Jon Stewart brings his trademark wit and passion for social causes to Apple TV+ in the biweekly The Problem with Jon Stewart. TV’s longest-running prime-time medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, returns for an 18th season, sandwiched between spinoff Station 19 and midseason’s hit thriller Big Sky. CBS’ The Price Is Right celebrates its golden anniversary with a prime-time retrospective.
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He may be more casually dressed than in his Daily Show heyday, and he’s noticeably grayer—“Very few people would be happy looking like an anti-smoking poster,” he quips with his customary self-deprecation—but Jon Stewart is fired up and brimming with passion for social causes in his much-anticipated return to TV. There is humor and wit as you’d expect, as he brainstorms with his admirably diverse writing/producing team, but he’s dead serious when exposing fault lines in society. His first subject: the shameful treatment of U.S. military veterans who were exposed to toxic and cancerous smoke around “burn pits” used to dispose of waste (including human) generated on military bases overseas. “We support our troops unless they actually need support,” Stewart declares, revealing how difficult it is for veterans to receive proper benefits for treatment. “They are holding the veterans to a standard of proof far beyond the one our own government used to send them to war in the first place.” Stewart’s impassioned advocacy leads to a confrontational interview with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, and for a while you might mistake this for 60 Minutes. And that is not a problem.
The understaffed Grey Sloan Memorial hospital has its hands full as the 18th season of the enduring medical drama begins, handling patients from Seattle’s Phoenix Festival who were introduced an hour earlier on spinoff Station 19 (yes, another crossover). Peter Gallagher (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist) guests as a Minnesota neurosurgeon who approaches Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) with an invitation that conjures memories of her celebrated but notoriously critical mother, Ellis Grey (Kate Burton, recurring this season—hopefully not on a beach).
The twisty Montana-set thriller, inspired by C.J. Box’s best-sellers, opens its second season with private investigator Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and partner-turned-undersheriff Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick) still intent on tracking down escaped mad serial-killer trucker Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty). While they continue their rogue mission, with the help of U.S. Marshal Mark Lindor (Omar Metwally), another lethal mystery rolls into town, in the form of a road accident with illegal cargo and witnesses who are immediately put in harm’s way. Even after all of the shocks of the first season, you still may not be prepared for the episode’s final reveal.
The iconic game show moves into prime time for a two-hour celebration of this incarnation’s 50th anniversary. Host Drew Carey will call contestants to “Come on down!” to play for big prizes, but much of the special will relive the past, with flashbacks of some of the game’s biggest winners, most outrageous outtakes and a tribute to Bob Barker, who led the show for its first 35 years.
Having made news this week with the announcement that a revival of the Law & Order mothership is in the works, the franchise flips last week’s dynamic, with an hour of SVU followed by two hours of Law & Order: Organized Crime (9/8c). OC’s Christopher Meloni and Danielle Moné Truitt appear on SVU when a rape victim ID’s a mobster as her attacker. On OC, Ellen Burstyn returns as Stabler’s (Meloni) unstable mother, testing his balancing act between work and family. SVU’s Mariska Hargitay pays a visit to air some grievances with her former partner.
In “The Commenter,” the penultimate edition of the seriocomic anthology, Lola Kirke (Mozart in the Jungle) stars as Allegra, an influencer whose status as “Miss Generational Inspiration” can’t shield her from obsessing on a single online troll. All it takes is one flip and snarky anonymous comment (“Her smile is as fake as her life”) to shatter her happy relationship and self-esteem, sending her on a quest to find this elusive critic. “I need to know who you are to know who I am,” Allegra muses, while the rest of us shout from home: “STOP READING YOUR COMMMENTS! ARE YOU NUTS?”
Inside Thursday TV:
- Cake (10/9c, FXX): The anthology of animated and live-action shorts returns for a fifth season. All 10 episodes will feature installments of the animated Poorly Drawn Lines, based on a comic and featuring the voices of The Good Place’s D’Arcy Carden, Ron Funches and Tony Revolori as 20something BFFs experiencing a surreal early adulthood.
- Meet the Press Reports (9 pm/ET, NBC News NOW; streams Friday on Peacock): A third season of the public-affairs program opens with Chuck Todd’s report on a paradox of West Coast climate change, as Americans are moving toward areas of high climate risk rather than away.
- Good Grief (streaming on Sundance Now): Sisters Eve and Grace Palmer star in a New Zealand comedy (Six Feet Under played for dark laughs) as sisters—one’s a former teacher, the other a would-be DJ—who inherit a funeral home and its bizarre staff. After this six-episode binge, episodes will air weekly on IFC starting Oct. 4. A second season has already been ordered.
- The Way Down: God, Greed and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin (streaming on HBO Max): A five-part docuseries from Marina Zenovich explores the controversial history of Gwen Shamblin, who founded the Tennessee-based Remnant Fellowship Church after achieving success with her Weigh Down Workshop faith-and-diet regimen. The Way Down investigates accusations of emotional and physical abuse and cult-like practices within the church before Shamblin’s death in a plane crash in May. (The first three episodes are available for bingeing, with the remaining two expected in early 2022.)
- HBO Max offers animation for the kids and the grown-ups. First, the kids: Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs spins off The Flintstones’ offspring Pebbles Flintstone and Bamm-Bamm Rubble as the prehistoric kids explore the world beyond Bedrock in a wilderness called The Crags. In the adult toon Ten Year Old Tom, creator Steve Dildarian (The Life & Times of Tim) follows an average kid who’s trying to make sense of a grown-up world of mostly bad influences, including litigious parents and drug-dealing bus drivers. No one said growing up would be easy.