In two weeks we’ll be recording our 100th episode! This calls for a celebration.
The final Toy Story film has been released. Let’s talk about Pixar and magical toys. James discusses how the theme of transformative love explored in the Toy Story films, and in other toys-coming-to-life stories, depends on an idealized view of childhood playtime that began in the Age of Enlightenment, and how that sentiment might now be fading away. Claire takes us through Pixar’s origin as a part of LucasFilm called the Graphics Group and its purchase by Steve Jobs of Apple fame. She then describes how a technology company became known for some of film’s best storytelling beginning with the first Toy Story. Our hosts concluded with their thoughts on the film and the changing ways that children spend their time.
With the release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix and its disappointing reception, it’s time to take a look back… In the wake of the film, X-Men: Apocalypse, Kyle and Claire get into the origins of the X-Men and the rivalry between Marvel and Fox Studios. Kyle breaks down the creation of the X-Men comics in the 1960s and 70s, and explains how the Civil Rights Movement influences their stories to this day. In addition to the juicy gossip of Marvel versus Fox, Claire examines the contributions of director Bryan Singer — “The Godfather of Superhero Movies”. They end the show with a discussion of the film itself, and how the talented Michael Fassbender can’t keep them from missing Ian McKellen.
With the series finale behind us we’re finally talking about HBO’s Game of Thrones! Based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling and critically acclaimed book series A Song of Ice and Fire, HBO’s flagship series put big budget fantasy back on screen and at the center of pop culture. Kyle begins by looking at the intervening years between Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films and the premier of Game of Thrones, noting Hollywood’s many failed attempts to capitalize on what could have been a boom. Claire jumps in to explain how, despite the seemingly dry well of support, show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss successfully pitched HBO on investing millions into a new fantasy adaptation. She then describes the struggle to actually produce such an ambitious project and grow it into the cultural focus it became. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on the show, the books, and GoT’s shared creative and production lineage with The Lord of the Rings.
Our latest pairing is one of epic fantasy and the visual representation of celebrated novels. We begin with The Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. Claire takes us on a tour of fantasy in film starting with earliest works in the medium, up through a relative boom of fantasy films in the 80s. Kyle then takes us on a very different film tour: the early works of Peter Jackson and his work/life partner Fran Walsh. He explains how this pair of indie filmmakers without a hit to their name came to be trusted with hundreds of millions dollars and the simultaneous production of three films. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on our new pairing and the relationship between printed and filmed versions of the two works.
Dungeons & Dragons is a beloved pastime of our entire podcast team. And with the fantasy roleplaying game’s continued renaissance in popularity it’s a great time to look at how it got here. Claire begins with a look at 19th and 20th century war games before getting into the development process of creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Kyle picks up with the tale of Gygax’s company Tactical Studies Rules–it’s rapid rise and dramatic fall, and explains the role that Wizards of the Coast has played in the game’s current success. Our hosts conclude with their thoughts on both DnD and Three Hearts and Three Lions, and the value of an imaginative game in today’s world.