Worst Episode of ‘Parks & Recreation’ Ever
The motley crew of civil servants from Pawnee, Indiana hold a very special place in the hearts of TV viewers. Originally seen as nothing more than a poor man’s version of the Office with which it shared the creative team of Greg Daniels and Michael Schur; Parks and Recreation found it’s strength the ensemble cast of characters all of whom were incredibly likable. Once the duo of Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger joined the fold, the show solidified itself. While Parks & Rec may now be one of the most beloved shows of recent years it did not start off that way. It is clear in the start of this sitcom that there were some kinks to iron out. In fact, at a Parks & Rec bar trivia I attended it seemed to be the consensus that newcomers are better off just skipping the inaugural run of episodes. While we may now have a wonderful park of a show to admire now it began as a pit. The bottom of said pit would be the pilot episode seen by many as the worst episode of Parks & Rec ever.
Dedicated but ultimately ignorant Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Leslie Knope, learns from her new friend Ann Perkins about the dangerous pit known as Lot 48. Without a second thought, Leslie vows to not only fix the pit but to make it into a new park. She embarks on a foolhardy campaign through the local government to get the ball rolling on her dream park but nothing seems to go her way. Her plucky optimism does win over her friend Mark Brendanawicz who works behind the scenes to get the ball rolling on what will ultimately be a long-running narrative for Parks & Recreation.
From the start we are introduced to Leslie Knope, the Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Pawnee Indiana. But she is not the tenaciously smart and capable Leslie we all know now, instead she is established from the start as Michael Scott-esque. Well-meaning but oblivious to how she is perceived and lacking any self-awareness. She is first introduced to the viewers as dense and entirely useless trying and ultimately failing to make a playground better. It is hard to believe this is the same clever protagonist we follow and cheer-on throughout the duration of the show. Since this unlikable version of Leslie is the centerpiece for the Pilot it negatively reverberates throughout the entire episode.
While not terrible, this pilot makes it clear that Parks & Rec have issues to work through before finally discovering itself. The characters we all know and love who charmed us for 7 seasons are still finding their way. Those looking for snazzy and trendy Tom will have to wait for later episodes, as the Tom we see as her assistant in the pilot has seemingly had his personality transplanted with April’s glum sarcasm. Ron Swanson wears a suit and blatantly states his libertarian beliefs in a form of “telling not showing” which comes forced in this episode though it pays off a million times over through the show’s progression. The lovable goofball Andy never makes an appearance, but the jock-ish slacker Andy sits on Ann Perkins’ couch as her injured boyfriend. This is a pure waste of Chris Pratt’s now-famous charm and likability. Mark Brendanawicz is still in the main cast and is a bit of a womanizing jerk who ultimately comes through in the end. As much as people tend not to care for Mark, I will admit I always like seeing a talented actor like Paul Schneider working. If you get the chance watch him in the first season of Channel Zero where he absolutely kills it.
This episode proves that even from a rocky start a TV show can find it’s footing and march forth. True the first episode of Parks & Recreation is not the worst thing you will watch it is a mere shell of the sitcom that audiences will come to know and love. This is largely to do with the bland and charmless cast of characters we are introduced who have yet to become who they are meant to be.