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Performing public duties is no walk in the park

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Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

PARKS AND RECREATION -- Season: 3 -- Pictured: (l-r) Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer, Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, Retta as Donna, Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Jim O'Heir as Jerry, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford -- Photo by: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

At the mention of a TV show titled Parks and Recreation, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s a documentary about the Kruger National Park. But you would be wrong. Far from the sphere of National Geographic, Parks and Recreation is a US comedy series about Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler), a deputy director of the parks and recreation department of Pawnee, a fictional town in Indiana.

Knope has the tough job of converting an abandoned construction site into a new community park.

Of course, property owners and real estate agencies will not hear of this, so Knope has a few mountains to climb. In her corner are two key people, her co-worker Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and a nurse who inspired the crusade, Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones).

The show is likened to the sitcom The Office, but the makers of Parks and Recreation (who are also behind The Office) deny they are similar.

The Parks and Recreation project is deliberately shot with one camera. This is known as the mockumentary shooting style, which is meant to keep your attention as the story unfolds.

Although the actors have lines written for them, they are encouraged to improvise and most of the impromptu content is used.

With the comedy currently sitting at four episodes, obviously the actors are sharp enough to think up funny, witty and entertaining material on the go.

Perhaps the fact that while you are laughing out loud, you realise somewhere in the jokes that there is some social commentary going on where political issues are being addressed, also makes it popular.

Apparently, the writers went to extensive lengths to try to study the political landscape of California and apply their findings to the show.

Imagine if we had the same, subjects such as The Spear would make for a good few episodes.

To keep it interesting, the producers gave the viewers a lot of say in what they thought worked on the show or not. The thing that came up the most was Knope’s character. She was said to be unintelligent and the viewers expected better. The writers listened and a few droplets of wisdom were injected into the character. So do not despair should you not be happy with Knope in the first few episodes.

• Parks and Recreation airs every Monday at 7.40pm on Comedy Central (DStv channel 122).


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