Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, January 5. All times are Eastern.
The Good Place (NBC, 8:30 p.m.): Across its first nine episodes, The Good Place has emerged as one of the most innovative new comedies on TV. Now the show is back to round out its first season with four new episodes. Gilmore Guys co-host Demi Adejuyigbe penned the winter premiere, “Chidi’s Choice.” In it, Jianyu announces some big news, Eleanor makes a “surprise personal discovery,” and Michael enlists Chidi to make an important decision. Since William Jackson Harper has proved to be one of the best straight men on TV, an episode centered on Chidi is just the thing to welcome in the New Year.
Nashville (CMT, 9 p.m.): It’s been a rocky road for Nashville following its unexpected cancellation on ABC. But after a last-minute save by CMT, the series is launching its fifth season with a bang (and a plane crash!). The two-hour premiere ushers in a new era of the show, one helmed by creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick. The fifth season is reportedly slower-paced, more character-driven, and more music-focused than its soapier heyday—though there’s still the fallout from that plane crash to deal with. This is Nashville after all.
Portlandia (IFC, 10 p.m.): While 2016 earned the label “garbage year,” we have a feeling 2017 is going to have its monumental struggles as well—which means now more than ever that we’ll need comedy to lighten the mood. Thankfully, Portlandia is here to answer the call. In tonight’s seventh-season premiere, Carrie and Fred meet a storyteller; Nigel and Amy consider an album release; and the weirdos discover Bed Bath & Beyond. We have a feeling the “Beyond” part is really going to appeal to them.
Inside The Actors Studio (Bravo, 8 p.m.): We’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight the chance to watch one of our greatest working actors talk about her craft. Fences and How To Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis sits down with James Lipton to discuss her challenges, inspirations, and favorite curse word.
Project Dad (TLC, 5 p.m.): TLC’s latest reality series centers on a surprisingly untapped market: celebrity dads. Or rather “celebrity” dads, given that the men in question are comedian Donnell Rawlings, Days Of Our Lives actor Daniel Cosgrove, and former TRL personality DJ Skribble. According to the show’s press release, Project Dad follows the fathers as they “step out of the spotlight and into the role of ‘mom’ for 48 hours” while their partners are out of town. Who says antiquated assumptions about parenting and gender are dead?
Superstore (NBC, 8 p.m.): It’s out with the old, in with the new on the Superstore winter premiere. The employees of Cloud 9 clean out their lost-and-found bin, and Amy accidentally winds up with a cash windfall.
Mom (CBS, 9 p.m.): For its winter premiere, Mom breaks out the guest stars. Nicole Sullivan and Bradley Whitford play hard partiers who throw Christy and Bonnie for a loop when they stop by for a visit. The Whitford/Allison Janney reunion is one more in the ever-expanding web of post-West Wing, West Wing actor reunions.
Chicago Med (NBC, 9 p.m.): For their first cases of the New Year, the doctors of Chicago Med deal with two injured MMA fighters, a possible heart recipient, and some conflicting medical advice. Oh my!
Top Chef (Bravo, 9 p.m.)
Difficult People, “The Courage Of A Soldier” (Hulu): While Fred Armisen has played probably hundreds of characters over the years, one of his most endearing is Billy Eichner’s very Jewish brother on Difficult People. In this first-season episode, Billy visits Armisen’s Garry for Yom Kippur and winds up roping his brother into an elaborate scheme involving a veteran and a graduation party. While it’s not surprising that Armisen is very funny in the episode, it’s nice to see him play a character who’s warm and grounded as well.