Well this can’t be good. Nikki Finke shared a series of leaked market research screening reviews for NBC‘s upcoming comedy series “Parks and Recreation” and things weren’t good. Here are a few excerpts from the focus group results, but without having the entire set of results there is no way for me to tell you what the entire picture looked like. Take these with a grain of salt.

  • PARKS AND RECREATION’s overwhelming resemblance to THE OFFICE caused many viewers to simply see it as a “carbon copy” of a successful show. The pilot was seen as “predictable” and lacking in character development, even for a pilot. PARKS AND RECREATIONS needs to differentiate itself from THE OFFICE; otherwise it runs the risk of being seen as “derivative,” “forced,” and “unoriginal.”
  • 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, but felt the pilot was too close and similar to the OFFICE. However, many OFFICE fans were quick to point out that THE OFFICE did not become their favorite show overnight. For many, the show grew on them overtime and viewers expect a similar pattern with PARKS & RECREATION and, given their excitement for the show, most are willing to give it a longer commitment than they would another new comedy. This goodwill is stronger than usual, but 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 to the show and helps raise viewers’ expectations.
  • Although many saw her as the “Michael Scott character [from The Office]”, Amy Poehler was well liked. SNL fans felt her character Leslie was a bit “too serious” and “too low-key” and many expected her to have more energy and enthusiasm, especially when she is getting drunk at the end of the show. Viewers appreciate her “big heart” and the fact that she is trying to help Ann and Andy.

Okay, those are mostly the negative aspects of the research and since I haven’t seen anything more than the clips released as commercials I can’t comment on the quality of the show. What I can say is that when I watched one of the recent commercials I did make the comment that it felt way too much like Amy Poehler was trying to strongly impersonate Michael Scott rather than being her own character.

Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, gave this retort on the spread of the bad research results:

“All of the research we do around initial rough cuts is negative,” Silverman says. “If you had seen the initial research on all of ours and our competitors’ successful shows, it tends to be like that.” Silverman says he has “no idea” how the test reports were leaked.

The rest of us won’t know until April 9th when the series premieres, so until then we’ll just have to speculate away. What do you think?

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