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Fall TV

Maija Gustin | Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fall is just about here and with the changing of seasons comes a flood of T.V. shows, both new and old, to a screen near you. What will “The Office” be like without Michael Scott, you might ask. Or will Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to television actually be any good? These and many more pressing questions will be answered in the coming weeks as the fall TV season starts in full swing. But with so many shows to choose from, make sure you aren’t missing out on some of T.V.’s best.

“The Vampire Diaries,” for example. You might think this vampire show is just broadcast television’s answer to the “Twilight” craze currently plaguing popular culture. Wrong.

“The Vampire Diaries,” despite being on the teen-centric The CW, features some of the best storytelling on television today. You’re liable to see more blood and gore in an episode of “The Vampire Diaries” than in an episode of “CSI” and it never shies away from death and destruction. Sometimes those dead come back to life thanks to the mysterious rules of supernatural law, but the writers on “The Vampire Diaries” sure know how to deal with annoying characters and generally weave a compelling plot.

Despite its premise of melodramatic love and teen angst, every episode of “The Vampire Diaries” is high-octane and action-packed. There is no such thing as a dull episode and the plot twists and cliffhangers are some of the most compelling on TV. Let’s not forget that the entire cast, be they male or female, is generally not bad to look at either.

Don’t let the premise of a show about vampires on a teenage girl-oriented channel keep you away — if you give “The Vampire Diaries” a chance, it is sure to draw you in and will probably never let you go, either.

While all talk of NBC comedies has been focused on “The Office” and its new lack of Michael Scott, many viewers are missing the pure comedy genius that is “Parks and Recreation.” The comedy, similar in style to the fake-documentary feel of “The Office,” started slow in its first handful of episodes, but has since found its stride and continually turns out more comedic punches than any show on television.

The premise may sound dull — the inner-workings of a Parks and Recreation department in small-town Indiana and the lives of its workers. Wrong again.

Amy Poehler leads her stellar castmates, including Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott and the deadpan god himself, Nick Offerman, in one of the kookiest, funniest shows television has ever seen.

Last season, particularly episodes focused on the Harvest Festival and Li’l Sebastian, was a fantastic string of hilarity and this season promises even more of the same. Nick Offerman was unjustly snubbed by the Emmy Awards this year, so to find out why this is so wrong, and to help right that wrong in your own way, tune in on Thursday nights to “Parks and Recreation.”

Clearly, Thursday nights will be tough this season as “The Vampire Diaries” and “Parks and Recreation” compete for viewers in the same time slot. But that’s what DVRs and Hulu are for. And if you don’t have one, come hang out with me and I will make sure you don’t miss any of television’s best offerings.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Maija Gustin at mgustin@nd.edu