TV column for Thursday, Jan. 10

“Fam” debut, 9:31 p.m., CBS.

For a few minutes,
this is just your standard, sorta-fun comedy. Nick and Clem (Tone
Bell and Nina Dobrev) tell his parents (Brian Stokes Mitchell and
Sheryl Lee Ralph) they're engaged. The young people are gorgeous and
the old people are semi-goofy; TV viewers sort of expect that.

But then Clem's
half-sister Shannon (Odessa Adlon) arrives; she has a drug-dealer
lover and no clue her life is a shambles. “Fam” promptly becomes
a smart and funny show. Adlon's mother (Pamela) has a fictional
version of their life in the “Better Things” series; now Odessa
helps make “Fam” a delight.

(or tape): “The Good Place,” 9:30 p.m., NBC.

Most shows have
trouble coming up with one good premise; this one has several,
switching them at will. In the current one, the four humans are
finally aware that Michael is an angel, trying to find them a place
in Heaven. Breaking the rules (and helped by magical Janet), he gets
them tantalizingly close.

Naturally, fresh
complications arise. This episode includes a delightful satire of
committee decision-making. It also may be the only time you'll hear
someone ask: “Remember that time you killed us all and then we were
in your void?” Janet responds that yes, she does remember that.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” season-opener, 9 p.m., NBC.

Andy Samberg is a
likable guy and a talented comedy actor, but this isn't his week. His
Golden Globes co-hosting stint Sunday was a disappointment; now his
series has a so-so start.

As it opens, we
learn whether Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) will be the police
commissioner. Then it's time for Jake (Samberg) and Amy (Melissa
Fumero) to start their resort honeymoon. There are some funny
moments, but not nearly enough of them.

ALTERNATIVE: “Truth and Lies: Monica,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

Suddenly, ABC is
obsessed with old scandals. Its eight-Friday series is starting with
Lorena Bobbitt last week and Robert Blake this week. And now it adds
this look at the Monica Lewinsky affair.

New interviews
include Kenneth Starr (the independent counsel whose probe led to
Bill Clinton's impeachment hearings) and Lucianne Goldberg (the
literary agent who told Tripp to tape her conversations with
Lewinsky). Also included are some of Starr's surveillance material
and segments from Barbara Walters' interview with Lewinsky, back on
March 3, 1999.

Other choices

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In its final season, TV's best comedy is
tying things up – tonight, Raj tries to mend things with his
ex-fiancee – and bringing back characters. Zack, Penny's
ex-boyfriend, first showed up in 2010, at the end of the third
season. Now he needs Leonard's help.

“Gotham,” 8
p.m., Fox. In a city now overrun by villains, Gordon and Bullock
check a spot where several kids have been kidnapped. Surprisingly,
Barbara becomes their ally on this one.

“The Orville,” 9
p.m., Fox. Here's the episode originally scheduled for last week,
then pushed back. Ed and Gordon join Alara, on a visit to her home

Mysteries Decoded,” 9 p.m., CW. On Tuesday, CW launches a fresh
version of “Roswell,” the series about young love as impacted by
a long-ago spaceship landing. First, tonight's non-fiction film has
an investigator and a “ufologist,” looking for fresh

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. While shedding other vices (alcohol and gambling), Christy
has resumed smoking. That's a problem for everyone else, during a
road trip.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. Mark Feuersein, who played a
good-guy doctor in “Royal Pains,” plays a celebrity plastic
surgeon. He and his girlfriend are accused of rape.