Worth Watching: Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, Kaley Cuoco Is 'The Flight Attendant,' 'Superintelligence' on HBO Max
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (9 am/8c, NBC): Some TV traditions even a pandemic can't entirely sideline. An institution now in its 94th year, the Macy's parade will look different — no crowds on New York's streets, giant balloons tethered to vehicles instead of human handlers — but the show must go on, so look for Santa at the end, navigating a far shorter route. Today's troika of Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker are the hosts, and Broadway (dark since March) is thankfully represented by casts of Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations, Hamilton, Jagged Little Pill and Mean Girls. Plus: the Rockettes! (Radio City is closed now, too.) Performers appearing on floats and making special appearances include the happily ubiquitous Dolly Parton, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots as an opening act, Patti LaBelle, Matthew Morrison, Tori Kelly, Lauren Alaina, Bebe Rexha, Leslie Odom Jr., Keke Palmer, Jordin Sparks and more.
Followed by another tradition, The National Dog Show (12 pm/11c), with highlights of the annual all-breed exhibition from the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. John O'Hurley hosts with expert analyst David Frei, and NBC Sports' Mary Carillo adding commentary. Three breeds — the Barbet, the Dogo Argentino and the Belgain Laekenois — will be featured for the first time.
The Flight Attendant (streaming on HBO Max): If Sex and the City had a love child with Alfred Hitchcock, the result might be something like this frenetic mystery-comedy starring The Big Bang Theory's excellent Kaley Cuoco as the woozy and very boozy title character, Cassie Bowden. She's a jet-set hot mess, letting her hair down everywhere she lands. But when her torrid night in Bangkok with the handsome passenger in 3C (The Haunting of Hill House's Michel Huisman) ends badly — she wakes up next to his horrifically bloodied corpse — Cassie keeps digging her own grave with a series of flustered bad decisions. (It doesn't help that the victim keeps getting into her head, a device that quickly grows tiresome.) Even at her most maddening, Cuoco makes Cassie an appealing heroine, and the cliffhanger twists may keep you coming back. Three episodes premiere this week, with two more the following two Thursdays, and the finale on December 17.
Superintelligence (streaming on HBO Max): A busy day for the streamer includes the high-profile movie premiere of a comic fantasy starring Melissa McCarthy as Carol Peters, an average Joe (make that Josephine) who must somehow convince a powerful Superintelligence A.I. (James Corden) that humanity is worth saving… Other HBO Max premieres include Stylish with Jenna Lyons, an eight-part reality series following the reinvention of former J. Crew president Jenna Lyons as she starts a new home, beauty and fashion business while testing recruits who want to join her on the ride… 12 Dates of Christmas, from Love Is Blind producer Sam Dean, is a (what else) dating series featuring three singles who are looking for someone to celebrate the holidays with. (Is this the way to do it?)… Plus two holiday "winter spectacular" episodes of the kiddie competition series Craftopia, with a "Craft the Halls" and "Merry Craftmas!" theme.
Star Trek: Discovery (streaming on CBS All Access): One of the very few original episodes on Thanksgiving provides an unusually emotional assignment for Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in the wake of her demotion for going rogue again. The spirit of Spock in his various incarnations looms large when his adopted sister learns what occurred on Vulcan during the intervening 930 years of Discovery's time-jump. It becomes her task to apply logic, and extreme honesty, while representing the Federation to argue for access to sensitive data that could help explain the origins of the mysterious Burn. Back on the ship, there's plenty of buzz over who Saru (Doug Jones) will choose to be his new No. 1.
1917 (9/8c, Showtime): Looking for a good movie? If you didn't make it to the big screen earlier this year for director Sam Mendes' electrifying WWI action film, about a young lance corporal's (George MacKay) harrowing journey through enemy territory to deliver a critical message, it should still hold up in its premium-cable premiere. 1917 was nominated for 10 Oscars and won three, including for the astounding long-take cinematography of the legendary Roger Deakins.
Christmas by Starlight (8/7c, Hallmark Channel): Looking for a holiday movie? As ever, Hallmark is there for you, with a romance between Kimberley Sustad as Annie, a lawyer, and Paul Campbell as William, a developer's son, that will decide the fate of her family's restaurant, The Starlight Café.
Inside Thursday TV: Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without football, and top matches include the Texans facing the Lions in Detroit on CBS (12:30 pm/11:30c), Washington at Dallas on Fox (4:30/3:30c) and in prime time, Baltimore at Pittsburgh on NBC (8:20/7:20c)… Or you could get a Friday Night Lights vibe from the docuseries Texas 6 (streaming on CBS All Access), which profiles the Greyhounds, a six-man football team from small-town Strawn, Texas, as they try for a three-peat at the 6-Man Football State Championship. The first three of eight episodes premiere Thursday, with the rest following weekly… Tyler Perry's Ruthless (streaming on BET+) resumes its first season with three new episodes, as Ruth (Melissa L. Williams) begins to see the light about the evil within the Rakudushi sex cult… For a much lighter diversion, the Decades nostalgia channel serves up 24 hours (starting at 7 am/6c) of off-color but good-natured guffaws from vintage episodes of The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. Victims — er, guests — include Jimmy Stewart, George Burns, Betty White, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope, Muhammed Ali and many, many more… Sundance TV's historical thriller Deutschland 89 (11 pm/10c) wraps with two episodes in which Martin (Jonas Nay) is arrested, and later tortured, as he tries to survive the chaos in the wake of the Berlin Wall crashing down.