You'll have a ball with 'Parks and Recreation'

PARKS AND RECREATION (8:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC). **** (out of five)

Nothing could be finer than to see a great comic talent at the top of her game teaming with one of the top producers of quality TV.

“Parks and Recreation,” from producer Greg Daniels and the folks who give you “The Office,” stars former “Saturday Night Live” player Amy Poehler as a self-involved but well-meaning government official. She’s only over the parks and recreation department of a small Indiana town, but, in her mind, she might as well be in the White House, dealing with global economic issues.

She takes her job that seriously.

Many similarities exist between “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” Both shows are told in a single-camera, reality-show style. As Leslie Knope, Poehler is very much like Michael Scott, except she’s actually easier to accept. While Michael is the worst boss ever — a boob who must have the admiration of his staff to get through the day — Leslie actually wants the best for her community, though she doesn’t mind taking the praise for it, too.

Poehler soars in the role, and Aziz Ansari (Human Giant) makes for a wonderful sidekick as her co-worker with the quick dry wit. I don’t mind that this show is starting out as a neatly done clone of “The Office.” It’s a marvelous comedy to try and imitate.

You’ll have a ball with “Parks and Recreation,” the best new comedy to hit the small screen so far this year.

HARPER'S ISLAND (10 p.m. Thursday, CBS). ***

The true legacy for “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is how it has loosened up CBS. The Tiffany Network doesn’t mind getting a little dark and gritty anymore.

“Harper’s Island” is the latest example. The murder mystery centers on a wedding party that is the target of a serial killer. And each week, at least one or more victims will be revealed.

It’s an engaging premise that doesn’t really work until the fifth episode, when the action ignites. Until then, beginning with tonight’s opener, “Harper’s Island” is too widespread to make it fully engaging.

Far too many characters with too many explanations dog the plotting, making for a confusing and, ultimately too complex, story to tell.

“Island” is gruesome, much more than the typical “CSI” episode, so the voyeuristic nature is enough to keep interest. However, the series is a bit murky for the first few episodes.

Have patience, and “Island” will pay off for you.

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