Fans of the hit NBC comedy Parks and Recreation were surprised last week when it was announced that the show would be making its return to the peacock network for a scripted special this Thursday. People have been wanting to know whether or not there would be any hope of seeing our favorites from Pawnee, Indiana again ever since the series wrapped its seven season run back in 2015, and now we're actually going to be treated to a new adventure. But, why was it decided that this moment was the right time for the Parks and Rec gang to get back together?
We'd heard previously that everyone in the cast and most of the creatives behind Parks and Rec were on board with coming back, as long as there was an idea that they could all agree on. Well, according to executive producer Mike Schur, it sounds like all it took was for the world to be thrust into The Inside Times for all the pieces to really fall into place. Schur told Deadline:
Never say never, but I felt like this was a moment in time and a cause we could rally behind. _Parks and Rec _had a specific subject to discuss and specific point to make. Leslie Knope believed government could be a force of good. The show was forged in the economic recession of 2008, and at national, state and local levels we’re obviously in another one of those moments. Government is where we’re turning: people need food and mortgages paid and the government in these moments is where people turn to in times of need.
If you couldn't already tell from Mike Schur's comments above, you can rest assured that the Parks and Recreation special will, indeed, deal with what we're going through right now, and feature Leslie (Amy Poehler) trying to stay in touch with her friends during our current time of social distancing. The special is also being used as a fundraiser for Feeding America, so it really makes sense that all of the key players were eager to come back for such a good cause.
We're very lucky to be getting a new, scripted episode of Parks and Recreation, because Mike Schur revealed that he first considered simply doing a table read of an old episode for fans. While I'm sure that would have been fun to watch, and garnered some eyeballs and donations, deciding to do a full blown episode really takes things up several notches for long-time fans of the workplace comedy.
Schur also noted that the Parks and Recreation special will take into account the various time jumps of the series finale, and where we left all of the characters, and said that the cold opening of the show will set the tone for the episode. Plus, we're going to be treated to more than the actors sitting in front of cameras at home, because he employed some of the effects people who worked on another series of his, The Good Place, to do some fancy VFX work.
In case you were thinking that the Parks and Rec team could do more of these episodes in the same way while we all await the return to normal life, though, Mike Schur says you shouldn't get your hopes up.
This isn’t the way TV is supposed to be made. TV is a team sport from the beginning to the end, with groups of people functioning in holistic ways and collaborating and being in the same room at the same time. I don’t think there’s any way this is a sustainable method for making TV. It was fun to get the crew and everyone back together. I took screengrabs of the virtual table, which was a lot of fun and hard work but it’s not any kind of model for going forward.