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Parks and Recreation: Season One




When "Parks and Recreation" made its debut this spring, people seemed to dislike it instantly because it was either: a) too much like "The Office," or b) not enough like "The Office."

They should have kept watching, because by the final two episodes of its short season of six, it was actually funnier than "The Office."

Amy Poehler is delightful as Leslie Knope, a slightly disillusioned, but nonetheless determined deputy director of Pawnee, Ind.'s parks and rec department. Her personal mission is to turn an eyesore of a pit into a new park for residents. Too bad so few share her enthusiasm.

But a few do, most notably Ann (Rashida Jones), a nurse whose oafish boyfriend (Chris Pratt) broke both his legs falling into it. Leslie's co-workers seem to tolerate her more than support her, which is understandable, given her knack for putting herself in disastrous situations that always backfire.

"Parks and Rec" comes from the same school of discomfort comedy as "The Office" and its ilk, so the worse things off are for Leslie "? such as being mistaken for a lesbian because of an awful hairstyle, or having a blind date with a senior citizen "? the better things are for the viewer.

As much as Poehler excels at this, she gets excellent support from fellow city government drones Aziz Ansari, Paul Schneider, Nick Offerman and Aubrey Plaza. In particular, Plaza nails her part as a spacey intern who doesn't give a damn about anything; one wishes she had more to do.

As expected, lots of great material hits the cutting room floor week after week, but this disc salvages a wealth of extra scenes and takes. The season finale even adds a few of them back in for a DVD-exclusive director's cut. Give this unconventional sitcom time to grow "¦ and grow on you. It already has for me.

"?Rod Lott

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