Forgive us if we’re a little on edge, NBC is being weird about “Parks and Recreation” and ABC has yet to renew “Happy Endings,” and it’s making us a little crazy.
As the network upfronts draw near, we’re learning which shows have been picked up for next season and which are being put out to pasture. NBC has already announced that “30 Rock” will return for an abbreviated, 13-episode final season. While we’re a lil sad that the show is coming to a close, it does seem like the time is right to end the Emmy-winning sitcom. “Rock” has seen better days, though it has been on its game these last few weeks and, let’s face it, even off-prime “30 Rock” is superior to most shows on network television. But we’ve always been fans of letting shows go out strong, before they’ve worn out their welcome – so farewell good friend, you will be missed.
We cannot say we feel the same about “Parks and Recreation.” NBC has yet to announce exactly what it is going to do about the middling-rated, critically adored sitcom, but popular consensus seems to be that the network will announce a shortened final season for the Amy Poehler vehicle as well. This is not OK.
“Parks” ended its fourth season last night with a game changer episode. Poehler’s Leslie Knope was elected to the Pawnee city council, a move that could easily reinvigorate the sitcom and open the door to a host of new storylines. It remains one of the best shows on television and enjoys a cult following, but the shift it introduced gives “Parks” the opportunity to do something that the more insular “Community” and “30 Rock” have always had trouble doing: welcoming new viewers.
A problem with “Rock” and, more so, “Community” is that both have grown more and more meta the longer they’ve been on the air, making it hard for new viewers to understand the jokes or find affection for the characters. “Parks” doesn’t suffer from this problem, and could thrive with the right promotion and time slot. (It would perhaps do better on, say, Wednesday, where it wouldn’t face off against CBS’ unstoppable “Big Bang Theory”-anchored comedy block.)
We get that network TV is a business, but we think it would be a mistake for NBC to scrub itself entirely of its most acclaimed shows. The network is developing a lot of comedies and it’s going to need something proven to anchor them. “Parks” may not be a ratings bonanza, but it has been a consistent performer. Paired with the right shows, it still has enough life in it to be a hit.
The same can be said for ABC’s “Happy Endings,” which really came into its own last season. Frankly, we’re surprised ABC hasn’t announced that it is sticking with the buzzed-about sitcom – word on the street has always been that execs at the network love the show. Most insiders expect that it will eventually be renewed, but it’s disconcerting that the net didn’t include the show in its announcement of renewals for “Modern Family,” “The Middle” and “Suburgatory,” the three other shows that make up its Wednesday comedy block.
Sure, “Endings” is the weakest performer of the night, but its ratings are far from a wash. After a rough, manic and uneven-at-best first season, ABC gave “Endings” a good-faith full second season order. Whether it knew that the show would settle into itself, re-focus and become a whip-smart quote machine is anyone’s guess. But that’s what happened.
We’re mostly here to implore NBC and ABC to give “Parks” and “Endings” another shot. With a little TLC, both could easily grow from being critically acclaimed cult hits to bona fide ratings winners. Have a little faith, these shows are too good to be put out to pasture just yet.
*Update: Ask and you shall receive! The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that NBC has given “Parks and Rec” the go-ahead for a fifth season. Still no news on “Happy Endings.”
*Update 2: ABC picks up “Happy Endings” for a full, 22-episode third season, TV Line reports.