When I hear that a television show is getting a spin-off, I am usually apprehensive. This was especially the case when I read online that the producers of The Office were planning on making a spin-off featuring the character of Karen as played by Rashida Jones. My first thought was not good — how were they going to make yet another “mockumentary” show that would not basically be like watching another half hour of The Office? It was announced not long after this that the show was being retooled. It would not be at all related to The Office but would still be based on the same style. Elizabeth and I decided to try it to see if we would like it.
We watched the first couple of episodes with some trepidation and found that while we found the show to be amusing, it wasn’t spectacular by any means. We pressed on and watched through the end of the season (all six episodes of it — it was a show that NBC tried out in the early spring) and were relieved that the episodes got a bit better as the season progressed — the characters were fleshed out and we got to know them better.
The characters have been what really have been bringing us back to the screen week after week. Every single character in the show is his or her own motivation to watch the show — that is just how interesting I find them all. You have characters like Ron Swanson, a libertarian somewhat ironically working for the government who is constantly struggling with his want to trim down the government’s involvement in the life of the people of his city. Then you have characters like Andy, who started off the show as a jerk and has come around to being an endearing character, even if he is just a little on the dopey side.
I still find it hard to believe that somehow yet another so-called mockumentary show is in the NBC lineup and yet it is doing well. It may have something to do with the interaction between the characters and the camera crew. It is a little more intrusive on The Office — the best part of the last episode with Steve Carell was when he took off the portable microphone he had been wearing for all those years. On Parks and Recreation there is still interaction with the camera crew but it is considerably more minimal.
If you have a spare half hour on your Thursday evening available (or have a DVR or a good way to watch Hulu streams) I would really suggest you give the show a try. It is definitely worth, I believe, watching the first three seasons before moving on to anything new, however — but you can enjoy the show even without watching every episode. It’s good for laughs, certainly.