Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

(Tie) The Office / Parks and Recreation

NBC's corporate mockumentary and its public-sector sorta spinoff were a matching, mirror-image pair. The Office began the year at a torrid pace, with a sidesplitting post–Super Bowl episode and a story line about Michael Scott (Steve Carell) forming a rival paper company that — like Pam and Jim's wedding in the fall — showed that this is both one of TV's best comedies and one of its best light dramas. While it has wavered a bit postnuptials, on a good week it's as sharp and deep as TV comedy gets. Meanwhile, after a shaky start, Parks found its offbeat voice, focusing on bureaucrat Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and the citizens and civil servants of Pawnee, Ind. Knope fights doggedly for a pet project (turning an abandoned pit into a park), battling red tape, an evil library department and her own overenthusiasm. This sly but optimistic civic satire may be the first distinctive comedy of the Obama era.