A new artform – we’ll call it “social-distance theater” – takes a big step tonight (April 30).
That’s when “Parks and Recreation Renion” airs at 8:30 p.m. on NBC,with the original cast (shown here in a previous photo) on-hand. The next day, it will be on YouTube, Hulu, Peacock and the NBC app.
Yes, this is an entire half-hour of faces in boxes, talking to each other, And yes, it’s quite often fun and funny.
Other genres – talk shows, music specials – have created their social-distance shows. But the next challenge was to go further, making scripted shows with fictional characters.
“Saturday Night Live” has done that via sketches, in two at-home episodes. “All Rise” will do it in drama (9 p.m. Monday, May 4, on CBS), when it has a new episode with the judge holding her first virtual trial. And now “Parks and Recreation” proves much fun it can be.
The show has been off the air for five years and its people have been busy. Amy Poehler has produced a half-dozen series, one (“Making It”) in which she co-stars with Nick Offerman. He’s starred in his own series; so has Aziz Ansari. Chris Pratt became a movie action hero; Rob Lowe has continued to do all those Rob Lowe things.
But now there they are – plus all the others – in rectangles, talking to each other.
They have a sort of video phone-tree, to make sure they’re all doing fine. Leslie Knope (Poehler) loves organizing this kind of thing; Ron Swanson (Offerman) hates it.
Along the way, they have to explain why some characters – married in the show – are separate here. Also, there’s an odd explanation for why Offerman’s real-life wife (Megan Mullally) is nearby.
The characters have lots of conversations, some fake talk-show appearances, a couple mock commercials and even a closing song, finally putting everyone on screen. All of it is quick and kind of slick; good portions of it are quite funny.