In the stupendous fourth season finale of Parks & Rec, April panics after she believes she has accidentally mass-deleted documents in the office, and after making an emergency phone call to Andy (who arrives and says something like, “First of all, you did the right thing by hiding under this table”), the two of them brainstorm lists of places where they could begin life as fugitives to escape the consequences of the deletions: worst in April’s mind is a long lecture from Leslie Knope about responsibility.
In the director’s cut on hulu, April requests New Caprica – twice.
That seemingly throwaway line/list inclusion, with its ephemeral reference to Battlestar Galactica, as well as most of the sheet on the flip-chart, proves that the writers are working to pack almost 100% of their running time, not only with great gags and lines, but with lists!
The reference also appeals to a rather narrow demographic: people who watch Parks & Rec faithfully, but more precisely, people who have also watched the Battlestar Galactica re-boot faithfully, and to whittle down to the core, people who have watched both shows closely enough to understand that April would definitely watch BSG and that her choice of New Caprica, essentially a desolate death camp for humans run by Cylons who can barely contain their contempt for the people that they have subjugated, runs right in line with her character. April hates humanity more than Cylons do.
Chicago gets a mention, as well as Moon – a throwback to the Parks & Rec model U.N. episode, when April agrees to represent a political entity, but will only consider being a delegate from the moon.
The list also names Georgia (not U.S.A. state) from the disastrous model U.N. debate episode, not the one on Parks & Rec, but rather the one on Community, which had its first run around the same time as the P & R one! In fact, I wasn’t sure of the reference at first – I thought it was Andy who represented Georgia, the country (not the state), but then distinctly remembered Andy trading Finland’s resources for lions:
No, it was Troy on Community, who after repeated reminders recognized that he was representing not the southern state, but a former republic of the Soviet Union, yet still insisted on making formal statements in a preposterous Georgian (the state) drawl to convey accurate political information:
Even the tiniest jokes seem to play off the depth of the fans’ knowledge base, bouncing references off older sci-fi shows as well as shows that run on the same network on the same night with similar scenarios: Parks & Rec‘s “The Treaty” (S4e7) and Community‘s “Geography of Global Conflict” (S3e2).
The fact that I can get this much meat out of a seconds-long bit may all but certify me as a superviewer, a term coined in The New York Times to refer to a newer TV phenomenon: viewers who track multiple storylines on multiple shows and wield a newfound power, especially on the interweb, to show satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the directions taken by programs on their personal rosters. I’m not sure whether I should be flattered or insulted (or warned) by being categorized as part of a group holding such depth of knowledge, the use of which to me seems more limited to cognitive exercises such as the acute appreciation of obscure jokes in sitcom b- and c-storylines. But I am not alone. Mr. Lousy, this one was for us.
Especially for you. On your special day. Take a moment to revel in your super-status.