According to a leaked focus-group report, NBC's new Amy Poehler sitcom Parks and Recreation is a flop. But NBC's boy-genius Ben Silverman says it's cool, because whatever—focus groups always hate on stuff, man.
Nikki Finke poured cold water on excited Poehler fans yesterday by posting the report, which showed that preview audiences thought the show was a "carbon copy" of The Office, "derivative," "forced," predictable," "unoriginal," and "lacking in character development, even for a pilot" (ouch!).
Parks and Recreation is from Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, who produce The Office, and it shares the hit show's mockumentary format as it follows a city bureaucrat played by Poehler trying to turn an abandoned pit into a park. NBC has high hopes for the show because—no wait, NBC Universal Chief Jeff Zucker abandoned all hope last week when he said that NBC would never be No. 1 in prime time again. Anyway, NBC still wants the show to do well, so Silverman tried to spin the leak to EW:
All of the research we do around initial rough cuts is negative. If you had seen the initial research on all of ours and our competitors' successful shows, it tends to be like that.
Bravo! No worries, then. Parks and Recreation will suck no more than anything else on TV.
Of course, if all focus groups always says they hate every show they're shown, that would raise the question as to why networks continue to pay research firms gobs of money to conduct them. A perusal of the Parks and Recreation report shows the depth of insight and guidance you can get from a gang of unemployed mouth-breathers:
1. People want a show that's exactly like The Office.
Expectations for this show are very high, especially among OFFICE viewers. Many had seen the promos and were expecting an "OFFICE-type mockumentary" with the same tone.
2. Parks and Recreation sucks because it is almost exactly like The Office!
But [they] felt the pilot was too close and similar to the OFFICE.
3. They hated The Office at first, too, but gave it time to grow on them.
However, many OFFICE fans were quick to point out that THE OFFICE did not become their favorite show overnight.
4. Parks and Recreation has about two episodes to become The Office.
[B]ut viewers will expect to see the show to be as good as THE OFFICE soon. Furthermore, labeling the show as being "from the producers of THE OFFICE" adds credibly (sic) to the show and helps raise viewers' expectations.
5. Too much of the show takes place at that abandoned pit.
Focus needs to evolve away from the pit—consider showing Leslie [Amy Poehler] and her team dealing with various parks and recreation duties.
6. More pit please!
Highest positive spike comes from Leslie falling into the pit.