I used to approach this period on the TV calendar with quite a bit of apprehension (the kind of apprehension where I knew it was just about TV shows, not about anything of any actual personal or material importance, but a kind of apprehension nonetheless), because typically, most of the shows I like have always been either on the bubble or on their way out. There’s no real reason for this. I don’t intentionally eschew shows with big ratings or anything. We can’t control what we like and what we don’t like, and when it comes to television — a medium where, if you opt to watch a show as it airs, you’re deciding to commit yourself to a certain numbers of hours each year (unlike, say, watching a movie or listening to an album, where the time commitment isn’t so large) — the vast majority of shows fail, so the odds of you happening to find a new show and realizing it’s for you and that show being renewed repeatedly are fairly slim.
In recent years, as most of the network shows I watch have either wound down or become unwatchable, this has been less and less of an issue. Most of my favorite shows — the shows I feel like I have to see — aren’t on the broadcast networks. The shows I liked on the broadcast networks this season are, for the most part, ending on their own (“30 Rock”) or are safely returning (“New Girl”). There are shows I used to like, and those became poor shadows of themselves (“Community” and “The Office,” which is also ending). There are really only two shows on the so-called bubble I really wondered about: “Happy Endings,” a delightful live-action cartoon that remains in limbo (though I’m oddly confident in the reports that it will be picked up by USA), and a show that I really like and highly recommend but also a show that is just very entertaining; and “Parks and Recreation,” the best show on network television for a few years now. I like “Happy Endings.” I love “Parks and Recreation.” And so the fact that NBC has opted to bring it back for a sixth season is just terrific.
The A.V. Club is doing another of those tremendous walkthroughs, wherein they get the people running terrific television shows to, you know, walk them through said shows. This time, it’s Michael Schur discussing the most recent season of “Parks and Recreation.” Here’s part one, part two, part three and part four. The fifth part will come out on Friday, but you’re going to have to go find that link for yourself, because if I do everything for you that will just teach you the wrong lesson about life.
Original: It’s official: “Parks and Recreation” has been renewed. Alan Sepinwall reports that it has been picked up for 13 episodes, but that it should be on the fall schedule, so additional episodes could be ordered down the line. (That depends on how it does, how the new NBC shows do, etc.)
This is very exciting. Last night’s stellar fourth season finale — can Amy Poehler just have all of the awards now? Because she certainly deserves them — would have worked as a series finale, sure. But it was so good, and so damn touching, and also it deftly opened up new possibilities for several characters, that it would have been criminal (CRIMINAL) to end it there. Huzzah.
As everyone expected, NBC renewed “30 Rock” for an abbreviated final season: 13 episodes and then it’s off to TV Heaven to hang out with “Cheers” and “Newhart” and…what’s that? “‘Til Death”? How’d you get up there? Anyway, “30 Rock” has regained some of its old form in its current sixth season. I think a shortened season is actually better for an older show like this, because they can focus on those 13 scripts and not have to stretch to fill out a 22 episode order. But are there even any “30 Rock” writers left to help Tina Fey? I sure hope so.
Meanwhile, “The Office” is probably going to get renewed. Ed Helms, Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski are about to resign for one more season, so we can expect one final year for that show.
And no, we don’t know anything about “Community” or “Parks and Recreation” yet, which is AWESOME. We all have faith that NBC will bring back those low-rated, critically-acclaimed, endlessly-amazing shows, because we have to have that faith, because considering the alternative would be downright painful. The season (SEASON) finale of “Parks and Recreation” airs tonight, by the way, in case you happen to have 15 million Nielsen boxes available.
Hey, remember that time “Parks and Recreation” was off the air for a while because NBC is a very well-run network in every way imaginable? Funny story. The cast and crew filmed the first six episodes of their current season last spring, essentially moving from the second to third seasons without a break due to Amy Poehler’s pregnancy. That was followed by a hiatus, followed by filming the 10 remaining episodes in their third season order. Still reading? Okay, good, I’m getting to the point: With all of that spare time, the “Parks and Recreation” creative types put together a book. A real book, that you can order and read and whatnot. It’s called Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. Tremendous.
We wrote the part for Aubrey. Allison Jones, who is one of the people who cast the show, called me and said, “I just met the weirdest girl I’ve ever met in my life. You have to meet her and put her on your show.” Aubrey came over to my office and made me feel really uncomfortable for like an hour, and immediately I wanted to put her in the show.
— Michael Schur on how Aubrey Plaza was cast on “Parks and Recreation.” It’s worth noting because she’s going to be much more famous and successful than one might presume, given that she’s the fifth or sixth lead on the show, but believe me: she’s gonna be a star.
Good news, everyone! “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Community” have all been renewed for the 2011-2012 season. “The Office” was widely assumed, because everybody involved with that show has been talking all season about prepping for Life After Steve Carell. “Parks and Recreation” was a reasonable pickup, because the show pairs so well with “The Office” and has been getting perfectly decent ratings. “Community” was in a bit more danger, because that 8 p.m. timeslot has been killer (up against “The Big Bang Theory” and “American Idol”), but I’m extremely glad NBC decided to go with known, great quantities for next season. It’s also swell they took care of this now, rather than making us wait until May. (“30 Rock” was renewed in November.)
NBC has released the teaser trailer for next week’s episode of “Parks and Recreation.” It is amazing. It’s cut like the teaser for a thriller, rather than an episode of the best sitcom on television. And there’s a good reason: Megan Mullally, the real-life wife of Nick Offerman, returns as Tammy, one of the two ex-wives (both named Tammy) of Offerman’s Ron Swanson. I love, love, love that this is the Valentine’s Day episode for “Parks and Rec.”