Chris Pratt, who played Andy Dwyer in NBC comedy Parks and Recreation, attempted to karate chop coronavirus when Andy's alter-ego — popular children's TV show entertainer Johnny Karate — returned during A Parks and Recreation Special. The half-hour special episode, created to fundraise for Feeding America and filmed remotely amid the coronavirus quarantine, virtually reunited Pratt with co-stars Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Retta, and Jim O’Heir, who reprised their Parks and Rec roles for the first time since the series wrapped after seven seasons in 2015.
"The whole special is not about the disease," Mike Schur, Parks and Rec co-creator and co-writer of the special, said during a conference call with press earlier this week. "It's about people coping with it and navigating their daily lives. 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. 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."
Poehler's Leslie and Pratt's Andy are among the characters self-isolating during the pandemic, which the writers wanted to address without trivializing. "We debated having [Ann] on the front lines but didn't want to trivialize or make light or find humor in what is the least humorous aspect of this entire thing," Schur said referring to Ann (Jones), Leslie's best friend and Andy's ex-girlfriend, a former nurse and public relations director for the Health Department of Pawnee, Indiana.
Performers were supplied with sanitized rigs, lights, tripods, microphones, iPhones and other tools to film their segments, allowing the Parks and Recreation gang to reunite for the one-off special. But Schur, a writer-producer for The Office and the co-creator of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, doesn't expect this kind of production to be regularly attempted.
"This isn't the way TV is supposed to be made," he said. "TV is a team sport from the beginning to the end, with groups of people functioning in a 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."