Circumstances aside, the upcoming “Parks and Recreation” one-off scripted reunion special will likely be a dream come true for the acclaimed sitcom’s legion of fans. It’s also a project the series’ writers and core cast were eager to reunite for. Regardless, “Parks and Recreation” executive producer Mike Schur warned that producing television during the ongoing global crisis was anything but a sustainable practice.
Schur discussed the upcoming special, which airs on April 30, during a press conference with reporters on Tuesday. He noted that the original series’ cast members responded to Schur’s pitch in under an hour, while six of the show’s writers inked a script in less than three days. The special took around three weeks to put together, with Schur and others directing actors via Zoom while “The Good Place” graphics team handled the episode’s effects. It was an efficient, collaborative effort, but the workload wouldn’t be realistic for television crews to tackle in the long-term, according to Schur.
“Is there anything about this that points the way forward for TV production? And the answer is a resounding no,” Schur said per Variety. “For me, this is not the way TV is be supposed to be made. It required an incredible amount of basically goodwill volunteer work, or guild minimum, union minimum volunteer work from sound designers and editors and supervisors and all sorts of people really just doing it, because it’s a fundraiser, because it was fun to get the cast back together. But, you know, TV is a team sport. From the very beginning to the very end, it’s about groups of people functioning in holistic ways with each other, and collaborating and being in the same room at the same time. And, you know, I don’t think there’s any way that this is a sustainable method for making television.”
NBC announced the series would be returning to raise funds for Feeding America’s Response Fund. The special’s plot will follow Pawnee’s most dedicated civil servant, Leslie Knope, who is determined to stay connected to her friends in a time of social distancing. Original cast members Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir, and Retta will reprise their “Parks and Recreation” characters and several guest stars from the show may appear, though Schur declined to tease any names during the Tuesday press conference.
“Leslie Knope believed government could be a force of good,” Schur said per Deadline. “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.”