Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living-room space to DVD sets of The Wire and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to MSNBC.com, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

I'm sure you've already noticed — from the parades, the fact that your mail hasn't been arriving, and the way everyone gets the week off of work — but this is Shark Week, when the Discovery Channel generates a week of shark-themed programming. (Tonight: Sharkzilla, which is, surprisingly enough, not a SyFy movie, and the Mythbusters shark special.) (Trivia: Did you know the decorative shark that is traditionally displayed on or near Discovery's Silver Spring, Md. headquarters to celebrate this special week is named "Chompy"?

The fact that NBC's new reality show Stars Earn Stripes is kind of an offensive concept should not distract you from the fact that it's stultifyingly boring as television and badly designed as a reality-competition show.

This week, I managed to return from press tour, but we are still without Trey Graham. Fortunately, that means that the lovely Barrie Hardymon joined us for this episode, which kicks off with me fully (and exhaustively — sorry!) debriefing the team about fall television as I experienced it out in Los Angeles.

Tonight, after NBC wraps up its Olympic coverage — at a time currently listed as 11:04 p.m. — they'll be previewing Matthew Perry's new sitcom, Go On, which will then go away until its regular premiere on September 10.

The following exchange has played out over and over in the last ten days:

Point: "NBC's coverage of the Olympics stinks, because everything is tape-delayed and cut to shreds, and also the announcers are awful and they only care about American athletes, and by the time I get to watch anything, I already know what happened."

Counterpoint: "People are watching in huge numbers."

Point: "But quality."

Counterpoint: "But business."

We're in the final stretch — kind of — at the Television Critics Association press tour. We've now heard from all the major broadcast networks, and we've got a day of set visits and three days of cable to close things out after today's CW and Showtime presentations.

We're about a week into the Television Critics Association press tour for this summer, and so far we've heard from PBS, NBC and Fox. Still to come: ABC (today and tomorrow), CBS/Showtime/The CW (Sunday and Monday), and the rest of cable, including HBO, Discovery, BBC America, ESPN, and so on (Wednesday through Friday of next week).

So how is it looking?

Admittedly, PBS would have had a hard time living up to the experience of its first day at this summer's Television Critics Association's press tour here in Pasadena — the omelets, the cast of Downton Abbey, all that. But its second day started where a lot of people start with PBS: with kid stuff.

Yesterday was the first day of the Television Critics Association press tour, when TV reporters and critics descend upon Beverly Hills to hear about what's to come in the next six or eight months. We'll hear from all the big broadcast networks and most of the big (and not-so-big) cable outlets, but we're starting this year with PBS.

Candidly, not all the critics are showing up for PBS — not all of them write about it very much. It's a shame, though, because yesterday may have been, on the whole, the liveliest day I've ever had at press tour.

We've been doing PCHH for two years now, and we've never really talked in detail about Breaking Bad. That's kind of weird, but it's partly an artifact of the fact that it took us a while to develop an adequate background, since the only one of us who was a regular watcher from the beginning was Mike Katzif, our producer.

But this week, with me and Glen fully up to speed (along with Mike) and with Stephen and Trey recent experimenters who watched a few early episodes and then jumped ahead to Sunday's season premiere — heresy, I know, but they did it anyway — we dive in.

Thursday morning, TV critics will report, with a little (in the case of east coast critics) or a lot (particularly in the case of west coast critics up at 5:00 in the morning) of grumpiness, who's gotten Emmy nominations. Some of my thoughts about the Emmys came out in a chat I recently had with several of my critic colleagues, graciously hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, which has posted the unedited chat.

When you look at Batman with a coldly analytical eye — and he's hard to avoid these days, with The Dark Knight Rises set to come out Friday — a few things stand out as potential red flags: the secrecy, the lair, the attraction to danger, the blithe self-sacrifice, the ... cape.

It's unusual, all of it, you have to admit. Sure, he's handy to have around in an emergency, and you can't beat a fella who can be summoned with a giant light in the sky in the event you've got no cellphone reception.

But is he entirely ... well?

It's been a while since we were all at the table together, but this week, the PCHH team returns in force to talk about The Amazing Spider-Man, whether it matters whether a film is "necessary," and whether charming leads are enough to make up for certain story shortfalls, if we presume that they exist. What will happen? Who will compare Spider-Man to Hamlet? Who will call Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker "moist"? (Okay, that one is me.) There are some basic Spider-Man spoilers, but we did what we could not to blow plot points of this particular movie.

DirecTV and Viacom have been unable to reach a carriage agreement for the former to carry the programming of the latter to its customers. What that means for regular folks is that people with DirecTV have lost their access to Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, and other channels.

However you want to watch Breaking Bad is fine with me.

Among the many things to which we turn our thoughts in summer is road-tripping — particularly apt because Glen Weldon and Stephen Thompson were both traveling this week, bringing Mike Katzif and Barrie Hardymon to the discussion with me and Trey Graham. We had a chat about all manner of road movies, from the classic dust-and-motorcycles type to the kind that might not even appear to be a road movie until you look more closely.

The biggest challenge The Amazing Spider-Man faces might be surprisingly existential for a summer blockbuster: Why should it be?

There is a moment in Aaron Sorkin's 1995 romance The American President in which Sydney (Annette Bening) asks her boyfriend Andrew (Michael Douglas), who happens to be President of the United States, the following question: "How do you have patience for people who claim to love America but clearly can't stand Americans?"

Highland Hospital in Oakland has what's supposed to be an emergency room, and that's where the documentary The Waiting Room is set.

But as it turns out, at a big public hospital in Oakland, an ER only does so much actual trauma care; it only handles so many things you would usually think of as emergencies. The rest of the time, it functions as a primary care health provider that's not at all designed to be one — largely for people who have no insurance.

They really give it away in the title, don't they?

In 1994, a 13-year-old boy named Nicholas Barclay disappeared in Texas. In 1997, a man showed up in Spain and claimed to be the 16-year-old Nicholas. He wasn't – he was a 23-year-old con man – but he managed to get himself brought to the United States with a passport in Nicholas' name. He moved in with Nicholas' family. They accepted him as Nicholas.

It's that time again.

As I did last year at this time, I'll be spending this week at the Silverdocs documentary festival in Silver Spring, Md. If you've been reading the blog for a while, you're very familiar with this project, as it was the first place I saw a couple of fairly high-profile documentaries including Being Elmo and Buck, but also where I saw a couple of smaller movies that became favorites, including Resurrect Dead: The Mystery Of The Toynbee Tiles. (Available on Netflix streaming! Do it!)

It's a question that kicks around endlessly without resolution: Can men and women really be just friends? On Weekend Edition Sunday, NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Faith Salie and Mario Correa, hosts of WNYC's RelationShow, about this very topic.

Summertime, and the television is cheap as all get out. It's a time of reality shows and burned-off episodes and barely-publicized imports.

And it's a time of TV movies.

Most of the time, Slate's Dahlia Lithwick covers the Supreme Court. She's been doing that for the last 13 years. But recently, you may have seen her name floating around in connection with the piece she recently wrote that she discusses with Scott Simon on Saturday's Weekend Edition.

Well, I am clearly going to see this movie.

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