Linda Holmes

When we offered our friend Barrie Hardymon the chance to sit in our fourth chair for a discussion of Big Little Lies and Feud, I must tell you, listeners: she leapt. And if you know anything about Barrie, you know that she doesn't leap halfway.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Well, excuse me while I throw away my first draft, won't you?

If you've found yourself with little taste for sniping in recent days and a serious thirst for entertainment that's satisfying and warm, you're not alone. I've heard this from an awful lot of folks in the last couple of months. And while there are lots of places to go to find what you're looking for if this is the headspace you're in, one place is the terrific Charleston season of Top Chef that's about to wrap up. The penultimate episode is Thursday night, and the finale is in a week.

This week's show brings a new voice to our fourth chair: Alan Sepinwall, TV critic at Uproxx and author (of The Revolution Was Televised and, with Matt Zoller Seitz, of TV (The Book)), is with us to talk about two new shows.

Perhaps nobody cares about their clothes anymore.

Back in 2013, Monkey See brought you an exclusive interview — "exclusive" in the sense that it happened only in our minds and we therefore were the only ones who knew about it — with the iron, just after Monopoly announced it was being retired from the game. During that interview, the iron darkly alluded to a difficult history with another game piece: the thimble.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that parsing the broader implications of The Bachelor/Bachelorette can feel an awful lot like examining the semiotics of mashed potato flakes. But can we not also agree that the fact that a narrative is ridiculous and phony doesn't mean it isn't both reflective of and influential upon the culture out of which it grows?

It's always fun when somebody from the NPR podcast family sits in our fourth chair, and this week, we've got two of them.

The New England Patriots don't always win the Super Bowl. Tom Brady isn't always the face staring at you on Snack Digesting Monday, the traditional follow-up to Super Bowl Sunday. But it can sure feel that way.

Oscar season is upon us, and very often, it's a time when a lot of energy goes into analyzing a few races and a few of the highest-profile films as they square off against each other. We'll be doing that too in a couple of weeks, in our annual Oscars roundup. But first, we wanted to celebrate the season in a different way: by looking at some of the categories that sometimes fly a little under the radar, ours included.

For decades, Archie comics represented the wholesome, sweet-faced American teenager in none of his or her actual complexity. But reflecting some of the recent changes that have come about in the comics, the CW's new drama Riverdale places the gang at the center of a murder mystery. The show is less about having fun down at the chocolate shoppe and more about who shot whom and which clandestine affair is only a moment away from being discovered.

Grey's Anatomy is back Thursday night for the second part of its 13th season. It's hard to last that long, but it does seem that Grey's is — in the words of a friend of mine — "unkillable." And when you press its viewers on their thoughts about it, you often get a clear-eyed, fully aware evaluation of strengths and weaknesses that add up to a habit that's endured for over a decade.

I haven't seen the new film A Dog's Purpose, in which a dog's soul apparently returns over and over in different dog bodies until it's reunited with its original owner.* I can't understand how there's such a thing as an original owner according to the Law Of Conservation Of Dog Souls — how was this dog's soul spontaneously generated for this owner, but everyone else in the succession got a certified pre-owned dog soul? Are dog souls ever retired like basketball jerseys? Like, "Okay, Buckley, you've done well.

Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday, wasn't just beloved. She was the kind of beloved where they build you a statue. Moore's statue is in Minneapolis, where her best-known character, Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, worked for the fictional television station WJM. She'd already won two Emmys playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but Moore cemented her icon status when Mary Richards walked into that job interview. Even if she got off to a rough start with Lou Grant, her soon-to-be boss, who kept a bottle of whiskey in his desk.

Mary Tyler Moore is being remembered for her work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, as well as her appearances in theater and film. But perhaps no one feels her influence more keenly than other women who are funny on TV — especially ones who want to make shows about single women.

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Now let's talk about movies.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LA LA LAND")

RYAN GOSLING: (As Sebastian, singing) City of stars, are you shining just for me?

To revisit the box office numbers for 1988 is to remember when movies that made a lot of money looked entirely different than they do now. Rain Man grossed more money domestically than anything else that year. It was followed in the top 10 by Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming To America, Big, Twins, Crocodile Dundee II, Die Hard, The Naked Gun, Cocktail, and Beetlejuice. Only one sequel in the bunch. That's two adult dramas (if you count Cocktail, which ...

Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team is in our fourth chair this week as we start by trying to make sense of all our reactions to HBO's new drama The Young Pope. The cardinals! The intrigue! The smoking! The ... unexpected animal cameos! It's a really interesting show that has us a little perplexed in places, so please join us as we try to figure out whether we like it or not.

When Morning Edition host David Greene spoke to DJ Khaled recently, there was simply too much good stuff to fit all of it on the radio. Fortunately, the show passed along to us an extended version of the interview, which opens with David explaining why this was the second time they set up an interview with the musician, producer and social media super-super-superstar.

You should listen to the whole thing for yourself, because none of this sounds as intriguing in print as it does when DJ Khaled says it, but here are a few of the things you'll hear.

On Thursday's Top Chef, the remaining nine chefs were divided into three teams. Each team was responsible for collecting a bunch of ingredients in a sort of scavenger hunt around Charleston, S.C., and then making them into a set of three dishes, one created by each chef.

We are happy to be joined this week by Gimlet's Brittany Luse, the host of For Colored Nerds and the future host of shows not yet invented! Brittany joins us to talk first about Hidden Figures, the high-performing historical drama about black women working in the space program. We talk about the marvelous cast (including Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae), the ways in which such projects inevitably compromise truth with theater, and whether Kevin Costner is all that nice of a guy or all that important to the story.

Sunday night's Golden Globes were, in the great tradition of the Golden Globes, full of unexpected winners and a certain fondness for Hollywood itself. In this case, that fondness manifested itself in part through a sweep of the musical/comedy film awards for La La Land, which — in case you haven't yet heard — is about dreamers.

Elsewhere, Meryl Streep talked Trump, Donald Glover cleaned up, Tracee Ellis Ross had her moment, and awards shows continued to be the gift that may not keep on giving, but certainly keeps on going.

It's that time of year again, when I atone for my failure to make top 10 lists by simply offering a collection of 50 of the many wonderful things I read, watched or heard in 2016. (Here's last year's list, for reference.)

Standard caveats: 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.

This is the time of year when everybody is making predictions for next year, and everybody is making resolutions for the things they plan to do. But it's a Pop Culture Happy Hour tradition that while we do these things too, we also revisit the ones from last year to see whether we have any ability to know what's going to happen (rarely!) and any tendency to follow through on our own plans (sometimes!). As she has for the last two years, Kat Chow of NPR's Code Switch team sits down with us to check in.

[If you're looking for the audio of this week's show, it's in a slightly different place than usual for boring technical reasons — it's over on the right or right above you, depending on how you're viewing this page.]

You know Sam Sanders as the host of the NPR Politics Podcast — a project from which he's about to move on to new and exciting stuff. But you also know him as one of Pop Culture Happy Hour's new fourth chairs of 2016, so who better to join us to talk about some of our favorite things from this year?

Lauren Ober listens to a lot of podcasts.

Ober is the host of The Big Listen, a broadcast about podcasts, you see. Her job is to listen to, and recommend, tons and tons of podcasts.

We — Glen Weldon and Linda Holmes — at NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, also listen to a lot of podcasts. Not on an Ober-esque order of magnitude, admittedly, but we have plenty of favorites.

We're in the time of year where not only do potentially popular movies hit theaters, but so do potentially Oscar-winning movies. We brought Daoud Tyler-Ameen of NPR Music to our fourth chair this week for a chat about two of the biggest releases in a while.

We spend a lot of time on Pop Culture Happy Hour talking about interesting cable television, because interesting cable television gives us a lot to talk about. But this week, we look at two strong fall shows that showed up on broadcast networks. NBC's This Is Us is a breakout hit, and falls into the long-established tradition of family dramas that follow many threads at once and bring the crying relatively frequently. (Just ask Ari Shapiro of All Things Considered, our guest for this segment.)

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