Fans of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” got to take one last trip to Pawnee, Indiana, on Thursday night.
The original cast gathered via videoconferencing in a half-hour episode full of fun references to the show and some of our favorite guest stars.
Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir and Retta all revisited their beloved characters amid the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020. Poehler as her character, Leslie Knope, is the center of the plot, as she tries to stay connected in a time of social distancing.
The special episode opened on Paul Rudd as his hilarious character, failed politician and Pawnee aristocrat, Bobby Newport. In character as the bumbling yet somehow beloved manchild, he welcomed fans from his family’s “private fox-hunting estate” in Switzerland while wearing a Knope 2012 hoodie sweatshirt.
From there, Knope calls her friends and also makes a few TV appearances with her husband, Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott), on some of Pawnee’s finest television shows, including “Ya Heard with Perd” and “Pawnee Today,” which hilariously featured an already eccentric Joan Callamezzo (played by Mo Collins) losing her already untenable grip on reality.
In fact, Knope and Wyatt are both struggling with their new reality — Wyatt revisits the board game he created during a previous dark time, the “Cones of Dunshire,” and the oft-memed incident when he got very, very invested in Claymation — and Knope is slightly less bubbly than usual while wishing she could be with her friends again.
In a sweet ending that echoes the original voice of the show, Knope’s friends virtually come together to cheer her up with a rendition of the fan-favorite bop, “5,000 Candles In the Wind,” originally performed by Chris Pratt’s character, Andy Dwyer, during a tribute to Pawnee’s “world-famous” mini horse, Li’l Sebastian.
“The most important theme of the show is: Leslie Knope believes in friendship. She was loyal and friendly and put all her eggs in the power of friendship,” creator Mike Schur told the press in a conference call earlier this week, per The Hollywood Reporter. “It's about her connecting with people and holding that group of characters together at a time when they're unable to leave their homes. That's the running theme.”
Schur said the cast filmed themselves with iPhones while other members watched via Zoom in a “slow and laborious” process. Everyone donated their time since the episode was to raise funds for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which helps keep food banks going during the pandemic.
Fans of the show were absolutely thrilled by the reappearance of their favorite characters, and #ParksandRec trended on Twitter in the United States and United Kingdom on Thursday night.
"Things I needed: this," @zack_balkam wrote.
What a way to treat yo self on a Thursday!