Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, January 29. All times are Eastern.
Parenthood (NBC, 10 p.m.): Boyhood’s depiction of the minutiae of growing up earned it big cinematic kudos this year. And while NBC’s Parenthood has never been as high-profile (nor as form-breaking) as Richard Linklater’s film, it has similarly small-scale goals of charting family relationships over time. (Plus, you know, they both have “hood” in their titles.) After six seasons, the often underrated, frequently excellent Parenthood takes its final bow tonight. It’s not one of the most high-profile series finales in recent years, but it’s a bittersweet one for longtime fans of the show, like our own Carrie Raisler. Carrie gets one last chance to weigh in on the series and pick her favorite Braverman before she cranks up Family of the Year’s “Hero” (that great song from Boyhood) and says a tearful goodbye to Parenthood.
Scandal (ABC, 9 p.m.): It’s been a long, cold few weeks without the steamy plotting of Shonda Rhimes to spice things up. Thankfully, Shonda Thursdays (or “Thank God It’s Thursday” as ABC insists on calling it) finally returns. Olivia Pope went missing in the winter finale and the winter premiere tracks the kidnapping from Olivia’s point of view. We reminded Joshua Alston of the show’s return and he replied, “It’s handled.”
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC, 10 p.m.): Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is similarly ready to handle the return of How To Get Away With Murder, whose winter finale was less satisfying than Scandal’s but no less insane. Now that we know #WhoKilledSam, the show can hopefully put its focus where it belongs—on Annalise Keating and the SAG Award winning actress who plays her.
Fortitude (Pivot, 10 p.m.): Although Pivot has marketed itself as a channel for Millennials, its first original scripted program is populated almost exclusively by middle-aged characters (and a 74-year-old Michael Gambon). When a mysterious murder takes place in an isolated Arctic outpost, the local sheriff enlists forensic investigator Stanley Tucci to help solve the case. In her pre-air review, Kate Kulzick found Fortitude an impressive freshman outing so we asked Libby Hill to check in on the show week-by-week to figure out whether this atmospheric drama has a hip, youthful appeal worthy of the Pivot brand.
Adventure Time (Cartoon Network, 7 p.m.)
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8 p.m.)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8 p.m.)
Reign (The CW, 9 p.m.)
Archer (FX, 10 p.m.)
Babylon (Sundance, 10 p.m.)
Portlandia (IFC, 10 p.m.)
Elementary (CBS, 10 p.m.)
Futurama (10 a.m.): Bender meets his doppelgänger, who—like all good doppelgängers—is identical save for a goatee. Then the Futurama gang celebrates Valentine’s Day just a few weeks ahead of our real world celebration. Naturally, Zack Handlen will be reviewing “The Lesser Of Two Evils” and “Put Your Head On My Shoulders” while wearing a fake moustache and eating a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
In addition to Kate Kulzick’s TV Review of Fortitude, Will Harris sits down with Martin Starr to talk about his eclectic film career, his roles on Silicon Valley and Party Down, and, of course, his beloved turn on Freaks And Geeks.
Elsewhere, Libby Hill explores the ways in which The Wonder Years was way ahead of its time in a brand new 100 Episodes:
To look at The Wonder Years through this prism—a half-hour, single-camera dramedy that didn’t worry about finding the laugh lines, focusing instead on realistically capturing the intricacies of everyday life—makes it clear just what kind of a trailblazer it was. In an era populated with single-camera prestige comedies that are often criticized for lacking big laughs (HBO’s Girls, Looking, and Togetherness, for instance), it doesn’t take much to draw a direct line back to ABC and The Wonder Years.
Regular Show (Cartoon Network, 7:30 p.m.): Starla and Muscle Man decide the best way to pay for their wedding is to win a game show called Married And Broke. Sounds reasonable.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 8 p.m.): Rounding out the return of Shonda Thursdays is the winter premiere of Grey’s Anatomy. While the show has slipped off the radar for most, it did manage to win the Favorite Network TV Drama prize at this year’s People’s Choice Awards, presumably because it convincingly begged its audience to, “Pick me. Choose Me. Love Me.”
The Biggest Loser (NBC, 8 p.m.): A winner is crowned (and awarded $250,000) in the two-hour finale of season 16 of The Biggest Loser. NBC’s cathartic weight loss show pairs especially nicely with pizza and beer.
Close-Up Kings (SyFy, 11 p.m.): Three slight-of-hand street performers explore New York City in the series premiere of this magic/travelogue docu-series. If two of those performers aren’t Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, we’re going to be pretty pissed.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Starz, 9 p.m.): One of the best entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets even better if you watch it as a romantic comedy about Steve Roger’s burgeoning relationship with Sam Wilson and the unexpected return of his ex, Bucky Barnes.
The Time Machine (TCM, 8 p.m.): Long before Star Trek or Doctor Who popularized TV time travel, H.G. Wells made literary time travel cool. His 1895 novel gets the big screen treatment in this 1960 film. It may not be a faithful adaptation of the book, but at least it’s a stylish one.
NBA Basketball: Nuggets at Grizzlies (TNT, 8 p.m.): Given that your Thursday What’s On Tonight Correspondent has an embarrassingly limited understanding of sports, she must confess she picked this game solely because the description included the words “nuggets,” “grizzlies,” and Jusuf Nurkic’s “double-double.”
The Americans: Erik Adams sings the praises of Kerri Russell in the third season premiere of FX’s Soviet spy drama. Sadly, his praises are sung only in words and not in a boisterous Russian folk ballad.