Grey’s Anatomy jumps six months to welcome new interns for Season 19. Oscar winner Hilary Swank headlines the issue-oriented Alaska Daily. A reboot spawns a prequel in the traditional Western setting of Walker Independence. ABC News’ Nightline launches a weekly streaming offshoot. The White Lotus’ Jake Lacy is a disturbing Friend of the Family in Peacock’s true-crime docudrama.
The more things change… In the hospital drama’s Season 19 (!) premiere, titled “Everything Has Changed,” you may get a sense of deja view upon meeting a nervous new crew of ambitious interns as the series jumps ahead six months with the reinstatement of Grey Sloan’s residency program. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is still interim chief—but for how much longer?—and she has her hands full putting out fires caused by these green recruits, including one with distinct echoes of her long-ago hookup with Dr. McDreamy. Things are also awkward when Meredith’s beau Nick (Scott Speedman) returns for the first time since he left for Minnesota, waiting in line with other transplant surgeons after a sobering number of tornado victims are declared brain-dead. (The tornado occupies much of the Season 6 premiere of spinoff Station 19 at 8/7c.)
This drama set in the economically challenged world of local newspapering may be the fall’s riskiest gambit. First, it’s not a traditional procedural. And while Oscar winner Hilary Swank and Scandal’s Jeff Perry as her editor/boss bring star power, it could be a hard sell to build a show around an abrasive character like unyielding investigative reporter Eileen Fitzgerald (Swank). As the series opens, her high-profile Manhattan career hits the skids after a controversial story implodes, and her arrogant newsroom behavior doesn’t help her reputation. When her former (and, typically, estranged) editor Stanley Cornik (Perry) offers her a lifeline with a job at an Anchorage daily, putting her on an under-reported story about missing and murdered Indigenous women, Eileen eventually sees a path toward redemption—if she can keep her panic attacks under control. She’ll also have to learn to get along nicely with others, which may be too much to ask. (Best and most realistic detail: The Alaska Daily newsroom has been downsized from a splashy office building to a strip mall.)
From the wild world of IP (“intellectual property) brand extensions comes a prequel to a reboot. More plywood than Deadwood, this traditional Western provides an origin story for the Walker family in the journey of Boston native Abby (Katherine McNamara) to the titular Texas boom town in the late 1800s. It opens with tragedy, when her husband is murdered en route to Independence, where he was expecting to become the sheriff. Abby instantly suspects the new black-hat lawman who took his place as the culprit, and while plotting her revenge, she makes the acquaintance of a rascal outlaw (CW regular Matt Barr), a noble Apache tracker (Justin Johnson Cortez), a dance-hall confidante (Katie Findlay) and too many other stock characters to mention. If Independence missed a single Western cliché, there’s always next week.
A Friend of the Family
Previously the subject of a Netflix documentary, Abducted in Plain Sight, this unnerving nine-episode docudrama (launching with four episodes, then weekly) stars Jake Lacy (The White Lotus) in an even creepier role as an aw-shucks predator, Robert “B” Berchtold. His genial façade hides a manipulative streak of sinister obsession as he insinuates himself into the wholesome 1970s Idaho household of Bob and Mary Ann Broberg (Colin Hanks and Anna Paquin). B takes a special interest in their eldest daughter, Jan (Hendrix Yancey as a child, Mckenna Grace as a teen), a trusting innocent he kidnaps not once but twice in a bizarre grooming and brainwashing plot. Jan and mother Mary Ann are among the series’ producers.
The mystery of Jazz Age singer Alberta’s (Danielle Pinnock) death back in the day continues to haunt everyone at the B&B, dead and alive, and struggling journalist Sam (Rose McIver) thinks it would be a dandy topic for a podcast. Alberta isn’t quite so sure, and she fears even more secrets from the past will spill out when notorious fanboy Todd (Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll) is brought on as a consultant. The hilarious B-story involves Hetty (Rebecca Wisocky), who might as well be channeling Katharine Hepburn from The African Queen (“I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating!”) when she makes a special connection with a rickety washing machine.
Series star Donald Glover directs an episode that’s too good to spoil. Let’s just say that Van (Zazie Beetz) gets more than she bargained for when she brings daughter Lottie (Austin Elle Fisher) along for a day’s work on a show produced at an elaborate Atlanta studio complex obviously modeled after Tyler Perry’s spacious soundstage lot.
Inside Thursday TV:
- Impact X Nightline (streaming on Hulu): The first weekly streaming newsmagazine from ABC News builds on the reporting from the iconic late-night franchise to produce immersive deep dives into the hot topics of the moment. The series begins with one of today’s most polarizing topics: abortion, with correspondent Rachel Scott and the Nightline team telling stories from all sides across the country as the U.S. continues to reel from the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
- Monster High: The Movie (7/6c, Nickelodeon, also streaming on Paramount+): Supernatural and musical hijinks fuel a movie-length version of the ghoulish high-school franchise, when half human/werewolf Clawdeen Wolf (Miia Harris) makes herself at home alongside fellow students Frankie Stein (Ceci Balagot) and Draculaura (Nayah Damasen).
- Walker (8/7c, The CW): Where’s Cordell Walker (Jared Padalecki)? The Texas Ranger has gone missing in the Season 3 premiere, and Capt. James (Coby Bell) rallies the team to find their kidnapped colleague. (Didn’t we just see this scenario on The Equalizer?)
- Law & Order (8/7c): Workplace stress in a night of Dick Wolf legal drama, as ADA Price (Hugh Dancy) struggles with his ethical principles when the U.S. Attorney’s office pushes for the death penalty. On Law & Order: SVU (9/8c), Rollins (the soon-to-depart Kelli Giddish) has trouble separating work from home life, and on Law & Order: Organized Crime (10/9c), Jamie (Brent Antonello) regrets a mistake that leads to tragedy.
- CSI: Vegas (10/9c, CBS): Halloween comes early for the CSI squad when a mannequin inside a local haunted house turns out to be an actual dead body.
- The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (11:35/10:35c, NBC): Rap star Jack Harlow sits in as co-host before his “Come Home the Kids Miss You Tour” plays Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Friday. He’ll do the monologue with Jimmy with and co-interview guest Dwyane Wade.
- Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler (streaming on HBO Max): The DC origin series moves from Epix to streaming for Season 3, with a five-year time jump finding Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) in a post-civil war world ushering in a new age of superheroes and super-villains.
- Wahl Street (streaming on HBO Max): The docuseries’ second season, following Mark Wahlberg in his overlapping movie-star and business careers, features milestones both happy (his 50th birthday) and sad (the passing of his beloved mother, Alma).
- Deadstream (streaming on Shudder): A down-on-his-luck Internet personality (Joseph Winter, co/writer director with wife Vanessa) hopes to revive his career by live-streaming his overnight visit to a haunted house, because that always goes well.