As we told you the other day, TV by the Numbers is listing Parks and Recreation as "likely to be canceled by May, 2010." I don't understand why people aren't watching this show. It was created by people who worked on ginormous hit The Office, stars Amy Poehler and a hilarious supporting cast, and is really, really funny. If you've seen it before and dismissed it, give it another chance. If you haven't watched it yet, start immediately. And if you are a fan, there's nothing wrong with breaking into the house of everyone you know and turning it on. If you know a Nielsen family, even better.
Tv by the Numbers' Renew/Cancel index takes a show's to-date 18-49 ratings and divides it by the network's to-date 18-49 ratings. That means a 1 is good, above a 1 is great, and below a 1 is trouble. As their methodology states, "without special factors, scripted shows that were more than 10% below their network’s average are typically canceled by the end of the broadcast primetime season." Right now, Parks and Recreation is at .70, or 30% below the NBC average. While this is not an exact science, that's not a good number.
It's possible that audiences have dismissed Parks and Recreation after its inconsistent start last season. I was skeptical at first, because it seemed to be an inferior carbon copy of The Office. But I was wrong, and since it returned a month ago, every episode has been great. While P and R does use the same documentary-style format as The Office, and a shared sense of humor, the shows are very different. Amy Poehler's character of Leslie Knope is not a female version of Michael Scott, and the tone of the show, unlike The Office, stays away from "look how stupid these people are."
Instead, the tone is more "look how mean these people are," in the vein of Arrested Development or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And that tone is actually better! Last night's episode started with a politician confessing to an affair. "All I can say is, I wasn't just having sex," he says, "I was making love. To a beautiful woman. And her boyfriend. And a third person whose name I never learned. Furthermore, it was wrong for me to say I was building houses for the underprivileged, when I was actually having four-way sex in a cave in Brazil." This incites a contest at the Parks department to see who can dig up the most dirt on a co-worker. It turns ugly quickly and hilariously.
If you've stopped watching, give Parks and Recreation another chance. It doesn't deserve to get canceled -- it doesn't even deserve to be on deathwatch. But right now, it's only getting half of The Office's ratings, and it won't stay on the air for long with those numbers. It would be a shame to see it end up like Arrested Development, which no one discovered until it went off the air. (Well, you probably knew about it sooner, and it's fun to tell people that, right?) Watch Parks and Recreation now, and then you'll have another show to brag that you discovered first.
Parks and Recreation airs on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC