The PMP core four (Mark, Lawrence, Sarahlyn, and Al) discuss the original 1883 freaky children's story by Carlo Collodi and consider the recent rush of film versions, from a new Disney/Robert Zemikis CGI take to Guillermo del Toro's stop-motion passion project to a heavily costumed Italian version by Matteo Garrone, which is the second to feature Oscar winner Roberto Benigni in … [Read more...] about PMP#143: Pinocchio the Unfilmable (Yet Frequently Filmed)
We cover the first chunk of Neil Gaiman's 1989 comic and its new Netflix adaptation. Mark is joined by acting coach Anthony LeBlanc, Sarahlyn Bruck, and Al Baker. What are the narrative challenges of depicting a god? What is the show's metaphysics the role of storytelling in it? Were the updates and story choices for the TV show helpful, or was the comic truly "unfilmable," … [Read more...] about PMP#139: The Sandman Cometh
Mark, Lawrence, Sarahlyn, and Al convene an emergency podcast recording to react to this brilliant, mind-blowing, possibly immoral HBO comedy docuseries, wherein Fielder supposedly helps ordinary people rehearse difficult personal confrontations, but this plan goes off the rails after 1.5 episodes out of the six that made up its first season. This series builds upon Fielder's … [Read more...] about PMP#136: Nathan Fielder’s “The Rehearsal”
Given the end of Better Call Saul, Mark, Lawrence Ware, Sarahlyn Bruck, and Al Baker discuss this strange TV "franchise" that amazingly produced a prequel that was arguably better than the original. We cover the characterization and pacing, novelistic TV vs. not having a plot roadmap in advance, and whether we want to see another installment in this world. A few articles we … [Read more...] about PMP#135: The Breaking Bad-O-Verse
We discuss the appeal of this Julian-Fellowes-penned British historical drama in light of the new film. Is this really "a new era" or just more of the same, and is that bad? Mark is joined by returning guest Jon Lamoreaux (host of The Hustle music podcast), plus a couple: former newscaster Corrinne MacLeod (whom Mark SCANDOLOUSLY went on one date with at age 12) and her … [Read more...] about PMP#127: You Down with Downton Abbey?
On the novel series and TV show written by James S.A. Corey (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). Mark is joined by fact-checker Al Baker, educator Sabrina Weiss, and voting rights guy/former reality TV editor Colin Cole. We talk about the politics, dialects, casting, message, etc. How well did this adapt to TV? Are the books actually better? Plus passive vs. active … [Read more...] about PMP#126: Political Sci-Fi in “The Expanse”
Mark is joined by rhetorician/educator Michelle Parrinello-Cason, Chris Sunami (The Pop Culture Philosopher), and award-winning former journalist Kera Mashek to discuss the recently concluded NBC drama created by Dan Fogelman. What's the message of the show, and is it a good one? Is this comfort food, or a stark portrayal of a diverse array of struggles with death, guilt, … [Read more...] about PMP#125: The Dramatics of “This Is Us”
Mark is joined by comedian Matty Goldberg; filmmaker/podcaster Rolando Nieves; and comedy juggler Josh Casey to discuss the Jackass franchise that began in 2000 in light of the new (final?) film Jackass Forever. This is perhaps our sole remaining form of popular entertainment that relies on sheer physicality, without the gamesmanship of sports. What's the appeal of this … [Read more...] about PMP#123: We Are All Jackass
Mark is joined by repeat offenders Lawrence Ware and Sarahlyn Bruck and new-to-the-podcast psych/philosophy student Michael Paskaru to talk about the Showtime TV horror-dramedy shows inspired by Jeff Lindsay's novels, in light of the revival show Dexter: New Blood. People loved this character so much that they were very mad that he didn't die at the end of the show's initial … [Read more...] about PMP#120: Dexter the Loveable Serial Killer
In light of Death on the Nile, we discuss the continuing appearance of the works of the world's most successful mystery writer in film and TV. Mark is joined by repeat guests Sarahlyn Bruck, Al Baker, and Nicole Pometti to discuss the recent Kenneth Branagh films, the Sarah Phelps TV adaptations (like The ABC Murders), the Poirot BBC TV series, and earlier films. We … [Read more...] about PMP#118: Adapting Agatha Christie
Animator/musician David Heatley, comedian Daniel Lobell, and academic/3anuts author Daniel Leonard join your host Mark Linsenmayer to discuss Charlie Brown and his author Charles Schulz from Peanuts' 1950 inception through the classic TV specials through to the various post-mortem products still emerging. What's the enduring appeal, and is it strictly for kids? We talk about … [Read more...] about PMP#116: Good Grief! Peanuts Persists
Popular shows have commented on wealth inequality by showing how dire the situation is for the poor and/or how disconnected and clueless the rich are. How effective is this type of social commentary? Mark is joined by philosopher and NY Times writer Lawrence Ware, novelist and writing professor Sarahlyn Bruck, and educator with a rhetoric doctorate Michelle Parrinello-Cason … [Read more...] about PMP#112: Class Critiques in Squid Game, Succession, etc.
Mark is joined by musician David Brookings, Gig Gab host Dave Hamilton, and OpenCulture writer Colin Marshall to discuss Peter Jackson's documentary Get Back and the enduring popularity of The Beatles. This was recorded on 12/8, the anniversary of John Lennon's death. We consider the arc of their career, the various post-mortem releases that keep our interest, why Beatles … [Read more...] about PMP#111: Our Beatles Love-Fest
Writers Sarahlyn Bruck and Kayla Dreysse join Mark to discuss how this once very popular TV show type has simultaneously become niche yet has had a tremendous influence on current prestige TV as well as reality shows. We talk about soaps' story and structure conventions, the demands on soap actors and writers, and how changing market forces and technology have affected the … [Read more...] about PMP#105: The Death of Soap Operas (Is Greatly Exaggerated)
What makes for a good comedy film or show? Funny people reading (or improvising) funny lines, right? WRONG? Mark, Erica, Brian, are joined by Heather Fink to discuss the role of the director in making a comedy (or anything else) actually good. Heather has directed for TV, film, and commercials and spent a lot of time doing sound (a boom operator or sound utility) for … [Read more...] about PMP#100: Directing Comedies w/ Heather Fink
What is it for a super-hero to represent America? Though the character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941 may have been a way to capitalize on WWII patriotism, it has since been used to ask questions about what it really means to be patriotic and how America's ideals and its reality may conflict. We're of course talking about race, a theme explored by Sam Wilson, … [Read more...] about PMP#98: The Spirit of Captain America w/ Anthony LeBlanc
Insofar as something is a TV hit at all these days, the small-town Pennsylvania murder mystery starring Kate Winslet seems to qualify, but what distinguishes it from the many 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. Should … [Read more...] about PMP#97: The Girl in the Wooder: Our Mare of Easttown Show!
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. It's jam packed with steampunk gadgets, fisticuffs, social injustice, and far too many characters and plot threads to keep track of. Given that the season was reduced to a half season in light of … [Read more...] about PMP#95: “The Nevers” With a Side of Whedon
The tech genius has become the go-to bad guy in recent films: They're our modern mad scientists with all imaginable resources and science at their command, able to release dystopic technology to surveil, control, and possibly murder us. Even Lex Luthor was made into a "tech bro" in Batman v. Superman. Mark, Erica, and Brian discuss the HBO Max series Made for Love starring … [Read more...] about PMP#93: Made for Love (and other Silicon Villainy)
Is TV ROTTING OUR MINDS? Marshall McLuhan famously said "The medium is the message," by which he meant that when we receive information, its effect on us is determined as much by the form of that information as by the actual content. Neil Postman, in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, ran with this idea, arguing that TV … [Read more...] about PMP-Partially Examined Life Crossover: Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”