‘Great Pumpkin,’ A ‘Good Place’ Bombshell, ‘Mom’ Meets Her Match


A critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (8/7c, ABC): Few TV traditions are as endearing as joining Linus on his annual (since 1966) fruitless vigil, awaiting the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. We know he’ll never show, just like we know Charlie Brown is destined to get a bag of tricks (rocks) instead of treats, Snoopy will take on the Red Baron from atop his Sopwith Camel doghouse, and Lucy will once again experience “dog germ” panic while bobbing for apples and getting a Snoopy kiss instead. All to the be-bopping music of Vince Guaraldi. Followed by a more recent perennial, 2013’s Toy Story of Terror! (8:30/7:30c), with the voice cast of the hit Toy Story movies returning for a perilous road-trip adventure.

The Good Place (8:30/7:30c, NBC): Existential crises don’t come much more epic than the quandary facing the gang of four now that they’ve glimpsed the “magic space door” to the afterlife, demanding answers from a befuddled Michael (Ted Danson) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden). How each reacts to their unique purgatorial predicament is the fun of another whimsically clever episode, ending as always with a twist.

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Mom (9/8c, CBS): It’s a rare comic talent who aims even further over the top than Allison Janney’s Bonnie, but Emmy winner Kristen Johnston (3rd Rock From the Sun) goes there, with riotous results, reprising a role from last season as Tammy, who fatefully crossed paths with Bonnie during their foster-care days. When Tammy is paroled, flattering “Big Sauce” Bonnie as a role model, she’s invited to stay with Bonnie and Christy (Anna Faris), and her overeager embrace of freedom is something to behold. I don’t think I’m imagining it, but in the diner scenes with the rest of the group (Jaime Pressly, Mimi Kennedy and Beth Hall), it looks like it’s all they can do to keep from laughing out loud at their guest star’s antics. The rest of us don’t need to hold back. And the good news: This isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of her this season.

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Plus, History Channel axes 'Six,' 'UnREAL' ends, and more.

Inside Thursday TV: The BroadwayHD streaming service makes theatrical history with the premiere of Puffs, a hit off-Broadway spoof of the Harry Potter world, marking the first time a currently running New York production has been made available for online streaming… Emmy winner Bob Newhart returns to CBS’s The Big Bang Theory (8/7c) to pay a ghostly visit to Sheldon (Jim Parsons) after he accidentally sabotages Amy’s (Mayim Bialik) career… Sheldon’s younger self (Iain Armitage), otherwise known as CBS’s Young Sheldon (8:30/7:30c), takes part in a university study of twins with Missy (Raegan Revord), and we can only imagine the results… A hoops milestone for NBA Basketball (10:30/9:30c, TNT) as multiple MVP LeBron James plays his first regular-season game as a Los Angeles Laker when the team visits the Portland Trail Blazers.