Gobbledygeek episode 229, “Nothing Beside Remains (feat. K. Dale Koontz & Ensley F. Guffey),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.
Not much in this world is surprising. The irony of this statement is that in order to tell you about how Paul surprises AJ in this episode, we have to give away said surprise: this is the one where Paul finally watches Breaking Bad. AJ remained in the dark the whole time, misled by Paul to think some ominous present was on its way; turns out the present is a discussion of Vince Gilligan’s acclaimed morality tale, which long-time listeners will remember Paul refused to watch for years. What did he think of it? You’ll have to listen for yourself. Featuring surprise guests K. Dale Koontz and Ensley F. Guffey, authors of Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Companion to Breaking Bad!
Next: The Debatable Podcast host Greg Sahadachny joins Paul and AJ continue their Four-Color Flashback look at Jeff Smith’s Bone with Vol. III: Eyes of the Storm.
(Show notes for “Nothing Beside Remains.”)
Gobbledygeek episode 184, “Of Meth and Men (feat. K. Dale Koontz & Ensley F. Guffey),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.
Friend of the show and long-ago guest K. Dale Koontz makes her triumphant return to Gobbledygeek, and this time, she’s brought along her lovely husband Ensley F. Guffey. Together, they’ve written Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Companion to Breaking Bad, which is pretty much what the title says. Dale and Ensley geek out about Breaking Bad, discuss Michael Slovis’ stunning visuals, and talk about what goes into writing a book with your spouse. They do not, however, tell you how to cook 99.9% pure crystal blue meth. Disappointing, I know. Plus, the gang bemoans Zack Snyder’s grip on DC’s movie world and raves about indie comics.
Next: our year-long Four-Color Flashback exploration of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman continues, as Greg Sahadachny joins us to discuss Vol. III: Dream Country.
(Show notes for “Of Meth and Men.”)
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.
PAUL: 10. HANNIBAL (NBC)
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.
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!
PAUL: 10. PARKS AND RECREATION (NBC)
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)
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.
Don Draper is a serial philanderer. Walter White is a meth kingpin. Nicholas Brody is a (possibly) reformed terrorist. Nucky Thompson is a gangster. These are not men who do good things. Why, then, do audiences hate their wives so much?
Don, Walt, et al. are enormously popular with viewers, and rightfully so. They’re not necessarily good people, but they’re not strictly bad people either; they’re contradictory, complex, nuanced, comprised of all the elements that make for great drama. If, like myself, you enjoy reading reviews or seeking out online reaction to each episode, though, you’ve probably noticed a worrying trend. Though many applaud the behavior of these characters, all murderers (save Don) and adulterers (save Walt), they’re a lot less willing to afford their wives the benefit of the doubt. Look, I’m not here to be the Moral Police; I’m not interested in discussing the pros and cons of infidelity, especially considering most of these characters’ wives are guilty of same. (Sidenote: I, uh, hope we can all agree murder is bad.)
And it’s not like I don’t get the appeal. I don’t watch Breaking Bad just because it’s a devastating portrait of a man sacrificing everything he holds dear at the altar of power. I also watch it because it is freaking awesome when Walt pulls off the perfect heist. How giddy did the classic “RUN” moment make me? Answer: very. And at the end of the Mad Men season finale, when Don gave the honey at the bar the patented Draper Stare…goddamn. As a viewer, I know full well how thrilling and visceral it can be to watch these men do their dirt. The problem is when you view them as the heroes of their respective stories and any attempts–especially by their wives–to curb or question their behavior as hindering their quest, whatever you think that is. The numbers show that not a whole lot of people actually watch Breaking Bad, and I know that its small but loyal following contains some of the sharpest TV viewers around. But the Internet would also lead me to believe that a bunch of folks would be okay with a show where all Walt does is make meth, kill people, and become the most awesome greatest badass superhero on the planet.
Gobbledygeek episode 74, “Occupy Arkham City or, Batman Is the 1%,” is available for listening or download right here.
This week, the boys get their Bat on, discussing the new video game Batman: Arkham City and the new animated film Batman: Year One. Does Arkham City improve on Arkham Asylum? Does Kevin Conroy have the greatest batvoice ever? Is Year One a faithful adaptation of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s comic book? Does Bryan Cranston make for a great Jim Gordon? These questions, and many more, are answered in the affirmative. Plus, a reader e-mail and some Formspring questions, including what may be the last “oeuvre” question ever.
Next: Paul and AJ meet up for GobbleCon 2011!
(Show notes for “Occupy Arkham City or, Batman Is the 1%.”)
BREAKING BAD: The Complete Third Season (DVD/Blu-ray)
Breaking Bad‘s terrific second season was tightly plotted ahead of time, with ample foreshadowing throughout. For the show’s third season, however, creator Vince Gilligan and his writers turned into expert jazz players, improvising every note, changing rhythm, and exploring all sorts of new grooves. Gilligan and Co. repeatedly force science-teacher-turned-methmaker Walt and his junkie partner Jesse into corners there’s seemingly no way they’ll get out of; and the creative team had no idea if they could either, until they started writing the next episode. An approach like this could easily have been disastrous, but instead makes for one of the all-time great seasons of television. The jagged, frayed chemistry between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul makes for the best duo on TV, both giving fierce performances. Stand-out episodes in a stand-out season include “One Minute,” with an intense set piece for the ages; “Fly,” which takes place entirely in the lab, examining Walt and Jesse’s relationship; and “Full Measure,” the epic season finale. Extras include commentaries by Gilligan and the cast; and a number of featurettes.