‘Parks and Recreation’ cast reunite for 30-minute social distancing episode

(L-R) Michael Schur, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt and Aziz Ansari attend the NBC 'Parks And Recreation' 100th Episode Celebration held at CBS Studios, Radford on Oct. 16, 2013 in Studio City, Calif. JB Lacroix/WireImage

Mark your calendars Parks and Recreation fans, because next week you’ll be returning to Pawnee, Ind.,, and treating yourselves one more time to a brand new episode of the political satire sitcom.

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the much-beloved NBC series will make a one-off comeback next Thursday with a scripted, 30-minute episode filmed from the comfort of the cast members’ homes.

The episode, dubbed A Parks and Recreation Special, was announced by the TV network on Wednesday and will see the eclectic cast — which includes: Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Rob Lowe, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari and Chris Pratt among many others — onscreen together for the first time in more than five years.

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Additionally, Poehler — who starred as the series’ optimistic and bubbly main protagonist Leslie Knope — confirmed the “telecast” in a special Twitter announcement.

Why are they doing a reunion, some might ask? With the social distancing-centric episode, the cast, crew and NBC are hoping to encourage self-isolation techniques to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Simultaneously, A Parks and Recreation Special serves as a fundraiser for Feeding America — a charity that provides food and aid to local food banks and those in need during the global health crisis.

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“Like a lot of other people, we were looking for ways to help and felt that bringing these characters back for a night could raise some money,” said executive producer Michael Schur in a statement.

Together with State Farm, Subaru of America and NBC, the cast and crew behind Parks and Rec will donate a total of US$500,000 to the foundation.

On how he got the cast in on the project, Schur, 44, wrote, “I sent a hopeful email… and they all got back to me within 45 minutes. Our old Parks and Rec team has put together one more 30-minute slice of (quarantined) Pawnee life and we hope everyone enjoys it. And donates,” concluded Schur.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

(L-R) Chris Pratt and Amy Poehler on Jan. 16, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. NBC also promised that some additional secondary characters would be making an appearance.

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Ben Schwartz (Sonic the Hedgehog) confirmed his return cameo hours later.

“Not cutting my hair for months has finally paid off. April 30! A Parks and Rec Special! For charity! I miss this show so much,” wrote the actor on Twitter.

Before becoming the voice for Sega’s infamous blue hedgehog, Schwartz, 38, was best known for playing Tom Haberford’s (Ansari) bizarre best friend on the show, Jean-Ralphio Saperstein.

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In wake of the news of a Parks and Rec reunion, die-hard fans of the show flocked to the internet expressing their joy and excitement.

Even Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) — whose career lifted off with the portrayal of Parks and Rec’s fan-favourite goofball Andy Dwyer —  had some great things to say about the special.

“Many are saying it’s the greatest episode of television ever to be filmed in quarantine,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “It’s not a competition. But if it was… we would easily win,” he joked.

Here’s what some of them had to say on Twitter:

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Another dedicated fan reached out to Billy Eichner (Billy On the Street) asking if he would be taking part in the special.

Eichner, 41, played the role of the extremely sensitive and chaotic Craig Middlebrooks throughout Parks and Rec‘s sixth and seventh seasons.

“Please tell us that you will be on the special too,” they tweeted on Thursday.

The American comedian responded hours later denying any rumours.

“Don’t think so,” Eichner replied. “I guess Craig had no one to drive him there,” he added with a sad face emoji.

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A Parks and Recreation Special premieres next Thursday, April 30 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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