A Seattle-based podcast about games, comics, superheroes, zombies, robots, wizards, dinosaurs, and other things relevant to your interests. We're SJW FTW, and we’ve been nerding out about nerd stuff since way before everybody was a nerd.
With Mary on assignment, Paul and Rob discussed Preacher–both the new AMC TV series starring Dominic Cooper and the old-ish Vertigo comics series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. While the title has some legendary problems for those of us with a SJW bent, there’s some worthwhile storytelling and some complicated feminism, so we’re at least partly on board. And the series has made some interesting choices, including race-bending one of the primary characters, so we’re hopeful that it will leave the uglier stuff out entirely.
For some reason (let’s blame the booze), we didn’t get around to discussing the extremely problematic character Arseface. Here’s hoping the AMC series treats disability better than the comics did.
After a festival of bizarre tech issues, it’s finally time for Daredevil 2: Elektra Boogaloo. Mary and Rob are all caught up, while Paul don’t give a fuck. We still dive into spoilers, so beware if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to learn its dark secrets prematurely.
While discussing the various gangs, we were wracking our brains to come up with the name of the Latino gang. Turns out they didn’t really have one–they were just “cartel gangsters.” We’re not sure if that flat, boring name reflects their own icy professionalism or the writers’ decision to anonymize nonwhite bad guys on the show. What do you think?
We turn our steely gaze to The X-Files now that its new season has crept to a weird, abrupt halt. As ever, Rob and Paul couldn’t quite make it all the way through six hours of viewing in time to record the show, but Mary and special guest star Jo Jo Stiletto more than compensated with their deep, unsparing knowledge and affection for the series. We had a blast gabbing with Jo Jo, and will be sure to have her back as soon as her busy schedule permits.
in case you missed season 10, here’s a great recap:
X-Files News is the terrific, FOX-approved site Jo Jo mentioned.
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Jo Jo Stiletto is a burlesque producer, performer and historian who explores the intersection of feminism and pop culture. As an expert on burlesque and fandom, she has presented at events like the National Women’s Studies Association’s Annual Conference, GeekGirlCon, Nerd Nite, and has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, NPR and more. Her works have included sold‐out events like Whedonesque Burlesque, The Burl‐X‐Files, Bechdel Test Burlesque and Guardians of the Sexy with Emerald City Comicon.
We originally called this episode “Dogshit Express,” but we decided to sacrifice punch for clarity. If you know us at all, you know that we have complicated feelings about quality when it comes to our genre entertainment. E.g., Mary loves what she calls “shitty vampire things,” but that doesn’t keep her from loving less shitty or even shit-free diversions.
UPDATE: See LINKS for Al-Anon info.
Sometimes, though, a movie or show can transcend its shittiness and turn into something wonderful. Rob makes the case that the godawful FOX show Lucifer (elevator pitch: “She’s a cop! I’m the devil! We solve crimes!”) does just that. We contrast that with the inexcusable Heroes Reborn and that limp shrug with a special effects budget, The Shannara Chronicles. You may want to wipe your shoes after listening.
So Marvel and Netflix just announced the casting of Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell on Game of Thrones) as Iron Fist in the upcoming series rounding out The Defenders. We think Jones is great–but we’re sympathetic to the growing chorus of voices arguing that the role should go to an Asian actor.
There are two main thrusts to the arguments we’ve seen: We need more Asian leads across the board, and the Iron Fist character in particular is a troubling example of the lame old trope of the white guy being a natural at the other guy’s cultural heritage–and is therefore in dire need of revision. Agreed! With that in mind, and knowing full well that the casting is locked and loaded, here are our suggestions for any alternate universes still in need of advice:
We got curious about ratings mid-chat, and it turns out that while AC mapped pretty closely to Agents of SHIELD‘s numbers last year, it’s lagging quite a bit this year. Add that to Hayley Atwell’s new gig and we’re pessimistic about the chances of a season 3. Prove us wrong, Marvel and ABC!
You know we’re all huge Fallout 4 fans, so when AC chose “Pistol Packin’ Mama” to highlight the awesomeness of Team Peggy as they started out on their heist, we lost our shit. Unfortunately, we can’t find a decent clip. Check it out midway through episode 6!
It’s another delicious Nerdhole Sandwich! Mary delves deep into the underwater horror game Soma, Rob explains his tentative endorsement of Legends of Tomorrow, and Paul shares his delight for the tower defense game Kingdom Rush. So filling.
I watched the first two episodes of The Shannara Chronicles last night, and my feelings are well and thoroughly mixed. Please remember that I’m the illiterate one here at Nerdhole, so of course I haven’t read the books despite their near-ubiquity when I was a teen. That means I’m unencumbered with baggage related to characters or plot or setting–but it seems as if the producers of the show may have the same issue.
Don’t get me wrong–it’s not bad through and through, and there are elements that stack up well against the best genre television out there. The production design is gorgeous, with sets and costumes and makeup that draw in the viewer just as well as another famous fantasy production filmed in New Zealand. But once the beautiful actors open their pouty little mouths, the jig is up. If you’re the sort of viewer who wants your intelligence respected, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The writers seem to resent exposition as much as the most hated chore, like a frat bro’s approach to foreplay. This makes some of the dialogue jarringly bad, and when it’s paired with some of the less-talented actors in the cast, it makes for an excruciating, eye-rolling grind.
So yeah, disappointing, right? But somehow, despite myself, despite my self-respect, I’m in. It really is beautiful, and the overarching story does seem cool and worthwhile even if it is layered in occasionally crappy dialogue. I don’t like that side of me, or of nerd culture a whole, but I will accept it. Provisionally. Same goes for The Shannara Chronicles.
Most of us lucky enough to have played in a kickass RPG campaign have dreamed of bringing our adventures to the page or the screen–and now we know that it can be done. The Expanse, currently running on Syfy, is based on a series of books with a storied RPG history. Paul schools Mary and Rob on that very engaging history as we explore our fascination and frustration with the show.
This deep article from Barnes and Noble lays out the history of the franchise at great length.
I liked Heroes well enough. The first season had its charm as it positioned itself as a sort of X-Files for superheroes. Memorable characters and interesting reveals kept things moving along briskly until later seasons drove the jetpack into the dirt. It was all kinds of stinky and who-cares by the time the Carnival of Evil met its fate, and nobody was sorry to see the show get cancelled.
And then it came back, just a few years later, and somehow we weren’t wary enough. I was cautiously optimistic after watching the season opener of Heroes Reborn, partly because of its emphasis on Jack Coleman’s iconic Noah Bennet/HRG character and partly because I am a dupe and a fool. Offensively stupid plotting and amateurish acting couldn’t make up for impressive effects and fight choreography. And the dialogue…good god, who do they think we are? It’s like they took the dumbest lines they could imagine and then ran them through Google Translate a few times. Yeesh.
Yet I keep watching. Not as penance (though I deserve it), but as a witness to what I hope is the death rattle of the pre-Jessica Jones era. I have to believe that genre TV is getting forced out of its complacency by shows with interesting characters, believable plots and dialogue, compelling design, and a general commitment to trusting their viewers’ intelligence. We may look back on 2015-6 as the dawn of a nerdy golden age, as long as we never have to deal with Heroes Renewed.