Worth Watching: ‘Grey’s’ Loses an Original, a ‘Picard’ Reunion, ‘Better Things’ Returns, ‘Devs’ Launches FX on Hulu
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Grey’s Anatomy (9/8c, ABC): When a series this long-running (16 seasons and counting) sheds one of its few remaining original cast members, it qualifies as a TV event — and so it is as Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), reformed bad boy among Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) initial crew of fellow interns, leaves the series under up-to-now puzzling circumstances. (Last we heard he’d left Seattle without fanfare to tend to family business, but then it seems he may never have got there. And he’s not returning panicked texts from Meredith and wife Jo.) In other news, Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Ben (Station 19‘s Jason George) have a big decision to make — likely involving the foster young-adult she’s brought home. But the episode, directed by recurring guest star Debbie Allen, is all about saying goodbye to one of Grey’s stalwarts.
Star Trek: Picard (streaming on CBS All Access): It’s old home week on this most excellent spinoff when Picard (Patrick Stewart) beams down to the lush planet Nepenthe with existentially confused synth Soji (Isa Briones) in tow, hiding from the android-hating Romulans. There, the “greatest captain of all time” finds temporary shelter with two of his most beloved Next Generation crew: “Number One” William Riker (Jonathan Frakes, usually behind the camera these days) and his wife, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). While they try to help a disoriented Soji learn how to trust again, events in space get rather harrowing for the crew of La Sirena and for Elnor (Evan Evagora), who was left behind to fight for right on the Borg cube.
Better Things (10/9c, FX): When it rains, it pours — in Los Angeles? — in an exceptionally wet, but unfailingly brilliant, fourth season of star and director Pamela Adlon‘s bittersweet slice-of-life comedy about Sam Fox, a resilient single mom and struggling character actress trying to survive a midlife crisis. Landing acting gigs at 50 is no joke — although Adlon was recently seen as Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) therapist on This Is Us — and yet there are plenty of laughs as Sam wrangles three headstrong daughters who whipsaw from tender affection to bristling hostility in a blink. To family and friends, Sam is both rock and security blanket, and surely better things will eventually come her way. For the show’s fans, this is the best news we’ve had all week.
Devs (streaming on FX on Hulu): The first of FX’s series to be available exclusively on its streaming home of Hulu is an elegantly suspenseful sci-fi thriller from Alex Garland (Ex Machina and Annihilation), opening with two slow-burning episodes that are visually and thematically arresting. You won’t believe your eyes — and maybe you shouldn’t — when you discover the secrets of Devs, which is the name of the hush-hush development division of a mysterious tech company. Nick Offerman stars as a haunted CEO, and Sonoya Mizuno is terrific as heroine Lily, an engineer who snoops for truth after her boyfriend runs afoul of the top-secret lab. (See the full review.)
Inside Thursday TV: Turner Classic Movies salutes the legendary Kirk Douglas, who died last month at 103, with a 24-hour marathon of his greatest movies. Highlights include 1958’s military-justice drama Paths of Glory (8/7c) and 1960’s epic Spartacus (9:45/8:45c)… Veteran anchor Deborah Norville marks her 25th anniversary on the syndicated Inside Edition with a look back at her quarter-century on the show, currently the longest tenure of any anchor on a daily broadcast news show… CNN tackles the coronavirus crisis with a two-hour Global Town Hall (10/9c) hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joined by medical experts taking questions and, remotely, by patients infected with the virus… Melrose Place‘s Courtney Thorne-Smith guests on CBS’s Mom (9/8c) as Adam’s (William Fichtner) sponsor, who naturally raises suspicions in Bonnie (Allison Janney)… Flip or Flop star Tarek El Moussa shares secrets of his lucrative trade with wannabes in HGTV’s Flipping 101 w/Tarek El Moussa (9/8c)… They’ll drink to that. A beer dynasty hopes to find Kardashian-level TV fame in MTV’s The Busch Family Brewed (9/8c), a “reality sitcom” featuring the descendants of the Anheuser-Busch family, nine living under one roof as they plan a new brewery on their 70-acre estate.