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What's making us happy: A guide to your weekend viewing and listening

David Tennant as The Doctor in <em>Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast.</em>
David Tennant as The Doctor in Doctor Who Special 1: The Star Beast.

This week, we heard more about chairs, directors, and making everybody sit on boxes, the legacyquel business rolled on, and Netflix finally started dishing out the data.

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

The new Doctor Who specials, streaming on Disney+

Doctor Who is back and it's on Disney+. The 60th anniversary of the series was in November and three great special episodes were released. They starred Catherine Tate and David Tennant — fan favorites from more than a decade ago — reprising their roles as Donna Noble and the Doctor. The specials also featured Neil Patrick Harris and Ncuti Gatwa (Eric from Sex Education). The returning showrunner Russell T Davies is bringing a lot of fresh ideas to establish a new era of the franchise. It makes me very excited for the Christmas special that's coming up and the new season next year. The older episodesare on Max if you'd like to go back and relive those days. The specials and new episodesare and will be on Disney+. — J.C. Howard

Beedle the Bardcore's version of Usher's "Yeah!"

Beedle the Bardcore basically takes club bangers to the Renaissance Faire — its a YouTube channel full of Medieval covers of popular songs. My dear friend sent me this video of a cover of Usher's "Yeah!" when I was in a slump. I really needed a boost of energy, and it electrocuted me like I was Frankenstein's monster. The comments are as great as the video. There's also a one-hour hardcore cover of Eminem songs. They've done Hozier. This will always make me happy. — Candice Lim

Remembering Andre Braugher

I wanted to take a minute to talk about the actor Andre Braugher, who died on Monday after a brief illness. He was 61, which is much too young. He was part of three major TV shows that in part revolved around him. The first was Homicide: Life on the Street, where he played Frank Pembleton, a detective. Homicide was early prestige TV and it was a hard-hitting drama. The second was Men of a Certain Age, which was kind of a comedy drama. And then he came to Brooklyn Nine-Nine and played Captain Ray Holt and that, of course, is very silly comedy. The range in those roles is just amazing to me. Genius. I've never heard an unkind word about him. He will be missed tremendously, both in drama and in comedy, and as a person. — Linda Holmes

I've often found myself sticking up for people on comedy shows whose role is to play the straight man while chaos swirls around them. Braugher plays the by-the-book cop on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and he took that character and made him not only the funniest character on the show, but one of the funniest characters on television. He made everything he touched better: If it was dramatic, he made it more serious and compelling. If it was comedic, he made it warmer and funnier. — Stephen Thompson

NPR Music's Best Music of 2023 lists

What is making me happy this week is NPR Music's roundup of the best albums and the best songs of 2023. I really encourage you to kind of go through these playlists and sample them. You'll find songs in hip-hop and R&B and pop and jazz. There's so many different sounds all swirled together. It is one of the truest, multi-genre, best-of lists you will find in any medium, and you're just guaranteed to make a discovery. It was not necessarily a big year for musical juggernauts — big albums everyone could agree on — but there's tons of great music and I encourage everyone to dig in. — Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

The loss of tremendous actor Andre Braugher this week devastated his many admirers, me included. There are a number of terrific tributes that demonstrate just how highly regarded he was: NPR's own Eric Deggans, Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz, The New York Times' James Poniewozik, Vanity Fair's Maureen Ryan, The Hollywood Reporter's Dan Fienberg, and Rolling Stone's Alan Sepinwall.

If you have followed the long arc of The Crown, you probably already know that the final episodes are now out, and you can see for yourself the version of the history of the royal family that this particular show decided to present.

A couple of updates on things I have liked in the last couple of weeks: First, last week, I wrote about the HBO miniseries Murder in Boston: Roots, Rage & Reckoning. I should add that The Boston Globe worked with HBO on a podcast about the Charles Stuart case, which I will be devouring shortly. Second, I also wrote about the documentary A Disturbance in the Force, and I want you to know that there's also a book! It comes from Steven Kozak, who directed the documentary with Jeremy Coon.

Beth Noveyadapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" for the Web. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

J.C. Howard
J.C. Howard is a producer for TED Radio Hour and How I Built This with Guy Raz. He started with NPR as an intern for How I Built This in May 2018 and began producing in his current capacity in January 2019.
Candice Lim
Candice Lim is a production assistant at Pop Culture Happy Hour. Prior to joining NPR in 2019, she interned at several publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, WBUR and the Orange County Register. She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and is proudly from Fullerton, California.
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She 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.
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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