Glen Weldon

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.

"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.

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