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'A Parks and Recreation Special' is Definitely Worth Watching Tonight
April 30, 2020  | By Mike Hughes
 


A new art form – we’ll call it “social-distance theater” – takes a big step tonight.

That’s when a Parks and Recreation Reunion airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Yes, it’s an entire half-hour of faces in boxes, talking to each other; and yes, it’s quite often fun and funny.

Other genres – talk shows, music specials – have created their social-distance shows. But the next challenge was to go further, making scripted shows with fictional characters.

Saturday Night Live has done that via sketches, with two at-home episodes. All Rise will do it with drama (9 p.m. ET, Monday, May 4, on CBS), when it has a new episode with the judge holding her first virtual trial. And now Parks and Recreation proves much fun it can be.

The show has been off the air for five years, and its cast has been busy. Amy Poehler has produced a half-dozen series, one (Making It) in which she co-stars with Nick Offerman. He’s starred in his own series; so has Aziz Ansari. Chris Pratt became a movie action hero while Rob Lowe has continued to do all those Rob Lowe things.

But now there they are – plus all the others – in rectangles, talking to each other.

They have a sort of video phone-tree, to make sure they’re all doing fine. Leslie Knope (Poehler, top) loves organizing this kind of thing; Ron Swanson (Offerman, top) hates it.

Along the way, they have to explain why some characters – married on the show – are separate here. Also, there’s an odd explanation for why Offerman’s real-life wife (Megan Mullally) is nearby.

The characters have lots of conversations and a few surprises that end with everyone finally on screen. All of it is quick, kind of slick, and quite funny.

 
 
 
 
 
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