Worth Watching: Joel McHale Is 'Filthy Phil' on 'Will & Grace,' 'Picard' Back on a Borg Cube, a New Face on 'Altered Carbon'
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Will & Grace (9/8c, NBC): Guest-star alert! Joel McHale (Community) comes aboard the sitcom revival’s wobbly final season to spice things up in a two-parter as an unsavory new love interest for Karen (Megan Mullally). The episode title describes him as "Filthy Phil," and in a relationship tailor-made for Investigation Discovery, Phil comes off as a possibly psychopathic lothario who sets off alarm bells for Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing).
Star Trek: Picard (streaming on CBS All Access): In another pivotal episode of the Trek spinoff's strong freshman season, Picard (Patrick Stewart) is not in a thanks-for-the-memories mood as he prepares to beam onto the abandoned Borg cube now known as the "artifact," a rehab and reclamation facility under Romulan control. The mission triggers painful flashbacks of the time when he was assimilated into the Borg tribe as Locutus, but duty calls him to make contact with Soji (Isa Briones). And just in time, because she's falling further under the spell of treacherous Romulan spy/lover Narek (Harry Treadaway), who's found a new way of tapping into her possibly false memories.
Altered Carbon (streaming on Netflix): Same hero, new body — that's the hook of the convoluted but high-impact sci-fi action thriller, which in its second season introduces Anthony Mackie (Marvel's Falcon) as the new incarnation of Takeshi Kovacs (played in the first season by Joel Kinnaman). Jumping forward 30 years from where we left off, Takeshi is the last of an elite group of rebel interstellar warriors, and he's still on a centuries-long journey to reconnect with his lost love, Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry.) This search becomes intertwined with the investigation of a new set of brutal murders, because even in the far future, crime's a thing.
Inside Thursday TV: Maybe Mike (Tim Allen) should leave the matchmaking to others on Fox's Last Man Standing (8/7c), after he sets up Joe (Jay Leno) on a date with the over-the-top Cece (Reba's Melissa Peterman)… Vanessa Bayer has been a hoot in her guest role on NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine (8:30/7:30c) as timid officer Debbie Fogel. So what a shock at the end of last week's episode when she was seen stealing from the evidence lock-up. Which prompts an investigation when Nine-Nine learns that cocaine and weapons are missing… Follow the search for fugitives as a second season of A&E's Live PD: Wanted (9/8c) gets underway… In fictional police activity, CBS's Tommy (10/9c) has her hands full, as L.A.'s new police chief (Edie Falco) deals with riots and a bomb threat at a climate-change protest as well as a mudslide that clogs a major freeway… Rollins' (Kelli Giddish) troubled sister Kim (Lindsay Pulsipher) is back on NBC's Law & Order: SVU (10/9c), causing a stir and a possible SVU investigation when she calls out a doctor who she says is trading prescription painkillers for sex.