Five years after its final episode, the cast of “Parks and Recreation” reunited for a reunion special taking us all back to good ol’ Pawnee, Indiana. The social-distanced reunion was a perfect treat for fans. Well-executed and clever, the one-off special was full of nostalgia with running jokes and references to past episodes.
Familiar faces graced the screen as every central character of the show returned including Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), Donna Meagle (Retta), Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), and (damnit) Jerry/Garry Gergich (Jim O’Heir). The episode even saw surprises from fan favorites Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz) and Leslie’s former opponent Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd).
Set in the current 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the cast and their characters engaged in a virtual call to keep up with each other while staying away. Rather than using Zoom to conference each other like most of us do, the teleconferencing program used was a blast from the past, Gryzzl, the same company prominently featured in the show’s final season.
The episode follows Leslie (Poehler) as she checks up on her friends thus beginning the phone tree featured throughout the reunion. Knope first calls Ron Swanson (Offerman) and asks how he is doing during the quarantine. He then reassures her that he has been preparing himself for such a thing all his life. The phone call turns into the running gag of the episode as characters avoid calling Garry (O’Heir), reviving the joke of the disdain for the character.
While the cast of the show is self-isolating, the writers of the show found hilarious reasons for the Pawnee couples not being in the same room including Andy Dwyer (Pratt) trapping himself in his shed and a lovely nod to the world’s healthcare workers with Anne (Jones) volunteering as a nurse.
The 30-minute reunion sometimes felt a bit rushed as so many characters were featured throughout the fictional video call phone tree. However, callbacks to previous seasons, updates from the current lives of characters, cameos and one heck of a Lil’ Sebastian singalong made the episode all the more special, allowing audiences to reconnect to the characters they love.
Overall, the special was light-hearted and infectiously funny. The DIY production of the show exceeded expectations and the all-star cast didn’t miss a beat. A true service to longtime fans of the show, the episode was as if it never ended.
The reunion was an effort to raise money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. NBCUniversal, State Farm, Subaru of America, and the writers, producers and cast of the show announced they would be matching donations up to $500,000.
Air Date: April 30, 2020