Worth Watching: Pauley Perrette Is 'Broke,' Daddy Issues on 'Brooklyn-99,' 'Better Things' to New Orleans, 'Man' and 'Murder Are Back
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Broke (9:30/8:30c, CBS): What are the odds that two Thursday night midseason comedies would revolve around families brought together because certain ridiculous relatives couldn't manage their money? (The premise is a little more aggravating and less funny in these unstable times.) First came the forgettable Indebted on NBC, and now we have Broke, which benefits from the genial star presence of NCIS's Pauley Perrette. She's Jackie, the responsible but overwhelmed single mom who has to grin and bear it — though not without some well-deserved barking—when her fatuous sister Lizzie (Natasha Leggero) shows up at her doorstep with her uncommonly spoiled Latin-lover husband Javier (Jane the Virgin's ever-charming Jaime Camil), who's been disinherited by his father. Poor silly rich people! The show's title applies to everyone's financial binds, as well as the strained family relationships — and the state of Jackie's ramshackle home. You might even find yourself rooting for Jackie — when you stop wincing at the over-pumped studio laughter (which I too rarely joined in). One secret weapon: Izzy Diaz as Javier's loyal assistant, Luis, who protectively follows his boss through thick and thin. An absurd device, but Diaz sells it with a subtle wit that's lacking elsewhere.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (8:30/7:30c, NBC): Following J.K. Simmons' hilarious guest spot last week, the stunt casting continues to impress on the terrific cop comedy. Bradley Whitford returns as Jake's (Andy Samberg) estranged dad, who's none too happy to learn that his own estranged father — "Admiral" Peralta, played by Martin Mull — has also been invited to the sex-reveal party for Jake and Amy's (Melissa Fumero) baby. Can Jake reconcile two generations of disgruntled Peralta men and break the curse?
Better Things (10/9c, FX): Sam (Pamela Adlon) leaves the family behind this week for an entrancing episode set in evocative New Orleans, where she attends a colorful wedding — though not without a dress-code incident at one of the Big Easy's most legendary eateries. Even when she's repeatedly reminded that you can't entirely escape your past, Sam considers a longer stay after sharing memorable moments with guest stars including the grand Elizabeth Ashley as a spirited matriarch and Molly Shannon as a saucy L.A. ex-pat who inspires Sam with the city's seductive charms. The vibrant on-location street scenes are especially poignant given New Orleans' current situation.
They're Back: Kept on the shelf for midseason, CBS's Man With a Plan (8:30/7:30c) returns for a fourth season, with Adam (Matt LeBlanc) not so keen on the new plan for birth control, when wife Andi (Liza Snyder) is advised to go off the pill… Out with the old (Bethenny Frankel), in with the new on the 12th season of Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York City (9/8), which welcomes fashion-label CEO Leah McSweeney to the catty cast… Freeform's mermaid thriller Siren (9/8) opens its third season with back-to-back episodes, in which a new mermaid in town threatens Ryn's (Eline Powell) leadership… Brie and Nikki learn they're both expecting on a fifth season of E!'s Total Bellas… Off the air since November, ABC's lurid How to Get Away with Murder (10/9c) is back for its final six episodes, with Annalise (Viola Davis) on the run and her protégés Michaela (Aja Noami King) and Connor (Jack Falahee) arrested for the murder of their former friend Asher (Matt McGorry). Lots to resolve by May.
Inside Thursday TV: Streaming on horror-themed Shudder: Cursed Films, a docuseries that relives behind-the-scenes calamities during the production of iconic genre movies. First subject: 1973's The Exorcist… BBC America expands its Wonderstruck franchise of nature programming from Saturdays to all day on Thursdays as a balm during the coronavirus crisis. Today's theme: "America the Beautiful," with series and specials celebrating our nation's natural splendor… Jason Alexander returns to CBS's Young Sheldon (8/7c) as drama teacher Mr. Lundy, who's also moonlighting as a real-estate agent. His latest property is next door to the home of young Sheldon (Iain Armitage), who takes it upon himself to vet the potential buyers — including Pastor Jeff (Matt Hobby), his mom Mary's (Zoe Perry) boss… All hands on deck on ABC's Grey's Anatomy (9/8c) as the docs try to help Richard (James Pickens Jr.) after his recent, and very public, breakdown… Police chief Edie Falco in is political hot water again on CBS's Tommy (10/9c) when the LAPD faces blowback from the African-American community after the murder of a community activist.