Tag Archives: TV Reviews

TV Review – Parks and Recreation

PARKS AND RECREATION — “One Last Ride” Episode 712/713 — Pictured: (l-r) Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer, Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, Retta as Donna Meagle, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford, Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger, Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Jim O’Heir as Garry Gergich — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

If a sitcom happens to be created, produced, or written by Greg Daniels, enter the name in your watchlist because there is a chance that you develop fondness towards his show. Personally, I had watched his American adaptation of The Office, Space Force, and then Upload before Parks and Recreation, and none of these disappointed me. In fact, The Office is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms.

Parks And Recreation give you the same vibes as The Office. Why not? After all, both the sitcoms have been set up in the office. If The Office was based on a fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton where that crazy Michael Scott was the Branch Manager then ‘Parks And Recreation’ is based on a fictional Pawnee City Hall where Leslie Knope is the deputy director in Parks and Recreation department.

Amy Poehler‘s Leslie character went through changes with time. Leslie was a bit silly in the first season and then the attitude towards her responsibilities changed especially when she involved herself in politics when her progress began to grab attraction and got offers to run the campaign. The PR to politics journey of Leslie was excellent.

Besides Leslie, my favorite character was Nick Offerman‘s Ron Swanson, the department director. He was socially detached who had parted ways with his wife, Tammy played by Offerman’s real-wife, Megan Mullaly. His dialogues were sparingly thoughtful and sometimes a soft curmudgeon’s bible.

The writing of the show gave a lot of breathing to the supporting characters and made the Pawnee diary exciting. Correlated themes like media and journalism portrayals also helped in the plot continuity. Pawnee crackdown through the failing budget was also an interesting move.

Without a doubt, Chris Pratt‘s Andy Dwyer had the best character development in the show. From being a lazy ass to becoming a television celebrity, Andy’s journey was fun to watch.

At some point in the middle, I had a feeling that the show was possessing time and wasn’t continuing well. The comic timing of the characters was getting a little flat. Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford was an average beginning in a couple of seasons but then I began to ask myself what significance of the character really was. Tom was getting ridiculous minutes. Especially his comic partnership with Ben Schwartz‘s Jean-Ralphio in the show was extremely boring and annoying. If the latter’s contribution to the show was a question mark, the character’s sister Mona-Lisa raised the alarm about the decline of comic quality. Thank God, Jean and Mona were not promoted as regulars.

I will surely have one deep irritation about lacking the idea of not creating its own universe of department sitcoms. PR started after three or four seasons of The Office. The same team created both the shows, Greg Daniels and Michael Schur (yep, Dwight’s Amish brother, Mose Schrute). Both shows mostly ran together and that too on the same network, NBC. How could the producers not consider possible connectivity? Imagine Scranton-Pawnee crossovers! Michael Scott and Leslie Knope on the same stage!

Without a doubt, The Office was a way better sitcom than PR but the former should vanish from the mind in order to watch the fun of PR because, in all honesty, PR is really an exciting sitcom. I very much enjoyed it and will remember it for a long long time. The Office fans are definitely recommended to watch Parks And Recreation.

TV Review – Steptoe and Son

The poor father-son duo of Albert Steptoe and Harold Steptoe run a rag-and-bone business while living in Shepherd’s Bush, London. With time, Harold’s desires and aspirations meet Albert’s rigid tendency of accepting change. His naivety irritates Harold and pretends to be ill if the son leaves to live some portion of his life on his own. Dirty ol’ man Albert lies to unsuccessfully avoid the blame of his mischievous blunders. Albert jeopardizes wherever Harold takes him, say cinema, restaurant, party. The best writing lies in the generational conflict of these two characters for eight seasons and they never disappoint at all.

The old BBC classic sitcoms were always known for their rich content especially a thoughtful theme on which the quality of humor was so delicate and rib-tickling. Steptoe and Son (1962-1974) is an influential and groundbreaking sitcom that made its rounds in British households in the early 1960s, right on time. Because around three million people in Britain were living on the poverty line. So this sitcom was a fit to their sentiments, especially for the Cockneys.

I will not skip mentioning both the leading actors, Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett. I mean what better father-son chemistry you will ask for. The generational conflict and comic timing between them were so striking and growing their partnership with the viewers for years being the only two major characters of the show is extremely difficult. Even Sandford and Son needed the assistance of the supporting characters especially Aunt Esther but the original show remained constrained.

Another significance of this sitcom is its cult status in Britain. Steptoe and Son was easily the first well-known British sitcom about a working-class, describing poor working men living without women in different setups. You can take an example of Ronnie Barker‘s Porridge and Open All Hours in the 1970s or most specifically the greatest British sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. The sitcom’s international influence can be measured by the fact that American tv producer and developer Norman Lear adapted the show and created Red Foxx starred Sanford And Son for NBC. 16 of Steptoe and Son episodes were recreated in the American adaptation. Steptoe & Son helped Norman Lear build his legacy in the 1970s when his developed sitcoms on NBC and CBS dominated the decade.

Had Steptoe & Son never happened, I wonder what the state of comedy would be in both regions. This is easily one of the best British sitcoms I have ever watched.

My favorite Steptoe and Son episodes:
01 – Season.1 – Episode.1 – The Offer
02 – Season.1 – Episode.2 – The Bird
03 – Season.1 – Episode.3 – The Piano
04 – Season.1 – Episode.4 – The Economist
05 – Season.2 – Episode.2 – The Bath
06 – Season.2 – Episode.4 – Sixty-Five Today
07 – Season.2 – Episode.6 – Full House
08 – Season.2 – Episode.7 – Is That Your Horse Outside?
09 – Season.3 – Episode.1 – Homes Fit For Heroes
10 – Season.3 – Episode.2 – The Wooden Overcoats
11 – Season.3 – Episode.4 – Steptoe à la Cart
12 – Season.3 – Episode.5 – Sunday for Seven Days
13 – Season.4 – Episode.2 – Crossed Swords
14 – Season.5 – Episode.1 – A Death in the Family
15 – Season.6 – Episode.1 – Robbery with Violence
16 – Season.6 – Episode.2 – Come Dancing
17 – Season.6 – Episode.3 – Two’s Company
18 – Season.6 – Episode.5 – Without Prejudice
19 – Season.6 – Episode.6 – Pot Black
20 – Season.7 – Episode.3 – Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning
21 – Season.7 – Episode.4 – Live Now, P.A.Y.E. Later
22 – Season.7 – Episode.6 – Divided We Stand
23 – Season.8 – Episode.2 – And So To Bed
24 – Season.8 – Episode.3 – Porn Yesterday
25 – Season.8 – Episode.4 – The Seven Steptoerai
26 – Season.8 – Episode.5 – Upstairs, Downstairs, Upstairs, Downstairs
27 – Season.8 – Episode.6 – Seance in a Wet Rag and Bone Yard

TV Review – Downton Abbey

I am not sure from where to start because writing a mere formal review of a period costume-drama like Downton Abbey is unjustly and undeservingly shorter to write. I have a staunch interest in classic period dramas and that is why shows like Cranford and Poldark hit my list of the shows that I like the most under this classic genre. Downton Abbey is something else.

Created and written by Oscar and Emmy-winning writer and novelist Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is about the Crawley family who exists in the early 20th century when the world is shaping towards a difficult period in the European regions. In between 1912 and 1926, the Crawleys led by the patriarch Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, and his wife Cora, the American heiress, struggles to tackle many domestic conflicts running in the family and the business affairs that occur in the different phases.

The plotting of the show is divided into two different classes. One is the rich Crawleys and the other is their working staff. Their stories and characters play on parallel notes and are given equal importance that successfully shows that Downton Abbey is not only about the sophisticated luxury but the human value where the rich and the working class coordinate in harmony and build strong mutual respect. Internal conflicts and characterizations are dealt with with meticulous care. I liked how the three Crawley sisters were distinguished in characterization and their sisterhood was tested with time.

The presentation of their aristocracy and costume designing is the zenith of the show that never disappoints. Screenwriting and dialogues are powerful, less pragmatic but also less dramatic. There is a tremendous balance of dramatizing humor to the seriousness of the subject. When it comes to dialogues, the unanimous winner amongst all the characters is matriarch Violet Crawley played by the legendary Maggie Smith. Your ears won’t fall deaf when Violet begins to speak.

Speaking of pragmatism, I was a bit skeptical about the respect the writer builds between the Crawleys and their staff; because I felt the writer was being too humble to let the Crawleys go soft on their staff that doesn’t look realistic. But see, I am a history digger but I need to be convinced with the detailing. Does the history really make the viewers believe that the daughters of the estate would show fondness in driving the tractor or work her kitchen in the maid’s quarter or allow one of the staff to leave unpunished when the voice is to be raised? Lord Grantham letting his daughter marry a man, not from their ranks is also debatable. Being so merciful, generous, and treating so well to their servants is pretty doubtful. There was a scene where the ball was organized where each of the Crawleys dance with each of the servants. In another scene, Lord Grantham himself serves with a tray for a drink when working staff member Anna gives birth. Really don’t know if such things actually existed in the past and with such a level of delicacy.

Yes, Mr. Fellowes didn’t exaggerate glamorizing the royalness of the Crawleys but rather focused on the changing times where the family took time to accept change and this is where characterizing in the plot plays a major part. One impressive aspect that the show enlightened was the ladies of the estate supporting liberalism. All the three sisters Mary, Edith, and Sybil believed and advocated for the education and employment of women.

The most shocking moment of the show was the sudden death of Matthew Crawley, out of nowhere. Good to know that the character was deliberately killed because actor Dan Stevens decided to leave. Otherwise, there was no reason to kill the character that soon. My favorite character was definitely Violet Crawley, her presence was the minty alfresco. The other characters I very much liked were Mr. Carson, Mr. Molesley, and Lord Grantham. The best character development definitely was Thomas Barrow, he was someone to whom the viewers hated and loved equally.

Downton Abbey is a cult phenomenon and one of the masterpieces works on British television. One significant point about the show’s remarkable legacy is that the show comes into existence in the newest times as most of the classical masterpieces in British television history are from the previous century. After my Sons Of Anarchy addiction, if there is another show that hooked me and bought my time, it is Downton Abbey.