Linda Holmes

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.

The 2016 Tony Awards were fun, but undeniably a little anticlimactic. By then, it was in large part a coronation of Hamilton, a delivery mechanism for the many, many awards we all knew it would win. (And did.)

This week's show combines two segments from our fall tour that we haven't had a chance to share yet, because we've been so busy dealing with new things from week to week. First, from our Seattle show with Audie Cornish, we talk about when you hang in with culture until the very end and when you quit — or, as you might say, throw a book across the room. (Glen has strong feelings about this.) Shonda Rhimes, how to watch Law & Order, and lots more will go by the window as you travel through this segment.

Award-winning writer Denis Johnson died Thursday at 67, according to his publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux. The prolific writer explored many forms during his career, and in 2007, novelist Nathan Englander wrote about Johnson's short story collection Jesus' Son for NPR.

Because of a scheduling snafu this week, it's just me and Stephen Thompson sitting down with our sci-fi buddy Chris Klimek to talk about Alien: Covenant, the film that dares to ask: "Is it okay if I put this little thing in your ear? I promise it won't grow into something that will burst out of your chest."

Then, we move on to a visit with Selina Meyer and friends as another season of Veep finds the group out of office and loving it. Or ... not really loving it, more like tooth-grittingly enduring it until something else can be arranged.

You don't need me to tell you how much more television there is than there used to be, or how many more places you can find it. You don't need me to tell you that its population of creatively ambitious and idiosyncratic shows has grown enormously, as has its population of cheaply made UCSs – Undiscovered Channel Shows, where you learn that a show is entering its third season and only then do you realize that (1) it exists and (2) your byzantine cable menu actually does get that channel (although perhaps not in HD).

The first season of Master Of None, the thoughtful Netflix comedy starring Aziz Ansari and created by Ansari and Alan Yang, was one of the best pieces of comedy-drama to come out in 2015. Now, about a year and a half later, they're back with a second season that is even better, more ambitious, more creative and more moving than the first run was.

We're always excited for the beginning of summer movie season. Despite the fact that it's almost guaranteed to contain some major disappointments and jarring disasters, we often find goofy fun, sharp writing and new stars blowing up (sometimes literally) our cinematic seasons.

Note: This piece discusses the plot details from the sixth-season premiere of Veep.

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

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?

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.

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.

At an exceptionally strong Toronto International Film Festival this year, Moonlight was the film I kept hearing that people couldn't get into. One critic told me he'd tried at three different screenings; all were full. That's not a terribly common Toronto tale, particularly with a film where the director/screenwriter and the lead actors are not especially famous. What was driving people to the film was word of mouth. What was driving them to it was that people kept telling them how good it was. That's how it ought to work; that's not how it always works.

Most television shows arrive accompanied by the question, "Is it good?" Revivals of old shows, however, often arrive with the question, "Is it necessary?"

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