Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Stand begins and The Flight Attendant comes in for a landing

James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco
James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco
Photo: James Minchin/CBS, Colin Hutton/HBO Max

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Thursday, December 17. All times are Eastern. 


Top picks

The Stand (CBS All Access, 3:01 a.m., miniseries premiere): “A character-based approach is appropriate given that King’s characters are often cited as his greatest strength. But The Stand is so big, with so many characters—King’s expanded version, generally considered the definitive text, runs more than 1,150 pages—that an adaptation’s emphasis on one plotline is likely to come at the expense of a half-dozen others. Garris’ four-part version wasn’t enough to contain King’s story, and neither is this nine-part effort. Will those unfamiliar with the story be able to enjoyably process the complex narrative and abundant character arcs with the added challenge of navigating a peripatetic, time-hopping structure? The pilot, the cleanest and most efficient of the six episodes available for review, argues that they will.” Read the rest of Randall Colburn’s pre-air review. Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya’s recaps will run weekly.

The Flight Attendant (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m., limited series finale): In its first four episodes, The Flight Attendant gives off the same sunny appeal of blue sky TV shows like Monk and Psych. But the back half of the season is where Steve Yockey’s adaptation of Chris Bohjalian’s 2018 novel really takes off. Cassie (Harley Quinn’s Kaley Cuoco, in another standout turn this year) has quickly gone from flaky party girl to unreliable narrator to semi-proficient private eye, though she’s made plenty of forehead-slappingly bad decisions along the way. The globe-trotting finale “Arrivals & Departures,” which follows the gutting penultimate episode, “Hitchcock Double,” sees Cassie team up with someone who once posed the biggest threat to her life, as she confronts both her present and her past. The 45-minute episode is a moving conclusion to the first season of this HBO Max Original, which has grappled with substance abuse and trauma recovery with great sensitivity and style. Look for our post-mortem interview with series creator and executive producer Steve Yockey on the site later today. [Danette Chavez]

Can you binge it? You can, and it is eminently bingeable.

Regular coverage

Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access, 3:01 a.m.)

Holiday stuff that’s also kid stuff

Sesame Street: Holiday At Hooper’s (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m.): Celebrate Christmas Eve and Hanukkah with Elmo and Baby Bear who will make latkes, sing carols, and generally make merry with a little help from Alan, Nina, and Viewers Like You. (This video isn’t a trailer, but it is very charming.)

Wild cards

Homeschool Musical Class Of 2020 (HBO Max, 3:01 a.m.): Our pick for the show most likely to make you unexpectedly weepy for the week is this documentary, the result of Laura Benanti’s request that the singers/dancers/theater kids in the Class of 2020 share some of the performances they might have given, if high school musicals were happening.

Dogs Of The Year (The CW, 8 p.m.): And The CW’s got some Very Good Boys and Very Good Girls! No trailer for this one, but look: doggies!

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 9 p.m., mid-season finale) and The Unicorn (CBS, 9:30 p.m., mid-season finale): It’s time to bid a temporary farewell to the fine people at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital (and okay, yes, also to those firefighters that keep showing up). The same is true of the unicorn in The Unicorn (it’s the titular role), as Walton Goggins and company head into hiatus.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!