Friday, June 3, 2011

Parks & Recreation: The Evster & Dave Email About Parks & Rec, a Sitcom Renaissance, & the New Print Feature

I'd live in Pawnee, Indiana.

Evster's note: the following post is pretty long; I'm talking Long Duck Dong long. So instead of just skimming the post and checking out the pictures, why not try out the new TV Me Weef Wooches PRINT FEATURE at the bottom of the page? Just scroll down, print this out, and then read this authentic piece of literature on the train, or on the can, or do what I like to do: print it out, and tape the pages to your computer monitor; and then go out and do something else. Thank you and good duck.

Welcome to another edition of Conversations With Someone Else, where I exchange emails with anyone who has a working email account to discuss the world of entertainment. Today's guest is Dave, a blogger who blogs the blog Where Is Ben Rivera. I have never actually met Dave, but we are currently exploring a very creepy internet friendship. Dave's blog is all about Philly sports and professional wrestling, but he also claims to be a sitcom expert, so I figured we could discuss Parks and Recreation, both Dave's and my wife's favorite show. Maybe they should be the ones exploring something. Also, my wife would TOTALLY be up for it.

Pretty sure this photo of Ben Rivera is autographed by a guy named Frank Ji Orr.

Evster: I can't figure out who my favorite character on Parks and Rec is. Sometimes I think it's the chick, and sometimes I lean more towards the husband. And when I say "the chick," I mean the chick with the really funny husband. Then again, Amy Poehler is pretty funny too. And Aziz Ansari has his moments. Oh wait, I know who my favorite is, it's Jean-Ralphio. That guy is amazing. 

Who is the best character on this show? Do we even need to pick a favorite? The answer is yes. That's what life is all about, saying certain people are better than other people. For the record, the best person ever is Jimmy Superfly Snuka. Who else could pull off leopard print tights?!?! The answer is Jean-Ralphio. 

Also, what do you think the actor's name is who plays Jean-Ralphio? I'll give you multiple choice:

a) Massimo Ambrosini
b) Sergio Ramos
c) Ben Schwartz

Dave: You’ve correctly assumed I won’t cheat on this little quiz. I’m a man of integrity. I’ll go with B) Sergio Ramos.

The biggest compliment I can give Parks and Recs is that I don’t dislike any of the characters. They are all uniquely crafted. I think Ted from How I Met Your Mother is a loser, Michael from The Office is/was too over-the-top, and I found Ted Danson’s Becker character to be very unbecoming. But I approve of everyone from P and R.

Now with apologies to Ron Swanson, who like me, is completely apathetic about his job and loves meat, my favorite character is Tom Haverford (Aziz). Since I have a finger on the pulse of the stand-up comedy scene (Meaning, I’ve watched a couple celebrity roasts on Comedy Central), I can say that Ansari is one of the better young comedians out there. He has nailed this role. For those who may be unfamiliar, here are some highlights:

(My favorite moment is around the 1:15 mark when he sings, “Thisssss is how you eat it” to the tune of Montell Jordan’s hit single). 

As for Superfly, I could write 30,000 words on Jimmy Snuka, including how his career arc mirrored that of Von Hayes’ - but I’ll spare your readers. I will say, though, that I used to take my Jimmy Snuka wrestling figure and create a tag team with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. I named them, cleverly (?), “The Pacific Coast Connection.” 

Evster:  I'm pretty sure The Pacific Coast Connection played my Bar Mitzvah. 

Also, I gotta be honest here, I DON'T THINK AZIZ ANSARI IS THAT FUNNY. I think he's funny, don't get me wrong, and the Snake Juice episode was one of the greatest sitcom half hours I've ever seen, but I think he's a little too shticky. Everything he does is the same note, in that hip-hop'ish mold ... for example, here's my impression of Aziz Ansari:

"So I was sitting at home yesterday eating Fruit Loops, because Fruit Loops are CRAAAAZZZZYYY, and I thought, 'Yo, I'm gonna make an actual loop out of fruit.' But it's gotta be a dope fruit, like kiwi or guava, and not some lame fruit like cantaloupe. Because cantaloupe is lame! Anyway, all I have in my house is cantaloupe, because it was on sale ... I call this cantaloops ..." ... Aziz holds up two pieces of cantaloupe shaped in circles.  

Now I'm not sure why my Aziz character turned into Carrot Top, but you get my point. 

Also, cantaloupe f**king sucks!

And Ted Danson is a pimp. Has there ever been a funnier character than Sammy "Mayday" Malone during the pathetic pining for Rebecca Howe years? The answer is yes, Jean-Ralphio.

Snork Juice

Dave:  See, I like that Fruit Loops bit. In fact, I just copied and pasted your email into my OWN email, took out Aziz’ name, and sent it to some co-workers. 

The subject line of my email: “My Cantaloupe Story.”

First reply I received: “LOL. Fruit Loops are the sh*t.”

See, Evan? That’s what sells. Plagiarism, Hip-hop, and breakfast cereal.

But…your point is well-taken. I watched Ansari do stand-up live, and aside from an older woman who kept insisting I take a handful of candies from a sandwich baggie (I declined, with the razor blades and all), my only minor complaint was that Aziz’ routine was a tad, as you call it, ‘shticky.’ He dedicated a solid ten minutes to a pretend conversation with R Kelly, which I could’ve done without.

I think it’s clear that the producers/writers molded the Tom Haverford character around Ansari’s stand-up routine. And why not? He’s had success with it. Part of the appeal of the character, for me anyway, is that Tom Haverford is doing his thing in Pawnee, IN. Just a small town boy with big city dreams. He’s no different than you or I, Ev. This gimmick obviously wouldn’t translate well in a LA or New York-based sitcom, but in Pawnee, IN? Sure, I can get behind that.

I’m glad you brought up Cheers. As you know, I’ve lived in Boston since ‘08. My biggest pet peeve is when visitors come up and want to stop into the Cheers bar for a drink. It’s the same conversation every time:

“Can we go to the Cheers bar?”

The bar looks nothing like the set. It’s really just a bar with Cheers memorabilia.

“I don’t care. It still would be cool to see it.”

*an hour later*

“This is it? It doesn’t look anything like the TV show.”

The disappointment in their eyes just breaks my heart.

Question for you: You get to play catch with one second baseman: Chase Utley or Tony Micelli. Choose carefully.

Fruit Loops are the isht.

Evster:  I am not answering your Chase Utley question because my blog blog is about television, and not baseball, and whatever followers I have who are still reading this post will not stand for more sports talk. And also I have no idea who Tony Micelli is. 

Okay, I just googled Tony Micelli. I'm picking Chase Utley. 

I love the small town charm of Parks and Rec, The Office, Roseanne, The Wonder Years, and my personal favorite sitcom, CBS Sunday Morning. In fact, I've been trying to get my wife to up and move to Minnesota for years, simply because of Coach. I went to college with a guy from Minnesota who really was the nicest and whitest person I've ever met. We once bought scalped tickets to a Sixers-Pacers playoff game and had to sit in separate sections because we could only get single seats. Towards the end of the game, I looked over to his section and he was sharing one of those pound / handshake / hugs with the biggest, blackest dude I've ever seen. I was so proud of him. 

People say that the sitcom is dead, but I'll argue that we may be having a sitcom renaissance! ... or a sitcomssance. Actually, I will not argue that we're having a sitcommssance, that's just a stupid word that's really hard to pronounce (and spell). 

But looking back to the glory days of sitcoms, forgetting about Three's Company and What's Happening! and anything else before Alf, the current slew of programs may be the best ever. Let's break it down. 

In the mid 80's - early 90's, NBC had it's whopper Thursday night with: The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers and Night Court

Two of the all-time greats in Cosby and Cheers, with Family Ties creeping right behind them. Night Court was also a very solid show and Markie Post was secretly so hot. 

Be honest, you had no idea Markie Post was this hot.

Nice hosiery.

This eventually led to ABC's double dipper of Roseanne and The Wonder Years, not quite on par with the others, but two shows that were pretty darn good. The Wonder Years came along at pretty much the perfect time for my generation, and I have a friend who looks and acts EXACTLY like Kevin's brother, Wayne. Meanwhile, Fox slid in there with Married With Children and The Simpsons - maybe the best show ever, but we will not be counting cartoons in this discussion. But if we were, Family Guy and South Park would need to be mentioned along with two of my personal favorites, Dr. Katz and Home Movies. 

The 90's were pretty lame, but had Seinfeld (great, but lacked depth? ... no idea what that even means ,,, also, it's a sitcom, it doesn't need depth!) and Friends (a pretty decent show until Chandler turned into an absolute p*ssy and thus made the show unwatchable). On a smaller scale, Freaks and Geeks aka The Wonder Years part II was good, but not really an all-timer.

Over-under on how many dead-legs this guy has delivered ... 3,000?

The Larry Sanders Show introduced the mockumentary style into the equation, which later influenced Curb Your Enthusiasm, and two British shows, I'm Alan Partridge (totally worth NetFlix'ing), and in my opinion the character that led to David Brent and The Office (UK), without a doubt the best show ever.

So Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, Gary Shandling and Larry David all made incredible shows in the 2000's and led us to our current sitcomssance. Along with Curb and The Office (UK), the 2000's have brought us Extras, Arrested Development, Flight of the Conchords, Eastbound and Down, The Office (USA), Louie, It's Always Sunny, 30 Rock and now Parks and Rec, the last six all currently running. As Miley Cyrus would say, "And that’s, pretty kewl." 

Also, it just took me around ten minutes to italicize all of those show titles. 

Am I missing any? Please don't say Full House. PLEASE don't say Full House. That show needs it's own blog post. 

The greatest ever.

Dave:  I loved The Wonder Years. Truth be told, I love anything Savage.

The Wizard: I own the DVD.

Boy Meets World: Obsessed.

Randy: I’m still on bereavement leave.

Savage Garden: I didn’t hate ‘em…

Now, my mother loves some channel called, ION, because it airs mostly programs about non-detectives solving crimes - which, for whatever reason, my mom adores. Murder, She Wrote (Author), Diagnosis Murder (Doctor), Quincy (Medical Examiner), Father Dowling Mysteries (Priest), Numb3rs (a guy who likes math). But while sitting through another whodunit with Jessica at the Ellington Mansion, I saw a preview for an upcoming episode of The Wonder Years. I was intrigued.

And you know what, Evan? The show still held up. The Wonder Years was charming and realistic. Kid in junior high has a zit. Kid likes the girl across the street. Kid gets called a ‘butthead.’ Kid wants to be popular despite have a nerdy friend. Kid wears a jacket three sizes too small.

That kid was me!

For anyone who did not google Tony Micelli.

I’m trying to think if you left out any sitcoms above. You rattled off like forty of them. Sure, maybe you missed one or two – but good shows? Legitimate sitcoms? I’m having a hard time coming up with one. I remember thinking Dinosaurs on T.G.I.F.’s line-up was a bit before its time. Herman’s Head on Fox is standing out, but probably only because of Jane Sibbett. She was the closest thing to soft core for an eight year-old back then.

Wait, no mention of the Golden Girls? Oversight? Or just deep-rooted ageism? First, “Thank You for Being a Friend” is arguably the best theme song around. Secondly, Sophia was tiny and sarcastic. That old lady was me! And Blanche liked to get down. For a guy who dedicates fifty percent of his blog to The Bachelorette, you would think that Blanche’s escapades would be right in your wheelhouse.

Evster:  There has never been a woman more in my wheelhouse than Rue McClanahan. 

Overall, the Golden Girls was a good show, but not quite great enough to make my above list of sitcoms (I rattled off like forty of them!). 

That being said, Dinosaurs was DEFINITELY ahead of it's time, although I can't remember anything about it. There was another puppet show in the mid-80's that no one I ask about EVER remembers called Spitting Image that was fantastic. It featured a bunch of realistic-looking celebrity puppets like Ronald Reagan and Sly Stallone and possibly even Rue McClanahan. 

I guess it's time we wrap this up. I'd like to dedicate our joint post to Rue McClanahan, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, the chick that Superfly Snuka choked out, as well as any other person who died while reading this long, drawn-out post. 

Any last words? Thoughts? Shout outs? NBA Finals predictions? Asphyxiation advice? 

Seriously, is there ANYONE who remembers this show?!?!

Dave:  A complaint actually. I just walked home from work and - against my better judgment - I traveled past the grocery store where the Duck Tour buses are stationed. In the warmer months, I usually take a detour.

(Think that Anti-drug commercial in the 90s, where the boy takes the long route home to avoid the drug dealers. And the narrator says, “To everyone who takes the long way home…we hear ya.”)

And why do I take a detour, Evan? Because the Duck Tour kids heckle me.

Why do you have no hair?

Why don’t your socks match?

Why do you have so much Tori Amos on your iPod?

How do you little jerks know what’s on my iPod? Nothing makes me more self-conscious than a group of kids heckling me from a duck boat. Should I wear a hat for now on? Take a cab? Download some Kings of Leon?

These little devil tourists have me running scared.

Quick shout out to Miss Ocean City 2005. The OC sun shined just a little bit brighter that year.

Evster:  That sun is dead young man. That sun is dead. 

Follow Dave on Twitter @wheresbenrivera
Follow The Evster on Twitty Twang @TVMWW
Follow Miss Ocean City 2005 @ThriftyRitts


  1. Dave are you single? What's the situashe with your chest/body hair? I tend to prefer a man with minimal hair in these areas, sort of like a pre-pubescent boy. Except with a great job, a decent to above average penis size and the desire to give me a few adorable, equally hairless sons (and a big house!)

  2. did you not even notice Markie Post's extreme toe point?

  3. Hey, Daves alive. And here I thought WIBR was cancelled Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place.

    WIBR, would it kill you to write more than once a month?

  4. WIBR,

    Your string of posts mentioning Ricky Steamboat continues. You just can't help yourself, can you?

  5. Apparently Dave/WIBR/Dave Wibrberg can't log onto TV My WIBR Watches at work, because it's listed as porn and is blocked.

    I can't really blame them.

  6. Aubre, are bushy eye brows a deal breaker? I hope not.

  7. Dave, I'm still friends with Evan, aren't I?

  8. My eyebrows were totally normal until I turned 30.

    Also, can anyone recommend a good eye brow trimmer / therapist?

  9. I don't remember Spitting Image. I do remember D.C. Follies where Fred Willard ran a bar in D.C. where the patrons were the Sid and Marty Kroft puppets.

    1. DC FOLLIES!







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