Worth Watching: 'Project Runway' Returns, Charlie Brown and 'Same Time, Next Christmas' on ABC, 'Evil' Exorcism Fallout
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Project Runway (9/8c, Bravo): The most stylish of reality competitions is back for a new season of fashion do's and don'ts, with 16 new designers gathering at one of New York's most eye-popping locations: the TWA Hotel in the former TWA terminal at JFK Airport. Using the visionary architecture as inspiration, the contestants are tasked by host Karlie Kloss to pair up to produce two space-age looks: a jumpsuit and a happy-hour outfit for cocktails in space. Former winner Christian Siriano is invaluable throughout the 90-minute opener as the designers' ever-present and opinionated mentor. (We can only imagine his reaction if he overheard one of the designers actually brag, "I'm already at [judge] Brandon Maxwell and Christian Siriano's level.") The judges, including Maxwell and Elle editor-in-chief Nina Garcia and journalist Elaine Welteroth, don't hold back in their critiques. Thankfully, at least a few of the creations are out of this world.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (8/7c, ABC): It's impossible to imagine Christmas on TV without the Peanuts gang helping us cut through the clutter and commercialization of the holiday season with understated charm and Linus's brand of child's-eye wisdom. The impeccable Vince Guaraldi jazz score (obviously fun to dance to) always serves to remind us that "Christmas Time Is Here."
Same Time, Next Christmas (9/8c, ABC): Here's something you rarely see on broadcast network TV anymore: an actual new TV-movie. Granted, this holiday romance would fit just as well on Hallmark or Lifetime — and it will be shown on sister channel Freeform Dec. 11 and again on ABC on Dec. 23. With more character diversity than the genre norm, Same Time also has the novelty of being set in Hawaii, where two families have met for holiday vacations for years. Olivia (Lea Michele) and Jeff (Charles Michael Davis) grew up as Christmas but otherwise long-distance buddies, and now that they're grown, there's more than sandcastles bringing them together. But as usual, there are obstacles on the road (or beach) to happiness, including Olivia's all-business boyfriend (Bryan Greenberg) from Cincinnati. The setting is pure escapism, and the casting is superior, including Nia Vardalos and George Newburn as Olivia's upbeat parents and Phil Morris as Jeff's widowed dad.
Evil (10/9c, CBS): From the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished file: a twist that never happened on The Exorcist, when David (Mike Colter) is sued for psychological damage alleged by Caroline Hopkins (The Morning Show's Karen Pittman) after her harrowing exorcism a few weeks back. This setback has David rethinking his vocation to the priesthood, and it doesn't help when he gets close to his defense lawyer (Hamilton Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry). On a more domestic front, we can't help wondering how psychologist Kristen (Katja Herbers) is adjusting to having her mountain-climbing husband (Patrick Brammell) back home. Cameo alert: Peter Scolari guests as Bishop Marx, who's probably not overjoyed about David's legal issues.
The Streaming World: A second season of CBS All Access's twisted-fairy-tale thriller Tell Me a Story repositions the legends of Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella in the context of a suspense tale set in Nashville. Stars include The Vampire Diaries' Paul Wesley, Carrie-Anne Moss, Odette Annable, Matt Lauria, Natalie Alyn Lynd and Ashley Madekwe… Another Vampire Diaries veteran, Ian Somerhalder, is now fighting mutant vampires as Dr. Luther Swann in Netflix's V Wars, a series based on Jonathan Maberry's best-sellers about a disease outbreak that turns victims into man-eating predators… On a lighter note, Netflix returns to its Christmas Prince franchise with A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby, in which now-King Richard (Ben Lamb) and Queen Amber (Rose McIver) are anticipating their first child, but a visit by royals from another kingdom could renew an ancient curse. All together now: Rumpelstiltskin!
Inside Tuesday TV: Life in Pieces' Betsy Brandt returns to CBS's The Unicorn (8:30/7:30) as Caroline, a leader of the widows' support group. She pretends to be dating Wade (Walton Goggins) to help him get out of going on blind dates set up by meddling friend Delia (Michaela Watkins)… Another support group heard from on CBS's Mom (9/8c), when the AA gang rallies around Tammy (Kristen Johnston), who's having a hard time adjusting to getting early release from parole. Nothing comes easy for these ladies… Investigation Discovery introduces The Interrogator (10/9c), aka Houston detective Fil Waters, who shares some of his most shocking cases, revealing how his cunning questioning led to unexpected confessions of the sordid truth.