Poehler a dork with heart in 'Parks and Recreation'

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The The "Pawnee Zoo" episode, aka the Season 2 premiere of "Parks and Recreation" starring Amy Poehler. Photo Credit: NBC Photo

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REVIEW

REASON TO WATCH: Sophomore season premiere

WHEN/WHERE: Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC/4

Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), parks and rec commissioner for the pint-size fictional city of Pawnee, Ind., is ambitious enough to want to become president someday, but rooted enough in her small-town world to allow viewers to wonder how this could ever come to pass.

Easier way of saying this is that she's a clueless dork with a big heart. Tomorrow night's episode is case in point: Over the summer, Leslie "marries" a pair of penguins at the Pawnee Zoo as part of a stunt to boost traffic. But it backfires when she's told that both penguins are male, and thus, Leslie learns the attendant political complexities of performing the first same-sex wedding in Pawnee.

BOTTOM LINE

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gave "P&R" a second chance over the summer, and not due to some innate sense of fairness or high regard for Poehler (have a little of the former and plenty of the latter). There was nothing else on. The show underwhelmed last season, and while not a "Kath & Kim" fiasco, NBC still had to be a little worried.

No one, and I mean, no one on this side of the Hudson seemed to be talking about "P&R," and not too many on the other side, either. Anyway, I liked what I saw: This show has enormous charm and great potential. So why is the second-season launch such a bummer?

For starters, it's flat, forced and messagey. (Next week's episode, on a supposed pot garden in the pit, is much better.) Some suggestions to NBC: Ditch "The Office" docudrama conceit once and for all, and go straight to a single-camera comedy. Plus, bring the supporting cast a little more into the foreground, particularly Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson and Aziz Ansari's Tom Haverford, both office colleagues of Knope's. There's so much to like here. Now, all "P&R" has to do is become consistently likable.

GRADE

C+ (premiere); B+ (for the series)

 

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