Ask (Jan. 20, 2009)


Question: Have you seen the pilot yet for that Office-like show starring Amy Poehler? Is it any good? I love Amy!!

— Chantal, Portland, Oregon

I haven’t seen the pilot yet, since the series doesn’t start filming until February, but I’ve read the script for the first episode, and I can already tell I’m going to dig it.

First, some background: The Untitled Amy Poehler Project (the show doesn’t have a name yet) is a mockumentary-style show created by Greg Daniels, who created the American version of The Office. Set to premiere on NBC on April 9, 2009, the half-hour comedy stars Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza, and Aziz Ansara.

(L to R) Ansara, Jones, and Poehler at the
TCA Winter Press Tour last week

Poehler plays Leslie Knope, the head of the Parks and Rec department in Pawnee, Indiana who takes on a project from a nurse (Jones) to turn a construction pit into a park, while trying to mentor a bored college-aged intern (Plaza). Ansari plays her sarcastic co-worker Tom.

Shot in the same style as The Office — the scenes are intercut with characters talking directly to the camera — the characters deal with petty complaints from citizens, problems with co-workers, and local power struggles. Yes, it wounds a lot like The Office set in city politics, with a female lead. But since I love both The Office and women, that works for me!

While a lot of the comedy on this show is going to come from the execution (the physical comedy, the pacing, etc.) the script itself is very amusing.

Poehler’s character Leslie is a great mix of naivete, over-confidence, ambition, and denial, as you can tell is one of her opening speeches:

Politics is changing in this country — it’s not just a boys’ club anymore. There are 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, thanks to people like Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin and me. And Nancy Pelosi. The Parks Department is the site of another one of those cracks. And over the course of my political career, I intend to go around making thousands of more cracks in things, if not outright shattering and destroying them.

And she says all this while wearing a beige pants suit.

In addition to the clever writing, I like the racial diversity of the cast; it’s refreshing and overdue.

I also won’t mind seeing the very funny Aubrey Plaza as the bored intern every week:

We’ll bring you more info about the series when it becomes available.

Question: How could you??? You referred to Ellen’s wife as her roommate [in your teaser for BLWE]?? This is unbelievable!!!!

Name Withheld

Answer: If you had read the column, you’d see it was a reference to Ellen thanking "my roommate Portia" in her People’s Choice Awards acceptance speech.

[Yes, this is really a question that was sent to the askafterellen email address, and yes, it makes me want to bang my head against the wall.]

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