US comedy series Parks and Recreation came to the end of its seven season run earlier this year. Achieving widespread critical-acclaim and finding a hardcore fanbase, the series is one of the funniest comedies to come out of America in years. In the UK the show hasn’t aired since the end of its third season but that’s about to change when it arrives on Dave in August to air season 4 to 7. If you simply can’t wait until then, you’ll be pleased to know that the series has been released this week as a Complete Series boxset. Season 7 has also been released as a standalone boxset too.
Parks and Recreation is the story of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and her co-workers at the parks department in Pawnee, Indiana. The always perky, and mostly unflappable, Leslie leads her team with a cheery optimism as she attempts to carry out her duties and build a park on a dangerous pit at the back of Pawnee citizen turned friend Ann Perkins’ (Rashida Jones) house following the injury of Ann’s boyfriend Andy (Chris Pratt) when he falls into it and breaks his legs.
As you would expect the show evolves significantly over its seven seasons with characters coming and going but the core characters in the ensemble are around for the long haul. Leslie’s co-workers include her boss Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) who wishes his department to do as little as humanly possible, moody intern April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), the larger-than-life Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), the much put upon Jerry Gergich (Jim O’Heir) and feisty Donna Meagle (Retta). Towards the end of the second season new characters Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) are introduced and they both become major characters over the rest of the series.
Throughout its seven season run, Parks and Recreation features plenty of guest stars including Louie C.K., Paul Rudd, Jon Hamm, Bill Murray, Justin Theroux and Megan Mullally to name a few. Unlike many series, the guest stars actually add to the overall show rather than detract from it with Mullally in particular leaving a lasting impression as one of Ron’s ex-wives Tammy.
The success of Parks and Recreation lies in the ensemble. Every single actor is excellent and they really bring their characters to life. Poehler is the ringleader and she uses her ample comedy credentials to make Leslie one of the greatest comedy characters of our times. She’s more than ably supported by the fantastic Nick Offerman as her reserved, yet oddly loveable, boss Ron Swanson and she gets a great partner-in-crime in the shape of Rashida Jones as Ann, the unwilling accomplice to Leslie’s many mad-cap initiatives. It’s actually pretty clever how Ann and her boyfriend Andy are integrated into the series; particularly Andy who was only supposed to appear a guest star in the first season but due to the popularity of the character and Chris Pratt was made a fully-fledged regular for the rest of the series.
Over the series’ 125 episodes there are far too many highlights to mention them all but our favourite episodes include season 2 opener Pawnee Zoo where Leslie becomes a gay icon after marrying two penguins of the same sex, season 3’s The Fight where Tom introduces the his colleagues to his lethal new drink product Snake Juice, and season 4’s The Comeback Kid where Leslie attempts to relaunch her political career with predictably disastrous results.
The final season takes a little time jump offering closure for the show and tying up loose ends for all of the characters you’ve come to know and love. It’s a little shorter in length than the other seasons (with the exception of season one) but we thought it provided a great end for destined-to-be-a-classic series.
Extras on the box-set are plentiful and include deleted scenes, gag reels, a music video, webisodes, audio commentaries and much, much more.
Parks and Recreation quite simply is a show you need to have in your collection. Smarter than the majority of comedies that come out of the US, the show packs plenty of laughs into every episode. You’ll be surprised how much, and how quickly, you become invested in the characters and Leslie’s infectious spirit takes hold of you. We genuinely haven’t laughed so much at a show in a long time and Parks and Recreation offers the perfect balance of laugh-out-loud moments, off-the-wall comedy and heartfelt moments. If you’ve never seen the show, then we highly recommend getting this boxset and treating yourself to a good binge-watching session.