Linda Holmes | New Hampshire Public Radio

Linda Holmes

The question that may determine whether you enjoy Netflix's new comedy-drama series Emily In Paris is this: Do you think Americans who take jobs in France and want the respect of their co-workers should probably be able to speak French?

Does it even matter that it's fall? We're stuck inside much of the time, anyway, and new TV shows come at us all year round. Well, yes, there's reason to celebrate precisely because of how the pandemic disrupted things. Broadcasters couldn't develop new material, thanks to production being halted. So, viewers watched more streaming services. Even HBO, FX and Showtime were forced to push back some of their best material to ensure they could get through the long summer.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In the pandemic era, the Emmy Awards are not the first major event that can't be a traditional shindig, but they're perhaps the most high-profile awards show so far to attempt quite this kind of socially distanced, mask-wearing, virtual ceremony. Host Jimmy Kimmel and everyone producing the broadcast had a pretty tough hill to climb in making it watchable.

And surprisingly enough, it was. It wasn't just watchable; it was ... pretty good.

Ratched is beautiful, but it's really bad.

It's very easy to explain the appeal of The Great Pottery Throw Down, which comes to HBO MAX on September 17: It's The Great British Bake-Off, but for pottery, and it has the same gentle, good-hearted energy.

Throw Down began on the BBC in 2015, so there are three seasons in the queue, and HBO MAX has all of them. That's six episodes from season one, eight from season two, and ten from season three. I gobbled all 24 episodes eagerly over the space of a few quarantined days.

A community of strange locals, closed-mouthed about their history and their practices but firmly separated from most of society, is a staple of mystery stories. So is the person who stumbles upon them, fascinated and frightened and seduced by the unknown.

One of the things we're still learning about the pandemic we're enduring is what art will come from it. That's for a few reasons: the emotions it produces can crowd out others, the political moment crisscrosses with and complicates it, and logistically, any art that requires gathering, of artists or audiences or both, is too dangerous to undertake in many places. It's not clear how long those things will be true.

Less than five minutes into the four-episode Showtime documentary series Love Fraud, a woman named Tracy says, "There's no excuse not to have teeth these days." She's talking about online dating and literal teeth, about arriving for a date with a man she found online and realizing he didn't have teeth. But could you take this as a little bit of a mission statement for the series? You could.

I don't know that I needed a third Bill & Ted movie, but I've got to say, I was happy to see it.

There's a species of giddy nostalgia that involves laughing off what you barely survived. It can be even more powerful if, at the time, you didn't know how lucky you got. It's the nostalgia of near-miss childhood accidents and times you almost set the house on fire, and of things that fell from the ceiling a foot from your head. It's also the nostalgia of the new documentary Class Action Park.

I'm overwhelmed by so many things right now, not the least of which is that I keep having to build wind turbines.

When you think about a Seth Rogen movie, he's almost always got pals around. He's made comedies with James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Adam Sandler and — if you count Steve Jobs — even Michael Fassbender. It only makes sense he would eventually make a buddy movie with himself.

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.

Early in the new Netflix documentary Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend Of Walter Mercado, actor Eugenio Derbez says that when he first saw Mercado, he couldn't decide whether he was looking at a man, a woman, or a sorcerer. The answer, of course, is that he was just looking at Walter Mercado.

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?

Note: This review discusses, and the show contains, scenes depicting, and stories about, sexual assault.

In the first episode of the HBO series I May Destroy You, Arabella has other things going on before she's sexually assaulted. She's trying to meet a book deadline, and she's worried she can't, and in the great tradition of writers doing everything else when they can't write, she steps out for a drink. When she next comes to, she realizes she was drugged and assaulted.

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.

Pages