What distinguishes this small-town Pennsylvania murder mystery from the many other crime dramas on TV? Mark, Erica, and Brian discuss the plot structure, casting, and other creative choices and try to figure out how the show relates to Broadchurch, The Undoing, etc.
Mark, Erica, and Brian discuss the HBO Max show out Victorian-era super-powered feminine outcasts, helmed and now abandoned by the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, etc. Does this reduced-by-the-pandemic show still work? Does knowing the complaints about Joss Whedon affect our consumption?
Thinking about the tech genius as villain trope in TV shows like Made for Love, Devs, Silicon Valley, and the documentary WeWork. They’re our modern mad scientists, able to unleash science to surveil, control, and possibly kill us. Mark, Erica, and Brian consider how it works in comedy vs. serious media, how it relates to real-life tech billionaires, and the feminist angle.
Brian, Erica, and Mark consider one of this year’s Oscar-nominated films, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and the film and TV career of its writer/director Aaron Sorkin. We get into The West Wing, The Social Network, Steve Jobs, The Newsroom, and more, focusing on his recurring characters, plots based on true stories, and whether his speechifying is manipulative in the ways that we enjoy or not.
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The debut Disney+ Marvel series is… a tribute to classic sit-coms? Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Rolando try to figure out whether this experiment was successful, whether you have to be a die-hard to get it, and the potential for future oddball superhero outings..
Media representation of disability needs improvement, as does inclusion of disabled actors and writers. Playwright Kayla joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about hurdles, disability culture, negative stereotypes, and how disability relates to comedy and horror.
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Mark-san, Erica-san, and Brian-san survey the new Karate Kid revival show Cobra Kai and all the original films starting with the 1984 classic for nonsensical plotting, villain motivation, questionable acting, and more.
Happy Groundhog Day! The ’93 film has had dozens of imitators spanning various genres in recent years, but the idea goes back more than a century. Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Ken Gerber touch on popular and obscure examples examples from film and TV to explore the philosophical themes and storytelling techniques.
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On the darkly comic ’96 film and the 4-season crime show. Mark, Erica, Brian, and Tamler from VBW consider its style, “tundra western” setting, “Minnesota nice”, gender issues, stunt casting, absurdism, and more. Yes, there are spoilers, but it barely matters.
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In light of The Queen’s Gambit, chess expert J.J. joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to look at chess media, culture, and personalities.
We consider gender, genius, and other issues in Gambit, plus Pawn Sacrifice, Searching for Bobby Fisher, The Luzhin Defense, and The Coldest Game.
What explains the immense quarantine-time popularity of this quaint reality cooking show? What do we get out of watching talented amateurs bake things? Stephen, famous for playing Scar in The Lion King on Broadway, joins Erica, Brian, and Mark to consdier the format, context, and appeal of the show.
Brian, Erica, and Mark reflect on this weird sci-fi HBO Max series by Aaron Guzikowski and Ridley Scott. How much are we supposed to understand? Can we identify with any of the android and/or wild child and/or murdering characters? Is the imagery too heavy handed? How does it compare with Westworld, The Walking Dead, etc.? Warning: Spoilers ahoy! So watch it yourself or let us reveal its craziness to you.
Mark, Erica, and Brian address critically acclaimed Adult Swim show. What kind of humor is it? Can we take the sci-fi and family drama elements seriously? How smart are the show and its fans? Is Rick a super hero, or Dr. Who? What will this serialized sit-com look like in longevity?
Something’s strange… Is it a dream? If it’s a morality tale with a twist ending, you’re probably in the Twilight Zone.
Brian, Erica, Mark, and guest Ken Gerber are in it this week, discussing the thrice revived TV series. Does the 1959-1963 show hold up? What makes for a good TZ episode, and does Jordan Peele’s latest iteration capture the spirit? We talk about episodes new and old, the 1983 film, plus comparisons to Black Mirror and David Lynch.
Brian, Erica, Mark, and Seth from The Partially Examined Life interrogate the 10-part ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan’s Bulls’ six championships.
Was it worth ten hours? Does its time-jumping structure work? Is it really hagiography, or is the vision of ultra-competitiveness repulsive? Why are sports amenable to creating cultural icons? Does the doc’s success mean many more?
Sitcoms traditionally provide a cozy, relatable, changeless environment, but streaming and serialization have changed this. What are the limits on the format?
Mark, Erica, and Brian consider After Life, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Community, the Parks & Rec reunion, the Space Force pilot, the stain of Chuck Lorre, and much more. Plus, which weird premises are real: a quiz!
In light of Star Trek: Picard, Brian, Erica, Mark, and Drew Jackson discuss our most philosophical sci-fi franchise. What makes a Trek story? How do you world-build over generations? How did Picard measure up? Plus Trek vs. Wars and step-children like The Orville and Galaxy Quest.
Why are we now seeing a resurgence of musical TV shows? Craig has created musicals for many TV shows (like Glow, Shrill, and Wet Hot American Summer) and joins Mark, Erica, and Brian due to his work on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.
We talk about narrative excuses for breaking into song, musicals on TV vs. film vs. stage, musical episodes on non-musical shows, and more. Watch Craig’s daily Sabbath Sessions at facebook.com/craigwedrenmusic.
Heavily watched media like Bombshell, The Morning Show, Unbelievable, and 13 Reasons Why attempt to cover sexual assault and harassment while still entertaining. Does that work? Erica, Mark, and Brian consider what makes for a sensitive as opposed to a sensationalized portrayal.