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Guest Appearances On The ‘Parks And Recreation’ Quarantine Special, Ranked

The Parks And Recreation reunion special filled itself with delightful moments that added up one of the most pleasant half hours of quarantine-based programming we’ve seen since our current situation began. There were callbacks aplenty (with one curiously missing signature quote) and an emotional ending that made folks truly sentimental, five years after the beloved comedy bid farewell to primetime. If folks were worried that the political framing of the original show would ruin the reunion vibe, those fears have now evaporated. Overall, the effort was a success that will hopefully raise plenty of money for their cause, Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, for which folks can make donations right here. All contributions will be matched by the reumion’s sponsors until May 21, so folks have time to toss any feasible contributions into the pot.

The special not only contained O.G. cast members — Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir, and Retta — but more than a handful of guest appearances from the Pawnee universe made entrances. Even though all of them were welcome in our living rooms, we can’t resist ranking them (and maybe bending the roles of what “guest” actually means during these unprecedented times).

8. Perd Hapley:

Someone had to come in last, no offense to Jay Jackson, who portrayed the host that’s now fronting Ya’ Heard? With Perd. Through no real fault of his own (other than exuding less pizazz than his competitors), Perd mostly functioned as a framing device for several of the more entertaining guests who landed on this special.

7. Dennis Feinstein:

The first Pawnee-based commercial came from Dennis Feinstein, who’s now shilling a “Miracle Cure” that he’s snake-oil-salesman-ing all over the place. It’s a relevant tactic, of course, given what’s going down in White House press conferences and ultra-right-wing podcasts every day. And Jason Mantzoukas absolutely crushed the skeevy vibe while claiming that this potion-scent would kill any virus upon contact. This is actually a frightening interlude, so that takes away a few points toward the goal of becoming the “winner” within what’s otherwise a feel-good reunion.

6. Joan Callamezzo:

Mo Collins’ talk show queen, now host of At Home With Joan, got in a few decent (and drunken) wisecracks about Jennifer Lopes and her own unique way of receiving an EGOT. The segment was amusing enough, although Callamezzo (also) hits a little too close to home for all of us who are scarfing wine during the new Saturday night quarantine shuffle. Dare I say that Joan probably needed to up her game with a few gimmicks? That’s why she’s missing out on a higher ranking.

5. Dr. Jeremy Jamm:

Now, this guy’s got your gimmicks. Jon Glaser’s dentist character is perfectly willing to help out folks who are in dire need of dental care by selling them the drills to get the job done. Yikes, but this qualifies as morbidly amusing stuff, given that many of us are now wary of even getting a dental cleaning (or any other procedures that aren’t emergencies) anytime in the near future. The robe and the hair are also wildly on point here.

4. Tammy II:

Anyone who didn’t realize that Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally are married probably wondered (at least for a few moments) how these two pulled off a wonderful stunt without upsetting the social-distancing balance. And even those of us who are aware of the real-life pairing found this breakaway — with Ron Swanson revealing that Tammy II had been lurking around his cabin and needed to be restrained — to be a wickedly funny surprise. What a well-planned reveal, and kudos to the writers and the cast for pulling this one out of their hats.

3. Jean-Ralphio Saperstein:

Ben Schwartz’s character’s slowly losing his mind, much like the rest of us, although it’s difficult to feel bad for someone who’s quarantined in a mansion. Still, this guest appearance was an inventive one, especially when one considers that he gave the best Pawnee-based commercial off the bunch. The guy wasn’t even advertising anything, other than his “personal phone number” (930-1-Ralphio) that he hopes might reap a little vocal company. He’s “sad,” and for good reason, because anyone who actually dials that phone number will find that it goes nowhere. A recorded message would have been a nice bonus, but we can’t have everything that we want.

2. Bobby Newport:

Although I may get pushback for not ranking a Paul Rudd character in the highest slot of any list, he’s still the first-place loser, so that must count for something. Newport surfaced in the special’s opening moments while brandishing a Knope 2012 sweatshirt and supposedly sequestering himself in Switzerland. He’s not the brightest bulb out there, but Newport still did a fine job of giving the Parks And Recreation audience all the necessary details on how to make Feeding America contributions. Oddly enough, it seems that learning of the COVID pandemic may have made Newport-Rudd look slightly older than a 25-year-old angel for the first time in history. This pandemic is getting to all of us.

1. Tie — Johnny Karate and Burt Macklin, FBI:

Alright, yes, I’m breaking a rule here if one doesn’t consider Andy Dwyer’s alter egos to be “guest appearances,” but all the rules have been broken in 2020, so why not continue that trend? Further, I’m humbled to be reminded that Chris Pratt is still capable of being terrifically funny (after going into action-nerd mode with the MCU and Jurassic World franchise), even when he’s “buff” rather than, well, you know how folks remember Andy’s previous physique. Through his alter egos, especially when it came to Johnny Karate, he made fans (and their kids) quite happy, which was the name of the game here, and that was even before Johnny Karate pulled a muscle “right in my butthole.”

Mr. Karate also did not shy away from showing some emotion while letting kids know that this quarantine might seem like it’s lasting forever, but that things will eventually land in a more tolerable state for them. Elsewhere, Andy briefly assumed the Burt Macklin persona while he was stuck outside in the shed as Aubrey Plaza’s April sat alone in the house with underwear on his head. Burt will eventually find his way out of the shed, but good on Pratt (and the writers) for reviving these alter-egos, which (at least for me) felt like the most emotional moments of the reunion before Pratt commenced with turned out to be a sentimental-ending musical number. What an unexpectedly rewarding special this turned out to be from the Parks And Recreation gang with Pratt as the surprise MVP.

The ‘Parks And Recreation’ reunion special is now available to stream on Hulu as well as NBC’s website and app.