As Churchy La Femme used to say in Pogo: "Don't you hate it when Friday the 13th comes on a Thursday?"
In fact, this felt like a Friday themeless. I almost forgot that it was Thursday when I saw the shape of the grid, but all those circled letters gave it away. I actually think that here is an example of a theme where the circled letters are necessary. Otherwise it really would have been a themeless.
I've seen this sort of thing before, I think (although I can't recall when). I think this is well done, though. All the theme answers are symmetrically placed, even if the circles aren't. I actually figured it out with 39A: Draft choice (PALE[ALE]), which was amusing because we'd just had it in its natural form in yesterday's puzzle. After that, it was mostly a matter of figuring out the theme answers, and that was fun. My favorite is INSTANT[TAN], although I do love a WHOOPIE[PIE].
The NE and SW corners were once again isolated. I was able to make my into the SW using "Love Story"'s SEGAL, set in Harvard, and filmed there as well. Really a terrible movie, all told. My entry into the NE was off, though, when I guessed the wrong deadly sin at 9D (sloTH fit so well!). I do think those corners are very well done though. I particularly liked NOBODY (Emily Dickinson clue) two columns over from ANGELOU.
There's a fair amount of glue needed to make the diagonal sections work, but that was okay. TTOP, YDS, ELEM, SPFS. Otherwise it was doable.
1A: Much police paperwork (REPORTS) is a very bland way to start the puzzle, and I give it a C for average. My first confident entry came at 3D: Basic linguistic unit (PHONEME), which I imagine made Frannie smile.
Nice Thursday. Let's hope the turn matches in quality!