve ever done.” Mullally will play ex-wife opposite real-life husband Nick Offerman’s Parks & Rec department boss Ron. “She works for the library system, and they’re trying to take over the lot that Leslie is jealously guarding for her future park,” Schur explains. “So Ron has to get back involved with his ex-wife and fireworks ensue.”