Popular NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” will make a return with a reunion special episode on Thursday, intended to raise funds to aid coronavirus response efforts. The half-hour episode was filmed entirely on the iPhone.
The special stars many of the show’s original cast including Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir, and Retta. Guest stars will also appear in the special.
“Parks and Recreation,” co-creator Mike Schur told Variety coordinating a scripted event while most of the United States is under quarantine was “very difficult.”
Calling the logistics “very difficult,” Schur credits directors and executive producers Morgan Sackett and Dean Holland, as well as script supervisor Valeria Collins, with making the special happen. Schur reached out to half a dozen of the old writers from the show, who conceived of and penned the script for the special in less than three days. They then mailed or dropped off a “little rig with a tripod,” an iPhone, a light and microphones with the cast, and Schur and his team directed the actors and adjusted their framing via Zoom. The special was shot in just four days. Schur recruited “The Good Place” graphics and effects team “to make it not look like everyone was just sitting alone in their houses staring at a computer.”
While the process was fun, he said, there’s no doubt that it was also “slow and laborious.”
The episode was shot in four days.
While Schur appreciates the role that the iPhone played in making the reunion episode a reality, he doesn’t see the process as representing a shift in how television is created.
While iPhone helped make the reunion episode a reality, Schur does not believe the process represents a shift in how television is made.
“Is there anything about this that points the way forward for TV production? And the answer is a resounding no,” Schur said. “For me, this is not the way TV is 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 will air the “Parks and Recreation” special on Thursday.