The best show on TV is on FX–well, FX on Hulu, that is. It’s called Reservation Dogs, it was created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, and it is about four Indigenous kids from Oklahoma dreaming of escape to California. To discuss this funny, heartbreaking show, Paul and Arlo are joined by pop culture writer extraordinaire Nikki Stafford. The gang discusses the show’s subtle storytelling, its incredible cast, the way Harjo and his team thread the needle between tragedy and comedy, and how this series breaks ground for mainstream Native representation in America. Plus, Arlo almost killed Paul.
NEXT: second time’s the charm; hopefully, we’ll actually do a Four-Color Flashback on John Layman and Afu Chan’s Outer Darkness.
For their latest Four-Color Flashback, Paul and Arlo are exploring the world of Si Spurrier and Jeff Stokely’s 2015 mini-series The Spire. Our location is a massive, tiered city surrounded by a desolate wasteland; our cast of characters include privileged aristocrats and the undesired “Sculpted,” hybridized from human and animal DNA; and our story is one of noir sleuthing, extreme violence, racial intolerance, and classism. The boys discuss Spurrier and Stokely’s deceptively simple storytelling; the “soft edges” around their world-building; Stokely’s manga-influenced art; and just how in-spire-ing it all is. Plus, a number of previous FCF selections are hitting the small screen, including Y: The Last Man, The Sandman, and most unbelievably of all, Grendel.
NEXT: what’s that? It’s October? Time for Gobbledyween 2021. Our annual horror-fest kicks off with a discussion of Ti West’s 2009 indie phenom The House of the Devil, featuring our old pal Greg Sahadachny.
To paraphrase Philip and Elizabeth Jennings’ new/old handler Gabriel, “Podcasting and timeliness in many ways are antithetical.” After a series of delays, Paul and Arlo are back with guest of honor Wesley “Wezzo” Mead to continue their discussion of Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields’ modern classic spy drama The Americans. This time, they’re taking a look at season 3, a masterclass in thematic cohesion. Everything, more or less, comes back to the challenge of parenthood: on a micro level, how the Jennings plan on guiding Paige into the world of spycraft; on a macro level, how they can act as individuals under the forceful hand of the Centre. The gang talks self-actualization, bone-crunching, necklacing, and Frank motherfucking Langella. Plus, a detour into the “wholesomeness discourse” raging around Ted Lasso.
NEXT: John Cusack and Paul Dano take on John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer in a Geek Challenge. It’s the very real music biopic Love & Mercy versus the parody music biopic Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
Gobbledygeek episode 436, “The Americans: Season 1 (feat. Wesley Mead),” is available for listening or download right here, on Spotify, and on Apple Podcasts.
Deception is as American as apple pie. Elizabeth and Philip Jennings are well aware of this–they’re Russian spies under deep cover as a suburban couple in the U.S., after all. Their new next door neighbor, FBI Agent Stan Beeman, threatens to throw a wrench into their long con. Over the course of The Americans season 1, there are plenty of twists, turns, betrayals, and confessions. Wesley “Wezzo” Mead has infiltrated the podcast to join Paul and Arlo as they begin a retrospective on Joe Weisberg’s critically acclaimed but criminally underseen FX series. The gang discusses the tremendous work by leads Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys; how the show is a little pulpier and faster moving than they remembered; the characters’ vacillating beliefs in each other and the systems they move within; and, of course, all those wigs.
NEXT: Hollywood post-production supervisor Michael Holland flies in for a look at The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Take note, Jennings–Soviet agents can be reformed!
00:00:51 – Intro / Guest
00:03:45 – Main Topic
01:50:05 – Outro / Next
“Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac, Tusk (1979)
“Games Without Frontiers” by Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (1980)
Gobbledygeek episode 306, “Unmaking Soup,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.
This week, Paul and Arlo turn on and tune into the wonders and terrors of the superhuman mind by taking a gander at the first season of Legion. The FX series, developed by Fargo‘s Noah Hawley and theoretically set in the X-Men universe, is unlike most other superheroic media. David Haller is either schizophrenic, an extremely powerful telepathic/telekinetic mutant, or both. Witnessed through his eyes, the world is fractured, bizarre, disturbing, and a tad surreal. As such, the typical X-Men plot–David is rescued from a mutant-hunting government organization known as D3 by a group of rebels with a Magneto-esque leader–is given a swift kick in the pants. The boys discuss this inventive telling of a simple story, the show’s many visual flourishes, why it’s a powerful exploration of mental health, and Aubrey Plaza’s revelatory turn as a 50-year-old man. Plus, a surprise Rick and Morty pre-empts Samurai Jack, overjoying one of our hosts and causing considerable frustration in the other; and the boys rave about the fifth season of another brilliant FX drama, The Americans.
Next: film critic and horror expert Jess Byard joins Paul and Arlo to ask, “Where has all the good sci-fi horror gone?”
Gobbledygeek episode 181, “Knights’ Tales,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.
Paul and AJ are, you know, they’re…I think the word is “geeks”? Geeks. Yes. And sometimes, they challenge each other. Lord knows they challenge each other. And sometimes such a challenge between geeks is bestowed the rank of Geek Challenge. For the first time in far too long, such a plague has befallen the podcast: AJ challenges Paul to watch the 1957 Ingmar Bergman classic The Seventh Seal; in return, Paul challenges AJ to John Boorman’s 1981 Arthurian epic Excalibur. There is much sadness and mythmaking and fast-and-loose historical accuracies as our knights ride off on a journey of the soul. Plus, Fargo makes for a pretty great TV show and The Superior Spider-Man has reached its blessed end.
Next week: the second installment of this year’s Four-Color Flashback, as the boys discuss the second volume of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, The Doll’s House.
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.
Gobbledygeek episode 129, “Talking (More) Turkey: Standard Action,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.
Joanna Gaskell and Rob Hunt of the webseries Standard Action return to discuss their second season, dead squirrels, board games, and dehydrated pepperoni. Plus, Paul and AJ talk about their Scott Pilgrim Twitter party and FX’s great new series The Americans.
Next: Noble Smith, author of The Wisdom of the Shire, joins the boys to geek out about, well…everything.
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.
Taken from a short story by Philip K. Dick, The Adjustment Bureau has a great premise: there is a bureaucratic agency governing every decision you make, and if you stray from The Plan, they will step in and adjust your life. What could have been a Truman Show or an Eternal Sunshine instead becomes a mediocre time-waster, as the adjusters’ arbitrary rules and the silly chase scenes get in the way of real chemistry between forbidden lovers Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. It’s a shame to see Anthony Mackie, who was good in The Hurt Locker, turn in a stupefyingly dull performance, but it’s worse to see Richard Slattery, who unloads at least two dozen savagely memorable remarks on each episode of Mad Men, reduced to shouting things like, “Can’t I get a break in this case?!” Under the anonymous, visionless direction of George Nolfi, the film is a cosmic farce as a bunch of old white dudes attempt to cock-block Damon on an epic scale. The spark between Damon and Blunt makes things mildly entertaining. Extras include audio commentary from Nolfi, deleted and extended scenes, and three featurettes.
(Originally reviewed by me, and much more favorably by Paul, in “Secret Origins.”)