Listen to Episode 187, “How to Train Your Paul 2 (feat. Eric Sipple)”

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

Gobbledygeek episode 187, “How to Train Your Paul 2 (feat. Eric Sipple),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Welcome back to the land of Berk, where the dragons soar, the adults have Scottish accents, and the kids have grown up. Frenemy Eric Sipple joins Paul and AJ to discuss How to Train Your Dragon 2, which–spoiler alert–they all agree is a fine film indeed. Among the points of discussion are the more mature tone, the stunning animation (with an assist from the great Roger Deakins), and Cate Blanchett’s role as Valka, Hiccup’s mother. In a strong year for sequels, this is one of the strongest, and we’re here to tell you why. Plus, in other dragon-related news, the gang dissects the Game of Thrones season finale.

Next: getting back on our track with our monthly Four-Color Flashback series discussing Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Greg Sahadachny of The Debatable Podcast joins us for an analysis of Vol. III - Dream Country.

(Show notes for “How to Train Your Paul 2.”)

Listen to Episode 180, “The comiXology Ludology (feat. Greg Sahadachny)”

darksouls

The new episode of Gobbledygeek, “The comiXology Ludology (feat. Greg Sahadachny),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

The Debatable Podcast‘s Greg Sahadachny has bullied his way onto another podcast. This time, he forces Paul and AJ to discuss storytelling in video games, and whether or not harder games are more fulfilling than easy ones. Throughout this, the words “ludology” and “narratology” are bandied about as if anyone involved has the faintest idea of what they mean. Before the games discussion, the gang talks about Amazon’s acquisition of comiXology and what that might mean for the world’s premiere platform for digital comics; after, they get into this week’s shocking Game of Thrones and–of course–the nature of spoilers.

Next: for the first time in a while, the Geek Challenge rears its challenge-y head.

(Show notes for “The comiXology Ludology.”)

Paul & AJ’s Top 10 New & Returning TV Series of 2013

Last week, we brought you our favorite movies of last year (finally saw Inside Llewyn Davis, by the way, and yes, it would have made the cut). This week, we change channels to focus on TV. We’re doing things a little differently this time out, with separate top 10 lists for new shows and returning favorites. Though there were a lot of new shows I enjoyed over the past year, I’ll admit I couldn’t stretch them to 10; instead, I’ve got 8, while Paul’s just crazy enough to have a full 10.

As always, there are shows we couldn’t get around to: I haven’t seen Rectify, Top of the Lake, Broadchurch, or The Wrong Mans, all of which I’d hoped to see in time for this list. Oh, and to absolve him of all guilt, I should mention that Paul has never seen Breaking Bad. Wait, I don’t think that absolves him.

NEW SERIES

PAUL: 10. HANNIBAL (NBC)

hannibal

I wasn’t particularly interested in a television adaptation of the Thomas Harris characters. But names like Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, and Bryan Fuller pulled me in. It’s one of the most visually stunning and hauntingly…haunting shows ever to make it to network television. It’s also one of the most shockingly violent and grotesque. All positives in my book. But I can’t put it any higher on my list because it’s crushingly depressing.

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Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2013

Let the top 10-a-palooza commence! Over the next couple weeks, Paul and I will be looking back at our favorite things of 2013. First up, films; next week, TV series; and finally, comics. As always, these lists are imperfect and incomplete, reflecting only on what we’ve seen and love at the moment. Or as Paul writes:

I intentionally refer to the films on this list as favorites, not best. I rank films based on how much I enjoyed them, for whatever ephemeral or esoteric reasons unique to me, not on some system of objective filmmaking truths. These are the ten films I liked the most. YMMV.

Regarding omissions, neither of us have been able to see Inside Llewyn Davis, which makes me want to die, but oh well. I also haven’t seen The Great Beauty, Cutie and the Boxer, or The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, among others. Meanwhile, Paul hasn’t gotten around to Her, The Act of Killing, Stories We Tell, Short Term 12, or Blue Jasmine, to name a few.

Here we go!

- AJ

PAUL: 10. WARM BODIES (dir. Jonathan Levine)

warmbodies

The zombie genre is by this point a bloated undead thing feasting on its own rotting flesh. But director Jonathan Levine (50/50) makes this adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel fresh, fun, and full of life. Yes it’s a (very) thinly veiled Romeo and Juliet pastiche, but the two leads, neo-nerdhunk Nicholas Hoult and Australian beauty Teresa Palmer, are both engaging and committed. Hoult in particular gets praise for being monstrous and vulnerable, and for selling the cheesy-but-hilarious voiceover with nothing more than his eyes. Also, Rob Corddry as a zombie lamenting, “Bitches, man,” is the best comedic line delivery of the year.

AJ: 10. GIMME THE LOOT (dir. Adam Leon)

gimmetheloot

You walk out of Gimme the Loot immediately wanting to know what first-time writer-director Adam Leon is going to do next. His voice is sharp and fresh, chronicling a day in the life of two teenaged petty criminals in a way that feels authentic but never gritty. His Bronx streets are unvarnished, rife with economic and class divisions, but there’s so much damn heart. Newcomers Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson give performances devoid of pomp or flash; they simply find the souls of these two aimless kids. They’re one of the most affecting screen duos in recent memory, in one of the biggest surprises of the year.

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Listen to Episode 143, “The Dungeon Master and the Wall of Dicks (feat. Eric Sipple)”

12sideddice

Gobbledygeek episode 143, “The Dungeon Master and the Wall of Dicks,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Paper, dice, and all things nice, that’s what makes a dungeon master. Paul and Super Special Guest of Honor Extraordinaire Eric Sipple discuss their histories with role-playing games, how they’ve used it as a venue for storytelling, and of gaming’s unfortunate tendency toward gender bias. Plus, AJ attends a bachelorette party and the boys weigh in on the Game of Thrones finale.

Next: up, up, and away with Man of Steel, once again joined by Maester Sipple.

(Show notes for “The Dungeon Master and the Wall of Dicks.”)

Listen to Episode 142, “Moist with Rage!”

redwedding

Gobbledygeek episode 142, “Moist with Rage!,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Bad things happen. Sometimes bad things happen to people we love. Sometimes bad things happen on TV shows we love. Sometimes bad things happen to people we love on TV shows we love, and then there’s just all sorts of bad stuff happening. Paul and AJ delve into the range of reactions to Game of Thrones 3.9, “The Rains of Castamere,” and what sorts of conversations just don’t work on Twitter. Plus, AJ gives his take on Arrested Development season 4 and Paul raves about Now You See Me.

Next: The man, the myth…THE SIPPLE!

(Show notes for “Moist with Rage!”)

Paul & AJ’s Top 10 TV Series of 2012

On this, the eve of 2013, Paul and I begin to look back at some of our favorite things of 2012. First up, our ten favorite TV series.

Also, let’s give a slow clap to Paul, who struggled through severe illness just to get these words to you, dear reader. A speedy recovery to you, sir!

- AJ

PAUL: 10. PARKS AND RECREATION (NBC)

Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, and Rashida Jones in 'Parks and Recreation'

Season 5 gets out of the office a little bit, with Ben and April in Washington D.C. (with an evil robot congressman). Ron gets a new love interest (the always lovely Lucy Lawless). Tom starts a new business. And Andy finds a new career.

AJ: 10. GAME OF THRONES (HBO)

Peter Dinklage in 'Game of Thrones'

What Game of Thrones did in its first season was nothing short of exceptional, a 10-episode narrative that goes down as one of the finest accomplishments the medium has seen thus far. And while the second season struggled at times to recapture that majesty, it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. The scope and breadth of George R.R. Martin’s world remains impressive; the cast, especially Peter Dinklage as the kind of noble imp Tyrion Lannister, continues to knock out high fantasy material that would crush lesser actors; and thrilling hours like “Blackwater” remind us that this is the closest thing we have to a Lord of the Rings on TV. And it’s a whole lot nastier and sexier, too.

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Listen to Episode 108, “Grave of the Rabbits”

Gobbledygeek episode 108, “Grave of the Rabbits,” is available for listening or download right here.

We know that every episode of Gobbledygeek makes you cry, but this one might especially depress you. It’s Geek Challenge time once more, so Paul has tasked AJ with watching the 1978 animated adaptation of Watership Down; in turn, AJ has challenged Paul to watch the 1988 anime Grave of the Fireflies. One is about the brutal escape of a group of rabbits from their soon-to-be-demolished warren. The other is about the brutal attempts at survival made by a very young brother and sister after their home is demolished in WWII-era Japan. Both are very sad. To lighten the mood, AJ talks about watching every episode of Childrens Hospital over the last week, and both of them discuss the addition of Ciarán Hinds to the cast of Game of Thrones.

Next: as summer winds down, it’s time to take a look ahead at the Fall/Winter Movie Preview.

(Show notes for “Grave of the Rabbits.”)

Listen to Episode 91, “Real Darko”

Gobbledygeek episode 91, “Real Darko,” is available for listening or download right here.

It’s Geek Challenge time! Paul has challenged AJ to Real Genius, and in turn, AJ has challenged Paul to Donnie Darko. Our two challenges this time may seem wildly different in terms of plot and tone, but they’re really not that dissimilar: Both take place in the ’80s, both are centered around “extraordinary” young men, both feature schools which are important to the story, and both ensure that Tears for Fears will keep receiving those royalty checks for a good long while. As far as the boys’ discussion is concerned, things are going pretty well until they’re not. Plus, Paul and AJ rave about the Game of Thrones season premiere.

Next week: It’s real! The Cabin in the Woods exists!

(Show notes for “Real Darko.”)

Last Month’s Comics: ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ Swings In and DC’s New 52 Roll Out

Welcome to Last Month’s Comics, in which I discuss, uh, last month’s comics. I get my comics in bi-monthly shipments from Discount Comic Book Service, and as such, I can be a little behind. So here we are. This feature started last month.

So, September 2011, what kind of havoc did you wreak? Let’s find out…

BEST RETURN TO FORM

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #1
Writer: Joss Whedon
Art: Georges Jeanty (pencils), Dexter Vines (inks), Michelle Madsen (colors)
Publisher: Dark Horse

To say that I was pleased upon finishing the first issue of the new “season” of Buffy is an understatement. Season 8 started off very well, with Buffy leading an army of 500 Slayers and trying to unmask the mysterious foe Twilight. And to tell the truth, it was great for much of its run, with an occasional stumble (vampires being outed to the public wasn’t handled with much finesse). But the last story arc, with the reveal of Angel as Twilight, cosmic sex, and general batshit insanity, was so damaging that even someone who considers Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the greatest piece of entertainment ever given us by man had come to the conclusion that it might be for the best if Ms. Summers was finally laid to rest. The final issue of Season 8, though, was a dramatic 180 from the pace and structure of the last few issues leading up to it, and the Season 9 premiere continues in that vein. With Giles gone and magic vanquished, Buffy is depressed and adrift, working as a waitress and getting blackout drunk. It’s all done with Whedon’s razor-sharp wit and keen sense of twenty-something angst. The final “shock twist” is so humdrum and everyday it’s hilarious. In many ways, the metaphorical “party” is over for our Scoobies; now what? I can’t wait to find out.

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