This week DSRA is back and tackling one of the most ambitious works in the English language–John Milton’s Paradise Lost. James starts us off by going through early cultural interpretations of Satan. He traces how versions of the Devil in folklore and medieval theatre lead to Milton’s famous take on him. Claire talks about the life of John Milton and what people, world events and institutions lead him to write one of the English language’s greatest poems. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on Paradise Lost, their preconceptions of it, and why it’s so important. They also discuss how it will tie into our next topic, The Golden Compass, book one of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.
We’re continuing our pairing of influential sci-fi radio dramas by following up our War of the Worlds episode with the BBC’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Joining us is Eli McIlveen, the creator of the scripted podcast Alba Salix and the improv podcast Civilized. Claire begins by discussing satire, breaking down its many forms and some of its earliest iterations. James discusses some of Douglass Adams’ influences (whether they were intentional or not) from the sketch group Monty Python to the author Robert Sheckley. Eli talks about the production behind the famed radio drama, including how the Radiophonic Workshop used sound effects to bring Douglass’ vision to life. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on the drama, how it has influenced Eli’s work and why we paired it with War of the Worlds.
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is one of the first and greatest science fiction novels of all time. The radio drama adaptation performed by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre is perhaps the most acclaimed and infamous broadcast of the medium. James begins by taking us through the time period surrounding “The Black War” that the British Empire waged in Tasmania and how that conflict inspired H.G. Wells to write about Martians that had similar invasion plans for England. Kyle (that’s right–Kyle Willoughby!) continues with a more light hearted segment about the beginnings of drama on radio, and the process of adapting the classic sci-fi novel into a radio program that may or may not have panicked millions. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on the show, and why we’re pairing it with BBC Radio’s production of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This episode includes a promo for The Once and Future Nerd podcast.
Halloween is almost here! It’s time for Coraline. The film was directed by Henry Selick, and is based on a novella by Neil Gaiman. James begins by explaining that the story borrows from a long line of coming-of-age fairy tales. He then compares stories from the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Madam d’Aulnoy, and Gaiman’s primary inspiration — Victorian author Lucy Clifford. Next, Claire discusses the career of Henry Selick and why Neil Gaiman entrusted him with the movie rights. She also describes the hurdles that Laika Studios overcame to survive, and the difficulty they faced making something so technically and commercially challenging. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on the film, and the Victorian connections between Coraline and Dracula. This episode features an ad from The Sartorial Geek podcast.
Dracula by Bram Stoker is one of the most influential books of horror ever written. It’s October, and right now, that’s what we’re about. Claire begins with an overview of vampire legends across the millennia. Next she focuses in on the real life conditions and circumstances that led to such widespread belief in the bloodsucking monsters. James takes a look at the life of the notoriously private and secretive author, Bram Stoker. He then considers the particular influences in contemporary literature and folklore that helped Stoker give birth to the character of Dracula. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on the book and what’s so compelling about vampires. This episode features an ad from the Dear Murder Street podcast.
We’re following up our episode on Mobile Suit Gundam with another one of the most pivotal anime ever made– Neon Genesis Evangelion. Claire starts by exploring why giant robots are such a huge part of Japanese culture, including the powerful idea of the samurai. She then goes through the different genres that make up Neon Genesis Evangelion. James explains why it was unlike the other critically acclaimed anime that came before it. He also discusses creator Hideaki Anno’s career and psychological themes. Our host’s conclude with their thoughts on the inner lives of the characters, the show’s fan service and how the series is a response to its era.