Worth Watching: A Test for ‘Clarice,’ ‘Punky Brewster’ Revival, ‘Mr. Mayor’ Finale, A ‘Unicorn’ Memorial
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Clarice (10/9c, CBS): What helps make this Silence of the Lambs sequel stand out from the procedural pack is the learning curve its title character (Rebecca Breeds as FBI Agent Clarice Starling) continues to navigate. She’s still trying to prove to everyone — the bureau’s therapist (Big Love‘s Shawn Doyle), her supervisor on the VICAP team, Paul Krendler (Michael Cudlitz), maybe even herself — that she’s up to the challenge. “I know what’s real and what’s not,” she insists, even as she keeps hallucinating about those creepy moths. Clarice faces her biggest test as she interrogates the hit man from the series opener’s river murders. Is he a serial killer or just hired muscle, and if so, who’s behind it all? The conspiracy deepens as their investigation comes under attack, possibly from within.
Punky Brewster (streaming on Peacock): Eventually every TV character will get a second life, it seems. (Hey, if Call Me Kat doesn’t last, Mayim Bialik can always revive Blossom.) As if we needed a reminder that none of us are getting any younger, the precocious Chicago orphan (played then and now by Soleil Moon Frye), who was raised in foster care by a grouchy widower in the 1984-88 NBC/syndicated sitcom, is now a grown-up single mom of three. When Punky meets Izzy (Quinn Copeland), a spunky young girl in the foster system who reminds Punky of her younger self, she decides to pay it forward and take the girl under her wing. The supporting cast includes Freddie Prinze Jr. as Travis, Punky’s ex.
Mr. Mayor (8/7c, NBC): Well, that didn’t take long. Ted Danson‘s first term as Los Angeles’ loopy new mayor ends after just two months, and Mayor Neil is in hot water again as he puts forward a plan to save money on the city’s palm-tree maintenance. Elsewhere in the office, Jayden (the terrific Bobby Moynihan) has to convince his co-workers that he’s actually going to be a father. Pity the child.
The Unicorn (9:30/8:30c, CBS): Another rite of passage on this most emotional of TV comedies, when Delia (Michaela Watkins) and Michelle (Maya Lynne Robinson) prepare a memorial for their beloved friend Wade’s (Walton Goggins) late wife. This is especially worrisome for his younger daughter Natalie (Makenzie Moss), who begins to fear that her memories of her mom aren’t as sharp as they once were.
Also happening on a full night of new CBS comedy: Young Sheldon (8/7c) tests the young collegiate’s (Iain Armitage) social skills when he and dad George Sr. (Lance Barber) break bread with the university president (Wendie Malick) and a benefactor. Reba McEntire returns as Dale’s (Craig T. Nelson) ex, June… B Positive (8:30/7:30c) gives dour Drew (Thomas Middleditch) something to be positive about when fellow patient Jerry (David Anthony Higgins) learns he’s getting a new kidney… And on Mom (9/8c), for which we now hold each of these final episodes precious, Jill (Jaime Pressly) continues her romantic pursuit of Bonnie’s (Allison Janney) therapist, Trevor (The Office‘s Rainn Wilson).
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On the Stream: The newly rebranded ALLBLK premieres the sitcom Millennials about four 20something roomies and their neighbors looking to score, financially and romantically, in L.A… New on Discovery+: Luda Can’t Cook, in which hip-hop star Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, a kitchen newbie, gets schooled in Indian cuisine by Chef Meherwan Irani; and the documentary Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story, profiling the late filmmaker who helped popularize the ski industry through his annual sports movies and national tours… If you missed it when it first aired on SundanceTV in 2015, the haunting French fantasy-drama The Returned begins streaming its first season on Sundance Now. The series depicts life in a French mountain town upended when dead loved ones suddenly return as if they’d never left.
Inside Thursday TV: The syndicated The Kelly Clarkson Show (check local listings) welcomes First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for her first solo broadcast interview. Clarkson will perform a special Kellyoke number specifically required by her guest… MTV’s Floribama Shore (9/8c) returns for a fourth season, but instead of heading to the Florida beach, the southerners are off to the mountains of Montana and the sunny shores of Lake Havasu, Arizona… USA’s latest “docu-comedy” She’s the Boss (10:30/9:30c) turns cameras on the life of marketing maven Nicole Walters, her stay-at-home lawyer husband Josh and their three adopted daughters.