Linda Holmes

What happened

A number of crucial Succession episodes have been named after their settings: "Prague," "Austerlitz," "Argestes," "Tern Haven," "DC," "Dundee." This week, the titular setting is Chiantishire, a nickname for a part of Tuscany where well-off British folks live or vacation. The Roys are descending upon Chiantishire, in this case because it's the location of Caroline's wedding — she's the mother of Kendall, Roman and Shiv. (She is played, incidentally, by the great Harriet Walter, who also plays Rebecca's mother on Ted Lasso.)

What happened

In a particularly grim episode, Kendall holds a blowout fortieth birthday party and discovers that the hope he once had that his siblings might take his side against their father is long, long gone. Meanwhile, Roman is close to cementing his position as Favored Child.

Speed rankings

On the day of Stephen Sondheim's death, creating a list of his songs you will never stop playing is to invite an argument — and I do.

Sondheim died at 91, and I encourage you to read every obit, every snippet of historical context. I can offer only the fact that, almost always, on some level, there is Sondheim music in my head; it takes almost nothing to nudge it from sleep and get it tripping across my lips as I do the dishes or drive my car.

This week, Baby Yoda flew above the streets of New York at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Ridley Scott's House of Gucci made its debut and the Grammy nominations were announced. Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Every year, more outlets offer holiday movies (and by that I mean overwhelmingly Christmas movies, but occasionally not). And the places that offer them seem to offer more. It has become a kudzu situation. How are we getting VH1 holiday movies now? How did Food Network get involved?

Nonetheless, here we are for the third year in a row to look at this year's crop, complete with trope elements in bold. A few notes:

Well, we have reached the end of the second season of The Morning Show, which skids to a stop this week amid a lot of COVID and cancel-culture foofaraw. And ultimately, it's a moment to ask yourself the one question that probably defines your reaction to this season: Are you buying what the show is selling when it tells you Alex and Bradley are worth rooting for?

This is the week Logan and his family have been waiting for: We've finally reached the shareholders' meeting where Stewy and Sandy 2 (and her father, Sandy 1) will try to wrest control of Waystar Royco away from the Roy family by persuading enough shareholders to vote with them. Everything gets very wobbly when Logan's physical and mental condition seem to abruptly deteriorate, but Shiv pulls off quite a trick by settling with Sandy 2, keeping control in the family while also agreeing to some power-sharing with Stewy and the Sandies.

Speed rankings

This week, Big Bird got vaccinated, Netflix dropped the new season of Gentefied, and McDonalds announced a Mariah Carey-themed menu for the holidays.

Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

After a couple of weeks when we seesawed from a very bad episode to a very good episode, now we're comfortably back in the middle, where some things work and other things seem like they were written on Mars. Alex slinks back into UBA and then visits Mitch's memorial service, Bradley puts her brother in rehab and then interviews Maggie about the book, and Laura lets Alex have it for being such a jerk.

Consider this The Morning Show's best plot twist yet: This is a very good episode of TV.

Last week's episode was very messy, narratively and philosophically: It focused on fundamentally uninteresting characters doing uninteresting things. In the meantime, it took its eyes off anything with any complexity on the show at all.

Pablo Larraín's Spencer opens with a label that reads, "A fable from a true tragedy." The tragedy, of course, is the story of Diana Spencer, who became Princess of Wales, went through a bitter and public divorce, was largely beloved nevertheless, and lived a short life — at 36, she was literally chased to her death. The fable, on the other hand, is an imagining of a Christmas weekend in the early '90s when her children were young, when a separated but not yet divorced Diana realizes the depth of her own despair and decides to pursue her freedom.

What happened this week

Kendall shows up very much uninvited at Waystar Royco and interrupts an employee meeting in a way carefully planned to humiliate Shiv. Tom starts to suspect that he was going to wind up incarcerated no matter what, so he attempts to pick up some points with Logan on the way there. Logan tries to wiggle his way out of the DOJ investigation that's been coming, but he fails, and the FBI winds up pounding on the doors of Waystar HQ until Logan can do nothing but capitulate.

What happened this week

Shiv, Roman and Connor all gather at Kendall's improvised war room to talk about whether to team up against Logan, but ultimately, they blink. Marcia negotiates her return to Logan following his indiscretions with Rhea, and we find that Stewy is still in cahoots with Sandy — but it's a new Sandy.

85 MPH: Logan

It's tempting to think, "It can't be good to know your daughter has your profile photo in her phone set to Saddam Hussein," but I think Logan would probably take it as a compliment.

I had several reasons to suspect I was not the ideal audience for The Last Duel. I'm not really an aficionado of period pieces with lots of bloody battles (or fantasy pieces that feel like period pieces; I was not a Game of Thrones person, for instance).

It was the week when we got a new Adele single. It was the week when Hollywood braced for a strike. Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Cory, latecomer to the crusade for decency

Cory starts this episode fighting on the phone with Fred, demanding that he stop trying to plant stories that smear Hannah. Fred is a man with little to lose, so he demands in response that Cory get the case settled already, threatening to reveal that Cory was part of negotiating Fred's departure and paying him off and claiming that "the woke mob" won't like it if they find out.

Where we start: I don't know how Dave Grohl became the go-to Gamest Person In Show Business, but here's to you, Dave Grohl. Here's to you, Foo Fighters, playing Alex's comeback show.

Stella is feeling annoyed at how well Cory's "wall of blondes" strategy is going, but she can't deny that the audience loves it, which I cannot stop finding completely implausible, since they saw these women together for three weeks almost a year ago.

Game Highlights

It's the end of the season (for the team and the show), and Richmond plays a big game that drives Sam to a decision about whether to leave with Edwin Akufo. Ted wonders what to do about the information he now possesses about Nate ratting out his panic attack to the press, and Roy and Keeley try to figure out whether anything is actually wrong in their relationship.

Play-by-play

Ted and his panic

Diana, The Musical, which tells the story of Princess Diana from the time she began her courtship with Charles when she was 19 all the way until her death at 36, is scheduled to begin performances on Broadway later this year after a long COVID delay. Meanwhile, Netflix has premiered a version of the staged show filmed without an audience, which is allowing a much bigger audience to know what it would look like if, say, School Of Rock were about Chernobyl.

It's never clear exactly what the stakes are supposed to be on The Morning Show. Are we supposed to be invested in the two women at the center of the action, Bradley and Alex, finding their way forward together and forging some kind of professional trust? Are we supposed to be invested in each of them, individually, finding her own ethical North Star? Are we supposed to care who succeeds and fails among the on-air talent? Are things like Alex's new office supposed to be juicy details about how the media really operates?

Game Highlights

Ted gets bad news, then more bad news, then the hardest news of all. Keeley and Roy are out of sync, and Sam gets an intriguing offer that Rebecca wants him to refuse.

Play-By-Play

Sam Obisanya

The opening image of this week's episode is meant to represent the hard truth that New Year's Eve revelers in Times Square are gross. Well, they were gross, back when there were any, back when people crowded together without fear. So perhaps trash nostalgia is the appropriate emotion as the maintenance crews clean up after last week's big New Year's bash. Let's get right to these warm memories of early 2020, a time we all are eager to relive.

Game Highlights

Rebecca copes with the death of her father and tries to figure out what to do about her new relationship with Sam. Ted walks himself through a panic attack with Dr. Sharon's help. And Jamie surprises Keeley with a confession.

Play-By-Play

Rebecca

The Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night arrived at a moment when both the medium of television and the concept of awards shows are fighting the sense that they might be ... you know, old-fashioned.

Innovative shows are pushing narrative structures in interesting directions and tackling social issues in new ways with highly personal stories being told about characters often ignored in the past. But the awards show, despite some COVID-related tweaks, remains strictly traditional.

Here are five things to know about how it went.

It takes the second season of Apple TV+'s The Morning Show seven-and-a-half minutes to get real sweaty.

Let's step back: The first season, which aired a decade or so ago in late 2019, was the prestige drama project that Apple wanted to use to launch its streaming service: Big names! Current events! Finger on the pulse! Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston played a newbie and a veteran morning show host, respectively, who are thrown together after Aniston's former on-air partner, played by Steve Carell, is fired following a sexual harassment scandal.

Pages