Best known as a centerpiece of the Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien’s most personal tale has been unwrapped in a new book by Christopher Tolkien, his son. Kyle Willoughby and Claire White have been looking forward to its release for months. Here to share in this latest gift to fans of high fantasy are Alan Sisto and Shawn Marchese of the Tolkien-dedicated The Prancing Pony Podcast. Together, our hosts and guests discuss the biographical parallels of Beren and Lúthien to the love story of J.R.R. and his wife, Edith, as well as the critical role that Christopher has played in shaping his father’s work and legacy. The show concludes with their thoughts on the book, approaching Tolkien as a newcomer, and a sharing of their favorite passages.
Spiderman: Homecoming is the 2nd reboot of Sony’s Spiderman film franchise, and this time they’re doing it the Marvel way. Kyle Willoughby and Claire White are happy residents of Queens and it’s time to talk about their borough’s greatest superhero. Kyle begins with a look at what makes the character so beloved and so different from his peers. Claire gets into one of her favorite topics – studio intrigue. Beyond a discussion of the direction behind the film, she takes a look at how Marvel Studios came to make a movie about a character they no longer have the rights to. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on the film and Peter Parker’s past exploits.
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian tale, portraying a puritanical theocracy in America, is now a television series on Hulu. Kyle Willoughby and Claire White discuss this latest adaptation of the popular book. Claire begins with a focus on the modern tyranny of totalitarian governments, particularly in 20th century eastern Europe. She explains why the creation of an authoritarian state can be dismayingly hard to predict, and why the hope that “it can’t happen here” depends on changeable circumstances. Kyle gives some background on Atwood’s life and career, before describing the process of adapting the novel with show runner Bruce Miller. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on the show, the book, and which literary dystopia they would live in (if they had to).Show Notes
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is the latest film in the DC Universe, and a success with both fans and critics. Kyle Willoughby and Claire White are excited to talk about the Amazonian superhero, and welcome New York Magazine culture writer, Abraham Riesman to the show! Kyle starts off with a little background on Wonder Woman’s lead creator, William Moulton Marsten, and how the feminist movement and his alternative family life influenced his work. Abraham describes the context that enabled Wonder Woman’s revival in the 1980s, and the myth making of George Pérez. In our production segment, Claire looks at what it took for Wonder Woman to get a live action movie, and what it meant for a female director like Patty Jenkins to be at the helm. Our hosts and guest conclude with their thoughts on the film itself and how it differentiates itself from the rest of the DC Universe. **Spoilers at 45:00**
The conclusion of our birthday specials! We’re stepping away from current nerdy topics and indulging in our all-time favorites. Kyle’s pick is the James Cameron film, Aliens, the 1986 sequel to Ridley Scott’s, Alien. Kyle gives us a little background on the original film before launching into the genre of military science-fiction, the influence of Robert A. Heinlein, and the fight to put women in space. This was a notoriously difficult movie to shoot, and Claire covers Cameron’s fight to enforce his vision on set, as well as the impact that this piece had on its genre and women as action heroes. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on the movie, the franchise, and Cameron’s female superheroes.Show Notes
A fun bit of DSRA trivia: The birthdays of Claire White and Kyle Willoughby are only 5 days apart! We’ve decided to celebrate this special time by taking a break from current nerdy topics and enjoying some all-time favorites. Claire’s pick is Treasure Island, the pirate adventure tale by Robert Louis Stevens. She begins the episode by unraveling how pirates became so beloved in our popular culture and the role that Steven’s novel played in this. Kyle jumps in with a look at the life of author and what inspired him to write this oft-adapted classic. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on not only the book, but also the 1996 film adaptation, Muppet Treasure Island.Show Notes