In the wake of declining ratings during last season’s “Parks and Recreation,” NBC wants the new fifth season – that premieres Thursday, Sept. 20 at 9:30/8:30c – to be full of surprises.
Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler may be wondering “Really?” as her alter-ego Leslie Knope often says when the show gets “really” strange; while how unusual is it to have three U.S. senators guest star, add Lucy Lawless of Xena: Warrior Princess to the cast, or feature real-life contests with the stars hawking ham or spotlighting the recent Summer Olympics. Boyed by her recent Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy – while the recent of the “Parks and Recreation” cast were snubbed this year - Amy Poehler headed for the nation’s capital in hopes of re-booting the show after Season 4 had seen a decline in ratings. For example, Parks reportedly only pulled in “between three and four million viewers an episode;” while The New York Times also reported last month how those poor ratings numbers almost threatened the show from almost getting the nod from its network NBC for a fifth season.
Parks and Recreation gets political
The Times also reported how “the cast and crew of ‘Parks and Recreation’ had come to Washington and its sweltering July heat for the glorious location shots and, more important, its senators. Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snowe and John McCain were on the way to take part in an episode set in Washington – ‘as long as Afghanistan doesn’t invade Kyrgyzstan’ - said Michael Schur, the executive producer who runs ‘Parks and Recreation.’ ‘We just found out they already had a vote today, so we’re just hoping they can actually take a break and show up.’”
Also, the show’s producers said filming in Washington was a good fit since the last episode of Season 4 was titled “Win, Lose or Draw” and aired this past May 8 with just 3.42 million viewers with this final season episode featuring the results of Pawnee’s City Council election.
For those new to this sitcom, the show focuses on Leslie Knope (Poehler) and her staff at the parks and recreation department of the fictional Indiana town of Pawnee. In turn, the new Season 5 – that premieres Thursday, Sept. 20 at 9:30/8:30c – features a new story arc about what happens now that Leslie has entered politics as a Pawnee city council woman.
Parks facing ratings woes, films in Washington
Prime-time television’s most committed political enthusiast, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), “stood on the hotel balcony with her back to a view that would surely set her public servant’s heart racing: the postcard-ready front of the White House, bisected above roof height by the alabaster needle of the Washington Monument and, looming above, the imposing dome of the Capitol,” reported The New York Times July 26; while a Time photo on its entertainment page seemed to mirror real life imitating TV art when U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe posed with Poehler and Adam Scott on a specially built Parks and Recreation set that looked like a senate hearing room.
Also, the Times joked about how “Leslie’s gray power suit was appropriate for the occasion, but the cherry-red Keds gave the game away.”
After all, this was Amy Poehler, who once memorably played Hillary Clinton on “Saturday Night Live,” and “who now plays Leslie, who worships Mrs. Clinton, on the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation,” added the Times story.
Also, the story went on to explain how “nobody was anticipating the guest stars more than Ms. Poehler, who said she hoped Mr. McCain would remember ‘the time we shot a scene in the shower together.’ That was on ‘SNL,’ when Mr. McCain hosted the show in 2002. It hardly seemed like a moment anyone would be likely to forget, but Ms. Poehler said, ‘It’s all a beautiful, hazy blur what happened in there.’”
Parks trying to hang during Season 5
While the good news for “Parks and Recreation” fans is the quirky cast is back for yet another “much shorter season;” while the plan to boost ratings is linked to unusual guest stars such as Lucy Lawless, stated cinemablend.com in an Aug. 16 report.
In turn, NBC is releasing Season 4 on DVD Sept. 4; while this is just a few weeks before the network tosses out the old and moves on with Season 5 of “Parks and Recreation” with more of this half-hour sitcom devoted to a revolving door of guest stars.
For instance, cinemablend.com noted how Lawless will be dating Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) since he once played a “Cylon,” while referencing Lawless appearing on the cult “Battlestar Galactica” TV series with Offerman.
Also, cinemablend.com reported that Lawless “is headed to Parks and Recreation for a quest spot that will have her appearing in at least two episodes. Her character's name is Diane and she'll catch Ron's eye when he and Andy attempt to deal with a problem she brings to the Parks department.”
The first episode with Lawless is set to air October 4th.
Meanwhile, in what has been called one of the “strangest marketing ploys for a TV show,” Nick Offerman (who plays Leslie Knope’s boss Ron Swanson who seems to enjoy bacon and ham) will also hit the road to plug the show with what’s been dubbed as “Nick Offerman’s American Ham Tour.” The “tour’s” first stop is at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles on Sept. 29. The “Parks and Recreation” program website features more details and ticket information for fans to enjoy this “American Ham Tour,” while NBC just hopes this is enough to re-light the fire for fan enthusiasm as this Parks and Recreation show that’s had declining TV ratings.
Image source for the cast of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” that kicks off Season 5 on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 9:30/8:30c. Photo courtesy Wikipedia