Parks and Recreation Special Recap

Updated: Jan 25

Oh, Parks and Rec, you have been missed. After five long years, the Pawnee crew is back together again for one last ride- well phone tree- to benefit charity and remind us all about the power of friendship in times of great need.

When the show aired its finale in 2015, the world was a much different place. Some would call it a simpler time when Game of Thrones had yet to jump the shark (though the futuristic 2017 depicted in the last season did predict the decline) and Donald Trump was just a reality star.

On a side note, there is no way Donal Trump is also President in the Pawnee universe in 2020, right? If he is, we all know Leslie Knope would not last long in his administration. There is no way she could sit idly by as President Trump suggests opening up national parks to drilling and mining. You best bet she would do whatever it took to stop that from happening, even if it meant planting Wamapoke artifacts in the parks. Leslie is a #BossBitch who would have no problem standing up to President Trump. 

Anyways, the world finds itself in a pandemic even the shows 2017 timeline could not have predicted. Over the last month and a half, we have witnessed cast reunite, sing-alongs over zoom, and even a Harry Potter read-along hosted by celebrities. Parks and Recreation takes virtual content to a whole new level, though, by actually producing a brand new, scripted episode all filmed by the actors in their homes. Somehow, they pull it off fairly seamlessly.

To provide a proper review, rating, or recap of this episode feels frivolous. This special is not a continuation of Parks and Recreation proper. Instead, it is a unique moment in time that provides a reprieve from our current circumstances and raises money for Feeding America, who are working hard to make sure all people have food during this pandemic.

The sheer fact they pulled this off warrants an A+ anyway. There are some logistical issues the writers had to figure out, such as explaining married couples not living in the same house. Not only do they manage to skirt around this issue, but they do so in a way that is true to the characters themselves.

I am also really impressed by the number of show props the popped up during the special. These props are all owned by the actors now, so it is interesting to see what they took with them after the show ended. My personal favorite comes from Mo Collins, who kept an intimate painting of her character Joan Callamezzo proudly displayed during her At Home with Joan Callamezzo segment.

Speaking of Joan Callamezzo, several supporting characters also showed up in some form or fashion, including Bobby Newport, Jean Ralphio, Dennis Feinstein, Perd Hapley, Tammy Two, and Jeremy Jamm. The way writers approached weaving these characters into the plot was actually quite brilliant.

The best of these has to be Ben Schwartz's cameo as Jean Ralphio. His ad was a fantastic call back to becoming flushed with cash after getting ran over by a Lexus before wasting the settlement money on pointless items. While I am not 100% convinced he would be adhering to social distancing rules, it was a fun homage to his character.

And if you dial Jean Ralphio's number with the USA country code of 1 at the start, it would be one number too long (12 instead of standard 11). Only Jean Ralphio could make this mistake after spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on the ad.

Overall, this special was a delightful return to Pawnee. The writers managed to balance nostalgia while introducing some fun, new topics into the Park and Rec's mythology. For example, each character had Gryzzlpoints displayed at the bottom of their screen. And, fittingly, Jerry has negative Gryzzlpoints.

In the end, Parks and Recreation stayed true to itself by putting friendship at the forefront of the story. We can all relate to the isolation Leslie is feeling by the end of the episode. All we really want and need is a little time with our friends to lift our spirits.

They did just that for her when they all came together to sing 5000 Candles in the Wind virtually. I would be lying if I said I didn't get a little emotional as I sang along with the rest of the cast. It was the perfect ending to a perfect special.

To end this recap, I wanted to focus on a question that has been on my mind ever since the world shut down: how would the former employees of the Pawnee parks and rec department this pandemic?

Leslie is digging deeper into her work at the National Parks Service, forming several committees that she is overseeing, which is, of course, every little girl's dream. She is also forcing all of her former colleagues from Pawnee to take part in a daily phone chain to check in on each other.

Ben is at home with the kids. Like so many parents, he is starting to get stir crazy, which leads to his idea to write a script for a claymation version of his board game, The Cones of Dunshire.

Ron, who has been practicing social distancing since he was four years old, lives at his cabin with Diane. To avoid going to the store, he is hunting for their food, having built up about twelve years' worth of venison jerky. Tammy Two is still trying to ruin Ron's life.

Ann and Chris are in Michigan with their kids. Chris is donating blood four times a week after the CDC has designated him as a super healer. Others with this designation include Megan Rapinoe and a big cat at the Bronx zoo. Ann has returned to work as an outpatient nurse. Due to this, Ann is quarantining herself in a separate part of the house from the kids.

Andy somehow got locked up in his shed before making an appearance on Ya Herd with Perd as Johnny Karate. April and Andy have chosen their daily outfits by putting their clothes in a bag and wearing the first five-item they pick out. She also took up drumming during the time at home.

Mayor Gary recently had to cancel the annual Pawnee Popsicle Lick n’ Pass, for obvious reason. What is not obvious is why this is a tradition. On top of this, Gary's negative Gryzzl score further highlights his technology issues.

After watching husband Joe work diligently for his students, Donna takes up a new appreciation for teachers. Plus, she has reached Elite Gryzzl Status, so thinks are looking pretty good for Donna these days all in all.

Tom had to cancel a trip to Bali at the end of his book tour. Instead, Tom pretends to be in an exotic location on each of the calls but using different backgrounds. He is also working on some new entrepreneurial ideas, such as "10 tiny iPads, for each finger" and "a clock with dials that just move randomly".

And that is it, folks. As Leslie once astutely put it, "we need to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn't matter, but work is third."

I could not have said it better myself, Leslie.

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