To the delight and surprise of many an established fan of Parks and Recreation, it was announced towards the end of April that the members of Pawnee’s Parks Department would join forces once more to bring their trusting citizens a message of love and goodwill. In the interest of lifting viewers’ spirits and raising money for the nonprofit Feeding America, the central cast of the beloved NBC series returned to their home network on April 30, 2020 with a half-hour episode shot remotely from each actor’s home per the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The episode, which comes a full five years after the broadcast of the show’s finale, is now available to enjoy online. If you didn’t get the chance to watch it live on Thursday night (or simply crave another proverbial injection of waffle-grade joy), take a look right below:
Following an introductory message from former Pawnee City Council hopeful and heir to the Sweetums fortune Bobby Newport, the episode kicked off proper in the form of a phone tree taking us from one Parks Department legend to the next. We got to enjoy Leslie and Ben exchanging some virtual affection (and quickly debating the merits of an all-claymation Cones of Dunshire movie), Ron stoically endorsing the “social distancing” lifestyle, April and Andy showcasing their ramped up chaotic inclinations, Ann and Chris avowing the importance of healthcare workers amid this crisis, Tom and Donna reveling in their video call platform’s luxury vacation-inspired background options, and Jerry—err, Garry accidentally futzing up his device’s filters. All in pure Parks and Rec form.
The second part of the episode took us on a virtual tour of Pawnee, so to speak, with clips from Joan Calamezzo’s new series, Perd Hapley’s ongoing talk show, ads for Dennis Fienstein’s new coronavirus-inspired cologne and Jeremy Jamm’s “updated” dental practice, and a desperate cry for help from none other than Jean Ralphio Saperstein.
But it was in the final segment of the ep that Parks got its Parksiest. Ron, once again damning his would-be resistance to sentimentality, rallied the department for a proper ten-person call, all in the name of giving Leslie some much deserved cheer… and we at home reaped the benefits. The gang got the opportunity to express their appreciation for their fearless leader, and to belt a rendition of Andy Dwyer’s iconic original tune, “5,000 Candles in the Wind” (though not without an eye-roll from Li’l Sebastian skeptic Ben Wyatt).
Sappy though it may have been, the whole ordeal was just the right kind of sappy—the very same kind of sappy that heartened and enchanted fans time and again throughout the show’s run. Per the spirit of Parks and Recreation, the special offered two major takeaways: help others as best you can, but don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.
Featured Image: NBC