Worth Watching: ‘Superstore’ Reopens, an Animated ‘Creepshow,’ Chicago Politics in ‘City So Real,’ ‘Deutschland 89’
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV
Superstore (8/7c, NBC): A storm front approaches Cloud 9 in Season 6 in the form of, you guessed it, covid. While Dina (Lauren Ash) and Glenn (Mark McKinney) preen with pride at the very thought of being considered essential heroes as customers scramble for everyday items like toilet paper, Amy’s (America Ferrera) move to California has been delayed by the crisis, forcing way too many Zoom conferences that leave boyfriend Jonah (Ben Feldman) worrying where he fits in amid all this change. As masks and socially distanced lines become the new normal, the vignettes find humor in a serious situation.
My favorite joke in the premiere involves Netflix’s Tiger King, when one employee notes: “That was like early pandemic, no one really cares anymore,” and another adds, “I think we’re all embarrassed we cared in the first place.” Which hasn’t stopped Travel Channel from milking the phenomenon with the inevitable Ghost Adventures: Horror at Joe Exotic Zoo (9/8c), in which the team investigates yet more weird happenings at the infamous Oklahoma animal “refuge.”
A Creepshow Animated Special (streaming on Shudder): Production on a new season of the horror anthology was delayed by the pandemic, which didn’t stop fiends like director Greg Nicotero from adapting stories by Stephen King and son Joe Hill into animated vignettes just in time for Halloween. Harking back to Creepshow‘s horror-comics roots with an authenticity not always matched by the live-action episodes, these back-to-back dark fables pack a grisly punch. There’s also an echo of scary radio shows from the pre-TV era, with each story playing like an extended illustrated monologue. 24‘s Kiefer Sutherland is the guest voice for the stomach-churning Survivor Type, from King’s short story about a shipwrecked schnook trying to stay alive on a deserted island, no matter the cost. The Kissing Booth‘s Joey King voices the lead role in Hill’s “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead,” as a bored teen who can’t stop tweeting during a family road trip, even when a detour into a macabre zombie-themed circus takes a ghastly turn.
City So Real (7/6c, National Geographic): A panorama of Chicago during a politically turbulent time, filmmaker Steve James’ (Hoop Dreams) expansive five-hour documentary airs commercial-free, offering an all-encompassing view of the city in all of its diversity as 21 disparate candidates vie for the city’s top office in 2019 after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces he wouldn’t seen relection. (National Geographic is using the film as part of a campaign urging everyone to vote.) The fifth hour of City So Real gets even more real, jumping forward a year from the mayoral election to the events of 2020, when the pandemic and social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder lead to protests and clashes with police in the city’s streets. If five hours in one night feels like a stretch, the entire series will be available for streaming on Hulu starting Friday.
Deutschland 89 (11/10c, Sundance TV): The long-awaited third and final chapter of the spy thriller, airing with back-to-back episodes the next four Thursdays, plunges East German agent Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay) into new turmoil as the walls come tumbling down — the Berlin Wall, that is. Where will his new allegiances lie? With the Western powers who seek to recruit him as a double agent (one of his specialties)? The Communist forces operating from the KGB? All Martin knows for sure is that he’s in demand, and there’s no better time to reinvent oneself than in the complex new world disorder.
Inside Thursday TV: Creature comforts are the thing in CBS All Access’ inspiring 10-episode docuseries That Animal Rescue Show, from filmmaker Richard Linklater, which tells heartwarming stories of animal rescue and human redemption in and around Austin, Texas. Segments include children with disabilities learning to walk with a horse’s help and female prisoners finding purpose with rescue puppies… The CW’s Supernatural (8/7c) continues its march to the end as Dean (Jensen Ackles) goes on the road with Jack (Alexander Calvert) in their latest effort to take down Chuck (Rob Benedict)… The civic-minded can cast their ballots for the CBS entertainment special Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy (9/8c), hosted by Alicia Keys, Superstore‘s America Ferrera and Kerry Washington. With celebrity cameos and musical performances from Keys, Dan + Shay, Offset and Shawn Mendes, the special uses the arts to promote the value of having one’s voice heard through voting… truTV’s Top Secret Videos (10:30/9:30c) enlists comic actors Matt Walsh (Veep), Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory), Ron Funches (Hoops) and The Tonight Show‘s Ali Kolbert as fictional interns at the NSA who log and comment on funny videos while uploading them to the national security agency’s server. For laughs.