Critic's Guide to Tuesday TV: New Girl Talks Turkey, Sons Explodes, and More!
A week from now, we won't be thanking Fox for ditching its Tuesday comedy lineup to make room for another displaced edition of The X Factor (which will be shifting its schedule back a day to avoid spoiling our Thanksgiving digestion with another results show). Tonight, though, there's much to be grateful for, as freshman charmer New Girl (9:01/8:01c) delivers an uproarious Thanksgiving episode that's going to be hard to beat this month. The guys would prefer to just enjoy what Schmidt calls a "dudes-giving" with nothing but football and beer on the menu, but Jess (Zooey Deschanel) has a way of taking them out of their comfort zone. And she's bringing someone for dinner (which of course she has no idea how to prepare): a seeming soulmate from school named Paul (Justin Long, as winningly awkward as he was back in the days of Ed), a music teacher toting his violin, which he'll play "only if you want to be enchanted," and a kazoo. He can also match Jess quirky song for song, prompting Nick to mutter, "OMG, there's two of them."
While Schmidt (Max Greenfield) hilariously gets his control freak on in the kitchen, everyone else adjusts to the new guy in their midst, some more easily than others. Long is a great addition to this winning ensemble, so it's good to know he'll be around for at least a few more episodes.
The hard-luck Chances are also celebrating Thanksgiving on Fox's irreverent Raising Hope (9:31/8:31c) and Burt is freaking out because his well-off parents — nicely played by Lee Majors and Shirley Jones (for anyone who may have dreamed of a Steve Austin-Shirley Partridge union) — have invited themselves for the holiday. Dad figures "it will be more like the original Thanksgiving: no heat and I'm sure some of the food will be donated." When the family tries to pretend they're better off than they are, moving into the palatial digs of one of Virginia's housekeeping clients, you know things will eventually backfire. But till then, we get to see Maw Maw adapt surprisingly quickly to the world of IM'ing.
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Earlier in the night, we're back on the Glee roller-coaster with what threatens to be some very cringe-worthy storylines. After last week's above-par episode, with West Side Story providing the soundtrack to several couples' romantic/sexual explorations, this week (8/7c) we're back in the land of Sue (Jane Lynch), as the congressional candidate starts a smear campaign while we learn (as recently teased here) why she hates musical theater so much. We'll also get more dish on Puck's crush — on Idina Menzel's Shelby? Make it not so! — as Will and Shelby's rival glee clubs (the season's other worst idea) engage in some friendly rivalry. Well, maybe the music will be good.
Music to my ears: In one of the more congenial seminars any film buff would be thrilled to eavesdrop on, movie maestro John Williams recalls telling his longtime creative partner Steven Spielberg, "You really need a better composer" to provide the soundtrack for the Holocaust epic Schindler's List. To which Spielberg replied: "I know, but they're all dead." (Both went on to win Oscars for this landmark film.) Spielberg and Williams, sitting in adjoining armchairs, hold an audience of American Film Institute fellows in thrall, recalling their own hits while paying homage to past masters who influenced them, in the first of a series of quarterly specials on TCM: AFI's Master Class — The Art of Collaboration (8/7c). Their enthusiasm for the work and their affection for each other are evident throughout, as they describe their process on breakthrough movies including Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the Raiders series. As Spielberg notes: "I don't get the same John Williams twice. Unless it's a sequel." This special will be followed by a showing of Saving Private Ryan (9/8c), and later, Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1 am/midnight central time), whose adventurous Alex North score is singled out during their fascinating discussion.
This best-yet season of FX's incendiary Sons of Anarchy (10/9c) reached a turning (maybe tipping) point last week, when Clay (Ron Perlman) savagely beat his "old lady" Gemma (Katey Sagal) after she confronted him over his many recent crimes, including the botched hit on Tara (which left her hand so damaged her medical future is in doubt) and the as-yet-undisclosed murder of Piney. "Clay can't be saved," whispered a horribly bruised Gemma, refusing to let the loyal former sheriff Wayne call in the law. "He's gonna die by the hand of the son," she adds, ominously.
Sons has been building toward this game-changing season throughout its four-year run, and it has been electrifying. That applies to tonight's episode as well, where the war is on quite literally as SAMCRO follows Jax into explosive battle to avenge the assault on Tara (if they only knew who was responsible) while the various members of this damaged motorcycle family process the impact of Clay's actions toward Gemma. His growling "My wife, my club, not your concern" will only take him so far. Gemma is right. Clay is irredeemable at this point, and by the episode's end he'll have acquired yet another mortal foe. What I like best about this season is that the club is now its own worst enemy, and where the internal conflicts will take us is anyone's guess.
CBS' NCIS franchise is going overseas this week. On the mothership (8/7c), continuing last week's powerful story that began with a downed plane containing the remains of military heroes, Gibbs and Ziva head to Afghanistan to track down a missing Marine lieutenant after confirming she wasn't killed in action. The mission causes Gibbs to relive his own Marine past. ... And on NCIS: Los Angeles (9/8c), that team goes in search of Sam (LL Cool J) when he goes missing during an undercover mission in Sudan.
While it hasn't quite lived up to its title yet, CBS crime drama Unforgettable (10/9c) delivers its most memorable casting stunt to date, as Taxi's Marilu Henner appears as Carrie's aunt, to whom the detective turns for help in looking into her sister's murder. Henner is a consultant for the series, because she has the same abilities as the fictional Carrie to recall every detail of her life — a conditional known as "hyperthymesia" or "Superior Autobiographical Memory" — although in tonight's episode, Henner's character suffers from early-onset Alzheimer's, not unlike Carrie's mother.
In the world of docu-reality, it's a battle for storage-plundering supremacy as A&E's hit Storage Wars returns with back-to-back new episodes (following a daylong marathon) at 10/9c, taking on a new season of TruTV's Storage Hunters in the same time period. ... TruTV's Hardcore Pawn (9:30/8:30c) is back for a fifth season, as the family resists Les' plan to open a new pawn store. ... When it comes to riding into battle, the Sons of Anarchy have nothing on National Geographic Channel's Knights of Mayhem (9/8c), a new series exploring the grueling world of full-contact, heavy-armor competitive jousting, which a group of enthusiasts is risking life and limb to be recognized as a legitimate sport. In back-to-back premiere episodes, the Knights train rookies in Texas in anticipation of a West Coast championship in Sonora, Calif., where one of the knights is sent home in an ambulance. Which would have come in handy back in the days of Camelot.
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