Cheer up, Amy Poehler fans. Just because some TV critics aren't wild about the pilot episode of "Parks and Recreation," her new sitcom debuting tonight on NBC, doesn't mean it can't rally in coming weeks — and at the upcoming Emmys. Many of the critics pooh-poohing "Parks and Recreation" as a weak imitation of "The Office" — from the show's same creators, Greg Daniels and Mike Schur — are the same sourpusses who once dismissed NBC's "The Office" as a pale imitation of the hit British original starring Ricky Gervais. The re-tooled Yankee version of "The Office" got the last laugh, winning the Emmy for comedy series at the end of its first season (2005-2006).
"Parks and Recreation" has some quick catching up to do, being a mid-season, spring replacement series with just a handful of episodes airing before the end of the Emmy eligibility period (May 31), but that timing can also be beneficial, since it'll be fresh on voters' minds.
But the race for best comedy series is no laughing matter this year. Of the five nominees last year, "30 Rock" (winner in 2007 and 2008), "Entourage," "The Office" and "Two and a Half Men" look like good bets to return. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" isn't eligible. Which show will claim the remaining slots? Remember, due to a new rule change, there will be six or seven nominees instead of the usual five. No new show has been a break-out smash hit. "United States of Tara" was well received. Ditto "Better Off Ted." However, neither had socko ratings, which matter a lot because the nominees will now be determined strictly by a popular ballot. There won't be judging panels this year to boost a lower-rated show's chances. "Parks and Recreation" will benefit from being a hugely touted prestige series airing on NBC's Thursday night lineup.
The following series were in the top 10 run-off last year, but didn't score noms: "Family Guy," "Flight of the Conchords," "Pushing Daisies," "Ugly Betty" and "Weeds." That should help their odds to nab bids, but "Conchords" and "Daisies" have been canceled. There's a feeling that "The Big Bang Theory," "Californication" and "How I Met Your Mother" are overdue.