Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, Feb. 16. All times are Eastern.
Parks And Recreation (NBC, 8:30 p.m.): Yeah, yeah, Parks And Recreation was in this spot not three weeks ago, but did you think Louis C.K. could return to his former post in Pawnee and not claim the top pick? We’re all for fairness and equal opportunity with this feature, but look at that photo above. The return of mild-mannered cop/former Leslie Knope boyfriend Dave Sanderson is a big fucking deal! Top priority! The date’s been circled on Steve Heisler’s calendar for months!
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8 p.m.): Nerds and sports are a classic study in comedic contrasts, like hillbillies and upper-class L.A. neighborhoods or fun-loving genies and straight-laced astronauts. As such, Oliver Sava knows Sheldon and Kripke’s mini-Olympics—the winner of which gets a plush new office—will reach for only the highest-hanging fruit.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8 p.m.): Naming an episode of The Vampire Diaries “All My Children” might alienate the show’s target demographic, as the only soap operas kids these days are aware of feature vampires. (Like this one!) Back in Carrie Raisler’s day, they had to get their supernatural romance from Dark Shadows, and they liked it that way!
American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): Idol goes to Las Vegas, bringing with it a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers—and that’s just Steven Tyler’s wardrobe! Claire Zulkey knows there is nothing in this world more helpless and irresponsible than a former Aerosmith frontman on a scarf binge.
30 Rock (NBC, 8 p.m.): Given the rate at which 30 Rock is ripping its plots straight from the headlines, it’s in danger of being rebranded Law & Order: TGS. While Meredith Blake imagines Jeff Richmond’s take on L&O’s “DUN DUN” sound effect, Jack mulls a run for the mayor’s office—like the one Alec Baldwin considered before he pulled a Baldwin and backed out on his political ambitions.
The Secret Circle (The CW, 9 p.m.): We have a theory that you can form a Secret Circle episode by simply adding “but they’re witches!” to the end of any standard TV premise. For instance: Tonight, father and daughter reunite—but they’re witches! Katherine Miller thinks this could be the new “in bed.”
Project Runway All-Stars (Lifetime, 9 p.m.): Broadway bigwig Stephen Schwartz needs costumes for a new production of Godspell, and Genevieve Koski cant’s wait to see what mind-bending geometry Mondo brings to Jesus’ traditional Superman T-shirt.
The Office (NBC, 9 p.m.): Who’s waiting in Tallahassee for Dwight’s task force? Could it be Catherine Tate and David Koechner? Wait, how did you know? Apparently Myles McNutt needs to investigate a leak.
Up All Night (NBC, 9:30 p.m.): You, you, you… oughta know that Alanis Morissette is the special sweeps-period guest in this week’s episode, playing Ava’s soon-to-be married bandmate—thus lending credence to Margaret Eby’s previously dismissed theory that Maya Rudolph, not Dave Coulier, is the subject of Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.”
Archer (FX, 10 p.m.): Is Archer a likely source of an animated Murder By Death/Ten Little Indians/Clue homage—or is it the most likely source of an animated Murder By Death/Ten Little Indians/Clue homage? Someone is trying to get away with murder, and no one’s leaving Malory’s apartment until Todd VanDerWerff determines who done it!
Unsupervised (FX, 10:30 p.m.): Gary and Joel fight the good fight for academic equality after discovering that they’re being segregated from the other, smarter students in their grade. Neither Brandon Nowalk nor his “honors student” bumper stickers can relate to this dilemma.
Delocated (Cartoon Network, midnight): A mysterious case of the “midnight munchingtons” just might prove to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Jon and his new bodyguard, TB. Steve Heisler thinks they could smooth things over with a late-night trip to the ol’ skins bar.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (11 a.m.): There’s a criminal loose on Deep Space Nince. Where’s he hiding? In your mind, man! Zack Handlen looks forward to tripping the cerebral rift with you, fellow innerspace travelers.
Seinfeld (1 p.m.): David Sims encounters one of Seinfeld’s last great contributions to the cultural lexicon—if only we could remember how that phrase goes. It’s on the tip of our tongues—“Calm immediately?” “Nirvana presently?” “Where’s Firefly?” It’s enough to make one wish for serenity, now!
Cheers (3 p.m.): After sticking around the bar for an entire season, Cheers begins to build its world outward as its second season beings. That means another location—Diane’s apartment—and a second Rhea Perlman.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Maxim’s Top Sexy Beats (Fuse, 8 p.m.): Ben Kingsley turned up for the auditions for this most Maxim of musical countdowns, only to leave disappointed when he discovered it wasn’t a list of the lad mag’s favorite sexy beasts. As such, Fuse turned to everyone’s second choice for when you can’t get Kingsley: party-starting MC Flo Rida.
Heart Of Stone (Showtime, 8:30 p.m.): The pay-cable debut of a documentary telling the inspiring tale of high-school principal in Newark, New Jersey whose heart, it turns out, is an organ composed of muscles, atria, and ventricles, just like everyone else.
Remembering Whitney: The Oprah Interview (OWN, 9 p.m.): Oprah Winfrey’s latest gambit for drawing viewers to her flagging cable outlet is a rerun of this two-hour interview with the late Whitney Houston. If you missed it in 2009, here’s your chance to watch Winfrey and Houston’s sit-down with the benefit of interpreting all of Houston’s answers as portents of her impending death.
Conan (TBS, 11 p.m.): Even as he’s moved away from being funny in movies to being someone who makes ill-informed audiences demand refunds from nonprofit community centers, Steve Martin remains a reliably entertaining presence on the late-night circuit. Of course, he’s on Conan plugging a new book, so he’s probably leaving the singing balls at home.
The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie (FLIX, 8 p.m.): If a less-exploitive commemoration of a recently departed artist you seek, here’s a slice of hard-boiled John Cassavetes, garnished with a dynamo performance from the late Ben Gazzara.
Exporting Raymond (HBO, 8 p.m.): Love or hate the sitcom that brought him his greatest success, but Everybody Loves Raymond producer Phil Rosenthal is an engaging, entertaining behind-the-scenes figure. Rosenthal’s ample neuroses power his chronicle of adapting Everybody Loves Raymond for Russian television—though, in Soviet Russia, Phil Rosenthal power neuroses!
NBA Basketball: Celtics at Bulls (TNT, 8 p.m.): While Linsanity takes the night off, TNT has to content itself with an NBA game that doesn’t feature suddenly, inexplicably popular New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. Who cares about the Bulls’ tentative grip on first place in the Eastern Conference? It’s linhumane to make basketball fans go this long without more Lin.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The Slap: Because DirecTV seems entirely disinterested in promoting its latest Australian import, it’s up to you and Phil Nugent to get the word out about this excellent miniseries, where the reactions to an isolated episode of violence reveal cracks in an idyllic suburban façade.