Worth Watching: A New 'Nancy Drew,' 'Cheers' Reunion on 'Goldbergs,' 'South Park' Hits 300
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
Nancy Drew (9/8c, The CW): Shredding another of my childhood icons, former Gossip Girl producers transform "girl detective" Nancy Drew into a sexed-up, back-talking snoop who comes off like a would-be Veronica Mars, minus the wit and with a ton of Scooby Gang in her derivative DNA. Call this "The Case of the Tired Clone." As titian-haired Nancy, Kennedy McMann brings some spunk and a whole lot of voice-over to the exposition-heavy pilot. This Nancy is an emotional mess, grieving a mother who died of cancer and left with an aloof lawyer father (eternally boyish Scott Wolf, who looks more like a potential date). And because Nancy whiffed her college applications during this dark period, she's stuck waiting tables in her summer resort hometown of Horseshoe Bay, Maine — which might as well be Castle Rock for all the ghostly and Gothic supernatural legends permeating the story. Nancy Drew in Dark Shadows I could maybe get behind, but not this strained whodunit in which Nancy and her acquaintances — including sex buddy Ned "Nick" Nickerson (Tunji Kasim) — become instant and unlikely suspects, causing Nancy to go rogue and break into homes (and, later, a morgue) to chase clues. I shudder to think of what could become of the Hardy Boys in today's culture.
The Goldbergs (8/7c, ABC): When Murray (Jeff Garlin) growls that he just wants to be left alone to watch Cheers in peace, cue ABC's "Cast from the Past" stunt to spotlight former Cheers co-stars Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger and George Wendt in look-at-them-now cameos. They show up as potential customers of hapless Geoff (Sam Lerner), who starts a "Food in a Geoffy" food-delivery business to keep busy while his beloved Erica (Hayley Orrantia) studies. In the funnier main story, baby-of-the family Adam (Sean Giambrone) squirms under mom Beverly's (Wendi McLendon-Covey) smothering attentions as she prepares him for college, and even he should know better than to let her take a crack at his term paper.
South Park (10/9c, Comedy Central): Still bleeping after all these years, the irreverent animated hit marks its landmark 300th episode. And true to form, Cartman is his typical incorrigible self, refusing to get a shot and ranting against immunization. Some things thankfully never change.
Inside Wednesday TV: The fourth-season premiere of The CW's Riverdale (8/7c) will bid an emotional farewell to the late Luke Perry, who played Archie's (KJ Apa) dad, Fred, in a special "In Memoriam" episode. Perry's 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty guests to pay her respects… In a change of pace, Netflix's musical competition series Rhythm + Flow will roll out in weekly installments of multiple episodes, each week depicting a different phase of a hip-hop talent search led by Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and Tip "T.I." Harris. The first four episodes, covering auditions, drop this week, with the remaining six episodes split between the next two Wednesdays… TLC's three-night docuseries Taken at Birth (9/8c, through Friday) investigates the "Hicks Babies" black-market adoption scandal, in which more than 200 newborns were illegally sold or given away from a Georgia clinic. Jane Blasio, the youngest known Hicks victim, enlists Long Lost Family's Lisa Joyner and Chris Jacobs to reunite as many birth families as possible… Donal Logue (Gotham) guests on ABC's Stumptown (10/9c) as veteran PI Artie Banks, showing Dex (Cobie Smulders) the ropes of the trade in her quest to become a certified private eye. Her buddy Grey (Jake Johnson) may soon want to hire her, given that Detective Hoffman (Michael Ealy) has become suspicious of his connection to a recent murder victim.