Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Her first novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over, will be published in the summer of 2019.

The rapid ascent of Netflix as a creator of film and television continued Monday morning as the streaming service placed four films in the Golden Globes' 10 best motion picture contenders in comedy and drama. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association rewarded established directors like Quentin Tarantino, too, while continuing its legendarily wacky devotion to some of its favorite celebrities.

The business proposition behind Netflix's painfully flat family sitcom Merry Happy Whatever, released in an eight-episode binge on Thanksgiving Day, is the most defensible thing about it. It makes all the sense in the world to try to offer large groups of people something aggressively — almost defiantly — unobjectionable to watch, and it makes sense that it might be a very old-fashioned multicamera sitcom. What's more, there have been some good multicams in the last few years, including Netflix's own fabulous One Day At A Time, so why not give it a shot?

Certain fictional mansions exist only so their owners can mysteriously die in them. The gothic revival abode of famous novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) in Rian Johnson's Knives Out is one of them. All brick turrets and spindly spires on the outside, all dark wood and winding staircases on the inside, it's a perfect place to throw a party — especially one in which all the suspects in a death are gathered at the request of law enforcement.

You've seen press in the last few weeks about new original programming from Apple and Disney, but do you know about Spectrum originals? They're the ones rebooting Mad About You. Six new episodes are now available to you — maybe.

The most striking thing about Disney+ as of its launch is that even most of what's new isn't new.

It's holiday TV movie season, and it's not just a Hallmark party. There's also Lifetime, UPTV, and — increasingly — Netflix.

It is both a positive and negative attribute of the anthology series that it tends to be uneven. Black Mirror is, the new Twilight Zone was, Room 104 is. And now, Amazon is presenting an eight-episode series based on the loved, hated, and love-to-hated New York Times column Modern Love. Created by John Carney, who directed Once and Sing Street, it is — of course — uneven.

It is hopefully clear that a review and discussion of the Succession season two finale is not suitable for people who do not want to be spoiled regarding the Succession season two finale. If it is not clear: You will know what happened on this episode by the time you're finished reading this piece. Choose wisely.

How did this happen to me?, you may wonder as a weekend afternoon sinks into the deep blue waters of the figurative Mediterranean. I had plans for today. I had dreams. I am still in my pajamas, and it is three o'clock in the afternoon. My bones feel like bungee cords. I may never get up.

Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) wants to be president of the United States. He always has. And when we meet him, he's a high school student who has studied past presidents (only back to Reagan, whom he considers the inventor of the modern presidency) to find patterns in their paths that he can follow. First up: become student body president at his high school and get into Harvard.

[This piece contains spoilers about the first three seasons of The Good Place but treads very carefully with anything about the new season. If you aren't caught up with the earlier seasons, go catch up!]

If you predicted that creator-actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge would be a big winner going into Sunday night's Emmy Awards, you might just have won your Emmys pool. And if you were predicting a giant final haul of Game of Thrones trophies as that show leaves us for good, you were, well, sort of right.

It's an old tradition that endures, even amid the year-round deluge of programming brought to us by the age of streaming. It is the fall TV preview.

Turns out fall is the perfect time to refocus on television after a summer filled with vacations and outdoor distractions. So our pop culture team collected the coolest TV shows coming your way over the next few months as a guide through the madness. We haven't seen all of these programs yet, but we've learned enough to know they're worth checking out.

Much of serialized television is made up of monster stories.

Sometimes it's about a seemingly normal person being revealed as a monster, like on Breaking Bad. Sometimes it's a whole family of monsters in training, like on Succession. In Showtime's new series On Becoming A God In Central Florida, the monster is a pyramid scheme called FAM.

There are comedy creators whose sensibilities are darker than Danny McBride's. There are some whose satire is sharper, some whose characterizations are weaker, some whose sense of the moment is more or less developed. But there is no one more convinced than Danny McBride of the raw, unstoppable comedic power of male nudity — both frontal and rear.

How audacious do you have to be — how direct, how unafraid of accusations that what you're doing is a little on-the-nose — to just go ahead and name a ruthless character "Shiv"?

You have to be as audacious as Jesse Armstrong, the creator of Succession, the Emmy-nominated drama that returned to HBO for its second season on Sunday night.

How do you do a reboot when there's absolutely no reason to do a reboot?

The idea of an anthology TV series inspired by Four Weddings and a Funeral, the 1994 film that established Flopsy-Haired Hugh Grant as a romantic comedy staple, is a solid one. I wish I were here with better news about how it turned out. I hung in with it as long as I could; there are ten episodes, and I watched all seven that they've made available to critics. I really wanted to like it.

Ah, friends.

We should have known Jane The Virgin would know how to execute a beautiful finale, but what a relief to actually see it.

By way of introduction, I should say that I would normally be more hesitant about spoilers than I am about to be with the Netflix film Secret Obsession, except for two things. The first is that the trailer gives away basically everything that happens in the movie (which has been available for a week already). The second is that they called it Secret Obsession, so, I mean, they're kind of giving away the ballgame. It's not called Nice Marriage.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

You about ready for some joy? Yeah, let's bring the joy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MUPPET MOVIE")

JIM HENSON: (As Kermit the Frog, singing) Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?

The Muppet Movie is 40 now. And I could tell you that this makes me feel old, but it doesn't. It oddly makes me feel just right. The music has been with me from when I was little until right now, and I can still listen to it and discover new things. How could you not? It has "Rainbow Connection" in it.

Maybe you have opera jokes. We did.

When the Pop Culture Happy Hour team planned a trip to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, we grudgingly served up to each other our dusty old gags about Bugs Bunny and helmets with horns and Pretty Woman and ... have we left anything out?

We chose to see Rigoletto, precisely because it's a classic. It's real, hardcore actual opera. We didn't want to be reluctant, or to insist that opera come meet us where we were. We wanted to dive in. All jokes aside, we really did want the opera experience.

The 17th season of Project Runway concluded Thursday night, handing the win to Sebastian Grey.

It was the show's first run without Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, who reigned while Runway ran on Bravo and then on Lifetime. Back on Bravo now, it features model Karlie Kloss in the host role and designer (and former Project Runway winner) Christian Siriano in the mentor role.

Broadway has changed a lot in the last few years, and in an important way: We've cleared the period of time when everything seemed to be about Hamilton, and then about post-Hamilton, and then about whether there could ever be another Hamilton. (There won't.) Broadway had another big year for box office, it's learning how to use social media to connect with younger audiences — whatever the next phase is, it seems that it's started.

Oh, hello, it's a romantic comedy!

Is it weird to keep asserting that Summer Movie Season starts Memorial Day weekend, when Avengers: Endgame, the ultimate summer movie, and also the year's (the decade's! the century's!) biggest blockbuster, opened last month?

Maybe. Sure. Who cares?

"Summer movie" is a term, after all, that has taken on a negative connotation, as it tends to be deployed by those looking to sniffily dismiss the whole crop of films that come out in the months without an R. See also: "popcorn movies," "comic-book movies."

If Hulu had announced an original dramatic miniseries that follows a World War II soldier awakening to the horrors of war, executive produced and partly directed (two episodes out of six) by George Clooney, and if the result had been Catch-22, it would have seemed largely successful. But the series, available in full now, is, of course, an adaptation of Joseph Heller's much-chewed-over 1961 novel, a book very unusual in both its tone and its structure. And as an adaptation, it struggles to meet the inevitable expectations.

Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of a hugely profitable series of films that began with Iron Man in 2008. It makes sense that the opening weekend of the concluding chapter — which also happens to be a very good movie with a 96 percent critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes — would make a lot of money. But if there's a place in box office coverage for "whoa, Nellie" anymore, it is perhaps here. And so let us say: Whoa, Nellie.

"Bringing a unicorn here is not an easy or inexpensive endeavor. You have to be the right sort of girl."

The right sort of girl.

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