by Tyler Glover
There are friends that may part ways for a while but come back together like no time has passed at all. This is exactly what happens when the cast members of "Parks and Recreation" come back together in a socially distanced reunion special that aired on NBC on Thursday, April 30.
The ‘Parks & Rec’ cast returned in an effort to raise money for Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund and show us that, though, we may have been apart for a while, we are back with our friends.
The special begins with the optimistic parks director, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), reaching out to her friends through what appears to be a Zoom call. Leslie is worried about their mental health so she has created a Phone Tree, where everyone reaches out to someone from their group. Through these calls, we get to see all of our friends. The cast members all walk back into their character's shoes like they never left. Through the conversations, Ben (Adam Scott) is struggling to teach his and Leslie's kids at home, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) is hunting meat and social distancing (which he has been doing since he was four), April (Aubrey Plaza) is still her quirky self, and Andy (Chris Pratt) does karate kicks. We also see Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), who is still in perfect health (his blood type is "just positive"), Ann (Rashida Jones) is a volunteer nurse, Tom (Aziz Ansari) is still trying to invent something to get rich quick even during a pandemic, and Donna (Retta) is still her absolutely fabulous self. Also, during the pandemic, no one still really seems to care about Gary (Jim O’Heir).
The beginning of the special and the end are the real treat. Seeing these characters interact again after five years reminds us just how great this show was and why we miss it. During the middle of the special, it reunites us with some of the recurring characters of the show like Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins), the local host of "At Home With Joan," and the Pawnee news anchor, Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson), among others. While it is well-intentioned and brings more actors into this effort, the collection of talk shows, news programs and commercials felt disjointed with the rest of the special. It was not as funny as the beginning and end.
However, despite the middle of the program, the special manages to be hilarious, uplifting, sweet, positive, and very heartfelt at a time when the world needs it.