Thanksgiving with ‘This Is Us,’ Renée Zellweger Is ‘Pam,’ Julian McMahon Departs ‘Most Wanted,’ HBO’s ‘Undercurrent’
The final Thanksgiving-themed episode of This Is Us is a showcase for series star Mandy Moore. Two-time Oscar winner Renée Zellweger camps it up in the Dateline-inspired limited series The Thing About Pam. Julian McMahon leaves FBI: Most Wanted after three seasons. An HBO documentary examines the disappearance and murder of journalist Kim Wall in Denmark.
Thanksgivings have been the setting for many of the family drama’s most memorable episodes, and that’s the case again in the final season. As Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) remarks to Randall (Sterling K. Brown) while the family is driving toward another eventful dinner: “The Pearson epitaph will read: Lovely people. Cried a lot. Traumatic as hell Thanksgivings.” The focus is on matriarch Rebecca—this is surely Mandy Moore’s Emmy submission this year—as she gathers her kids to declare her wishes before sinking deeper into dementia. Flashbacks shed light on several other pivotal Thanksgivings for Rebecca, first husband Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), future second husband Miguel (Jon Huertas) and the rest of the family. In the present, fault lines are becoming ever more obvious in the doomed long-distance marriage of Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan). Bring some hankies along with your appetite to this emotional feast.
I’ve long argued for the broadcast networks to return to the miniseries/limited series format, but this expanded six-part dramatization of Dateline NBC is not exactly what I had in mind. Two-time Oscar winner Renée Zellweger camps it up under a mountain of prosthetics and a glare that silences barking dogs as formidable Missouri hausfrau Pam Hupp, who’s been featured multiple times on Dateline. Implicated in the murder of her best friend (Katy Mixon), Pam preens and slurps giant sodas while trying to frame the victim’s clueless husband (Glenn Fleshler). Josh Duhamel (as a tightly permed defense lawyer) and Judy Greer (as a tightly wound prosecutor) co-star, but the main attraction besides Zellweger’s stunt casting is the creepy voice-over narration of Dateline frontman Keith Morrison, dripping smarm with every intonation. (Full review here.)
After three seasons and nearly 50 episodes, Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck) turns in his badge as Supervisory Special Agent Jess LaCroix as he and Sarah (Jen Landon) plan to take a dream vacation. But first, the team goes after a domestic abuser whose scorched-earth search for his ex-girlfriend reminds Jess of the trauma involving Sarah’s ex last season. Let’s hope the couple gets the happily-ever-after they deserve. Next month, Dylan McDermott (Law & Order: Organized Crime) joins Most Wanted as the new team leader.
The first season of the workplace satire ends with another potential calamity, when Payne Motors’ self-sabotaging embattled CEO Katherine Hastings (Ana Gasteyer) submits to a TV newsmagazine interview in a desperate effort to polish her public image. It would help if she knew the first thing about cars. Reliable character actor Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is the reporter who everyone fears will take her down with a “gotcha” question. Don’t they all know she’s her own worst enemy?
With two parts airing back to back, Erin Lee Carr’s documentary revisits the 2017 mystery of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who vanished after boarding Danish engineer/entrepreneur Peter Madsen’s self-made submarine. The first hour delves into Wall’s disappearance and Madsen’s ever-changing story about how she died. The second hour explores Denmark’s judicial process as the high-profile Madsen is brought to justice.
More True Crime:
- Crime Scene Confidential (9/8c, Investigation Discovery, also streaming on discovery+): Alina Burroughs, a former Florida CSI, reexamines the evidence in six shocking cases in a new docuseries, opening with the 2008 death of toddler Caylee Anthony—which she previously investigated. Her interviews with experts on both sides, and the child’s grandmother, may leave you baffled as ever. Followed by a fourth season of True Conviction (10/9c, also streaming on discovery+), featuring Brooklyn homicide prosecutor Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi.
- Perfect World: A Deadly Game (streaming on Peacock): A two-part docuseries goes inside a multi-player video game that takes a sinister turn when one of the anonymous players announces he’s killed, or plans to kill, his own family. It’s no longer a game as the rest of the online group tries to locate and stop the killer.
Inside Tuesday TV:
- Grand Crew (8:30/7:30c, NBC): Also wrapping its first season: the wine-soaked buddy comedy, where serial dater Nicky (Nicole Byer) helps her romantically challenged brother Noah (Echo Kellum) figure out if his latest girlfriend is ready to be “the one.”
- More finales, reality competition division, with Season 2 of Fox’s I Can See Your Voice (9/8c) playing its last musical game, and TBS’ Wipeout (9/8c) wrapping with hosts Nicole Byer and John Cena giving favorite teams from past episodes a second chance to conquer the messy obstacle course.
- No Retreat: Business Bootcamp (10/9c, CNBC): Broker turned sports and wellness yogi Joe De Sena helps companies beef up their bottom line through mental and physical endurance teamwork tasks. First up: New business owners on the cusp of defaulting on $3 million in loans learn how to lift their confidence.
- Legacy: In the Shadow of Greatness (streaming on discovery+): A six-part docuseries follows the next-generation careers of the offspring of NBA star Dwyane Wade, boxer Evander Holyfield and the NFL’s Randall Cunningham.
- Taylor Tomlinson: Look at You (streaming on Netflix): The comedian delivers her second Netflix stand-up special from Boston’s Wilbur Theater, where she mines humor from her struggles with mental health, grief and dating.