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Two of the Funniest Comedies You Should be Watching: NBC's "Community" and "Parks and Recreation"

It really upsets me that more people aren't watching Community and Parks and Recreation on NBC.

The two series--now back to back on Thursday nights--are two of the funniest and sharpest comedies on television but the ratings, while not horrible, aren't great and are nowhere near where they should be for such fantastically funny comedies.

Granted, there is a hell of a lot of competition on Thursday nights at 8 pm. Viewers have their pick between these two comedies and FlashForward on ABC, Bones on FOX, Survivor on CBS, and The Vampire Diaries on CW. (And that's just at the broadcast level.) Things get even more complicated when you look at Thursday as a whole; there's an overabundance of quality programming to watch, making it even more difficult to decide just what you should be watching live.

Personally, I ended up watching Community and Parks and Recreation live last night and TiVo'd FlashForward to watch tonight after I was rather disappointed with the series' second episode. And after the Skins season finale, I wanted something lighthearted that would make me laugh until I was in danger of incontinence. Which is where Community and Parks and Recreation came in.

Last night marked a new timeslot for Community, which moved from its post-Office timeslot at 9:30 pm ET/PT to a much earlier slot at 8 pm. But the series' inherent charms haven't been dimmed by an earlier home on the schedule. Last night's episode ("Social Psychology") was one of the funniest yet. (I happened to have been on-set during the filming of the episode to shoot some video interviews with the Community cast).

In addition to seeing Ken Jeong's "erratic" Senor Chang get to flip out as part of a psych experiment overseen by Annie (Alison Brie) and Dr. Ian Duncan (John Oliver), the episode offered a hilarious storyline between Jeff (Joel McHale) and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown)--two words: tiny nipples--and yet another speed bump in the not-quite-friendship between Jeff and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) in the form of often shirtless guest star Eric Christian Olsen.

I do think that there is a logic in pairing Community with the somewhat similar alt-comedy appeal of Parks and Recreation, but I worry about the series kicking off the night without the benefit of a lead-in. Still, I think that Community is one of the more original and rewarding comedies to come along in a long time and episodes like last night point to the series finding its footing in a major way. I can only see this already great series just getting better and better.

Despite the shakiness of its first few episodes, Parks and Recreation has built on the strength of its latter freshman episodes to deliver a second season that's overflowing with hysterical and often underplayed comedic bits. (Hell, as others have suggested, even the theme music for Parks and Recreation fills me with giddiness on a weekly basis.)

Last night's episode ("The Practice Date") was no exception, focusing on the titular practice date between the panicky Leslie (Amy Poehler) and BFF Ann (Rashida Jones), who decided to use immersion therapy as a way of giving Leslie more confidence for her date with Dave (Louis C.K.) but instead led her to drunkenly embarrass herself in front of her new beau. Ouch. Back at the office, the rest of the gang embarked on a mission to dig up as much dirt as they could on each other, leading Tom (Aziz Ansari) to make a shocking discovery about Ron (Nick Offerman) that involves jazz saxaphone and an alter ego named Duke Silver.

Parks and Recreation makes me laugh in a way that The Office used to back in the day and the second season has found creators Greg Daniels and Mike Schur mining some familiar office politics territory but with some additional layering and absurdity. Additionally, Leslie Knope is being written less as a buffoonish Michael Scott clone and more like an ambitious--if slightly less-than-savvy--woman who's out of touch with her position in the world. The result is one of the best comedies on television but it's one that people sadly aren't watching.

What do you think of these two series? Are you watching? And why aren't more people tuning in for the awesome one-two punch of Community and Parks and Recreation? Discuss.

Community and Parks and Recreation air respectively at 8 pm ET/PT and 8:30 pm ET/PT on NBC.


ruraljuror said…
"(Hell, as others have suggested, even the theme music for Parks and Recreation fills me with giddiness on a weekly basis.)"

I'm one of those others. The theme never fails to put a smile on my face, much like Poehler. It's a shame Louis C.K. can't be added as a regular, he fits in so well and makes for a cute pairing with Amy.

Aziz steals the show though, I want to know everything about Tom Haverford.
Juliana said…
I wasn't crazy about Community at first but must admit that last night's episode had me in fits of giggles. It's not the most intelligent comedy out there but it's goofy and it's characters are, in spite (or because of?) their weirdness, very likable. I think this show will just keep getting better and better.

Parks & Rec stared off shakily too but it's second season has been fantastic. Now it's one of my favorite comedies!
Parks and Recreation hit the ground running this season and each episode has had me in hysterics. Leslie is now a much more rounded character and I love her relationship with Ann. There aren't a lot of comedies with a female friendship at the center and I think it's really refreshing. Plus, Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones are fantastic together. I loved their practice date!
Mad Typist said…
I agree - Parks and Recreation went out after an uneven first season, fixed almost every single thing that annoyed me about it, and has emerged as one of the best comedies on television.

I believe last night's episode was the best one yet. Not only was the A plot (the practice date) superb, the B plot also gave the supporting players a chance to really shine. For the first time I noticed Gloria and Jerry, and got a sense of who those characters are as people. And you've got to love the Duke Silver reveal - genius way to utilize one of the best actors on the show.

I adored the practice date between Ann and Leslie. They have so much chemistry, though, I find myself weirdly wishing they'd just get together. After all, Ann already has practice as Leslie's lesbian trophy wife.
Magnolia said…
I love Parks & Recreation so much. I want to hug the whole show. Community is growing on me, and it's always been one of those shows that I was going to watch until I loved it, loving it being inevitable.

I change it up each week in deciding what to watch live, what to record and when to watch recordings based on my schedule and my mood. Parks & Rec is one of those shows that I madly fast forward through commercials when I watch the recording because I CAN"T WAIT to see what's next.
Beckacheck said…
"Personally, I ended up watching Community and Parks and Recreation live last night and TiVo'd FlashForward to watch tonight after I was rather disappointed with the series' second episode."

Why do people talk about watching shows they love live and TiVo-ing shows they like less?
I watch live things I kinda like and TiVo shows I absolutely love so that I can re-watch scenes, pause to avoid missing a moment, or watch multiple episodes in a row.
Unless you live in a Nielsen household, wouldn't you watch live just the shows you wouldn't mind being interrupted by a phone call?
Maybe it's just me.
jmixont said…
I'm continuing to give Community an effort, but it is an effort because I really don't like the lead character--I like everything else about Community, though. I've just gotten a little tired of the anti-hero dude whom we give a chance again and again to learn to be a somewhat nice guy every now and then in these shows.

On the other hand, Parks and Rec is absolutely hitting it out of the park this year. Laugh-out-louds by the dozens! I have completely done a 180 when it comes to Amy Poehler. The whole thing's rockin'--feels like the first and second seasons of The Office!
Jace Lacob said…

I should clarify my statement. I don't watch anything "live" as in on the air and not via TiVo. I TiVo everything I watch, just in case I need to review it again later.

Even with two TiVos in my house, there are many, many things to watch for this site (and paid writing gigs) and often there are major timeslot conflicts, such as on Thursday nights. So when I say that I watched Community and Parks and Recreation "live" I mean that I was TiVoing them while watching them (skipping the commercials, of course) on the night, while I TiVo'd FlashForward to save to watch tonight.

Does that make sense?
derby said…
i want 'community' to be better. it's just a bit clunky. i also think chevy chase is a liability. it doesn't work. but it has enough quality moments.
Beckacheck said…

I'm jealous of your two TiVos. I often end up watching shows online because of scheduling issues.

Your clarification makes perfect sense.

I vaguely remember Entertainment Weekly running an article around last season (and maybe the season before, too?) where they rated shows as "watch it" "TiVo it" or "skip it" - as if "TiVo it" were the equivalent of "eh . . . rent it" for a movie. Perhaps I was transferring a bit of my bemused reaction to that article onto your article. :o)

Loving your site, by the way!
Unknown said…
I built myself a Windows Media Center with three analog tuners and two digital tuners. I also have a TiVo. So I record everything and miss nothing. :-)

I'm loving Community. The scenes with Jeff and Shirley were great this week. Parks and Recreation has certainly gotten better, but I wouldn't miss it much.

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