Friends fans have waited 17 years for the cast to get back together, and their emotional reunion is TV nostalgia at its friendliest. Elton John gets Icon treatment at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. The classic Rugrats cartoon returns in CG form, but the kids themselves haven’t changed. NBC limits its Red Nose Day celebration in prime time to a special episode of The Wall.
A rapturous if overstuffed wallow in TV nostalgia, this nearly two-hour reunion of the Friends cast—in order of appearance on their fabled Warner Bros. soundstage: David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry—is worth the wait. (The reunion special was intended to launch HBO Max last year, but Covid got in the way.) With hugs, tears and plenty of laughter, they revisit old times as they wander a meticulous recreation of the set (including a beam that was removed early on). James Corden leads a spirited discussion at an outdoor Q&A in front of the iconic fountain, but the best moments are the intimate ones, when the cast recreates moments from vintage scripts, play a trivia game and reflect on how much they meant to each other during the rush of superstardom over the phenomenal 10-year run that made them all famous—and rich. Special guests drop by or offer video tributes that mostly distract from the main event, but the highlight (not to be spoiled) is a musical duet not soon to be forgotten.
Even if you’re suffering from musical awards fatigue, the best reason to tune in is the presentation of the Icon Award to the one-of-a-kind Elton John. Chris Martin and Lil Nas X do the honors, with a musical salute featuring Brandi Carlile, Demi Lovato and H.E.R. Usher hosts the ceremony, live from L.A.’s Dolby Theatre, with scheduled performances from the likes of The Weeknd with Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak (Silk Sonic), Dan + Shay and Doja Cat.
The beloved Nickelodeon tykes look a bit different, with 3D shadings in a CGI-animated reboot, but their antics continue to delight. The hourlong opener is appropriately titled “Second Time Around,” and follows Tommy Pickles and his adorable gang as they come to poor Chuckie’s aid after he tries (and fails) to be brave. It all has something to do with dinosaurs, which always make everything more exciting.
In past years, NBC went wall-to-wall in prime time with its Red Nose Day programming, raising money to combat child poverty. This year the fundraising, which extends to all the network’s platforms, is highlighted by a “Red Nose Day Edition” of the game show, in which a community-oriented family from Houston rolls with the highs and lows of those bouncing balls. Host Chris Hardwick will also play for charity, and celebrity guests pop in to join the fun.
Inside Thursday TV:
- Blue Miracle (streaming on Netflix): Dennis Quaid stars in this inspirational fact-based movie as gruff boat Captain Wade Malloy, who reluctantly takes on board orphans from Mexico’s financially challenged Casa Hogar orphanage to help participate in the world’s biggest fishing tournament. It represents a comeback for Malloy, but more importantly, a lifeline for the orphanage to keep its doors open.
- Apocalypse ’45 (streaming on discovery+): The harrowing final days of World War II in the Pacific theater are brought to startling life in Erik Nelson’s documentary, using never-before-screened footage from the National Archives, including newly discovered material from legendary director John Ford that captures the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack and the ruined Pacific Fleet. Featuring reflections from 24 WWII veterans, all in their 90s at the time of the interviews, the special covers notable events from the flag raising at Iwo Jima to the devastation of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
- Grey’s Anatomy (9/8c, ABC): As the long-running medical drama nears the end of its 18th season, still grappling more realistically with the pandemic than its peers (to some fans’ dismay), Levi (Jake Borelli) is accepted into the vaccine trial. In an emotional subplot, Jo (Camilla Luddington) and Hayes (Richard Flood) meet orphaned baby Luna’s legal guardian.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (9/8c, NBC): In the penultimate episode of the crime drama’s unprecedented 22nd season, Benson’s (Mariska Hargitay) boss, Deputy Chief Garland (Demore Barnes), brings her unit a special case to investigate after his neighbor is injured, exposing an incident of domestic violence.