No one has been begging for television programming about the coronavirus pandemic because we’re already being inundated with that nonsense every damn day of our lives. But last night, A Parks and Recreation Special managed to make the most delicious lemonade out of some very bitter lemons by remotely reuniting the cast of the hit NBC comedy series for an episode catching up with Pawnee’s finest as they self-quarantine and check on each other during these uncertain times. If you missed it because you don’t have cable or Peacock, don’t worry, because the entire episode is online for free right now.
Just a heads up, we’re going to dive into spoilers after the video below, so if you haven’t watched A Parks and Recreation Special yet, and you want to go in fresh, wait to read until after you’ve seen it.
A Parks and Recreation Special
A Parks and Recreation Special finds Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), who is now in charge of the National Parks Service, following up on a phone tree she created to check in on all her old friends from Pawnee. She starts with Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), who is nonplussed to be socializing, but feels obligated to appease Leslie and check on the rest of the gang, and of course no one wants to be the person who has to call Garry/Jerry (Jim O’Heir).
One of the challenges facing this remotely produced episode was figuring out a reason for certain characters to be away from each other even though they’re married with kids. The solution for Leslie and Ben (Adam Scott) was easy because their jobs require them to be away on business. The reasoning behind Chris (Rob Lowe) and Ann (Rashida Jones) being apart was conscious decision since the latter is a nurse who doesn’t want to get her husband and kids sick. But the best explanation for distance by far was Andy (Chris Pratt) accidentally locking himself in a shed from the inside while April (Aubrey Plaza) was still in the house.
Along with the phone tree premise, which also includes a much needed reunion between Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Donna (Retta), we also get to see Leslie and Ben checking in with Pawnee’s TV hosts to discuss what they’re doing to keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic, which means we not only get a visit with Joan Calamezzo (Mo Collins) and the at-home version of her series and the ongoing talk show from Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson), but we also get hilarious makeshift commercials from Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser), Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas), and even Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz).
But the best part of this special is the end, where Ron Swanson and all of Leslie’s closest friends gather up in a Gryzzl meeting to cheer her up with a rendition of Andy’s tribute to Li’l Sebastian, “5,000 Candles in the Wind.” It’s undeniably cheesy and overly sentimental, but right now that’s perfectly fine, and it might have even brought a tear to my eye as I sang along with the song. We only wish we had more Parks and Recreation to keep us optimistic and joyful.
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