Worth Watching: 'Raised by Wolves,' New Zealand Mystery in 'The Sounds,' 'A.P. Bio' Back in Session
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Raised by Wolves (streaming on HBO Max): Casting a mythic spell, director (of the first two episodes) and executive producer Ridley Scott's (Alien, Blade Runner) fascinating sci-fi fable is wonderfully strange and occasionally terrifying. Humanoid androids Mother (the androgynous and intense Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubaker Salim) flee Earth, destroyed in a holy war, for the remote planet Kepler-22b with a cargo of human embryos to gestate and raise in this harsh new Eden as the last hope for humanity. They won't be alone forever, though, and when survivors arrive aboard the vessel Ark of Heaven, threatening to resume the conflict, Mother shows her true protective nature — and it's fearsome. After the first three episodes, the remaining episodes drop weekly on Thursdays. (See the full review.)
The Sounds (streaming on Acorn TV): "Welcome to Paradise," Maggie (Under the Dome's Rachelle Lefevre) is told upon arriving from Canada to the picturesque waterfront town of Pelorus in New Zealand, where her husband Tom (Matt Whelan) is preparing to launch an environmentally friendly salmon fishery. Maggie soon senses all is not quite glorious beneath the exotic surface — and as this engrossing mystery series kicks in, she's proved right when Tom leaves their boat on a kayak and never returns. Financial skullduggery, dark family secrets and local tensions are just the beginning of Maggie's problems. Too bad, because the setting of New Zealand's Marlborough Sounds is truly breathtaking. After the first two episodes, weekly episodes premiere on Mondays through Oct. 12.
A.P. Bio (streaming on Peacock): The latest example of Life After Cancellation — and it helps if you're produced by the parent company of a new streamer — the beyond-irreverent high school comedy returns after two short midseason runs on NBC for an eight-episode third season. As you'd expect, Jack Griffin (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Glenn Howerton), the disgraced Harvard prof, is still not happy about being stuck in his Toledo, Ohio, hometown. His syllabus is all about cooking up revenge schemes, often using his Advanced Placement biology students as pawns, with outmatched Whitlock High Principle Durbin (Patton Oswalt) churning helplessly in his wake. A bit smug and mean-spirited for my taste, but if you're looking for a show that earns an "A" for attitude, you're in luck.
Dr. Pimple Popper: Before the Pop (10/9c, TLC): Even during a pandemic, Dr. Sandra Lee continues to have skin in the game. In a spinoff of her popular series, the patron saint of blackhead extractions (as my colleague Damian Holbrook wittily describes her) performs consultations remotely, reviewing cases via telemedicine ahead of a possible official visit. Sometimes this means clients will have to take their zits and blemishes into their own hands, as they follow Dr. Lee's directions during video sessions. Some, of course, will merit in-person treatment, so don't be surprised if some of these cases lead to TV sequels.
Star Trek: Lower Decks (streaming on CBS All Access): Community's Gillian Jacobs and Veep's Matt Walsh are among the guest voices on another fun episode of the animated Star Trek parody. While the crew of the Cerritos works alongside the Parliament-class ship Vancouver to supervise the controlled demolition of an unstable moon, Mariner (Tawny Newsome) is understandably suspicious when she meets nerdy sidekick Brad Boimler's (Jack Quaid) new girlfriend aboard the Vancouver — who's way out of his league. "He radiates a primal confidence. I'm sure you've felt it," Brad's new beau Barb confides in Mariner, who immediately suspects something alien, maybe sinister, going on.
Also Streaming: New to Netflix: the romcom Love, Guaranteed, starring Rachael Leigh Cook as a lawyer drawn to her new client (Damon Wayans Jr.), a charmer who plans to sue a dating website that guarantees perfect matches… In the tradition of PBS's Endeavour and HBO's recent Perry Mason, we now have Young Wallander, a six-part origin story for Kurt Wallander, the fabled Swedish detective from the Henning Mankell novels, shown here as a rookie cop (played by Adam Pålsson) investigating an explosive hate crime.
From Topic: the very topical Release, a six-part series produced before the Covid-19 outbreak, dramatizing the first months of a fictional pandemic through interconnected personal stories in an American city. Aunjanue Ellis, most recently seen in Lovecraft Country, leads the cast… Hulu presents the four-part Australian drama First Day, a sensitive Afterschool Special-like story of transgender student Hannah Bradford's (Evie McDonald) first year of high school… Sundance Now launches We Got This (new episodes every Thursday), a dark comedy created by and starring Schiaffino Musarra as a cash-strapped American living in Sweden. He stirs up a hornet's nest when he decides to go for a 50-million Swedish Crown reward by solving the 30-year-old murder of a former prime minister.
Inside Thursday TV: A jaw-dropping hole-in-one earns a player the last spot in the upcoming $250,000 grand finale of ABC's goofy golf game Holey Moley (8/7c). Followed by the final two episodes this season of To Tell the Truth (9/8c and 10/9c), with celebrity guests including Joe Mantegna, Bobby Bones, Thomas Lennon, Natasha Leggero, Bob Saget, Brad Garrett, Sherri Shepherd and Nikki Glaser… Sonja clashes with Ramona — because if they didn't, would they get screen time? — in the season finale of Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York City (9/8c)… It's Christmastime in the season finale of truTV's sitcom Tacoma FD (10/9c), but Eddie (Steve Lemme) isn't feeling it, and it's up to the rest of the firehouse to get him into the holiday spirit.