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 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
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.
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)
The long-awaited debut Disney+ Marvel superhero series is... a tribute to classic sit-coms? Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Rolando from the Remakes, Reboots, and Revivals podcast try to figure out what kind of storytelling this really is, whether this experiment was successful, whether you have to be a Marvel die-hard (or old enough to have watched those sit-coms) to get it, and … [Read more...] about PMP#85: What the WandaVision!? w/ Rolando Nieves
At least 20% of us have some sort of disability, yet such conditions are reflected by only tiny portion of TV and film characterizations, and what characters are portrayed typically get played by non-disabled actors. Depictions often focus on what it's like to live with the condition. This can of course be socially beneficial, but we don't want to essentialize people as their … [Read more...] about PMP#83: Disabled and Other-Abled Representation w/ Kayla Dryesse
Did anyone suspect that the beloved 1984 "Kid Rocky" karate film (and its decreasingly beloved sequels) would now be not just remade but revived as the YouTube-Red-turned-Netflix hit Cobra Kai? Is this new show actually good, or just living unhealthily on nostalgia and the fascination of watching teens and middle aged people fistfight and fall in love. Mark-san, Erica-san, and … [Read more...] about PMP#82: Cobra Kai and the Karate Kids
On the Coen Brothers' 1996 film and Noah Hawley's 4-season TV show, an enterprise that has evolved from darkly comic morality tale to sprawling organized crime drama. Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Tamler from the Very Bad Wizards podcast explore the plaudits and criticisms of the show, covering its elaborate style, "tundra western" setting, dry humor, speechifying, gender … [Read more...] about PMP#79: The Fargo Formula w/ Tamler Sommers (Very Bad Wizards Crossover)
What explains the immense quarantine-time popularity in America of this quaint British reality cooking show? What do we get out of watching talented amateurs bake things? Stephen, who is famous for playing Scar in The Lion King on Broadway (and is VERY British himself), joins Erica, Brian, and Mark to consider the format, context, and appeal of the show. A few articles we … [Read more...] about PMP#75: Our Great British Baking Show w/ Stephen Carlile
What happens when a male android loves a female android VERY much, and they nurse human embryos together on a distant planet after fleeing from war-torn Earth? Why the female android flies and makes a bunch of people explode with her eyes, that's what happens! ...In the first episode of this bonkers HBO Max series by Aaron Guzikowski (with notable assistance from Ridley Scott … [Read more...] about PMP#68: Raised by Wolves: Biblical Sci-Fi
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 … [Read more...] about PMP#52: The Twilight Zone from Serling to Peele
The 10-part ESPN documentary dissecting Michael Jordan and the Bulls' six championships has provided some much needed sports during the pandemic, roping in even sports haters with a mix of game highlights and behind-the-scenes drama. Brian, Erica, and Mark are joined by Seth from The Partially Examined Life to interrogate the event: Was it actually worth 10 hours of our … [Read more...] about PMP#50: MJ’s Last Dance w/ Seth Paskin
Fine art and reality TV are typically rated our highest and lowest forms of entertainment, yet creative competition shows combine the two. Robin Slonina is a world-renowned body painter and served as a judge (along with RuPaul!) on the show Skin Wars. She joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to figure out the degree to which that format lets the art shine through. We also touch on … [Read more...] about PMP#48: The Arts in Reality TV w/ Skin Wars’ Robin Slonina