Category Archives: podcasts

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Alien: Covenant and Veep

ALIEN: COVENANTMy pal-for-life Glen Weldon is Down Under this week—like Quigley, like Jackman, like Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee—but I was glad to be part of a reduced Pop Culture Happy Hour panel along with host Linda Holmes and regular Stephen Thompson to dissect the messy but fascinating prequel-sequel Alien: Covenant and to marvel at how the political satire Veep has stayed so strong for six seasons. At the end of the episode, I give a little love to little-loved—by me, anyway—replacement 007 Sir Roger Moore, who passed away this week at the age of 89. You can hear the full episode here or embedded below.
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Handicapping The Fate of the Furious on Pop Culture Happy Hour

fast-and-furious8-1I’m on Pop Culture Happy Hour today for the first time since our bummed-out post-election Pop Culture Serotonin Spectacular. And it was all the way back in December 2015 that I last shared the studio with the great Gene Demby of the Code Switch blog and podcast, when we broke down Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I always feel things have gone well when I’m with Gene; he’s a calming presence I guess.  Most of this week’s episode was recorded live on stage in Chicago at last week, and neither Gene not I were present for that, so we’re in the first segment only. The topic is The Fate of the Furious, a film I reviewed… unfavorably. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 322: Arrival and Seratonin-Boosting Pop Culture

Amy Adams in ARRIVAL

I was delighted as always to join my friends Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Stephen Thompson, and Jessica Reedy for this week’s badly-needed Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein no one mentions politics at all because that’s not how we do on this show. Here’s the episode. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 315: The Magnificent Seven (2016) and Fleabag

Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Curiously, the lineup for this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is the same as it ever was last time I was on the show: Host Linda Holmes was once again away living a life of intrigue and excitement, leaving her pal Stephen Thompson to moderate a panel that included regular bloviator Glen Weldon and guest-talkers Tanya Ballard Brown and me. Our topics: The remake of The Magnificent Seven, which I reviewed for NPR, and Fleabag, an Amazon series written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, an English actor of whom I was previously unaware. One of these two items is terrific! Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 307: Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad

SS Group-R

Beloved Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes is at the Television Critics Association gathering in Los Angeles this week, so Tanya Ballard Brown and I joined regular panelists Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon for an uncharacteristically reserved episode. By which I mean, neither of the big summer movies we autopsied, Jason Bourne and Suicide Squad, is very good, though the latter is much worse. I had hopes for both of them, because I admire their directors, Paul Greengrass and David Ayer, very much, and I’ve tended to like their work. You know what late-summer release was not a big letdown? Star Trek Beyond. I endorse it. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 298: X-Men: Apocalypse and Supervillans

xmen298

My four-or-five-year tenure buying The Uncanny X-Men faithfully each month had expired by No. 298, cover-dated March 1993. Neither Daoud nor I could identify anyone on the cover with certainty save for Bishop and Gambit.

On this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I join host Linda Holmes and regular panelist Stephen Thompson — and, I am excited to tell you, fellow guest-star Daoud Tyler-Ameen, who sounds and is smarter than any of us — to search or feelings in RE: X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s Bryan Singer’s fourth X-Men movie and third X-Men prequel and second trilogy capper, so no preamble required. I have done the math, and Apocalypse is the second-worst of the six X-Men features. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, even by the relaxed standards of coherence that govern superhero movies, but I didn’t hate it. Anyway, you can listen to the podcast here.

For more of my feelings, please see my NPR review of the film. And for a much longer discussion of do-overs in long-lived franchises, see this essay that I published on The Dissolve last year. I believe that The Dissolve shall, like Jean Grey, rise again. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 288: Batman v Superman and Objects We Desire

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of JusticeI was happy as always to join Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and my Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein we perform an autopsy on the rotten corpse of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Based on my defense of Man of Steel on this show three years ago I was, I think, expected to stick up for BvS. I  could not.

Since none of us liked this film — in fact we all disliked it so much that the controversial issue of Henry Cavill’s height never even came up — we decided to broaden the topic to try to pin down the elements that make a would-be action blockbuster work or not work. I forgot to say so on the show, but I wrote about this for Linda two summers ago after helping the staff of The Dissolve, may it rest in peace, to determine the 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters. Continue reading