Glen Weldon

Another season of the darkly brilliant series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has come to an end, and now, as has happened twice before, it falls to me the doughty task of sorting its original songs — 25 of them, this year — into a clear-eyed, dispassionate, purely objective, precision-engineered ranking that gleams with the cold light of surgic

In 1938, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster — two Jewish kids from Cleveland who were reading the alarming news coming out of Europe — created precisely the hero necessary to put things right: an impossibly strong and nigh-invulnerable paragon of virtue and butt-kicking they called Superman. He could have ended Hitler's advance with a snap of his fingers — and he definitely would have, if only he weren't a creature of pure fantasy.

Just over a year ago, Netflix announced that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the Bravo network phenomenon of a makeover show that launched in 2003 before fizzling out in 2007, was coming back.

Reaction to this news varied. Some welcomed the idea. Some didn't. And some self-appointed know-it-alls who didn't want to see the show come back went so far as to offer unsolicited advice.

I fell in love this week. Happens more often than you might think.

But the fact that it's happened before, and will happen again, doesn't mean this latest infatuation is any less passionate, abiding, head-over-heels, birds-suddenly-appear, stars-fall-down-from-the-sky resolute.

My husband's cool with it. He always is; we have an understanding. Also the object of my love is a podcast. Probably should have mentioned that at the top.

In the not-so-wee, not-so-small hours of the morning Tuesday — 8:30-ish a.m. Eastern Time — a superhero film earned itself an Oscar nomination.

That wasn't so unusual, really. The superhero film genre has been with us for almost 40 years now — dating from that momentous December 1978 day when Superman: The Movie busted its very first blocks — and superhero movies have racked up lots of nominations, and a few wins, over that time.

... For visual effects.

For sound editing and/or mixing (LOTS of those).

For hair and makeup.

It's easiest to say what The Awl and The Hairpin were by describing what they weren't.

They weren't places you went for lazy listicles and clickbait quizzes — Which Character From 'The Greatest Showman' Are You?

You didn't go there to get yet another hot take on whatever it was that everyone on social media was buzzing about that day.

They didn't do takes — hot or cold. They weren't reactive.

The promotional campaign for American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which premieres Wednesday, January 17, on FX, is all gowns and glamour: The camera lingers over a head of Medusa, the designer's internationally recognized logo. We see flashbulbs, red carpets, bold prints, glasses of champagne.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

If they are to successfully make the jump to light speed, Star Wars movies require a precisely calibrated fuel mixture: one-third epic space battles, one-third narrow escapes and duly buckled swashes, one-third hooded beardy dudes standing around looking pained while solemnly intoning the cheesiest hokum about Darkness and Light as if it's Hamlet's Yorick speech (which in a way, it is).

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

There is a scene near the end of Luca Guadagnino's breathless, besotted, achingly intimate — and just plain aching -- Call Me By Your Name that starts like hundreds of others have, and do, and will, in cinematic depictions of same-sex attraction.

The idea is so good, so simple, that it seems inevitable.

After all, superhero comics love teams of angsty teens. They love juicy villains. So when, in 2003, writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona created the comic Runaways, starring a group of angsty teens who discover, to their horror, that their parents are secretly super-villains, you could practically hear the sound of thousands of comics readers slapping their heads. ("Why didn't I think of that?")

This article discusses plot details of Search Party's first season.

Search Party isn't for everyone.

But of course, nothing worthwhile is.

To determine if it's your kind of thing, here's a litmus test (which seems only fitting, given the series' blithely acidic sense of humor).

On Monday, Amazon Studios announced it had acquired the rights to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings to television. The ink's still wet on the contract, so details are sketchy.

We know only that it will be an ongoing, multi-season series that will "bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien's original writings," according to the press release — and that it will be set before the Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of Tolkien's main LoTR saga.

We're scattered to the winds this week, so we thought we'd dig one of our favorite episodes from last year out of the vault — the one in which we took a first look at two then-new broadcast television shows that continue to impress: This is Us on NBC, and Speechless on ABC.

Several of us are on vacation this week, so here's one of our favorite — heretofore unheard — segments from last year's Pop Culture Happy tour of the West Coast.

Specifically: The great and good Audie Cornish joined us last October for a show at Seattle's Neptune Theatre, in which we answered listener questions and offered up some pop culture advice on the following topics:

  • Do I need to adjust my ratio of reading articles/listening to podcasts about a given piece of culture vs. personally experiencing that piece of culture?

This article discusses several plot elements of the original Twin Peaks television series, the 2016 book The Secret History of Twin Peaks, as well as this summer's Showtime mini-series, Twin Peaks: The Return.

Twin Peaks — the show and the cultural phenomenon around it — began life as the co-creation of two starkly different men: filmmaker David Lynch and writer Mark Frost.

Let's begin with a sweeping, simplistic and grossly unfair generalization: David Lynch is an artist. Mark Frost is a storyteller.

The television police procedural is a genre, and like any genre, it makes an implicit contract with its audience.

Chiefly, that contract is about plot. Here's what you'll get, it says. Each episode, a crime will be committed, investigated with a certain amount of technical detail, and ultimately solved. That's it. We may introduce some embellishments — a chewy performance here, an out-of-left-field twist there, or maybe a tiny amount of character development — but week in and week out, we'll stick to the parameters.

There is a moment about fifteen minutes into the premiere of the eight-episode Netflix series American Vandal when I knew it had its hooks in me.

It's a scene in which two student documentary filmmakers — Peter (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam (Griffin Gluck) — are examining evidence.

Near the midpoint of director Dome Karukoski's Tom of Finland, artist Touko Laaksonen (Pekka Strang) sits on a bench, catching up with the man who was once his superior officer when they served in the Finnish army during World War II, years before.

"We've started a motorcycle club," he says. Pauses."Without the motorcycles."

"Regaining sanity in a mental hospital is like treating a migraine at a rave."

It's a good line, and one that has the added benefit of being true. Zack McDermott should know; he's been through a few stints at mental institutions as a consequence of his bipolar disorder, which he chronicles, with an affable and often rueful wit, in Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother's Love.

Writer Jaime Lowe also lives with bipolar disorder; she shares her story — and a great deal more — in Mental: Lithium, Love and Losing My Mind.

After Friday night's two-hour premiere of Marvel's Inhumans on ABC, you can forgive us Marvel nerds for feeling a bit flinchy. That show's a great big slab of cheese — some of the runniest and stinkiest around — so if some of us approach the premiere of FOX's mutant-themed series The Gifted by adopting a kind of collective defensive crouch, understand that it's warranted.

Nerds of the world, I'm here to tell you: You can unclench.

Is the familiar, dutiful, and wholly generic setup of FOX's buddy-paranormal-investigator sitcom Ghosted a bug, or a feature?

That's the question: Is it lazily leaning on the stock narrative framework of a show like The X-Files, or inventively riffing on it?

Monty Hall got it.

Hall, who died today at age 96 according to his agent Mark Measures, was in on the joke. He was you, sitting there at home, clucking your tongue at the lengths to which people would go, the extent to which they would abase themselves, just to get picked to compete on a dumb game show.

Hoo boy.

What is it?

Marvel's Inhumans, premiering tonight at 8 ET on ABC.

What's it about?

... Uh.

Hello? Something wrong?

No. Oh, you mean wrong with this show? Then yes. Hoo boy. Lots of stuff. Yep.

[Sigh.] What. Is It. About?

In Marvel comics, Inhumans are a race of beings distinct from humans because their genetic makeup gives them special mutati-, um. Special abilities. For this reason, they're hated and feared by humanity.

So, mutants, then.

No.

This year, the 40th anniversary of the opening of Studio 54, a onetime Manhattan nightspot where very good-looking people danced to very good music while snorting very good drugs, has seen the publication of two memoirs by past owners.

In 2014, the directing/screenwriting team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller surprised a cynical, jaded nation that was expecting, from The LEGO Movie, a cynical, jaded toy commercial.

It was that, to be clear. But it was also frenetic, funny, colorful, clever and desperately eager-to-please: a hugely imaginative joyride through a riotous landscape of Warner Bros.-owned intellectual property. Movie as theme park.

Updated 1:25a.m. ET

The 2017 Emmy Awards were broadcast Sunday night on CBS. Below is the list of nominees and winners. (Winners are in bold italics.)

Outstanding comedy series

  • "Atlanta" (FX)
  • "Black-ish" (ABC)
  • "Master of None" (Netflix)
  • "Modern Family" (ABC)
  • "Silicon Valley" (HBO)
  • "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
  • "Veep" (HBO)

Pop some popcorn, prep the Emmy-themed snacks (For The Crown: Cucumber sandwiches! For The Handmaid's Tale: Gruel! For The Feud: Bette and Joan: Thick slices of ham!

Success is dull; failure is fascinating.

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