Tom Gliatto and Monica Rizzo
January 31, 2011 12:00 PM

Parks and Recreation

NBC, Thursdays, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT |

COMEDY

If NBC’s new 100-percent-sitcom Thursday lineup is an odd proposition-no one wants not to laugh, but who wants to laugh for three hours straight?-at least it brings back Amy Poehler’s softly giddy Parks and Recreation. The underlying arc in the first seven episodes follows small-town bureaucrat Leslie Knope as she organizes the local harvest festival. (Rob Lowe is also on hand as a briskly cheerful state auditor, but he’s trying too hard. He looks like a string bean braced for snapping.) The great event, when it finally arrives, hinges on a miniature horse named Li’l Sebastian. Parks, in a sense, is Li’l Sebastian: shaggy, small-boned, charming and lovably stupid. You won’t get as much recreation out of Perfect Couples, the new relationship comedy NBC has launched on the same night. Airing at 8:30 ET/PT, it’s well cast but conceptually unadventurous.

Skins

MTV, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

DRAMA

Based on a British series, Skins is one explosive little package. This scripted drama about American high schoolers depicts sex and drug use with a provocative casualness that suggests 90210 under the influence of Trainspotting. What keeps it from being exploitative-just-is the sense that these kids know such dangerous exhilarations won’t, can’t, lead to the happiness they’re looking for. But for the love of Snooki, don’t let children anywhere near it.

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