Review: A Parks & Recreation Special

The world of entertainment seems have come to a screeching halt as of late, thanks to COVID-19, so blockbuster movies from the likes of No Time To Die and Black Widow (among dozens of others) have been pushed back to later in the year, tentpole television shows like Falcon & The Winter Soldier and Stranger Things 4 have halted production, and some of the most highly anticipated films of 2021 like The Batman and Jurassic World: Dominion have paused filming. That didn’t stop showrunner Mike Schur from giving the world a brand new episode of his beloved workplace sitcom Parks & Recreation, five years after the series finale; and all for a good cause: the special episode serves as a fundraiser for Feeding America.

The aptly titled A Parks & Recreation Special finds almost the entire main cast of characters, and even some of the fan-favorite supporting cast returning as Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) attempts to create a phone-tree with her friends and former co-workers from her days at the Pawnee, Indiana Parks & Recreation department. Everyone from Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), Anne Perkins (Rashida Jones), April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), Garry Gergich (Jim O’Heir), and Donna Meagle (Retta) return as they all talk to each other through their own devices using a Zoom-esque service made by Gryzzl (a company that fans of the show should be fairly familiar with).

To say I was skeptical about the special would be an understatement, while the idea of having the cast reprise their roles for a remote reunion special sounds excellent on paper, I wasn’t sure how the episode would even be structured.

Though this Special proved that the show hadn’t lost its spark and neither has the cast. The special reminded us what it was that made us fall in love with these characters. While it’s cool to see Chris Pratt becoming a massive A-List action star, it was so nice to see him going back to his comedic roots playing as Andy once more as he nearly steals every single scene he’s in.

The story is loose, and there’s not a lot to the special, but here that doesn’t feel like that matters. The callbacks to the Cones of Dunshire, Requiem For A Tuesday, Lil’ Sebastian, Johnny Karate, and Bobby Newport filled the inner Parks & Rec fan in me with so much joy and happiness. There’s not a cynical bone in the special’s 25-minute runtime, which makes it feel all the more special. If there ever was a time for this, it was now.

If you’re a big fan of Parks & Recreation like myself or even just a casual viewer of the show, this is definitely one to seek out. NBC has even posted the full special up on their Youtube channel if you don’t have access to Hulu. This is 30 minutes of pure joy.

Student at Ball State and lover of all things Spielberg.

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