Linda Holmes

This spring, we talked to Shereen Marisol Meraji, the co-host of the Code Switch podcast, about why she doesn't really like superhero films but was excited to see what director Taika Waititi did with Thor: Ragnarok. Shereen is a Waititi fan, having loved his work in the past, including the feature films Hunt For The Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows.

It's safe to say John Hodgman is a favorite podcaster of those of us on Pop Culture Happy Hour. Both Glen Weldon and I have spoken of our fondness for his show Judge John Hodgman, and we were lucky enough to welcome him to our live show in Brooklyn in May of 2017.

Robert Guillaume, who died Tuesday morning at 89, became familiar on TV largely via Soap and Benson. On both, he played Benson DuBois, who was the butler on Soap but rose on Benson from head of household affairs for a governor to his own political career as lieutenant governor. Guillaume won an Emmy for playing Benson back in 1979 when he was still on Soap and then an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series in 1985 — the last black actor to win in the category before Donald Glover for Atlanta earlier this year.

A while ago, I heard a rumor that Tamara Keith — NPR White House correspondent and a core member of the NPR Politics Podcast team — enjoyed ABC's Shark Tank. This information was filed under "HUH," where I keep many interesting tidbits.

NBC's The Good Place is an unconventional comedy. It begins with death — with Eleanor (Kristen Bell) waking up and being informed by Michael (Ted Danson) that she's in heaven — The Good Place. Eleanor knows she doesn't belong there; she's surrounded by people who seem to be much better than she is. What now?

The Hamilton-inflected logo of the cast of Black-ish silhouetted against a gold background announced, before the premiere of the fourth season even hit its first commercial break, that this was going to be an unusual episode.

Something is gained and something is lost when a full creative work breaks down into familiar pieces that pass from hand to hand like baseball cards. It happened to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it happened to The Simpsons, it happened to The Big Lebowski. And over the 30 years since its release, it happened to The Princess Bride.

"I hope he remains loyal. And if he doesn't, let me know, and I'll attack him."

Pop Culture Happy Hour has had a busy summer full of travel, great guests, special episodes, and much more. This week, we take a breath.

Regular panelists Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon sit down with me to chat about some of the films that you can catch in theaters right now. We talk about the second Lego movie of the year, Lego Ninjago, and whether we really needed two Lego movies in one year. We talk about Kingsman: The Golden Circle and why some violence works and some violence doesn't.

[This examination of the season premiere of This Is Us discusses, in detail, everything that has happened on the show up to and including the season premiere, and it also includes what I promise is baseless speculation on my part about what might be coming in the future. — LH]

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. We're going to talk a little bit about television now. Maybe you remember a gay lawyer and a straight interior designer who made TV history. Here they are playing a party game in the 1998 pilot of their TV show.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WILL AND GRACE")

Law & Order, in some form, has been on the air since 1990. There were 20 seasons of the original series, we're on the 19th season of Law & Order: SVU, there were 10 seasons of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and there was a season each of Law & Order: L.A. and Law & Order: Trial By Jury. The franchise fed the boom in police procedurals and made "chung-chung" (or "donk-donk" or whatever you choose to call its signature sound) as familiar as NBC's own "N-B-C" chimes.

On Tuesday morning, the first announcement went out that in Fall 2018 — only a year away! — Broadway performances will begin of Pretty Woman: The Musical. Prior to that, Chicago will host the world premiere run, beginning in the spring.

Sooooooooooooooooo if you've been wondering when one of Hollywood's most endearing-slash-problematic stories would make it to the stage, it's almost time!

Imagine you're looking at a Venn diagram of people who really liked Darren Aronofsky's mother! and people who watch CBS's The Big Bang Theory. It is a very small circle next to a very big circle. Now, look closer. Closer. Closer. Do you see that tiny area of overlap? Do you see that there is one lonely person inside of it, waving? That's me. I like weird art movies that are maybe about annoying poets and about the Bible and might be saying something about herbalism? And I also like The Big Bang Theory. Well, sort of.

Every year, summer gives way to fall, and in movie theaters, blockbusters give way to awards contenders. On this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, film critic Bob Mondello of All Things Considered and I spoke with Tasha Robinson of The Verge and film writer Bilal Qureshi about some of what we all saw at the Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off the fall movie season.

Pop Culture Happy Hour discussed Battle Of The Sexes on this week's episode. To hear the episode, click the play button.

In the story of Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs, told again in Battle Of The Sexes, it's often forgotten that she didn't particularly want to do it. In fact, she didn't do it until Riggs had badly beaten Margaret Court, who was one of the greatest players in women's tennis at the time.

It's one thing to be a Hollywood actor who can respectably warble your way through a karaoke scene now and then. It's another to be able to perform the lead in a Broadway production of a Stephen Sondheim musical. Sondheim's melodies are complicated, the vocal ranges they require are considerable, and the surprises buried in them are startling. They require not only a lot of sound, but a belly full of feeling.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hallie Meyers-Shyer's first feature as a writer and director is Home Again, which stars Reese Witherspoon as a freshly separated woman who opens her home to three young filmmakers who need a place to stay. Meyers-Shyer is only 29, but her film lineage goes back decades. Her parents, Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers (now divorced), worked together for years on films including Private Benjamin (1980), Baby Boom (1987) and the updated versions of Father Of The Bride (1991) and The Parent Trap (1998).

Back in 2013, Lake Bell, an actress known for TV and film roles including Boston Legal, It's Complicated and No Strings Attached, wrote and directed In A World..., a smart comedy about a female voiceover artist trying to land a job narrating a blockbuster movie trailer. (We did a segment about the film, and about voiceovers, as a matter of fact.)

Steven Soderbergh has made small films and big films, and Logan Lucky opened small. That might be the result of the same confluence of factors that make a lot of movies sag at the box office, but it might also be because Soderbergh made the film in a very unconventional way. That's just one of the things we talk about on this episode with our guests Chris Klimek and Danielle Henderson (while Stephen Thompson drinks some Wisconsin beer).

It's been a summer with a lot of good movies, to be quite honest. Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Girls Trip, The Big Sick. But you need a break from even the best movie binge, especially when some of them are ... you know, kind of sad and explode-y.

The hidden immunity idol. The U-Turn. The Golden Power Of Veto. Last Chance Kitchen. These phrases may not mean much to you, but to viewers of long-running reality franchises (specifically Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother and Top Chef), they reflect a basic tenet of competition shows: Now and then, you have to throw your competitors a ... curve.

Long before Transparent, for which she's now Emmy-nominated for her work as Shelly Pfefferman, Judith Light was a soap star when soaps were a much bigger deal than they are now. Playing Karen Wolek on One Life To Live, she won two Daytime Emmys and became known for a devastating performance in a courtroom scene in which Karen was forced to acknowledge publicly that although she was married to a doctor, she was secretly also a sex worker.

This episode brings NPR Music editor Daoud Tyler-Ameen into the studio to talk with us about Dunkirk, the World War II film from The Dark Night and Inception director Christopher Nolan. Starring a big cast that includes Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, and pop star Harry Styles, the film focuses on the drive for cornered men trapped on a beach to survive until they can be rescued.

It's hard to believe that the announcement that Twin Peaks was returning happened all the way back in October 2014. At that time, the oddball-TV classic from David Lynch and Mark Frost, which originally aired on ABC more than 25 years ago, was supposed to come back in "early 2016." But things happened, as things do, and the revival wound up premiering in May of 2017.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This week's show took us, and our guest Audie Cornish, to two very different but very interesting places: high above the streets of New York City and deep inside the recesses of Andy Samberg's brain.

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