Worth Watching: Premieres Galore: 'Briarpatch,' 'Tommy,' 'Indebted,' 'Katy Keene,' 'Interrogation,' 'Sinner,' 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Briarpatch (10/9c, USA): On an insanely busy night of premieres — really, it's ridiculous — one of the quirkier standouts is an offbeat 10-part mystery, the first in an intended anthology, based on a Ross Thomas novel. Rosario Dawson stars as glamorously slow-burning investigator Allegra Dill, who returns to her blazing-hot Texas hometown to learn who's responsible for the car-bomb murder of her police-officer sister. Why are escaped zoo animals roaming the streets? Why not? Jay R. Ferguson (The Conners) co-stars as her childhood pal, who's living large after scoring a fortune in illegal gun-running in the Middle East. Could his war with a sinister ex-partner (Alan Cumming, oozing evil when he appears later in the run) have anything to do with the recent cop killings? (See the full review.)
Everything's bigger, and stranger, in USA's bizarre Texas mystery.
Tommy (10/9c, CBS): Edie Falco (Emmy winner for The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie) makes a welcome return to TV — defying the myth that all the top talent is fleeing to streaming — as scrappy Abigail "Tommy" Thomas, the first female police chief in Los Angeles history. With a tough skin, cool head and penchant for straight talk, she has a way of cutting through the smog of big city politics. If only reuniting with her estranged daughter were so easy. (See the full review.)
'She knows she's qualified,' the star says of her character taking over as chief of police in LA.
Interrogation (streaming on CBS All Access); In a new twist on TV crime drama, this 10-part limited series invites you to "follow the evidence" and watch all but the first and last episodes in any order as the story bounces around a 20-year time frame, following the 1983 murder of Pasadena housewife Mary Fisher (Joanna Going), the unloving mother of drug-addict lost teen Eric (the terrific Kyle Gallner). He's the prime — and unfortunately only — suspect in the eyes of Los Angeles detective David Russell (a scarily smug Peter Sarsgaard), who hounds Eric over the years like Les Misérables' Javert. Make your own conclusions as to whether he got the wrong man.
Fans can choose how to watch this unique CBS All Access show.
Indebted (9:30/8:30c, NBC): Owing a debt to classic multigenerational family comedies, this genially silly newbie is blessed with a powerfully appealing cast, led by The Nanny's honking Fran Drescher as overbearing Debbie Klein, who with laid-back husband Stew (Wings' Steven Weber) discover they're as irresponsible with their money as they are irrepressible. Being broke at retirement age necessitates moving in with their family-man son Dave (Happy Endings' Adam Pally) and wife Rebecca (SNL's Abby Elliott), and the lines quickly blur as to who's parenting who. "Stop spending your money!" is a recurring issue, and every time Debbie says, "Everyone's talkin' about it," you sense the making of a would-be catchphrase. Indebted can only hope people will be talking about it.
In the new comedy, the 'Nanny' alum plays Debbie, a stereotypical Jewish mom with 'a lot of zhuzh.'
Katy Keene (9/8c, The CW): Where Riverdale goes dark, this loose spinoff of a New York City fairy tale goes light, twinkly and aspirational. When Josie (Ashleigh Murray) moves to the big city to pursue her solo musical dreams — and guess who catches a producer's ear the first time she sings in Washington Square Park with a busker (Tonya Pinkins)? — she moves in with aspiring designer Katy (Pretty Little Liars' Lucy Hale), whose BFFs include a drag performer (Jonny Beauchamp) with Broadway dreams and an annoying name-dropping influencer (Julia Chan). Katy's up-and-down career at a celebrity-obsessed department store is as corny and artificial as the show's depiction of NYC club life. But hey, That Girl wasn't all that realistic, either, and sexual attitudes aside, this might as well be set in the '60s.
Expect a light and fluffy entry to the Archie Comics Universe.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (8/7c, NBC): The seventh season is no charm for former Captain Holt (the dry, wry Andre Braugher), who was demoted to patrol duty by vindictive acting commissioner Wuntch (Kyra Sedgwick) and since then has "lost the respect of everyone in my life, including my dog." In the first of two back-to-back episodes kicking off a new season of the hilarious cop comedy, Holt keeps overstepping his authority during a manhunt, complicating the already awkward situation with his former subordinates-turned-bosses, including the hero-worshipping Jake (Andy Samberg). A new captain arrives in the second episode, who appears to be too good to be true. Naturally, it's too good to last. But it does give Holt a chance to say one of his funniest lines ever: "She's serving my favorite dessert: carrots."
Braugher also gives some scoop on his new partner, played by Vanessa Bayer, and the new dog playing Cheddar.
The Sinner (9/8c, USA): Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman), the shambling but dogged upstate New York detective, is back in a third installment of the dark psychological drama. The latest subject of his scrutiny is handsome teacher Jamie Burns (White Collar's Matt Bomer), who appears to be covering up something deeply damaging in the wake of a terrible car accident. Multiple layers of mystery, some involving a sinister college buddy of Jamie's (Chris Messina), promise another strong and disturbing season.
The 'Mindy Project' alum goes very, very dark in the USA drama, playing the old friend of Matt Bomer's character.
Inside Thursday TV: The crew expands on CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard when Raffi (Michelle Hurd) connects Picard (Patrick Stewart) with a pilot and former Starfleet office, the cocky Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera)… Kathleen Turner returns to CBS's Mom (9/8) as Aunt Cookie, who received a generous kidney transplant from her niece, Tammy (Kristen Johnston). But Bonnie (Allison Janney) suspects Cookie is taking the gift of a second chance on life for granted… Ryan Phillippe guests on NBC's Will & Grace (9/8c) as Jack’s (Sean Hayes) "celebrity hall pass"… Guess who's coming to dinner on ABC's Grey's Anatomy (9/8c)? Jackson (Jesse Williams) should have known better than to bring Vic (Station 19's Barrett Doss) to Richard (James Pickens Jr.) and Catherine's (Debbie Allen) anniversary event, which turns out not to be a celebration. Elsewhere, Schmitt (Jake Borelli) takes boyfriend Nico (Alex Landi) to visit a family member.