Episode 35 – Highlander

“There can be only one.”

This month, we feel an irresistible pull towards a far away land to test our blades against those of Atomic Junk Shop‘s Greg Hatcher and David “Ace” Gutiérrez of Emmys.com. The field of battle, the Highlander franchise. It started as a 1986 cult fantasy film starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, about a small group of sword-wielding Immortals, living in secret and battling each other across the centuries until only one remains to claim a vaguely-defined “Prize.”

It blossomed — or some say, decayed — into four critically-panned movie sequels, a long-running television show, an animated series, and even an anime film. We dig into topics of whether every film truly should be made into a franchise? Should there have, indeed, been only one?

We face these questions with…heart, faith and steel.

Music: 
“A Kind of Magic”  from Highlander (1986) by Queen

Episode 33 – Akira

“KANEDAAAAAA!!!” “TESTUOOOO!!!”

We’ve returned with a long-awaited panel episode! This time, we’re popping some capsules and tearing our motorcycles through the ruins of Neo-Tokyo with Tobiah Panshin and Joe Preti of the View from the Gutters comic book podcast. We’re digging into Katsuhiro Otomo’s groundbreaking 1980s apocalyptic manga epic about psychokinetic powers and mass destruction, Akira.

From its serialized origins in the Japanese Young Magazine to the pioneering animated film, this is a seminal masterpiece of explosions, body horror, secret military programs, and disaffected youth, and it’s cast a long shadow over all of modern popular culture.

Music: 
“Kaneda” from Akira (1988) by Geinoh Yamashirogumi

 

Episode 30 – Keanu Reeves

“Whoa.”

Pop quiz, hot shot! Mike and Casey pile into the time-traveling phone booth for a chat about one of Hollywood’s biggest stars with Bryon DiGianfilippo and Joe Preti from the View from the Gutters podcast, and if we go under 50 miles per hour, it blows up. What do you do?

This month we dig into the multi-faceted career of a polarizing actor who has played everything from a doofus metalhead,  to a reckless hero cop, an unstoppable assassin, a cynical sorcerer, a serial killer, a romantic lead, and even…a kung fu cyberpunk messiah: Keanu Reeves.

But you can’t be told what Keanu is… you have to see it for yourself.

Music: 
“John Mourns/Story of Wick” from John Wick by Tyler Bates and Joel Richard

Previously titled: “In the Shadow of Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan”

Episode 29 – Vertigo Comics

“Magic’s just when you trick the universe into believing some incredibly outrageous lie.”

Mike and Casey hop into Chas’ cab for a journey to the realm of Dreams, because it’s time to go on a road trip across America. Our traveling companions, librarian Kit DeForge and Joe Preti from the View from the Gutters podcast.

This month we dig into the Vertigo line of mature-readers comics from DC. From its inception with Karen Berger’s editorial work with Alan Moore on Swamp Thing in the 1980s through massive hits like Sandman, Preacher, Fables and 100 Bullets, we dissect some of the most influential, critically acclaimed and popular comic books of the past thirty years.

Is Vertigo dead, even if its spirit for creator innovation and quality live on at other publishers?

Music: 
“Main Theme” from Constantine (2014) by Bear McCreary

Previously titled: “Make Comics Great Again”

Episode 28 – The Fast and the Furious

fast-and-furious-4

“The guys we’re after are professional runners. They like speed and are guaranteed to go down the hardest possible way, so make sure you’ve got your thunderwear on. We find ’em, we take ’em as a team, and we bring ’em back. And above all else, we don’t ever, ever, let them get into cars.”

Mike and Casey grab a couple of Coronas and fire up their NOS canisters, because it’s time to drive really, really fast. Joining us on this caper are screenwriter Matt Goodman and Matthew Amster-Burton of the Spilled Milk podcast.

Our mission, to dive into the adrenaline-pumping Fast and the Furious movie franchise, which has conquered the box office with some of the most over-the-top tributes to fast cars and badassery ever put on film.

We trace the series’ decade long evolution from a heist story about street racers to a globetrotting series of ensemble espionage thrillers that are a tribute to everything awesome and ludicrous.

Music: 
“Party Crashers” from Furious 7 by Brian Tyler

Previously titled: “Cars Are Fucking Magical”

Episode 27 – Open World Video Games

skyrim

“I was an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee.”

Mike and Casey completely abandon their quests to consolidate their pixelated criminal empires and save the kingdom from dragons, so that they can play darts and brew potions with video game journalist and YouTuber Kinsey Burke, and returning panelist Patrick Johnson.

Our non-essential side quest? To dig into the massive phenomenon of Open World Video Games. From Fallout 3, to Skyrim, to Grand Theft Auto V,  there is an video games where the storyline is optional and immersive player-initiated exploration are their biggest sell points.

What is the appeal of a game that lets you make your own agenda in a fictional city, or epic fantasy realm or post-apocalyptic future? What are the limits of a game that aspires to let you be and do anything you want?

And why are these games so damned buggy?

Music: 
“Welcome to Los Santos” from Grand Theft Auto V by Oh No

Previously titled: “The World Doesn’t Look Bright for Us Completionists”

Episode 26 – Vigilante Fiction

death-wish-3-movie-poster-1985-1020540130

You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?

Mike and Casey sit down with Pól Rua and Greg Hatcher of Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should Be Good blog, for a comprehensive and thoughtful discussion of urban crime and its many complicated causes.

And we talk about how pulp novels and grindhouse cinema recommends fixing these problems. Namely, angry middle-aged men with oversized handguns.

This month, we’re talking about urban vigilante fiction. Hyper-violent anti-heroes pumping thousands of rounds of ammunition into scumbags and drug dealers. From Dirty Harry to Death Wish; from the Punisher to Mack Bolan, we’re digging into the vigilante genre, and asking ourselves: why do bleeding heart liberals like us enjoy this stuff?

Music: 
“Getting Into Shape / Listen You Screw Heads / Gun Play” from Taxi Driver by Bernard Herrmann

Previously titled: “A Noir Carnival of Fright and Insanity”

Episode 25 – Don Bluth

AnAmericanTail

“…There are no cats in America!…”

Mike and Casey manage to escape dog heaven and set out for the Great Valley. Their traveling companions? Ask an Atheist‘s Rebecca Friedman and Joe Preti of the View from the Gutters comic book podcast. This month we’re talking about America animator, Don Bluth.

From his apprenticeship at the Walt Disney company, to striking out on his own with critical darling in the Secret of NIMH, to conquering the box office alongside Steven Spielberg with An American Tail and the Land Before Time.

We dig into Bluth’s trademark darker tone, his craftsmanship and attention to detail, his move into the world of video games, and how for a brief period of time…he managed to beat Disney at their own game.

Music: 
“End Credits” from the Land Before Time by James Horner

Previously titled: “There Will Be No Second Disney”

Episode 24 – Batman

batman

“It’s an omen. I shall become a bat!”

Criminals are superstitious and cowardly lot, so Mike and Casey are joined in the Batcave to compare case notes with our friend Pól Rua, and first-time panelist, Joe Preti of the View from the Gutters podcast. Our topic, DC Comics’ Caped Crusader, Batman.

We dig into the character’s ridiculous versatility and unique ability to upend the normal rules for the suspension of disbelief. From the campy do-goodery of Adam West to Frank Miller’s dark avenger of the night, we discuss the wide range of tone and genre that the character has had in his seven decades of publication.

This is the podcast you deserve, but maybe not the one you need right now.

Music: 
“The Batman Theme” from Batman by Danny Elfman

Previously titled: “Batman, Motherfucker!”

Episode 23 – Star Trek: the Next Generation

tng

Space…the final frontier…

Mike and Casey reserve a table in Ten Forward and share a pot of “tea, early grey, hot” with Greg Hatcher of Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should Be Good! blog and game designer Ryan Chaddock. Our continuing mission: to launch a class-5 probe into the Neutral Zone, and to discuss the classic science fiction series, Star Trek: the Next Generation.

We discuss how it added to the Trek mythos, the tug of war over the show’s themes and writing, and how the classic series stands the test of times as a piece of optimistic science fiction in a current age of popular dystopias and the “grim and gritty” storytelling in genre film and television.

Make it so!

Music: 
“End Credits” from Star Trek: First Contact by Jerry Goldsmith

Previously titled: “Oh, God. Not Another Troi Episode!”

Episode 22 – Bioshock

bigdaddy“A man chooses… a slave obeys…”

Mike and Casey pile into a bathysphere and flee the surface world, and the clawing hands of Big Government and the Parasites to reserve their tables at the Kashmir Restaurant with first panelists Patrick Johnson, and Carlos Rodela of the Video Game Break Podcast. Our topic, the revolutionary 2007 video game, BioShock and its sequels.

We explore the immersive game world of Rapture, the failed undersea utopia inspired by the free-market Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. We look at whether video games can transcend the reputation of being a fun distraction, and whether they can truly be works of art in their own right. And finally, we contemplate the limitations and possibilities of player choice in games, and whether complex storytelling is at odds with the agency to make character decisions.

Music: 
“The Ocean On His Shoulders/Welcome To Rapture” from BioShock by Garry Schyman

Previously titled: “Being a Selfish Asshole Is the Best Thing You Can Be”

Episode 21 – Twin Peaks

Log Lady

“That gum you like is going to come back in style.”

Mike and Casey are consulting our logs and getting a booth at the Double R Diner to share some damned good coffee and pie with returning panelists Roz Townsend and Pól Rua. Our topic: David Lynch’s surrealistic supernatural thriller/soap opera: Twin Peaks.

We get into the show’s weird and often contradictory tone, and its widely panned theatrical follow-up movie Fire Walk with Me.  We discuss its massive influence on shows like Lost and the X-Files, and try to figure out if Lynch was creating fantastical, challenging art, or just being pointlessly weird for its own sake.

Music: 
“Falling” from Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti

Previously titled: “Happening v. Fargo”

Episode 20 – Watchmen

watchmen

 “Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.”

Mike and Casey are charging our electric cars, voting for Richard Nixon, and getting a booth in the Gunga Diner with Ask an Atheist‘s Sam Mulvey, and Rob Kelly of the Fire and Water Podcast. Our topic, the 1986 mini-series that has been labeled “the greatest comic book of all time,” Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen.

We dig into the series’ aggressive and intentionally unflattering deconstruction of the superhero genre, the often uncomfortable morality and motivations of its characters, and the controversial and underwhelming 2009 Zack Snyder film adaptation.

*for those interested in donating to a great cause we mention on the podcast, please check out the Hero Intiative.
Music: 
“Pruit Igoe and Prophecies” from Watchmen (and Koyaanisqatsi) by Philip Glass

Previously titled: “You’re Gonna Like This. It’s Got G. Gordon Liddy in it!”

Episode 19 – Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino

 We’re gonna get medieval on your asses!

This month, Mike and Casey pile into a booth at Jack Rabbit Slim’s to debate the merits of tipping our server with Sci-Fest L.A.‘s Matt Goodman and writer and artist Roslyn Townsend. Our topic of discussion: Quentin fucking Tarantino.

We dig into the writer-director’s visual style, his penchant for creating violent films with compelling characters, and his talent for resurrecting dead careers. From Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, and from Kill Bill to Django Unchained, Tarantino and his movies are awash with copious profanity, critical praise and controversy.

Music: 
“Misirlou” from Pulp Fiction  by Dick Dale and the Del Tones

Previously titled: “Let’s Do a Bunch of Coke and Make a Movie”

Episode 18 – James Bond

bond1_003

 “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!”

Mike and Casey are shaking (but not stirring) their martinis and hoping a plane to Montenegro to sit at the baccarat table and trade barbs with Greg Hatcher of Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should Be Good! blog and game designer Ryan Chaddock. Our mission: to discuss the origins, movies and the cultural phenomenon that is James Bond.

We dig into the nature of 007’s morality, celebrate his penchant for battling outlandish supervillains, and we delve into why this super spy never seems to go out of style.

Music: 
“James Bond Theme” from Dr. No  by John Barry

Previously titled: “Sex, Sadism, and Snobbery”