A pivotal episode of the Big Bang Theory prequel depicts the birth of Georgie (Montana Jordan) and Mandy’s (Emily Osment) child, beset with sitcom complications when Sheldon (Iain Armitage) is the only one around as she goes into labor. And he’s more focused on a different sort of birthing: the launch of his ambitious database. As family members slowly gather at the hospital, tensions between George Sr. (Lance Barber) and Mary (Zoe Perry) come to the surface regarding their special friendships with, respectively, neighbor Brenda (Melissa Peterman) and Youth Pastor Rob (Dan Byrd). Can’t they all get along for the sake of the baby?
This bold if at times preachy drama has two agendas: to shine light on the underreported crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and to put an also-overdue spotlight on the value of dogged local journalism to hold people accountable. “Printing the truth has hard consequences, and we all struggle with that,” notes aggressive reporter Eileen Fitzgerald (two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank) as she faces her most dangerous critic: a self-described “Concerned Citizen” (Bill Dawes), whose appetite for inflammatory media-bashing rhetoric has led him to invade the Daily Alaskan newsroom after hours, holding Eileen at gunpoint and forcing her to write a “confession.” The standoff is tense, as law enforcement hovers outside, but the debate goes deep, as Eileen tries to convince this tortured “citizen” that “facts matter, because the anger is fueled by misinformation.”
2023’s most entertaining new series gets unusually intense on a dark and stormy wintry blizzard night in an episode directed by series creator Rian Johnson (Knives Out). The twists are too good to spoil as an incapacitated Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) is stuck in a mountain motel, sifting through the deadly lies of an ex-con (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) with only an unrepentant grifter (Everyone Everywhere All at Once’s delightful Stephanie Hsu) for support. That’s what she gets for staying in one place too long, following an idyllic respite during better weather in which she admits, “I have been kind of a death magnet this past year.” And that’s no b.s.
Star Trek: Picard
The chase is on in a classic episode of space-opera warfare as the crew of the Titan, now again under the command of Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), plays hide-and-seek within a treacherous nebula from the mammoth starship Shrike and its cackling captain Vadic (Amanda Plummer). There’s also plenty of conflict on board, with Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) confronting their past in the wake of recent personal revelations. By the hour’s dire cliffhanger, more will be known about the identity of their true enemy.
Revolutionary War ghost and “forgotten founding father” Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones) admittedly has “a chip on my shoulder” when it comes to the enduring fame of Alexander Hamilton, which is only exacerbated when a dismissive publisher tells Sam (Rose McIver) during her biographical book pitch that the late Capt. Higgintoot isn’t “a ‘room where it happened’ kind of guy.” Even so, Sam goes a bit too far in trying to soften the blow to his, and her, ego. Elsewhere in the haunted house, Thor (Devan Chandler Long) steals the episode as he tries to contain his anger impulses around Flower (Sheila Carrasco), who’s all about “good vibes.”
INSIDE THURSDAY TV:
- The Flipping El Moussas (8/7c, HGTV): Newlywed real-estate power couple Heather Rae and Tarek El Moussa juggle work and personal life in what the channel describes as a “follow-doc” series. In the opener, they take on a splashy flip renovation in L.A.’s Silver Lake area, scrambling to find time for an ultrasound appointment for their first baby together.
- Grey’s Anatomy (9/8c, ABC): With Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) gone, life goes on at Grey Sloan Memorial, but not happily for Maggie (Kelly McCreary) and husband Winston (Anthony Hill), who still aren’t speaking.
- So Help Me Todd (9/8c, CBS): This week, Todd (Skylar Astin) is helping his ex-girlfriend Veronica (Happy Endings’ Eliza Coupe) when she asks for a favor, then has second thoughts when he worries she’s plotting revenge.
- Marlon Wayans: God Loves Me (streaming on HBO Max): The comedian’s third stand-up special for the streamer, filmed in Atlanta, goes deep with Wayans’ reflections on how the infamous Oscar slap affected him personally, given his long friendships with Chris Rock, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
- Sex/Life (streaming on Netflix): The second season of the beyond-steamy drama doubles down on love triangles and the female gaze as Billie (Sarah Shahi) explores new avenues of extramarital sexual adventure in the wake of her torrid fling with Brad (Adam Demos).