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Linda Holmes is finally back from two and a half weeks cooped up in an L.A. hotel for the Television Critics Association's press tour, but her return coincides with Glen Weldon's vacation, so Linda and I are joined by two guest panelists this week: All Things Considered cohost Audie Cornish and Code Switch blogger Gene Demby.
First on our agenda: the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, whose blockbuster opening weekend blew away expectations. All four of us heap varying degrees on praise on F. Gary Gray's film, but unleash some scorn along the way, too — most notably for its portrayals of women (and lack thereof), its avoidance of a particularly ugly chapter in N.W.A history (here's a damning Gawker piece that expands on an incident discussed in this episode), the group's insistence on controlling its own historical narrative, and a few more mundane issues that several of us (cough, Gene, cough) have with biopics in general. Plus, I reference this fine NPR Music roundup of the Straight Outta Compton soundtrack's many Dr. Dre-approved newcomers.
Then it's on to a press tour recap, in which we tackle one of the event's big takeaway questions: Is there too much television right now? FX Networks CEO John Landgraf asserted as much along the way, and Linda responded with a thought-provoking essay earlier this week. So we tackle the topic from a few different angles: Why do we decide not to watch certain shows? If any given series can bounce from platform to platform, is anything ever truly canceled? If there's this much great TV out there, what becomes of TV that's merely good? (When you're done listening to the show this week, be sure to read Linda's voluminous writings on the state of television in 2015, running all this week and next.)
Finally, as always, we close with What's Making Us Happy this week. I wax relieved about Linda's return from TCA, before singing the praises of a heartwarmingly silly Twitter feed. Audie is in love with a recent favorite book whose pages have become streaked with her tears. Gene has warm thoughts for his collaborators on this long-running podcast. And Linda, besides being happy to be back in her own bed, is delighted to appear on a few other podcasts of her own while she was in L.A.: namely, this one and this one. She also took in a taping of this one, on which she didn't appear, and is psyched about an upcoming movie scheduled to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival next month. More on that soon.