Worth Watching: ‘Twilight Zone’ Returns, ‘Search Party’ on HBO Max, Lifetime’s ‘Power of Women’
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
The Twilight Zone (streaming on CBS All Access): Welcome back to that special region of the mind that “lies between the pit of one’s fears and the summit of one’s knowledge.” Executive producer Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) once again fills the narrator role of Rod Serling with pronounced understatement in this reboot, as a second season of 10 fantastical stories drops all at once for a binge-watching escape from our own personal twilight zones. Only a few episodes were made available for preview ahead of launch, and my favorite so far is “The Who of You,” a body-switching caper in which the soul of a failed actor (Ethan Embry) keeps hopping into various bodies (including Billy Porter as a flamboyant psychic) after a desperate act goes awry. The story builds to a satisfying, ironic finish, just how we like it. (Although I miss the days when the episodes clocked in at under a half-hour.) Guest stars this season include Jenna Elfman, Topher Grace, Tony Hale, Joel McHale, Christopher Meloni, Gretchen Mol, Jimmi Simpson (as a memorably lonely-hearted sad sack), Jurnee Smollett and Damon Wayans, Jr.
Search Party (streaming on HBO Max): The third season of the cult mystery-comedy moves to HBO Max, all episodes available for a binge-wallow in millennial self-absorption. The stakes are higher than ever as the polarizing Dory (Alia Shawkat) and the tragically passive Drew (John Reynolds) find themselves charged for the somewhat accidental murder of private investigator Keith Powell (Ron Livingston). As you’d expect, their friends Elliott (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner) take advantage of the media circus, with Eliott planning his own “wedding of the century” while semi-struggling actress Portia becomes the prime witness against her pals, turning to Christianity for forgiveness. Heaven help them all.
Also new to HBO Max: the first of four special editions of the animated cult fave Adventure Time: Distant Lands, focusing on the lovable robot BMO; a second season of Doom Patrol (also available on DC Universe), in which the misfit heroes have become miniaturized and must find a way to grow, metaphorically and otherwise; and new episodes of the animated children’s show Esme & Roy, co-produced by Sesame Workshop, about a little girl whose best friend is a cuddly monster.
Lifetime Presents Variety’s Power of Women: Frontline Heroes (10/9c, Lifetime): While worthy celebrities are still front and center in this year’s celebration, they’ll focus their energies on calling attention to everyday women of courage who are putting themselves at risk and giving their all on the frontlines of the pandemic: doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers, researchers and other essential workers. This year’s humanitarian Power of Women honorees include Cate Blanchett, Patti LuPone and Janelle Monáe. They join with past honorees to salute the frontline heroes in self-shot segments. Bringing some extra entertainment value: a performance by Andra Day.
Inside Thursday TV: In the penultimate episode of the first season of NBC’s Council of Dads (8/7c), a savage storm threatens the home and livelihood of the Perry family. Returning the favor for one of their surrogate dads, Luly (Michele Weaver) helps Larry (Michael O’Neill) in his efforts to reach out and rescue his own estranged family… Joanna (Kristin Kreuk) considers a class-action lawsuit on The CW’s Burden of Truth (8/7c)… In the series finale of CBS’s one-and-done sitcom Broke (9:30/8:30c), file this under too little too late, as Javier (Jaime Camil) and Elizabeth (Natasha Leggero) finally decide to look for their own place to live. Back at home, Jackie (Pauley Perrette) improvises when her son Sammy’s (Antonio Corbo) birthday-party venue falls through and they make the best of their own backyard. Kyle Bornheimer returns as Barry, Jackie’s ex and Sammy’s dad.