A Parks and Recreation Special marked the return of the beloved cast from the NBC sitcom, five years after it ended. The world of Pawnee, Indiana might be changed forever by the coronavirus pandemic, just as our reality, but it still cannot stop the optimism of Leslie Knope. The half-hour special packed in appearances from the entire original cast, as well as several special surprise Pawnee guests.
The special was announced just a week ago and helped raise awareness of Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund. NBCUniversal and the Parks and Recreation team, as well as sponsors State Farm and Subaru of America are matching donations up to $500,000. The script - written by showrunner Mike Schur, Dave King, Aisha Muharrar, Matt Murray, Megan Amram, Jen Statsky and Joe Mande - also included a heavy dose of advise for staying safe during the pandemic.
While it was all for a good cause, fans more interested in the Easter eggs and cameos sprinkled throughout the episode had a lot to look for. The special brought everyone up to date on the lives of Leslie Knope, her family and her friends before the flash-forwards seen in the 2015 series finale. Plus, it featured countless side-splitting cameos from the most memorable Pawnee residents. So fire up those Gryzzl phones to take a look at the many stars and Easter eggs that popped up throughout the special.
The special started off in incredible fashion with Paul Rudd playing the dim-witted Bobby Newport, who was asked to introduce the special by Leslie. He knew almost nothing about what is actually going on in the world, and was horrified to learn about the coronavirus. He's been isolated at his home in Switzerland. This was the second Rudd cameo on NBC in recent days, as he also appeared on Saturday Night Live.
Cones of Dunshire and Claymation
Ben's (Adam Scott) first appearance on the show got two big references knocked out right away. Ben, who is still a member of the House of Representatives, is going stir crazy again, writing a new nonsensical screenplay. He is also playing Cones of Dunshire and hoping to make a new claymation video. Hopefully, this one turns out longer than Requiem for a Tuesday.
Burt Macklin, FBI and Johnny Karate
Both of Andy Dwyer's alter-egos made appearances on the special, and you can tell just how much fun Chris Pratt had playing them again. It turns out that Andy has got himself stuck in a shed while April (Aubrey Plaza) is stuck in the house alone. She is not helping him out though, because "Burt Macklin does not need help getting out of a measly shed." Johnny Karate showed up to deliver some inspiring - and unhelpful - words to Pawnee's children during the Ya' Heard? With Perd segment.
The second half of the special featured different segments from Pawnee shows as part of Ben and Leslie's media blitz to help residents understand what they should do during the coronavirus pandemic. Up first was a new episode of At Home With Joan, hosted by Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins). Joan's segment was clearly a riff on Wendy Williams' "at home" videos. Unfortunately, Joan does not have anyone to talk to except Jennifer Lopez's attorney. She also has an EGOT, because she's been banned from all four ceremonies.
Pawnee Commercials: Dennis Feinstein, Jeremy Jamm and Jean-Ralphio Sapersetein
The Pawnee shows were briefly interrupted by a series of commercials. Up first was Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas), who is now selling "Miracle Cure," a cologne proven to "kill anything it comes in contact with." Next is the terrible dentist Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser), who is now shipping dentist equipment to people so they can fix their own teeth. The last commercial is Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz), whose life is a little pathetic now. He lives alone in a mansion by himself and is desperate for contact, so he gave everyone his personal phone number.
Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson) is now hosting the special Ya' Heard? With Perd. During the first segment, Leslie and Ben talked about how important it is to keep in contact with their friends. In the second segment, they introduced Johnny Karate, who reminded children to wash their hands and respect their parents. The segment got a little dark at the end when Johnny tried to assure kids things will get back to normal... eventually.
OMG TAMMY 2!!!!! 😱😂 pic.twitter.com/iGrWTmgjh6— Desiree Montilla (@desireecbs19) May 1, 2020
Tammy II (Megan Mullally) made a surprise appearance later in the show. Ron (Nick Offerman) and Diane (Lucy Lawless, who must have been unavailable) took a walk around the cabin and discovered Tammy II broke in. She was camping outside the entire time, waiting for the moment to pounce. Ron plans to put a note around Tammy's neck and drop her off at the fire station. (In real life, Offerman and Mullally are married, so there was no problem getting them in the same scene.)
"5,000 Candles In The Wind"
At the very end, in typical Parks and Recreation fashion, everyone got together to lift Leslie's spirits. Andy performed "5,000 Candles in the Wind," the memorial song he wrote for Li'L Sebastian. Everyone joined in the song, although Ben still does not get the appeal of Li'l Sebastian. What is wrong with him? At the very end of all this, Ron reminded Leslie that she shouldn't spend all her time looking after everyone else and to not forget to take care of herself.