This one is kind of a no-brainer: Season One was trying to get its footing and failed on so many levels. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: first seasons tend to be iffy by default. Television shows are a collaborative effort: all the different groups have to get together and figure out how their roles mesh. Luckily for the viewers, everybody seemed to start to gel over a period of six episodes, even though it was incredibly rough to witness the final result. It’s also the most obviously The Office-inspired of the seasons, which just wouldn’t have worked throughout seven seasons.
It was definitely a tone issue, combined with a general misunderstanding of Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope. From the very first episode, she is portrayed as incredibly eager, but early on, that earnestness is paired with incompetence and ineffectiveness, which did not translate well onto the screen. Truthfully? Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson was the only reason I decided to return an unopened Season Two to Target. Tom, Donna, Garry, Mark, and Ann were not really that notable (especially Donna and Garry), and Leslie just seemed stupid and bumbling.
Well, until we got to the opening of “Boys’ Club.” Leslie and Tom are investigating a claim that teenagers are having dog poop throwing battles in the park, and upon arrival, the two public servants discover that it is indeed true. Tom retreats to the car in classic Tom fashion, and Leslie realizes that, hey, this actually is kinda fun, wielding a trash can lid as a shield and whipping dog poop bags at the youths. Even though this moment seems random, it’s at this moment Leslie begins to shed her bureaucratic, wide-eyed persona. The rest of the episode revolves around that theme, with Leslie choosing to open a bottle of wine from a gift basket (valued at over $25) given to the parks department. Over the next two episodes, the show improves drastically, coming together wonderfully for the first season’s finale, “Rock Show.”
However, even with that successive improvement, Season One is still the weakest of the seven, and I don’t think there’s a single fan out there who will disagree with me. Probably? People are fairly petty, so there’s a chance that someone somewhere is getting all pissy that I’m not super into Season One. Oh, well. You can’t please everyone, I suppose.