Worth Watching: ‘Grey’s Sets a Record, ‘Better Things’ Returns, ‘Million’ Finale
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Grey’s Anatomy (8/7c, ABC): With its 332nd episode, Grey’s makes TV history as the longest-running medical drama in prime time, eclipsing ER with no real end in sight. While no show in its 15th season is as fresh as it was in its prime, the romantic hospital drama has stayed more vital than most, and unlike ER at this stage of its existence, is nowhere near on creative life support. It helps that a significant number of original players have stayed intact: Ellen Pompeo as Meredith, most critically, as well as Chandra Wilson‘s Bailey, Justin Chambers as Alex and James Pickens Jr. as former Chief Webber. In the milestone episode, Jackson (Jesse Williams) throws a party to celebrate the successful surgery on his mom, Dr. Catherine Fox — surely you didn’t think they were going to kill off Debbie Allen — but as usual, nothing goes according to plan.
Better Things (10/9c, FX): Still one of the best things anywhere on TV in its third season (the first without the participation of the disgraced Louis C.K.), Pamela Adlon‘s triumphant comedy of vignette-style episodes opens with single mom Sam Fox (Adlon, who directs every episode) seeing her oldest daughter, Max (Mikey Madison), off to college in Chicago. “I want my big life This Is Us milestone moment goodbye hug,” Sam insists — but this is not that sort of sentimental show. Subjected to the indignities of female aging, including at a TSA airport stop, earth mother Sam carries on to guide her maddening yet marvelous brood of daughters while tending to her own dotty mother (Celia Imrie), who might just be a danger to her grandkids. Nothing comes easy to this family, but watching Sam stand up to a mean school mom or an arrogantly neglectful director on a movie set is to marvel at her nerve and guts.
A Million Little Things (9/8c, ABC): The mystery of Barbara Morgan — who we assume has everything to do with Drea de Matteo‘s enigmatic lurker—and her connection to the dearly departed Jon (Ron Livingston) hangs over the gang of friends as the emotional drama wraps its first season. And then, let’s hope, they can all move on.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9/8c, NBC): The precinct gets its own #MeToo moment when Amy (Melissa Fumero) and Jake (Andy Samberg) investigate a “he said, she said” case at a financial trading firm that involves sexual harassment and some very painful payback. The case hits close to home for Amy, and Capt. Holt (Andre Braugher) has his own epiphany in a hilarious subplot involving the death — or was it escape? — of his nemesis from his glory years: the notorious “Disco Strangler,” who if still on the loose would be roughly as old as Methuselah. Stephanie Beatriz (Rosa) directs the very enjoyable episode.
Inside Thursday TV: The remaining contestants on Bravo’s Top Chef (8/7c) leave Kentucky for the final rounds in the Chinese territory of Macau — where a Chinese New Year party celebrating the Year of the Pig means the chefs must prove their prowess with pork… The specter of Spock has loomed over CBS All Access’s Star Trek: Discovery (8:30/7:30 all season). So it’s finally time for Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) to head to Vulcan in search of Spock (Ethan Peck) and to discover more family secrets… A new season of VH1’s Emmy-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race (9/8c) gets underway with Miley Cyrus joining the judges, and going undercover in the workroom, for the 90-minute premiere. The first challenge: creating new signature looks from materials belonging to former Drag Race icons… Matt Bomer is back on NBC’s Will & Grace (9:30/8:30) as local newsgay McCoy Whitman, who Will (Eric McCormack) decodes to give a second chance at dating. SNL great Molly Shannon also returns as Grace’s (Debra Messing) bête noire Val, who’s the deciding vote in Grace’s run for Design Guild President.