What's On: 'Portlandia' Final Season, 'Supernatural' Spinoff, 'TGIT' Returns, Launch of Paramount Network
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Portlandia (10/9c, IFC): As recently seen on 60 Minutes, the whimsical sketch-com celebrating the quirky sensibility of the Oregon burg has reached its final season, with the protean Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein (who directs the opener) inhabiting a variety of memorably warped characters. Ed Begley Jr. and Terry Crews are among the visitors in the season premiere, in which Spike tries to revive the protest band Riot Spray only to discover the members (including Henry Rollins) have mellowed considerably in middle age. “What am I refusing again? … I like a lot of stuff.” The funniest sketch involves patronizing podcasters infiltrating the police station, imposing a Serial-like narrative on the mundane grind. Portlandia provides wonderful cultural snapshots from a place that is also proudly a state of mind. It will be missed.
Supernatural (8/7c, The CW): A new attempt to spin off the long-running horror hit feels very of the moment in its assembly of an all-female army in a backdoor pilot titled “Wayward Sisters.” Led by monster-hunting Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes), who calls back home her Buffy-like rebel ward Claire (Kathryn Love Newton), the team also includes fellow “sister” Alex (Katherine Ramdeen), Minnesota cop Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster, channeling Fargo-speak) and a nervous psychic, Patience (Clark Backo), whose dark vision fuels conflict between Jody and Claire. But the mission comes first: Rescue Sam and Dean (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) from the alternative universe they’re trapped in, with the help of dreamwalker Kaia (Yadira Guevara-Prip). Monsters and spear-throwing menaces won’t make it easy.
TGIT: After two months of holiday hiatus, the Shondaland troika of Grey’s Anatomy (8/7c), Scandal (9/8c) and How to Get Away With Murder (10/9c) returns with all new episodes. And while Grey’s continues to score, with the new twist of the surprise arrival of Jo’s (Camilla Luddington) abusive ex (Glee’s Matthew Morrison in a sinister change-of-pace guest role), all eyes are on Scandal as the over-the-top melodrama embarks on its final 11 episodes. The question looming over Olivia (Kerry Washington) and her crew: Is Quinn (Katie Lowes) alive?
A New Network: What formerly was known as Spike TV is now christened as Paramount Network, with an ambitious slate of original programming in the pipeline, including next week’s limited-series docudrama Waco. To launch the rebranded channel, though, a remnant of Spike’s past in a special live version of Lip Sync Battle (9/8c) billed as “A Michael Jackson Celebration.” Hosted by LL Cool J and Chrissy Tiegen from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, the participants paying homage to the King of Pop include Neil Patrick Harris, Empire’s Taraji P. Henson and Hailee Steinfeld.
Inside Thursday TV: Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is caught in a testy love triangle on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory (8/7) when he discovers his new girlfriend (2 Broke Girls’ Beth Behrs) is married to a very angry mate (Justified’s Walton Goggins). … Freeform’s supernatural thriller Beyond kicks off a second season with a two-hour episode (8/7c). … When mom (Zoe Perry) fights with dad (Lance Barber) on CBS’s Young Sheldon (8:30/7:30c), the family moves in with Meemaw (the wonderful Annie Potts). … What happens when the refugees from NBC’s The Good Place (8:30/7:30c) find themselves in the “bad place?” Let’s just say all you-know-what breaks loose. … NBC’s Will & Grace (9/8c) welcomes back Bobby Cannavale, who won a 1998 guest actor Emmy as Will’s boyfriend Vince. Now Vince is getting married, and Grace (Debra Messing) accompanies Will (Eric McCormack) to the ceremony to keep him from making a scene. Good luck