Worth Watching: ‘It’s a Sin’ on HBO Max, ‘Built for Mars,’ ‘Clarice,’ Dateline’s 3-Part ‘Widower’

Clarice Rebecca Breeds CBS
Brooke Palmer ©2020 CBS

A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:

It’s a Sin (streaming on HBO Max): From Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk, Years and Years), this fast-paced and ultimately devastating five-part limited series tracks a group of London friends through the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic claimed so many young lives. The real sin here is the shame and stigma these (mostly) men faced in their suffering. The center of It’s a Sin‘s universe is the Pink Palace, a London flat where aspiring actor Ritchie (Olly Alexander), flamboyant Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and shy Colin (Callum Scott Howells) live with BFF Jill (Lydia West), who becomes their rock and advocate when the bad times come. (See the full review.)

Built for Mars: The Perseverance Rover (9/8c, National Geographic): Timed to coincide with the Rover’s scheduled landing in Mars’ Jezero Crater, a two-hour special goes inside California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a fascinating look at how NASA’s robotic Perseverance Rover was built on a strict timetable during a pandemic. The unmanned Rover’s goal: to search for signs of ancient life on the planet and collect samples to bring back to Earth.

Clarice (10/9c, CBS): Having defied her superiors in the moody series opener, FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds) is under more than the usual scrutiny when the VICAP team heads to Tennessee to intervene in a fringe militia group’s siege. If she goes rogue again in her search for answers — what are the odds — will her colleagues ever be able to trust her, even when her instincts pay off?

Dateline NBC: The Widower (10/9c, NBC): If true crime is more your thing, the newsmagazine presents the fruits of Dateline producer Dan Slepian’s 10-year investigation of accused murderer Thomas Randolph in a five-hour series over three nights (continuing Friday and Saturday). Slepian had “unprecedented access” to Randolph, detectives, and lawyers on both sides of the trial in which the Las Vegas eccentric was initially convicted of killing his sixth wife — the fourth to die under suspicious circumstances — before the verdict was overturned.

From the Stream: Streaming premieres include Tony Hale‘s (Veep) animated Archibald’s Next Big Thing Is Here on Peacock, about the misadventures of cockeyed-optimist chicken Archibald Strutter… Alton Brown‘s Good Eats: The Return starts an exclusive run on Discovery+ with three episodes delving deep into the whys and wherefores of bone marrow, cold brew coffee and fried breads. New episodes continue for five weeks… Playing for Keeps, an Australian counterpart to Footballers’ Wives, launches its second season of soapy rivalry and conflict on Sundance Now… The six-part Spanish miniseries La Linéa Invisible, premiering on Topic, dramatizes the roots of the Basque terrorist organization ETA in the late 1960s… Hulu presents its first virtual concert, Your Attention Please: The Concert (8/7c, 5/PT), hosted by Craig Robinson and featuring performances by 24kGoldn, Joy Oladokun, Kiana Ledé, Lil Yachty and Swae Lee.

Inside Thursday TV: CBS’s Young Sheldon (8/7c), aka Iain Armitage as the pint-sized genius who’s just started college at 11, has hit an existential wall after his hippy-dippy philosophy prof (Melanie Lynskey) makes him question reality. So it’s Meemaw (Annie Potts) to the rescue with a reality check… TBS’s Go-Big Show (9/8c) goes into the semifinal round, bringing back six Round One winners including extreme strongman and crossbow acts… Fox’s Last Man Standing (9:30/8:30c) gets serious for a minute when the guys go looking in the neighborhood for a classic car to renovate, and a resident calls the police on Chuck (Jonathan Adams) because he’s Black… It’s a blast from the past on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (9/8c) when Benson (Mariska Hargitay) gets an assist from Lt. Carolyn Barek (Annabella Sciorra reprising her Law & Order: Criminal Intent role) as they work with the Bronx SVU to stop a serial rapist… National Geographic’s The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream (10/9c), from ESPN’s The Undefeated, looks back at the landmark 1963 civil-rights march from the perspective of today’s social-justice movements.