Linda Holmes

The HBO documentary series I'll Be Gone In The Dark, which concluded Sunday night and is now available on demand in its entirety, is based on crime writer Michelle McNamara's book about the case known as "The Golden State Killer," who was believed to be responsible for multiple rapes and murders during the 1970s and 1980s. But ultimately, the series is more about McNamara herself than it is about the case — and it's more interesting for it.

Nobody really knows what television, or the country, or the planet may look like in a few months, but that doesn't mean there aren't Emmy nominations. Tuesday's announcement was unconventional, and done remotely (of course), but the nominees are very much a mix of the old and the new.

Evan Rachel Wood says in the new HBO documentary Showbiz Kids that there's an easy way to spot a child actor. Just look for anyone who's good at juggling, or at Hacky Sack — as she puts it, "any kind of weird skill that you had to master by yourself." Not because child actors are antisocial or friendless, but simply because actors on film sets spend so much time alone, and if you spend a lot of time alone as a kid, these are the kinds of things you teach yourself. It's one insight among many to be found in this strong new film.

There's an argument that a review of Palm Springs, new this weekend on Hulu, should just say, "Watch it; it's fun. Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, romantic comedy hijinks — just watch it." That's as much as I knew about it, and I enjoyed seeing it reveal itself, and if you're willing to take my word for it, then off with you! Watch it; it's fun.

Now ... what to say to the rest of you, who need a little more, or who have already seen promotion for the film that you can't unsee. Promotion that gives away the premise.

There's a moment in the wonderful 2000 romance Love And Basketball when Monica and Quincy, college sweethearts who are both athletes, sit on a dorm-room bed together, recovering from their bruises. Their bodies are tangled and facing in opposite directions, with her hand holding ice on his belly and his holding ice on her ankle. The camera looks at the little drops of water on his skin and on hers, and we hear the crinkle of her bag of ice as she gently wiggles it back and forth.

We committed the unpardonable crime of being mavericks who were successful, and everybody hated us. It would've been fine if we'd been just hacks and made a lot of money, that's OK. Or to be really original and starve, that's OK. But it's not OK to do both, and they didn't forgive us.

Early in Irresistible, a film directed and written by Jon Stewart, we cut from your basic Washington weasel to what is labeled in a caption as "Rural America," and under that, "Heartland, USA." This wry joke suggests that ripping off this meaningless, cynical label slapped on the Wisconsin town we're about to visit will be the film's purpose. Unfortunately, "Rural America: Heartland, USA" is how the movie sees the town, too. The town is generic, the people are generic, the movie is generic, and its politics are generic.

The Help shot up the Netflix charts over the last week after Netflix added it on June 1, and I've been trying to wrap my head around it ever since. What, I wondered, other than the most general aspiration to engage with the idea of racism, could make this the the time to watch The Help, a 2011 film (based on a 2009 novel) about a white journalist who gets her big break passing along stories told to her by black maids in 1963? A movie Viola Davis regrets appearing in, because the maids' voices weren't placed at the center of the story?

HBO Max, WarnerMedia's new streaming service launching Wednesday, grants subscribers access to all HBO series and hundreds of movies, as well as some shows in the Warners stable that were originally broadcast on other networks — like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Big Bang Theory.

The service also launches with a handful of original series. We've got a quick preview of those that were made available to media early.

Craftopia

It's been five years since Parks and Recreation ended its run, after a final season that jumped forward into the future — specifically, to 2017. We haven't got the nifty transparent touchscreens their 2017 showed. Instead, we have a pandemic, and we have social distancing, and we are doing without many of our comforts, large and small. But for a half-hour on Thursday night, we did not have to be without our friends from Pawnee.

It's a blessing to meet very special people when you're young and dumb. You'll get older either way, but without them, without how hard you will try to deserve them, how will you ever get less dumb?

The documentary series The Last Dance, which begins Sunday night on ESPN, is about basketball.

Maybe that should be obvious, since it's the story of Michael Jordan and the dominant Chicago Bulls team that won six NBA championships in the 1990s. But understand: it's really about basketball. It's not O.J.: Made In America, which was primarily about race and policing and media. It's not like some of the documentaries in ESPN's 30 For 30 series — to which this feels like a spiritual cousin — that use sports as a way to talk about other things.

"With everything else going on in the world, now I gotta spend almost nine hours of my life thinking about Phyllis Schlafly?"

It only seems honest to admit to this reaction to the approach of Mrs. America, a nine-part miniseries created by Dahvi Waller. It was made under the FX Networks umbrella, but it's available only on Hulu, which drops the first three episodes on April 15. The series is not exclusively interested in Schlafly, but she is its point of greatest fascination, as it tells the story of the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

The streaming service Quibi — short for "quick bites" — calls itself "the first entertainment platform designed specifically for your phone."

Translation: They're doling out their shows in 7-to-10-minute chunks — er, episodes — at a rate of one per day. Quick bites, get it? Perfect for the busy, distracted, on-the-go consumer! Too bad none of us are on-the-going anywhere these days.

Quibi divides its shows into three categories: Movies in Chapters (read: serialized narrative), Unscripted and Documentaries (read: episodic nonfiction) and Daily Essentials.

When Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum left Project Runway, it wasn't clear whether it could survive without them, or whether they could succeed on a different show. We know the answer to the first question, at least creatively: The new incarnation of Runway, starring Christian Siriano and Karlie Kloss, is better than most of us expected, and Siriano in particular has carved out a very different mentor role than Gunn's that's satisfying in new ways.

The great frustration of Little Fires Everywhere, the Hulu adaptation of Celeste Ng's popular novel, is that of the eight episodes, they only made seven available for review.

The 2018 Netflix romantic comedy To All The Boys I've Loved Before, based on Jenny Han's YA novel, was a big enough success that they quickly announced plans to adapt the other two novels in the trilogy: P.S. I Still Love You and Always And Forever, Lara Jean.

At Sunday's Oscars, on a night when almost everything went as planned and as usual, the one true surprise came in the biggest moment of all.

There are nine nominees for best picture this year, and we've covered all of them on Pop Culture Happy Hour. We're cramming for Sunday night's awards, and we know some of you are too. We'll be tweeting and writing and recording on Sunday night, and we'll have our wrap-up on Monday morning, so until then, enjoy this look back at some of our favorites (and not-so-favorites) of 2019 that have risen to the top of this particular pack.

'1917' Is Not Your Dad's War Movie

Endings are sad, but without them, nothing matters.

That was only one of the lessons of the thoughtful, emotional finale of NBC's The Good Place, which itself ended after four seasons and only 52 episodes. But, as the show itself stressed in its last couple of installments, heaven is not continuing forever: It's leaving at the right time, when you've done your work. When you're ready.

The new Comedy Central series officially called Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens uses the shorter title Nora From Queens in its own animated graphics.

The headline out of this morning's Oscar nominations could have been newness. There was the arrival of Netflix's two best picture contenders (Marriage Story with six nominations and The Irishman with 10). There was the huge showing for Bong Joon-ho's remarkable Parasite (six nominations) out of South Korea, the extraordinarily rare foreign-language film to make the leap to best picture and the first from South Korea.

One of my best teachers told me once — warned me once — "Good teachers want students, not disciples."

I don't remember what the context was, except that he wasn't cautioning me about anyone in particular. He was just speaking about teaching and expectations, and about the dangers of a cult of personality in the context of education. I thought about this statement a lot while watching the six-episode Netflix documentary series Cheer.

We have this conversation every year, but that doesn't mean it's not true: It's hard to know what to make of the Golden Globes telecast. We — and by "we" I mean most awards show watchers — hold a few truths to be self-evident: that the Globes are silly, that it's nice to see people be praised for good work and that the Globes (like most awards, unfortunately) do a pretty terrible job of rewarding people who do good work in an equitable way, which means even deserved wins can feel bittersweet.

Standard caveats (really standard — same as last year and the year before): I don't watch everything. I am behind on many things. That's just the way the world is. So if something you loved isn't here, it is not a rebuke.

NPR's movie critic and Pop Culture Happy Hour hosts picked 20 of their favorite films of the year.

1917

NPR's TV critic and Pop Culture Happy Hour hosts pick 19 of their favorite television and streaming series of the year.

Chernobyl (HBO)

There's something distastefully playful about the title Bombshell being attached to a film about the sexual harassment scandal that, in a matter of weeks, led to the resignation of hugely powerful Fox News chief Roger Ailes in 2016.

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?

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