Worth Watching: Celebrating 'Jeopardy,' Saluting 'SVU,' Fox's New 'Deputy,' an R. Kelly 'Reckoning'
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
What Is Jeopardy!? Alex Trebek and America's Most Popular Quiz Show (8/7c, ABC): Capping a remarkable year in which 32-day winner James Holzhauer became a national sensation, while legendary host Alex Trebek commanded headlines with his heroic battle against pancreatic cancer, Jeopardy! brings viewers behind the scenes in a prime-time special, hosted by GMA personality Michael Strahan. Segments include a peek backstage as Trebek prepares for back-to-back tapings, a cross-country tour with producers seeking new contestants, a retrospective of the 36-year-old quiz show's most memorable players, and an interview at home with Trebek and wife Jean.
The Paley Center Salutes Law & Order: SVU (9/8c, NBC): Speaking of staying power, Dick Wolf's enduring crime drama looks back at its record-breaking 21 seasons. Mariska Hargitay and other stars, creators and crew members reflect on SVU's long run, the parade of memorable guest stars and the show's most dramatic moments.
Deputy (9/8c, Fox): When we first meet L.A. Deputy Sheriff Bill Hollister, he's being ripped by superiors for "recalcitrance, insubordination and disregard for chain of command," all for refusing to assist an ICE roundup, risking $30 million in federal funds for the city. "I don't give a pinch of dried turd how these folks got here," he fires back. Naturally, within minutes, this grizzled cowboy is suddenly promoted to become the new Sheriff of L.A. Country when his predecessor is felled by a fatal heart attack. Stephen Dorff, so impressive in the last season of True Detective, brings a similarly pugnacious attitude to this cowboy character, elevating an otherwise standard crime drama. Hollister is an enjoyable iconoclast, scorning the politics of his uptight undersheriff (Mark Moses in another antagonist role) and naturally refusing to stay behind the desk when there are bad guys to roust. Though he pledges he "never pulled the trigger when there was another way," the body count is pretty high by the end of the pilot episode — much to the chagrin of Hollister's wife (Yara Martinez), the chief trauma surgeon at L.A. County General Hospital.
Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning (9/8c, Lifetime): A follow-up to last year's explosive docu-series airs over three nights (continuing Friday and Saturday), featuring interviews with new survivors and supporters of the R&B singer, who's currently facing federal and state charges on allegations including sexual assault, child pornography and kidnapping. The Reckoning also includes commentary from psychologists and cultural and legal experts to unravel this sordid story and explain why it took so long for his female victims to be heard and believed. (In case you missed the original series, Lifetime repeats all six hours in a marathon starting at 3 pm/2c).
Inside Thursday TV: Fox's Last Man Standing (8/7c) returns to its new network home with back-to-back episodes in which Kristin (Amanda Fuller) announces her pregnancy, inadvertently upsetting sister Mandy (Molly McCook). Jay Leno guests as Joe, who throws a monkey wrench into plans by Mike (Tim Allen) and Chuck (Jonathan Adams) to open a classic car-renovation service… The timer's up for ABC's The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition (9/8c). In the a two-hour finale, the four remaining bakers vie for top honors… TLC knows what ails you. After launching a new season of Dr. Pimple Popper (9/8c), podiatrists get their kicks in My Feet Are Killing Me (10/9c), introducing two doctors, Ebonie Vincent and Brad Schaeffer, as they tend to extreme cases of foot maladies, ranging from extra toes, bunions and fungus to an athlete sporting two feet of dramatically different size… A transformative second season of HGTV's Christina on the Coast (9/8) begins with a firefighter's kitchen renovation, while host Christina Anstead reveals that she's expecting her first child with husband Ant… Bravo's Project Runway (9:30/8:30c) introduces an "upcycling" challenge, in which stylist Karla Welch tasks the designers to dress host Karlie Kloss using only materials from clothing donated from Goodwill.