Judy Greer on Hulu's 'Reboot' — and why so many TV shows are being re-made : It's Been a Minute We talk TV REBOOTS. Guest host Elise Hu chats with Judy Greer about her role in the new Hulu series Reboot; her work as a comedic actress, and the state of television. Then, Elise talks with Daniel Herbert, associate professor of film and TV at the University of Michigan and co-editor of the book Film Reboots, about why so many old shows are being remade now. Plus, a special reboot-themed "Who Said That!" with Rob Pearlstein, co-executive producer and writer of the CBS MacGyver reboot (note: Rob is also Elise's partner) and his sister Joanna Pearlstein, opinion editor at The New York Times.

Actor Judy Greer on 'Reboot' — and why are there so many TV reboots, anyway?

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AVA: Hi. I'm Elise's daughter, Ava. Today on the show, we will be talking about TV reboots. All right. Let's start the show.



Hey, y'all. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Elise Hu. Love them or hate them, once popular TV shows seem to keep getting recycled these days, either as sequels, prequels or what seems most common, reboots. So today we're diving into reboots themselves, the business behind them and how they affect what stories get told. It's all coming up later in the show. But first, these reboots are happening so often that a new Hulu series is a sitcom about rebooting a sitcom. "Reboot" the show takes place behind the scenes as the cast and crew of a once popular fictional show from the early aughts come back together again for its new rebooted version.

JUDY GREER: It's, like, a show about second chances. We were all given this second chance, this cast of characters who's been called back to Hollywood to reboot this show that they did 15 years prior, and that we are all - we all have a reason for needing it.

HU: That's actor Judy Greer, who stars in "Reboot" as Bree, who was once the breakout star of the hit family sitcom but then disappeared from Hollywood. In "Reboot's" first episode, Bree reunites with her old flame and fellow cast member played by Keegan-Michael Key and explains her post-show life. She married a duke and became a duchess in a Scandinavian-sounding country.


GREER: (As Bree Marie Jensen) It's cold and dark for much of the year there. So our people really look to me to be their warmth and light.

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY: (As Reed Sterling) Like the sun.

GREER: (As Bree Marie Jensen) Embarrassing when you say it like that, but yes. To an entire nation of people, I am like the sun.

HU: I talk with Judy Greer about "Reboot" the show, how she sees herself in her characters, and what the show has to say about women working in front of the camera. She was a delight to chat with, and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

What I love about the show is that there's Hulu executives on the show, so it's kind of meta, right? You get to go inside the writers' room of the show. What was that like, just getting to break that wall and let viewers in and show kind of a satirical view of the making of a television show?

GREER: Well, it was very fun for me because I have never been in a writers' room, so I never knew what that was all about. And when I was watching those scenes, it was so fun to see what that was really like. And I've been told it is really like that except dirtier. And then unfortunately and fortunately, it's very accurate.

HU: About actors?

GREER: About all of us. Like, it feels accurate to me. And then I think it's also, like, universally appealing because it is still a workplace comedy, which people love.

HU: Yeah.

GREER: And like I said, we have this sort of underlying theme of getting a second chance, which I think we can all kind of relate to that as well.

HU: Bree, your character on "Reboot," she's this beautiful, kind of airheady (ph), insecure actor. I hope that's fair in describing her.

GREER: Yeah.

HU: How'd you get into the character?

GREER: You know, I am an outside-in kind of actor, and it's really helpful for me when I know what my character wears. And honestly, like, once I started walking around in high heels, and then I put my wig on in the morning, I felt like this other person. I always try to, with my characters, define, like, the similarities and differences between me and this woman. And that was interesting because I started shooting feeling like I had nothing in common with Bree.

HU: Yeah.

GREER: And by the time we were done, I was like, oh, my God, we're the same. But the interesting thing to me about television is that for the most part, you don't get your scripts. Like, every week you get a new script. You don't get them all at once. So I don't know where the character's going. I don't know what she's going to do. And the story unfolds in front of me.

HU: Yeah.

GREER: Every week there's, like, a new piece of information that I get to add to the Bree Bible, which is really fun.

HU: I got to say, as you bring up similarities and differences, as an audience member, her story sure seems wildly different and even opposite your own experience...

GREER: Totally.

HU: ...Because she sort of disappeared.


HU: She had this one chance to come back. And - whereas you are working constantly. It seems like you're coming out with six or seven new projects every year. Is that how you experience your career, as just constantly busy? - because we sure see that as audience members.

GREER: (Laughter) It is - I said in another interview that the difference between me and Bree is she hasn't worked in 15 years, and I haven't had a day off in 15 years. But, you know, we still both - I think we both have imposter syndrome. I think we're both afraid of failure. I think we're both battling aging in a profession where youth and beauty are prioritized. I mean, I would say...

HU: Yeah.

GREER: ...One thing I learned about Bree when we got a little further into shooting, and I said to Steve Levitan, like, she's very lonely. I mean, she doesn't have anything. She doesn't have a lover, husband, friends, family nearby. She lives in a hotel. Like, the more I started thinking about it, the sadder I got. And, you know, she's, I think of all the characters, trying the hardest to find herself again and putting herself out there. And I really respect that from her. I like that she's able to change her mind quickly.

HU: You brought up how Hollywood prioritizes youth and beauty. Your character, Bree, is not an ingenue. She's not a young ingenue anymore. And there is a scene with a costume person and your character, Bree, which is hilarious. Do you want to set it up for us?

GREER: Yeah. There's a scene where I find a bunch of Spanx in my trailer, and I go into the wardrobe truck. And I'm like, what the hell are these? Why is there so many Spanx in my trailer?


GREER: (As Bree Marie Jensen) I just walked into my trailer to find a full assortment of Spanx waiting for me. Are you trying to tell me something?

ANNIE HELLER: (As Lana) I don't know what you're talking about.

GREER: (As Bree Marie Jensen) Oh, well, I guess I just got visited by the Spanx fairy then.

And the costume designer is like, yeah, you need to be, like, wearing these, sucking it in. And Bree's just floored. No one has talked to her like that in so long.

HU: Yeah.

GREER: And it's so jarring. And it kind of stemmed from a conversation I had with Steve Levitan where I was telling him how I had asked our costume designer, Reiko Schoenfeld, to put all the Spanx available in my trailer. I was like, I need them all because I'm just not used to playing characters that are so beautiful and glamorous. So I was laughing about it - that I was like, wow, I really, like, needed all the Spanx. I asked for them, and then they put them in there. And then it kind of hurt my feelings, even though it was my idea. And he thought it was really funny and put it in the show. But in the show, Bree doesn't ask for them.

HU: Right.

GREER: They're just given to her. And she's like, what the hell?

HU: (Laughter).

GREER: Sometimes there's a time on set where, like, maybe a director will call cut, and they'll bring my makeup artist over to the monitor and, like, point at things. And then my makeup artist will come up to me and start touching me up. Even though I know this is ultimately a good thing, it, like, makes me feel like, oh, God, what did they see? Oh, how awful do I look? I don't know if we do that specifically in "Reboot," but that's something that - we better do it if we get a season two because it's, like, really upsetting, especially when you're in, like, an emotional scene. And they're like, cut, hold on, you have a thing. And you're like...

HU: (Laughter).

GREER: ...What? Really? Yeah.

HU: But when you get put in those sorts of situations, is it freeing then to do animation and animated series? - because you're...


HU: ...Such a big deal on "Archer."

GREER: Thank you.

HU: And so I imagine with your character Cheryl, Carol...

GREER: Charlene, Charlotte...

HU: ...They never - what is her name?

GREER: (Inaudible).

HU: Right.

GREER: I don't even know.

HU: With your character there, it must be kind of liberating, right?

GREER: Yes, yes.

HU: Because they can take big chances. It's imaginative. It's raunchy, all that.

GREER: It's so fun. And they're just like, yeah, say whatever you want. So it's really exciting. In that, I feel very free, and I don't have to worry how I look. I don't have to worry about what I'm wearing.

HU: I think "Archer" is one of my favorite Judy Greer roles.

GREER: It's probably the best one. It's the one I feel the most - like, I've created the most. When I got that job, the character I played was a crying secretary who was pining for Archer. And so the way that she's evolved has been so fun.

HU: You've written in your book that you aren't a big fan of these age jokes, so I was curious about...

GREER: Well, my book...

HU: ...How you felt about...

GREER: ...Was a long time ago (laughter). I think I was...

HU: Got it.

GREER: ...A little...

HU: Yeah. 'Cause...

GREER: Like, I wrote my book, like, maybe, like, 10 years ago or something. And it's funny because I am older now, and I'm...

HU: Yeah, we change.

GREER: We do. We appreciate different things, life.

HU: Yeah. So you've changed your opinion on aging jokes?

GREER: (Laughter) Well, look, if a joke is funny, then I think it's - should be told, you know? Like, there's a scene in our pilot where Gordon, Paul Reiser's character, is making jokes about, like, oh, yeah, note to self - make grandma jokes.


PAUL REISER: (As Gordon) Put in a bunch of old lady jokes about Josie. Put in a bunch of bald jokes about Lawrence.

KEY: (As Reed Sterling) No, no, no, no. We're not...

REISER: (As Gordon) That's funny. They'll like that.

KEY: (As Reed Sterling) ...Gonna (ph) do that.

GREER: This is a real comment on - look, is it the low-hanging fruit? You know what I mean? Like, if that's...

HU: Yeah, punching down. Yeah.

GREER: Right. If you're punching down, then, like - then I don't have time for it because then you're just being lazy and boring. But you know, like, I'm also - I watched "M*A*S*H" with my parents when I was little. And I was like, this show's so stupid. And I can watch "M*A*S*H" now and be like, oh, my God, it's the greatest show of all time. You know what I mean? Like, you just have a different outlook on things as you get older, I guess.

HU: Yeah, we certainly aren't the same people we were 10 years ago.


HU: And thank God.

GREER: Thank God.

HU: Well, what do you think, though? Do you feel like there has been progress in Hollywood when it comes to opportunities and roles for not just women but older women?

GREER: A hundred percent. I'm just going to say this - but I might disagree with myself when I listen to this later. But I feel like the stories that are told about the full, entire life of the life span of people...


GREER: ...And I felt very strongly when I saw the movie "Bridesmaids" when that came out. I was like, I think this is going...

HU: Yeah.

GREER: ...To be the start of a change. You know, when you look at, like, who's still on the cover of the tabloid magazines, it's women in their 50s that are on the cover. You know what I mean?

HU: Yeah, Jennifer Garner is in her 50s. She's on US Weekly all the time.

GREER: Yeah. Jennifer Aniston, I can think of - so when you think about like who we're being told to look at, we're being told to still look at these women who are still working. They're beautiful. They're a great example of taking good care of themselves, of staying relevant. When "Bridesmaids" came out all those years ago, I was like, oh, there's a sea change happening. Like, a, we're valuing women. We don't need men in these broad comedies.

HU: Yeah.

GREER: I mean, it was, like, all different ages of women, all different sizes of women. It was a story written by women. And for me it felt like the beginning of a change. And then you look at - I don't want to get too political, but you look at the #MeToo movement and how a voice has been given to women that - we didn't have one in that area for so long.

HU: Yeah. To at least speak up about...


HU: ...Sexual assault...

GREER: Yes. Yes.

HU: ...Or harassment, you know?

GREER: Right. And we've said that we're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore. Don't come for us, please. And I think that has been a shift, too.

HU: I'd love to get a sense of how you feel about reboots and remaking old series or old films in general.

GREER: I have two feelings about it. I get it. I get why people would want to do it. But I have so many friends that are writers that have written amazing pilots and screenplays, and so it does - the flipside of it is that I'm like, there's so much great material out there. Like, really, is the well dry? Like, are we done? There's nothing left? So sometimes that bums me out. I don't know. When the fans are like, bring this show back, I wonder, do you really want the show to come back, or do you just want it to have not ended? Like, is it just nostalgic that you want it back, or do you really feel like there's more to say? But maybe let sleeping dogs lie, you know what I mean?

HU: Yeah. All right. Before we let you go, the show is called "Reboot", but it's not a reboot of an older show, right? (Laughter) It's a show...

GREER: Nope.

HU: ...That's satirizing reboots.


HU: So what show would you reboot that has yet...

GREER: (Laughter).

HU: ...To be rebooted?

GREER: "The Mary Tyler Moore Show".

HU: Oh, my gosh. It hasn't been done.

GREER: What was interesting about that show - A, it was amazing and hilarious, and her outfits and apartments were the best.

HU: Yeah.

GREER: But this was groundbreaking because at this time, she was playing a role of a woman from the suburbs who was engaged to a man who was going to get married and have babies. And she said, nope, I am going to follow my dreams and move to the big city - in this case, Minneapolis...

HU: (Laughter).

GREER: ...And get my dream job at a newsroom. And she did it.

HU: Yeah.

GREER: And nobody was...

HU: Yeah.

GREER: ...Doing that then. And the second...

HU: It was radical at the time.

GREER: It was radical. And the second reason why this show is groundbreaking is that Mary Tyler Moore had already played the wife and mom on "The Dick Van Dyke Show". So she was, like, rewinding her career. Do you know how hard it is to get out of the wife-mom role when you're in it and at a hugely popular show like "The Dick Van Dyke Show"? And then her next job is, like, playing this single, driven, career woman is also, in my opinion, super inspiring.


HU: Judy Greer, had no idea you were such a fount of knowledge on Mary Tyler Moore.

GREER: (Laughter) Well, just about things I care about, trust me.

HU: Judy Greer, you are a delight. Thank you so much.

GREER: Thank you so much.

HU: Up next, we learn more about reboots. I talk with an academic about what it means to reboot a show and why they keep getting produced nonstop.


HU: You heard Judy Greer, star of the new Hulu show "Reboot," say it herself. It feels like we're just swimming in rebooted content. This scene from her show even points it out.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) I like this idea, but are people still doing reboots?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Let's see. "Fuller House," "Saved by the Bell," "iCarly," "Gilmore Girls," "Gossip Girl."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) "Party of Five," "Party Down," "One Day at a Time."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) "Boy Meets World," "How I Met Your Father," "The Wonder Years."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) "Battlestar Galactica."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) "Doogie Howser," "The Odd Couple."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) "Perry Mason," "Hawaii Five-O," "Veronica Mars," "Fresh Prince," "Fraggle Rock."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) "Fraggle Rock."

HU: They remade "Party Of Five" and "Party Down"? I didn't even realize half of those shows got rebooted, which got us thinking - why are we seeing so many recycled concepts? And since it seems like there's nothing left to reboot, have we reached the peak of this trend?

DANIEL HERBERT: I think we haven't seen the limit yet, or else they would stop.


HU: That's Daniel Herbert, an associate professor of film and TV at the University of Michigan. We chat about the business of reboots, why there are so many and what it means about what entertains us.

So just to start off, so we know what we're talking about here - what does it mean to reboot a show?

HERBERT: Generally, the way reboots been used has been any time - movies for the most part but now television shows - where it's kind of a remake and a kind of rewriting from the start, kind of going back to the origins of a narrative world or characters in that world. Part of the thing with films is that when you reboot a film, part of the goal is to not just kind of remake one film to a new one but rather initiate a whole new series or franchise, right? So the, like, redoing "Spider-Man" for nth time isn't just designed to make a new "Spider-Man" movie, but to kind of create a whole new series of Spider-Men movies (laughter). It's a little different with television, I think, because they aren't necessarily all going to the beginnings of these characters' lives or story worlds.

HU: Or, like, continuing to tell the story - right? - like "Full House" and "Fuller House."

HERBERT: (Laughter) yeah, exactly. And I think in the case of something like "Fuller House," that's kind of a sequel because the characters are there that have been there all the time, right? So I think what has happened since reboot first started getting used to describe films in the early 2000s is that it's kind of stood in for a huge range of recycling practices without the kind of connotations - the negative connotations that terms like remake have gathered over time.

HU: Yeah, I'm interested in whether the reboot itself is good. You can call it a reboot. You can call it a remake. You can call it a sequel, a prequel. As an audience member, I just want to know if it's good.

HERBERT: That's right. That's right.

HU: So is remaking and rebooting a new thing? Because it certainly does feel like there are so many. There's a real glut of them lately.

HERBERT: Right. So no, actually, remakes are as old, literally as old, as film. So the Lumiere brothers in France who invented film, (laughter) essentially alongside Thomas Edison...

HU: Wow.

HERBERT: ...They remade their own movies. You know the famous "Arrival Of The Train"? They made three versions of that movie.

HU: Wow, they recycled themselves.

HERBERT: They recycled themselves. And people constantly were remaking similar premises and stories from the very birth of cinema. There have been moments where there have been gluts. And typically, I mean, I can't necessarily point to a real consistent pattern necessarily. But, like, for instance, like, I know when there was the transition to sync sound in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Hollywood remade all of its silent films as sync sound films.


HERBERT: And the first kind of what I call, like, a remake panic started in the press in the 1920s and '30s. So this idea that, like, we're all, like, so overwhelmed with remakes and reboots and nothing's original, but you see exactly those kinds of discourses in the 1920s and 1930s where critics are kind of trashing Hollywood for not being original.

HU: So even the idea that nothing is original is not original.

HERBERT: That's absolutely true. Yeah.

HU: Very meta. I do feel like when I'm sitting in a movie theater and seeing a bunch of trailers, the trailers are full or dominated by IP, you know, ideas or concepts that have already existed. Are we in a period of a real reboot glut right now?

HERBERT: Yeah, there probably is a glut, at least in terms of, like, the major properties, things that are getting huge budgets to get made, in part because there's such a consolidation in the industry...

HU: Yeah.

HERBERT: ...Of IP or intellectual property. At this point, we really need to think of the Hollywood studios not necessarily as companies that make films and television programs, but really as IP warehouses. They're really in the business of collecting, storing and figuring out ways to infinitely exploit the IPs that they own because they're infinitely exploitable, right? It's intellectual property. You - it's literally an idea. And if you can sell something 9 million ways, that's pretty efficient for a business. And so I think rebooting reflects an interest in kind of using existing resources on the part of the studios, right?

HU: Let's get into the business of this then because it raises the question of whether the audiences want to see this particular idea, concept, character get rebooted or have their stories be retold again and again.

HERBERT: We have seen rebooting as a kind of agreement between media producers and media consumers - as like, OK, we agree that you can get away with remaking things to a certain extent, where it's like, OK, I know you're not going to be original, but you need to be a little bit original. And the reboot is, like, an acceptable form.

HU: On this lack of originality idea, you - I know you study film more than television. So many of the old walls between film and TV and comics have really collapsed. And so how does the fact that franchises or storylines can now jump between forms influenced either the diversity or the lack of variety and diversity that we are now offered as audiences?

HERBERT: I think - in terms of diversity, I actually think that over the last five years we've seen all the major companies spend unbelievable amounts of money on production. And that can't be sustained. They've been making show after show after show. Now, it is interesting, like, let's say with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's a matter on the part - in this case, Disney - of calculating, OK, we've got this character - let's say Hawkeye. Can Hawkeye sustain a blockbuster film? Can Hawkeye sustain a streaming miniseries, or should Hawkeye be a broadcast kind of thing? And so they're also trying to find as many ways to, again, exploit these huge story worlds as possible. But there's also a lot of variation within the Marvel Universe. I just watched Miss Marvel with my oldest child, and, like, that's a pretty - I mean, it's a superhero thing. But, you know, it's got a Muslim character, a tween teenage female character. And like, I don't know that you see that without the superhero trappings very often.

HU: That's true. So you can kind of subvert various genres and not be so homogenizing.


HU: So where have you seen reboots really take that opportunity to bring to the audience a wider perspective, more imaginative worlds?

HERBERT: One trend that really happened - I guess it's now five, six years ago - is something like the "Star Wars" reboots with "The Force Awakens," right? You have a female lead in a "Star Wars" film, and you have a Latino and a Black actor as part of the ensemble. And I'm not saying that that film has a progressive politics or anything like that. However, compared to the original "Star Wars" films, the racial and ethnic diversity on screen there is totally, totally new.

HU: Yeah. And you see that with rebooted television shows. The new "Gossip Girl" actually has nonwhite leads, nonwhite characters in it.

HERBERT: That's right - and non-straight characters and, you know, a wider range of kind of backgrounds and social identities. And so I do think that's part of what's going on is the reboot is an opportunity to kind of catch up with new cultural circumstances or expectations. Looking at something like "Gossip Girl" or "Force Awakens," it is an opportunity to say, OK you know "Star Wars," you know, "Gossip Girl," but, like, times have changed. Culture has changed, and we need to engage audiences that have changed. There's a wider spectrum of identities on screen, and reboots have engaged in that, right?

HU: The other thing I want to talk about is the mixed bag of reboots in terms of quality, right?


HU: Sometimes it feels like a blatant cash grab just to reboot "Hawaii Five-O" or something, right?

HERBERT: Yeah, yeah.

HU: "Magnum, P.I.," I think they rebooted. Other times they're compelling. They subvert some of the norms of the original.


HU: Talk through some of the reboots that really worked for you, that really did bring something new and interesting.

HERBERT: Yeah. So I thought J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" back in the 2000s...

HU: Oh, right.

HERBERT: ...Was really clever because he, you know, is trying to reinitiate or re-engage audiences that have all this baggage with the history of "Star Trek" and yet try to do something new, youthful...


CHRIS PINE: (As Admiral James T. Kirk) Congratulations, Spock. You just saved the world.

ZACHARY QUINTO: (As Spock) You violated the prime directive.

PINE: (As Admiral James T. Kirk) Oh, come on, Spock. They saw us - big deal.

HERBERT: And so just within the script of that movie, it really does a great job of not erasing entirely the history that everybody's watched. But it creates a new beginning without eliminating within the story world, without fully eliminating all the stories that had come. So I thought that was pretty clever. I also think, like, I don't know if you'd call these reboots precisely, but I think, like, the "Fargo" shows...

HU: ...Oh, right...

HERBERT: ...Have been unreal good. And I think how unusual that you take this kind of indie crime film from the '90s and turn it into this anthology series...

HU: Right.

HERBERT: ...And each one telling really great stories with really quirky characters that stand on their own. Like, why "Fargo" as a TV show? How did that happen? And yet, like, all four seasons have been really different from one another and really interesting and really great. So those are two that I think of.

HU: Yeah. Besides the studios and the networks who want to squeeze as much as they can out of IP, who are reboots for?

HERBERT: That's great. So they're for two distinct audiences - essentially, all the world - people who've seen the original and people who have not seen the original.

HU: (Laughter) So everyone. You're never supposed to answer the question with my ideal audience is everyone.

HERBERT: Right. Reboots are an intergenerational genre, right? By definition, they're trying to get people who maybe aren't, like, seen as the primary demographic for some shows. And yet, clearly, they want to get, you know, viewers who have no previous experience with the property. Maybe it's like the creativity in reboots is less about originality, but about thinking how do I imagine multiple viewerships for this program or for this movie?


HU: Daniel, thank you so much.

HERBERT: Thank you. This has been great.

HU: Thanks again to Daniel Herbert. He is an associate professor of film and TV at the University of Michigan. Up next, a reboot themed Who Said That? Stick around.


HU: You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Elise Hu, and we are back for a game called Who Said That? And, today we're going to play a very special reboot-themed edition to go along with the rest of the show. To play it, we have two very special guests - a television writer, Rob Pearlstein.


HU: Hello.


HU: Who happens to be my partner, and New York Times opinion desk editor Joanna Pearlstein. Hey, Joanna.


HU: These two happen to be siblings. So y'all ready for this sibling showdown?


J PEARLSTEIN: I think we're ready.

R PEARLSTEIN: We watched a lot of TV together as kids, so this could get very interesting. I think we - I think we know our reboots.


R PEARLSTEIN: I'm setting myself up for failure.

J PEARLSTEIN: I love the confidence, Rob. I don't share your confidence, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

HU: We'll see how this turns out because here's how it's going to work. I'm going to share an audio clip from a show that has been remade from the original version or the reboot, and you have to guess which show it is. There are no buzzers. All you do is just yell out the answer when you know. And as usual, in keeping with Who Said That tradition, there are zero prizes - just bragging rights.


R PEARLSTEIN: I love bragging rights.

J PEARLSTEIN: We can fight over the first piece of challah at Rosh Hashanah.


HU: OK, before we get going, let's do one practice round so that y'all feel confident, OK?


HU: Here we go.



HU: Don't rush to yell out the answer or anything.

R PEARLSTEIN: Wow. Maybe I'm not going to do as well at this as I thought.

J PEARLSTEIN: No idea. (Laughter).

HU: Really? Really? OK, why don't we play that one more time? Because this was the practice round.

R PEARLSTEIN: (Laughter) Not a good sign.

J PEARLSTEIN: (Laughter) This does not bode well.

HU: OK, try that again.


R PEARLSTEIN: I'm going to go with "The Equalizer."

HU: Rob, that was "MacGyver."


J PEARLSTEIN: (Laughter).

HU: That was the original theme song to "MacGyver." And I'm laughing because Rob should know the answer since you actually wrote on the reboot to "MacGyver."

R PEARLSTEIN: Oh, that's true. It shows you how much I watched the original before writing on the reboot.

HU: Oh, my God.

J PEARLSTEIN: Has anyone ever gotten all of the answers - like, missed everything?

HU: Yes, that has happened. It's been zero to zero before.

J PEARLSTEIN: OK. I hope you're prepared for a reboot of that.

HU: That was a gimme, which y'all didn't get. But...

J PEARLSTEIN: He's just so modern, is the thing.

HU: OK, let's start. Here's the real round. This is going to be best out of five, siblings. Here we go. First one.


JOHN STAMOS: (As Jesse) Don't make a big deal that I'm here, OK?

ASHLEY OLSEN: (As Michelle) You got it, dude.


J PEARLSTEIN: "Full House"?



HU: One point to Joanna. That was "Full House," the show that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen got their show-biz start on. They played Michelle Tanner. That was Michelle Tanner.

R PEARLSTEIN: Well done.

HU: No memories of watching this together, you two?

J PEARLSTEIN: I don't think we watched this, no. But I live in San Francisco, so it's a little bit iconic here.

HU: Right. The "Full House" house is still there.

J PEARLSTEIN: Yup. People go there and take photos of the "Full House" house.

HU: All right. That's one point for Joanna. Next one. Here we go.


RAYMOND LEE: (As Ben) Just out of curiosity, if the person I leap into dies...

CAITLIN BASSETT: (As Addison) You die, too.

LEE: (As Ben) Right. Good to know.



R PEARLSTEIN: Just kidding.

J PEARLSTEIN: I have no idea.

HU: It aired in 1989. It just got rebooted.

R PEARLSTEIN: Jo, we're really...


R PEARLSTEIN: We're really impressive so far.

J PEARLSTEIN: We're not doing well here.

HU: OK, I'll give you a really obvious hint. The main character time travels into other people.

R PEARLSTEIN: "Quantum Leap."


HU: Ding - one point. You got on the board. You got on the board.

R PEARLSTEIN: Oh, wow. Excellent.

HU: Third clue. The two Pearlstein siblings are tied up, 1 to 1. All right. OK, this one is one of my favorite shows from my youth, and I will be disappointed if y'all don't get it.


ELIZABETH BERKLEY: (As Jessie) Everything will be OK. I just need one of these.

MARK-PAUL GOSSELAAR: (As Zack) Pills? You mean you really are taking drugs?

BERKLEY: (As Jessie) I need them.

GOSSELAAR: (As Zack) Jessie, give me those.

BERKLEY: (As Jessie) I need them, Zack. I have to sing.

GOSSELAAR: (As Zack) Jessie, you can't sing tonight.

BERKLEY: (As Jessie) Yes, I can. (Singing) I'm so excited...

R PEARLSTEIN: "Saved By The Bell."


HU: That took y'all a long time.

R PEARLSTEIN: Jess - it was the Jessie and the Zack.

HU: Yes, that was Jessie and Zack. Do you know that iconic scene?

J PEARLSTEIN: I don't think I've ever seen an episode of that.

HU: This is the big episode where Jessie got addicted to NoDoz. She got addicted to caffeine pills. She breaks down. She starts singing, I'm so excited - no? No? - and then she's like, I'm so scared.

R PEARLSTEIN: No, but I know their names, and I remember the show well.

HU: Rob is up 2 to 1 over Joanna. Joanna, you can tie it up with clue No. 4.


J PEARLSTEIN: This is...


HU: Also lots of saxophone.

J PEARLSTEIN: It's (vocalizing) - oh, it's "Beverly Hills, 90210."


HU: Yes, you got it.

J PEARLSTEIN: OK. I'm contractually obligated to know the answer to that.

HU: Why is that?

J PEARLSTEIN: Because of my high school experience. I went to high school with Tori Spelling, so therefore, I am required by law to know the answer to that.

HU: Yes, you got it, and Tori Spelling will be proud. OK, so y'all two are tied up, if I have this right. This is the tiebreaker, best out of five. You ready?



J PEARLSTEIN: Here we go.


HU: There's the laugh track.

R PEARLSTEIN: (Singing) It ain't unusual - great theme song.

HU: It is not a theme song. In this scene, a character is dancing to this song, and we didn't want to make this too easy for y'all, so we didn't play the theme song. But it is a character who is dancing, and everybody is laughing. It's a show from the '90s, and it's also set in the Los Angeles area.

R PEARLSTEIN: I'm thinking.

J PEARLSTEIN: OK, Rob. We're in trouble here.

R PEARLSTEIN: How about another hint? Because, you know, a lot of shows are set in the Los Angeles area.

J PEARLSTEIN: True. Yes. It's a very popular place to set a television show.

HU: This is a story all about how my life got flipped upside-down.

J PEARLSTEIN: Oh, "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air."



HU: There it is. Joanna for the win. Joanna for the win. That was a scene of Carlton dancing.

R PEARLSTEIN: Carlton dancing - ah. He was funny when he did that.


HU: "Fresh Prince Of Bel Air" - the show got a remake this year titled "Bel-Air," much darker and edgier than the original. Joanna Pearlstein, you won Who Said That? You have bragging rights at dinner this weekend.


R PEARLSTEIN: Congratulations, Jo.


HU: Thank you to my partner, television writer Rob Pearlstein, and his sister, New York Times opinion editor Joanna Pearlstein. Thank you two.

J PEARLSTEIN: Thank you so much for having us. This was super fun.

R PEARLSTEIN: This was fun.

HU: I can't believe you couldn't get the practice round. That was pretty embarrassing.

R PEARLSTEIN: Indeed. Let's not talk about it anymore.

J PEARLSTEIN: (Laughter).

HU: And that's it for today's show. It was a fun one. This episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE was produced by Barton Girdwood, Andrea Gutierrez, Jessica Mendoza, Liam McBain, Jamila Huxtable and Janet Woojeong Lee. It was edited by Kitty Eisele and Jessica Placzek. Engineering support came from Hannah Copeland and Josephine Nyounai. Our executive producer is Veralyn Williams. Our VP of programming is Yolanda Sangweni, and our big boss is NPR's senior VP of programming, Anya Grundmann. I'm Elise Hu. Thanks for listening. And until next time, take care, y'all.

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