Worth Watching: ‘Superstore’ Reopens, a New ‘Search Party’ and ‘Locked Down’ on HBO Max, ‘UFO Witness’
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Superstore (8:30/7:30c, NBC): How we’re going to miss shopping for laughs at Cloud 9. As the long-running comedy returns from a winter break for its final 11 episodes, it’s in top form with a whimsical approach to the hot-button topic of systemic racism. The catalyst: a corporate decision to no longer lock up Black hair-care products. With these items now free at last, it’s an awakening for the employees to debate what other store policies need to be addressed, and Garrett (Colton Dunn) becomes the reluctant agent for change. Kept away in quarantine, Glenn (Mark McKinney) tries to make reparations in his own awkward way — and as usual, only makes the situation more uncomfortable for everyone.
Search Party (streaming on HBO Max): The gang’s not all here for the fourth season of the dark mystery-comedy, but will they even notice? Dory (Alia Shawkat) is being held prisoner by her delusional stalker (At Home with Amy Sedaris‘ Cole Escola), but as usual, her best buds are caught up in their own self-obsessed worlds. Portia (Meredith Hagner) has what should be a dream role in a film about the trial — except she’s not playing herself. Drew (John Reynolds) is burying his trauma inside a theme-park character’s costume, and the toxic Elliott (John Early) has flipped allegiances, fashioning himself as a far-right talk-show host. With friends like these, should Dory even dream of rescue? The show returns with three episodes this and next Thursday, with the final four episodes available on Jan. 28.
More HBO Max premieres on its preferred launch date of Thursday: The all-star movie Locked Down is a hybrid of rom-com and heist caper, featuring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor as a couple in London who are thinking of separating when the pandemic lockdown forces them even closer together. That’s when they decide to pull off a jewel heist at the posh Harrods department store. Co-stars include Ben Stiller, Ben Kingsley, Dulé Hill, Mindy Kaling, and Stephen Merchant… From the reality aisle: The Event is a four-part series that goes inside Wolfgang Puck’s catering company as they prepare for the sort of elaborate occasions that the COVID-19 crisis has currently put on the back burner. For now, events like the SAG Awards and premiere parties for shows like Westworld are all happening virtually. But when they’re back in business, so too Puck hopes to be.
UFO Witness (streaming on Discovery+): History’s fictionalized Project Blue Book may be history, but this eight-part docuseries (premiering with three episodes before rolling out weekly on Thursdays) reopens many of those infamous case files alleging UFO encounters. Ben Hansen, a former federal agent and paranormal investigator, leads the charge with fellow investigator Mark O’Connell, a biographer of Project Blue Book’s legendary chief scientific consultant Dr. Allen J. Hynek. Hynek’s files were made available with the help of Jennie Zeidman, the last surviving member of the Project Blue Book team before passing away last April. In the first episodes, Hansen looks into military encounters with “tic tac”-shaped flying objects, multiple sightings in Pennsylvania and a report on whether government scientists may be reverse-engineering alien technology from downed UFOs. True or not, Witness is out there.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (10/9c, NBC): Broadway remains dark, but two of its brightest musical stars take center stage in a powerful showdown between a “cam girl” (Hadestown‘s Eva Noblezada) with a seductive online persona and the superfan (Alex Brightman of Beetlejuice and School of Rock) who crossed the line by breaking into her room and assaulting her in person. Director John Waters (Hairspray) makes a wily cameo as the website’s smarmy entrepreneur in an episode that addresses an issue all too common in rape cases: victim-blaming.
Inside Thursday TV: NBC’s Mr. Mayor (8/7c) tests the mettle of hapless Jayden (Bobby Moynihan) when he’s tasked to interview candidates for a job opening… On ABC’s new game night, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (8/7c) invites The Price Is Right host Drew Carey, This Is Us star Chrissy Metz, and former Desperate Housewife Teri Hatcher to take a spin for charity. Followed by The Chase (9/8c), which we presume will let either James Holzhauer or Brad Rutter become “The Chaser” and give Ken Jennings a rest… Who to call when Kat (Mayim Bialik) wins a trip for two to Puerto Rico on Fox’s Call Me Kat (9/8c)? No one she knows can join her, so will she have the gumption to leave her cats behind and take a solo vacation?