Once upon a time, three idiots did a podcast. Their names were Paul Smith, Arlo “AJ” Wiley, and Joseph “Will Penley” Lewis. And no, we’re not talking about Gobbledygeek episode 400–we’re talking about the very first episode, recorded a full decade ago. This painful, awkward reminder of where it all began has been lost to time and/or the BlogTalkRadio servers for at least a few years now. Now, it has been restored–but never remastered–to its proper glory. Relive the earliest day of the podcast, with discussion of Alice in Wonderland, Lost, Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, and a whole bunch of random nerd shit they did not have the faculties to properly critique. Enjoy?
No one, especially not Alan Moore, ever really wanted a Watchmen sequel. Which is exactly why handing the reins to Damon Lindelof, who has a history of disorienting and upsetting expectations, is a stroke of genius. Last year’s HBO series, spearheaded by Lindelof, is a bold, startling continuation of Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel masterpiece–so of course, after talking about the book, Paul, Arlo, and reformed podcaster Greg Sahadachny had to discuss the TV show. The gang talks about the ways in which Lindelof subverts and pays tribute to Moore and Gibbons’ work; how Lindelof built a writers’ room with people who were not like him; the show’s provocative exploration of race and authority; whether or not the show sticks the landing; and much, much more.
Next: due to one scheduling kerfuffle after another, we’ve got another Four-Color Flashback for you! Paul and Arlo will discuss Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer.
Total Run Time: 02:32:50
- 00:00:30 – Intro
- 00:05:40 – Sturgill Simpson’s A Good Look’n Tour
- 00:28:28 – Watchmen
- 02:28:25 – Outro / Next
- “Turtles All the Way Down” by Sturgill Simpson, Turtles All the Way Down (2014)
- “Best Clockmaker On Mars” by Sturgill Simpson, Sound & Fury (2019)
- “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nahesi Coates, The Atlantic
- “Watchmen Gave Us All the Answers” by Kathryn VanArendonk, Variety
- “HBO’s Watchmen Captures the Spirit of the Graphic Novel Better Than Anything Else” by Princess Weekes, The Mary Sue
- “The Real Black History Hidden Within HBO’s Watchmen” by Karama Horne, SyFy Wire
- “The Incendiary Aims of HBO’s Watchmen” by Emily Nussbaum, New Yorker
- “Stephen Williams goes behind the scenes of the emotionally devastating and technically dazzling ‘This Extraordinary Being.’” by Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair
- “How ‘Watchmen’ Pulled Off One of the Best TV Seasons of the Decade” by Adam B. Vary, Variety
- “Olivia Hooker, one of the last survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, dies at 103” by Deneen L. Brown, Los Angeles Times
- “Following Watchmen, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Added to Oklahoma Curriculum” by Adreon Patterson, CBR
- The Official Watchmen Podcast – website – iTunes
After a year of pointedly discussing no superhero stories, Paul and Arlo revive Four-Color Flashback for a new decade with the big kahuna of all superhero stories: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ 1986-87 maxi-series Watchmen. Aided by emotional sherpa Greg Sahadachny, once and future host of The Debatable Podcast, the boys openly admit there is no new light to shed on perhaps the most analyzed comic book of all time–then get to shedding. What’s it like reading Watchmen in 2020? In the wake of Damon Lindelof’s TV sequel? The gang finds that, like all great art, Watchmen has not changed in the 33 years since its run wrapped, but we have. In a world where fascism seems much more tangible, where superhero fiction reigns supreme, Moore and Gibbons’ work has taken on a renewed sense of meaning. The gang discusses the book’s formalist genius; our heroes’ utter contempt for those they claim to save; why, for a certain type of reader, Rorschach is a morally just idol; and plenty more.
Next: we continue watching the Watchmen with a discussion of Lindelof’s HBO show.
Total Run Time: 01:50:43
- 00:00:21 – Intro
- 00:04:00 – Watchmen
- 01:47:43 – Outro / Next
- “Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
- “Cosmic Charlie” by The Grateful Dead, Aoxomoxoa (1969)
- “In 1986, Watchmen skewered the way we love superheroes. It’s still as relevant as ever.” by Alex Abad-Santos, Vox
- “Watchmen’s Fearful Symmetry: (almost) frame by frame”by Pedro V. Ribeiro, Medium
- Sam Hamm’s Watchmen Script
This week, the lasso of truth compels Paul and Arlo to tell you all about their thoughts on Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, the fourth film in the DC Extended Universe and the first major female-led superhero movie since freaking Elektra. Joining them on this Themysciran horseback ride is friend of the show Hallie Prime. The gang discusses Gal Gadot’s note-perfect performance, Chris Pine’s frighteningly large eyebrows, whether or not the film’s villains live up to its hero, and if there’s still hope for the DCEU yet. Plus, Arlo gets all evangelical about The Leftovers.
Next: after a week off, Paul and Arlo will take a look at The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford ten years on.
Ridley Scott’s Prometheus has an early shot which undeniably quotes 2001: A Space Odyssey, a beautiful image of a planet ringed with light. There’s some more striking imagery, of an unidentified landscape. A humanoid being removes his cloak and ingests some form of liquid which quickly begins killing him. He sacrificially gives himself to the river, where he falls apart piece by piece, his body possibly giving birth to life as we know it. That’s a provocative beginning for a big-budget science fiction film, one that clearly announces its intentions to be a thoughtful exploration of the creation and destruction of life. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
After the cryptic prologue, things get off to a very good start. The crew of the good ship Prometheus–which looks like a jumbo Serenity, but maybe that’s just me–is awakened from cryogenic sleep after two years by the android David (Michael Fassbender). Scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have discovered cave paintings from around the world, all of which depict images of a figure gesturing toward the same star pattern. They’ve followed that pattern all the way out to the middle of space, hoping to find the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. There are some big ideas at play here, and in the early going, there are conversations about whether the existence of supposed humanity-creating beings (Engineers, they’re called) negates or supports the existence of God. Holloway posits that because they now know the Engineers exist, the cross Shaw wears around her neck is meaningless. Shaw, with a wink in her eye, then asks where the Engineers came from.
Ironic that Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin has found himself embroiled in an intardweb feud (not really) with Lost creator Damon Lindelof, seeing as his sword-and-sorcery-and-politics (-and-politics-and-politics-and-more-politics) epic is positively brimming with an enormous cast of characters and a complex web of interconnected stories and plotlines. I’ve not yet read the series of novels from which the new HBO series is adapted, but I can already tell that there are going to be at least as many, if not more, threads that will need to be woven or cut in the tapestry of this tale than there were in Lost. So Martin’s stance on that show’s narrative failures (in his opinion), as well as those of Battlestar Galactica and even Citizen Kane, theoretically set him in an awkward position of now having to seriously bust his ass to pay off his own magnum opus or draw uncomfortable comparisons.
But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to talk about tonight’s premier, “Winter is Coming.”
Last night, Paul and I continued our countdown of the Top 100 Characters in Modern Pop Culture with our penultimate installment, detailing our picks for #20-11. Be sure to listen to the show to hear everything we said, but here are some choice excerpts:
PAUL: Westley/The Man in Black (The Princess Bride)
He bested the greatest swordsman, overpowered a giant, and outwitted a brilliant strategist. And then he got to be the one true love, thought lost at sea, now returned to his princess.
AJ: SS Colonel Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)
What makes Landa so terrifying is that he seems entirely bereft of a sense of morality; he manipulates himself into a position of power with whatever group seems to be on the winning side, caring little for past alliances or relationships.