Friday, October 2, 2009

Show, don't tell!!

Ok, my editor at my real job is always telling me that. So, if that's a must for a written medium, it must certainly be even more of a must (how that's possible, I don't know) in a visual medium like television.

This is my major gripe with Parks and Recreation this season. It's a funny enough show. It's getting better as it goes along and while it's funny enough, I don't think it's hit its stride yet. Anyway, last season the character Ann was dating the character Andy, and Amy Poehler's co-worker crush, Mark, was a bit of a ladies man cad but with a sweet side, and they briefly, very briefly in the last two or three episodes hinted at a possible romantic entanglement between Mark and Ann. It was intriguing. It's a cliche but I like the whole bad-boy-reforms-for-the-right-girl storyline. Yes, sometimes I'm that easy. But the best part was that Ann, though she broke up with Andy, totally rebuffed Mark. Bad boy's gotta earn that right girl, love.

Ok, so this season starts and suddenly, in the very first episode, Mark asks Ann on a date and Ann says yes. Without even so much as hemming or hawing. And these are the exact words out of her mouth:

"Mark was brought to my hospital the night of the accident. He was here for a week. I think when his head hit the ground it must have knocked something loose because he's actually a pretty nice guy now."

In the very next scene, Mark asks Ann out, and she says no. Not because he's a cad, but because he's sorta her best friend's ex. She so wants to say yes.

When I watched that, I wanted to reach into the television and shake Rashida Jones, vicariously shaking the writers. Don't just tell me that Mark is now a nice guy. *Show* me he's a nice guy. It's difficult but definitely not impossible to show when I'm writing a news story, but when you're using a visual medium, *showing* is your main form of communication. How hard would it have been to show me Mark acting like a decent human being worthy of consideration for a date by Ann. But no, Ann says he's nice, so now he's nice. And the writers use a fall into a pit as a deus ex machina to completely rewrite Mark's character and make him both lame and boring.

Anyway, rant over. Amy Poehler's character of Leslie is smarter this season, which is a pleasant change. Chris Pratt, forever my crush Bright from Everwood, is now a series regular. Ron, the parks and recreation boss who hates government, hasn't changed and that's a plus. They've found better use of the character April. And I'm loving Louis CK's police officer Dave as Leslie's awkward yet earnest love interest.

Back to rant momentarily: Trust in your viewers' intelligence. We don't have to be spoon fed information to understand a change in character/story. End rant.

Parks and Recreation is on NBC on Thursdays.

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