What's On: 'Young Sheldon' Road Trip, Bad Tidings on 'Mom,' Music in/on the Air

Matt Roush

A critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:

Young Sheldon (8:30/7:30c, CBS): This episode of the fall's best new network comedy really takes me back—to the days when I worked on Florida's "Space Coast," covering early Space Shuttle launches from Cocoa Beach and environs. A similar event is what prompts George Sr. (Lance Barber) to take his boys, his redneck namesake (Montana Jordan) and the brainy Sheldon (Iain Armitage), on a road trip to Cape Canaveral to watch a flight and perhaps bond in the process. While the guys are away, the gals—Mary (Zoe Perry), Meemaw (Annie Potts) and Missy (Raegan Revord)—enjoy a weekend of salon pampering. I'd have chosen the shuttle.

The Big Bang Theory (8/7c, CBS): The mothership sitcom is also in the party spirit, as adult Sheldon (Jim Parson) plans a Little House on the Prairie-themed birthday party for Amy (Mayim Bialik) that may be a bit too authentic. Former roomie Leonard (Johnny Galecki) could use some holiday cheer, after getting a Christmas letter from his brother that makes the scientist question his own career path.

Mom (9/8c, CBS): Rounding out the network's best comedies, though with a decidedly darker streak, Mom throws another speed bump in the support group's road to recovery when Marjorie's (Mimi Kennedy) husband has a stroke. Christy (Anna Faris) and Marjorie's frenemy/nemesis Bonnie (Allison Janney) rally to her side, as friends do.

Holiday Music: A new holiday-themed edition of Fox's Showtime at the Apollo (8/7c) brings Snoop Dogg & Boyz II Men, Fifth Harmony and DMX onto the legendary stage to interpret their favorite Christmas tunes. Host Steve Harvey is joined by The Real's Adrienne Houghton. … Empire diva Taraji P. Henson is the MC for this year's Taraji's White Hot Holidays special (9/8c), with music provided by Chaka Khan, Fergie, Hamilton's Leslie Odom Jr., Ciara, Salt-N-Pepa and her TV son, Jussie Smollett. … The CW interrupts its schedule for a 90-minute iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2017 (8/7c), with the busy Fifth Harmony joined by the likes of Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Niall Horan and The Chainsmokers.

Inside Thursday TV: First seen by moviegoers when it aired in front of Disney/Pixar's animated hit Coco, the Frozen-inspired musical featurette Olaf's Frozen Adventure comes to ABC (8/7c), with original cast members Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff returning. Four new songs pepper the story of Olaf (Gad) searching the kingdom of Arendelle for holiday traditions he can introduce to Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel). You know the snowman isn't going to, well, let it go. … The new season of Bravo's Top Chef (10/9c) presents its first team challenge, involving mystery ingredients in a farm-to-table setting.