Worth Watching: Good Times on ‘Unicorn’ and ‘Good Place,’ Period of Adjustment on ‘Grey’s’
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
The Unicorn (8:30/7:30c): Betsy Brandt, late of CBS’s Life in Pieces, returns to the network in a terrific second episode of the fall’s most promising new comedy. When Wade (Walton Goggins) is urged by his pushy friends to attend a widows’ support group (hosted by Brandt) as a means of addressing anger issues for which they may be partly responsible, he is shocked to realize he’s the only man. “It’s just math,” the group tells him. “Women outlive their husbands — and the men that outlive their wives get snatched up really quick.” When the conversation turns to frank sex talk, the appalled look on Wade’s face is priceless. Back home, his daughters (Ruby Jay as Grace, Makenzie Moss as Natalie) also have issues that only an engaged dad can deal with.
The Good Place (9/8c, NBC): As the inspired final season of the critically adored fantasy-comedy kicks into high gear, Eleanor (the sublime Kristen Bell) has a crisis of conscience about her new role as “architect,” charged with reforming four imperfect humans — including a memory-wiped Chidi (William Jackson Harper) — as the fate of humankind hangs in the balance. “I’m not the savior of the universe!” she cries, as others question her risky strategies. And yet, even with jerks like self-absorbed Brent (Ben Koldyke) under her tutelage, we’re not losing faith.
Grey’s Anatomy (8/7c, ABC): The rocky period of transition at Grey Sloan and beyond creates hurdles for Owen (Kevin McKidd), who’s none too pleased to be working under cocky Tom (Greg Germann, channeling an Ally McBeal-like outrageousness), as well as exiled Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), who starts treating her work-crew assignment like a free clinic. Many of her “patients” end up being referred to the struggling Pac-Gen North hospital, where Alex (Justin Chambers) and Richard (James Pickens Jr.) are hoping to improve conditions. In more personal news, as promos have teased, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) opens up to Linc (Chris Carmack) about her surprise pregnancy, and the soul-searching begins.
Why Women Kill (streaming on CBS All Access): Marc Cherry’s campy triptych of domestic intrigue across three distinct decades has taken a decidedly darker turn as the season nears its end in two weeks. One character (Ginnifer Goodwin in the 1960s) is faking an illness, another character (Jack Davenport in the 1980s) is hiding a diagnosis that could be a death sentence, and a third (Reid Scott in present-day) has succumbed to addiction, which has split apart his relationship with his concerned wife (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and greedily enabling bedmate (Alexandra Daddario). By the end of this episode, directed by series star Lucy Liu, everyone’s situation becomes even more twisted, which is just what you’d expect from a juicy soap.
Evil (10/9c, CBS): The night’s most intriguing drama shifts gears from quasi-horror to religious debate when a 17-year-old athlete suddenly revives after being declared dead for nearly three hours. Is it a miracle — and for skeptical Kristen (Katja Herbers), what would that even mean?‑or merely malpractice? And what do those apparent angel wings on the ER video signify? Beyond the investigation, Kristen and priest-in-training partner David (Mike Colter) each grapple with personal demons: hers involves another disturbing visit from “night terror” ghoul George (Marti Matulis), while David’s visions have a more familiar but equally troubling source. And their nemesis, Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), has found a new way to mock and torment them, when he assumes Kristen’s former position as a forensic psychologist.
Inside Thursday TV: The Emmy-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race has moved across the pond, and episodes of the inaugural season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK will stream Thursdays, the same day as the BBC premieres, on World of Wonder’s WOW Presents Plus streaming platform… A week ago, I wondered how NBC’s enjoyable new comedy Perfect Harmony (8:30/7:30s) would find excuses for the choir to keep singing between competitions. Enter Fork Fest 2019, a local fair whose proprietor (Casey Sander) might just ban the choir from performing because of Arthur’s (Bradley Whitford) rude defiance of local customs — like honking his horn… Having just survived cancer on ABC’s A Million Little Things (9/8c), Maggie (Allison Miller) is rattled when her mother (The Office‘s Melora Hardin) moves to Boston, but that’s nothing compared to Eddie (David Giuntoli) trying to keep son Theo (Tristan Byon) from realizing why Katherine (Grace Park) has moved out. Such messy lives… Travel Channel’s The Holzer Files (10/9c) reopens the case files of Dr. Hanz Holzer (1920-2009), considered America’s first ghost hunter and “father of the paranormal.” A new team of investigators looks into some of his most famous cases, starting with the Peck House in Rye, N.Y., which Holzer visited three times, the last time in 1985. Is it still haunted?