19-10 Segment 1: A More Ethical Garden

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Spring is almost here! That means it’s time to start thinking about gardens and landscaping. Expert Benjamin Vogt has a new way to garden, so that your property can be a place that looks nice, and also contributes to a healthy ecosystem that helps animal species and our planet thrive.

Guest:

  • Benjamin Vogt, Garden Designer with Monarch Gardens and author, A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future 

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19-10 Segment 2: A Fantasy Series that Aims at Teaching Children to Consider Some Big Questions

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We grow up hearing nursery rhymes and fairy tales that deal with good and evil. All of us fondly remember the cartoons of our youth and the stories we grew up with. We talk to Soman Chainani about authoring a new entry into the catalog of mythology and his attempt to course-correct the lessons more modern stories have been teaching our children.

Guest:

  • Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil

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Culture Crash 19-10: Netflix’s Russian Doll

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

Streaming TV services like Netflix and Hulu have revolutionized the medium, in part, simply by expanding access. Hundreds more scripted shows are being made right now than ever have before, and this has meant more diverse writers and creators. But Netflix, in particular, is responsible for another revolutionary idea: dropping entire seasons of shows all at once. It’s become something of a signature for the company, which encourages binge-watching entire seasons of shows like Stranger Things and Ozark in a day or a weekend. With that, many creators have started to say it feels like they’re making a 10-hour movie instead of a TV show.

And that line of thinking has been a little controversial. The problem with that thinking is that, of course, it isn’t a 10-hour movie, it’s a TV show. Critic Alan Sepinwall frequently notes that the nature of TV is episodic. Even if you encourage binge-watching, some viewers will go one episode at a time and each episode needs to be entertaining in its own right.

Well, Netflix may have finally answered the bell and delivered a show that truly feels like an actual extended-length film. It’s called Russian Doll, and it comprises of eight episodes that are each roughly 23 minutes in length. This makes the entire season a little over three hours long, which makes it actually feasible for a lot of people to watch it all in one sitting. And that might be the ideal watching situation.

Russian Doll is similar to Groundhog Day or Happy Death Day, in that it focuses on someone stuck in the same moment. Star Natasha Leon plays Nadia, who keeps dying and being reborn into the same moment at her birthday party.

Russian Doll is a bit of an enigma. It’s sort of like NBC’s The Good Place in its mysterious structure and the central theme of what we can accomplish when we all help each other.

Toward the beginning of the season, I was a bit confused, unsure what exactly I was watching. But around episode 3 or 4, the story really kicks in and it sprints through the finish line. 

It is like a long movie, and it works well all at once. It also works well split in half or sure, episodically.

Russian Doll is now streaming on Netflix.

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