An amusing Sunday theme from Mr. Berry. By changing the spelling, but not the sound, of certain words, we get different, wacky, interpretations of (mostly) normal phrases. I'm not sure I know what "Pod People" (PAWEDPEOPLE (87A: Owners of large enthusiastic dogs?)) are, but the rest of them are perfectly normal. 23A: Burlesque Theater? (BAWDYBUILDING), 31A: Moviegoers who can't afford concession stand snacks? (POPCORNPAUPERS), and 106A: Supporting actors in a Bea Arthur sitcom? (THEMAUDESQUAD), are three good ones. With eight theme answers in all, it seems like a lot of theme, but, as is to be expected when one sees this byline, the fill was not only decent, but filled with some great material.
Mr. Berry is ADEPT at making it look easy to somehow work in great fill like CURVEBALLS (39D: Trick questions, e.g.) , BOUTIQUE (83D: Posh shop), CLOUDSCAPE (46D: Heavenly painting?), SHERPAS (13D: Ones helping people up?), WALLOP (60D: Strong punch), CHUGS (55D: Finishes all at once, in a way), and LADYGAGA (4D: Her fans are called Little Monsters). And is it intentional that STYLISH (5D: Smart) is right beside LADYGAGA?
Lots of Shakespeare-y stuff today, with OPHELIA, ROMEO (82A: Ardent lover), and OTHELLO (69D: Game with a 64-square board) (Chess and checkers came to mind long before the real answer did) all in the grid. The glue is at a minimum, and the smile factor is high. Very good Sunday.
1A: Harmful aspects (EVILS) gets a B. It's good, and well-clued, but it is a plural, which detracts slightly. My favorite clue/answer is the simple but beautiful 83A: Can of worms? (BAIT). The theme gets an A.