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Parks and Recreation

Wed Mar 27, 10-10.45pm, BBC4

Series two, episodes one and two
No sooner has season one finished than we’re straight into season two – at 24 episodes, four times as long and, on the basis of this opener, improving all the time. After an overly Michael Scott-ish start that sees relentlessly cheerful local bureaucrat Leslie Knope doing ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’ a-capella, ‘Parks…’ begins carving out its own identity distinct from ‘The Office’.

Fewer pieces to camera, greater character development and a more absorbing narrative are allied to sits so well conceived that the com comes easily. In tonight’s opening double bill, Leslie accidentally takes a stand for gay rights when she marries two male penguins at a promotional event for Pawnee Zoo, before her latest wheeze for the pit, a community garden, is hijacked to grow marijuana.

The latter sees an entertaining cameo from Louis CK as a weary cop, while the mix-and-matching of the established cast allows some great new double acts to coalesce: Leslie working more closely with Tom, for example, can only be a good thing. This, said America’s viewers and critics, is where ‘P&R’ started to become unmissable; we’re beginning to see why.

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