A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
One Night Only: The Best of Broadway (8/7c, NBC): Among the hardest hit communities during the pandemic, Broadway and its iconic theaters have been dark since March and will remain so for the foreseeable future. But the lights are back on and the streets and jumping with song and dance in a two-hour musical special benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. Tina Fey, whose Mean Girls musical will be among the casts participating in outside performances, is the host. Other shows participating include Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations, Chicago, Jagged Little Pill, Diana: The Musical, Jersey Boys and Rent, with an appearance from the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child cast and a preview of what is expected to open on Broadway in 2021. Showing their support beyond the Great White Way are Kelly Clarkson, Patti LaBelle and Brett Eldredge, with many celebrity cameos reminding us of theater's power and resilience.
Let Them All Talk (streaming on HBO Max): Oh the places we'll go with Meryl Streep on streaming platforms this week — to The Prom on Netflix on Friday, but first, all aboard the spectacular Queen Mary 2, where director Steven Soderbergh filmed this largely improvisational comedy. Streep stars as a famous author sailing across the Atlantic to receive a literary prize, inviting along two old friends (Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest) to reconnect and rehash a stormy past. Lucas Hedges plays her nephew, who's keeping an eye on his aunt on behalf of her literary agent (Humans' Gemma Chan), who has stowed aboard.
Silent Night — A Song for the World (8/7c, The CW): We could all use a little serenity during this hectic period, epitomized by the beloved carol whose history is revealed in a two-hour musical documentary narrated by Downton Abbey 's Hugh Bonneville. Composed in 1818 in Salzburg, Silent Night has been translated into 140 languages, several of which will be represented in recordings by stars from around the globe, including Kelly Clarkson, The Vienna Boys Choir, Josh Groban , Sheléa, Ailee, Lina Makhoul, The Tenors, David Foster, Katherine McPhee, Anggun, Rolando Villazón and more. Among the anecdotes: how Silent Night brought a temporary Christmas ceasefire during World War I, and how its popularity peaked with Bing Crosby's recording, the third best-selling single ever.
Grey's Anatomy (9/8c, ABC): While the Gray Sloan Memorial staff continues to fret over Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), who’s stuck in a J. Crew COVID-19 beachfront limbo, they have an even more urgent crisis on their hands when no one's favorite doctor, Tom Koracick (Greg Germann), is brought in suffering with the virus. Adding to chief Miranda Bailey's (Chandra Wilson) woes, her own mom is brought in from the assisted-living facility as a new surge overwhelms the hospital. (Her husband Ben, played by Jason George, helpfully crosses over from Station 19.)
Star Trek: Discovery (streaming on CBS All Access): Always the most fearsome member of the Discovery team, universe-hopping Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) hasn't been herself lately — and her physical and mental dislocation after the 930-year time jump has only gotten worse. So when a possible cure is discovered on a remote planet, she heads there with Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), where they meet a whimsical gatekeeper (CSI's Paul Guilfoyle) who might remind you of a certain offbeat doorman from The Good Place. Should Georgiou go through the mysterious portal, could she be setting up the spinoff the Star Trek brain trust has been promising her for so long?
Inside Thursday TV: Thursday being HBO Max's go-to day for premieres, this week brings a reality series, House of Ho, about a colorful and wealthy Vietnamese-American family in Houston; and a special holiday edition of Haute Dog, the campy dog-grooming competition… CNBC takes a hard look at economic representation for the Latino community in a live special, The Path Forward: Race and Opportunity in America (8/7c)… Among the thousand or so subplots on ABC's A Million Little Things (10/9c), Gary (James Roday Rodriguez) steps up as surrogate dad to help Delilah's (Stephanie Szostak) son Danny (Chance Hurstfield) deal with a bully at school… A cultural tradition since 1927, the TIME Person of the Year will be announced in an NBC special (10/9c) that will also look at the magazine's choices for the year's Businessperson, Entertainer, Athlete and Guardians of the Year. (I'll be disappointed if the top pick isn't either 2020's essential workers during the pandemic or Dr. Anthony Fauci.)