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.

Good morning from Toronto, where the NPR Movies team has decamped for the next seven days or so, as we attend the Toronto International Film Festival, the largest film festival in North America.

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.

Why would a person who has never been interested in running become a person who wants to run a marathon? Not why would she get more active, but why a marathon? That's the question that lingers at the edges of Brittany Runs a Marathon, a likable and upbeat comedy that never quite comes together as a story.

This Way Up, which premieres on Hulu on August 21, is a stellar example of one of the challenges in what we've come to know as "peak TV": It doesn't have a star who's famous in the United States, it doesn't have a particularly high concept, and at first glance, there are other shows superficially similar to it. But it's very good, and it's warm and clever, and it will — or would — precisely hit the spot for a lot of people, if only they can find it.

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.

The New '90210'

Aug 9, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Believe it or not, the '90s teen soap opera "Beverly Hills, 90210" is back, sort of.

We're joined by our pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes. Linda, thanks for being here.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Thank you, David.

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.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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.

[Spoiler alert: This contains information about the new season of Veronica Mars that dropped on Friday. Do not say you were not warned.]

I confess at the outset that I was skeptical about the 2014 Veronica Mars movie that was crowdfunded by fans. I wrote at the time that "the movie feels more commemorative than creative; more of a gift to put on a shelf than an expansion or even an extension of the story."

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