David Schwimmer on ‘Will & Grace,’ ‘Murphy’ in the White House Press Room, ‘Star Trek: Short Treks’

Will & Grace - Season 2
Chris Haston/NBC

A critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:

Will & Grace (9/8c, NBC): As if reviving this sophisticated sitcom didn’t provide enough nostalgic vibes from NBC’s “must-see” Thursday heyday, the new season welcomes former Friends star David Schwimmer back to the night in a recurring role as irascible Noah, known as “the West Side Curmudgeon” for his take-no-prisoners Twitter feed. Grace (Debra Messing) is a fan, until she actually meets him. But what appears to be hate at first sight is likely to blossom into something more meaningful. Their sparks are fun to watch, but the biggest laughs in the season premiere are courtesy of Sean Hayes’ gift for slapstick, when he over-applies a numbing face cream just before meeting his boyfriend Estefan’s (Brian Jordan Alvarez) family on Skype.

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Murphy Brown (9:30/8:30c, CBS): Reminiscent of the character’s clashes with past administrations—can you spell Dan Quayle?—Murphy (Candice Bergen) finds herself banned from the White House press briefing room of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “I could get back into the room if I wanted to,” the news star grouses. And she wants to-which explains the disguise and French accent she adopts, to the chagrin of neurotic producer Miles (Grant Shaud). The set-up is classic comedy, though the payoff may feel preachy even to those who share her opinions. And her son Avery (Jack McDorman), who’s making his first appearance in the briefing room before a seemingly smitten press secretary, may be the least happy to see her of all.

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Candice Bergen still packs a punch as news-diva Murphy, even when the revival feels late to the game in an age of late-night political satire.

Star Trek: Short Treks (streaming on CBS All Access): As a curtain-raiser to a new season of Star Trek: Discovery in early 2019, the series will issue four short companion films, running roughly 10-15 minutes each, to be introduced on a monthly basis through January. First up: “Runaway,” focusing on upbeat Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman), who finds an unexpected visitor aboard the U.S.S. Discovery in need of help and who may have more in common with her than she initially imagines.

Inside Thursday TV: The fourth season of NBC’s Superstore (8/7c) opens with so much awkward sex talk on every aisle, when a very pregnant Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) return to work following suspension over their widely viewed hookup. … In what is being billed as “the season of love” on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy (8/7c), Meredith continues getting advice from her matchmaking patient, Cece (Caroline Clay). … Relationships also matter on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory (8/7c) in its final season. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) discuss starting a family—will both be on the same page?—while Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) looks into an arranged marriage. And four’s a crowd when Stuart (Kevin Sussman) starts bringing his girlfriend (Lauren Lapkus) home–which happens to also be Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette’s (Melissa Rauch) home. … Michael’s (Ted Danson) redemption plans on NBC’s The Good Place (8:30/9:30c) are thrown into chaos when mischievous demon Trevor (Parks and Rec’s Adam Scott) shows up, pretending to be everyone’s “overeager new best friend.”

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