Worth Watching: Comeback Night for 'Superstore,' 'A.P. Bio,' 'Station 19,' 'People,' and Lin-Manuel Miranda on 'B99'
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
The midseason shuffle is especially noticeable on revised lineups for NBC and ABC, the latter once again an all-Shondaland 'TGIF' schedule.
Superstore (8/7c, NBC): Just renewed for a fifth season, the sleeper workplace comedy returns after a three-month break with a trip outside the store for a mismatched Amy (America Ferrera) and dim-bulb Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom), both attending management training at Cloud 9 Academy. In classic Newhart style, the more level-headed Amy tries to make sense of things, the worse she looks. Back at the store, Glenn (Mark McKinney) has the brilliant idea of leaving his baby with Dina (Lauren Ash) and Garrett (Colton Dunn), which leads to the perception that Cloud 9 is now offering daycare to shoppers. Alert social services.
Followed by a second season of the misanthropic A.P. Bio (8:30/7:30, NBC), where cynical non-teacher Jack Griffin (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Glenn Howerton) once again uses his lab-rat brainiac students for his own needs — in this case, investigating the secret of happiness in Toledo, Ohio, by doing some actual blue-collar work. I wish it were all as funny as smug Jack thinks it is.
Station 19 (9/8c, ABC): Hey, remember that Seattle windstorm from November that left us hanging on both Grey's Anatomy and its firehouse spinoff? Because of a long winter hiatus, Station 19 is only now returning to deal with the aftermath, as the crew worries about the fate of MIA Andy (Jaina Lee Ortiz) and Capt. Sullivan (Boris Kodjoe).
Followed by the inexplicable second-season return of the ridiculous baby-lawyer procedural For the People (10/9c, ABC), in which the young NYC defenders and prosecutors face off in a case involving the shooting death of a U.S. senator. The culprit: a teenage gamer whose "swatting" prank sent a squad of armed police to the wrong house. Even by TV and Shondaland standards, the over-caffeinated approach to the courtroom proceedings is laughable.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9/8c, NBC): Guest-star gold star of the night goes to the recently renewed cop comedy, which snags super-fan Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) to play the brother of Amy (Melissa Fumero). He's so accomplished it tends to make his ultra-competitive sister even more neurotic than usual. Leave it to supportive husband Jake (Andy Samberg) to try to smooth things over — if he can.
Better Things (10/9c, FX): "Where's Norma Rae when you need her?" wonders a costumed ghoul on the set of the horror movie Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) is filming under dehumanizing conditions. Though she doesn't always win her arguments, Sam is a force of nature on the set — and also at daughter Duke's (Olivia Edward) school, where she stands up to a mean mom. "Why can't anyone be a person?" Sam laments. Sam, you're person enough for all of us.
Inside Thursday TV: In the last episode before the final competition, Bravo's Top Chef (8/7c) reunites the remaining four chefs with family members in Macau, where the elimination challenge tasks them to blend their own heritage with Chinese flavors for a special dish… The interpersonal drama is out of this world on CBS All Access's Star Trek: Discovery (8:30/7:30c), as Spock (Ethan Peck) and Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) continue to deal with their issues, while Stamets (Anthony Rapp) tries to reconnect with Hugh (Wilson Cruz) and Tyler (Shazad Latif) hopes to convince the crew to accept him again… It's always something with those moms on CBS's Mom (9/8c), and now that Bonnie (Allison Janney) realizes she has ADD, she swallows her pride to consult a therapist (guest star Rainn Wilson).