Screenshot: Inception

In Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.


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Blank Check
Inception

Maybe it’s the Christopher Nolan filmography, or perhaps it’s the fact that Griffin Newman is finally done filming The Tick and the Two Friends are back together again—whatever the case, Blank Check has really been hitting its stride in The Pod Knight Casts miniseries. In one of their most ambitious and entertaining episodes yet, they tackle Inception, a film that should be well-worn territory by now, particularly exhausted by takes from a couple of nerdy white guys. But against all odds, this episode feels fresh. Due in no small part to the shifting of the episode’s structure as they “go deeper” and create podcasts within podcasts, this episode is some of the most dumb fun the show has had while still staying true to its thesis. Whether it’s examining the way the movie is a metaphor for filmmaking or meticulously going through the members of Leo’s Pussy Posse, there’s a specific verve and excitement in the way they cover this installment in the series. Even David Sims surrenders to the “podcast within a podcast” gimmick. And when Sims gets loose, it’s bound to be an especially good time.

[Rebecca Bulnes]


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Imaginary Capital Partners
BASEketball

Imaginary Capital Partners is a lot like Shark Tank, but for famous fictional businesses. Offering (in the podcast’s words) “a quasi-business, quasi-comedic” look into the likes of, say, Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory or Dunder Mifflin, hosts Danny and Jasper evaluate each business venture as a potential fictional investment opportunity for their “deep pools of fictional capital,” determining if one should buy, sell, or synergize. The duo dive deep into each business, estimating revenue and profit and discussing private equity roll-ups and SWOT analysis. In the latest episode, they focus on a particular personal interest as they attempt to fulfill Danny’s lifelong dream of owning a professional “basketball (adjacent) team,” while still staying true to their business acumen. Anyone can be a sports hero, but can anyone own, operate, and profit from a team of sports heroes? Tune in to find out.

[Becca James]


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Talk Of Shame
So Like, Tim Allen Or Buzz Lightyear?

Hosted by the “self-deprecating” women of humorous college news site The Black Sheep, Talk Of Shame is a podcast about “what it’s like to be young, dumb, and full of cum in Chicago.” Addie, Andrea, and Mackenzie offer hysterical stories about anything from proper dick pic etiquette to some of the grossest things they’ve found in dudes’ rooms. The candid nature of the podcast lends itself well to creating a fun and relatable environment for anyone who knows the pitfalls of young adulthood. In this week’s episode, for instance, Addie talks about her very first date in a way that pulls listeners in and will have them reminiscing about their own dating mishaps. The episode is rounded out by a hilarious game of Would You Rather: fuck the Pixar character or the man who voices him? (Hence the episode title.) Listen to find out if it’s the comedian or the astronaut who comes out on top.

[Becca James]


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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
Urinetown

The Freakonomics guy has his own Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Billed as “live journalism wrapped in a game show package,” the show invites a series of experts to relate factoids from their disciplines in the hopes the audience will find the information new, useful, and true. “New,” of course, is based on whether others have heard the story before. “Useful” is more of an eye-of-the-beholder assessment. And “truth” is verified on the spot by an in-house fact checker, who often sprinkles more crumbs of wisdom into the discussion. The subjects for this episode (the season-three finale) speak on sign language, tahini, cockroaches, urine, tattoos, regional slang, and graffiti. Despite the episode’s title, the urine expert doesn’t dwarf the rest of the field. Rather, experts have an uncanny knack for repeatedly referencing urine across a series of unrelated discussions. It turns out urine was instrumental in the creation of fireworks, as well as a one-time component of some tattoo inks. And host Stephen Dubner distinctly remembers when his brothers went all New-Agey with their diets and started eating a lot of tahini, which reminded him of “old socks and urine.”

[Zach Brooke]


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The Meme Team
Episode 4

The Meme Team is the brainchild of writer-director Tony Zaret. Each week, he and his guests discuss whatever memes (“an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another”) come their way. This week’s episode features a crack team of meme experts—Bardia Salimi, Trevor Lyon, and Keaton Monger—ranking a series of memes selected by Zaret. The ranking system is as follows: Share if it’s brilliant, like if it’s kind of funny, scroll if you don’t get it, or report if it offends your palate. On the agenda for this episode are the Jay Z and Beyoncé vegan meme, one that has something to do with K-pop, and a Danny Glover church meme that is “deep fried,” according to the hosts, that is, it’s been stolen and shared so many times that its pixels look like they’ve been left out in the sun. The centerpiece of the show is when the hosts reveal what they would do if “Idris Elba” showed up to their door in the middle of the night.

[Mike Vanderbilt]


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The Rewatchables
A Few Good Men

By this point, many of us would listen to Bill Simmons speak on just about anything. The Ringer mastermind has been especially interested in film as of late, dedicating several episodes of his own podcast to in-depth discussions of sports movies. Now, with his brand-new podcast, The Rewatchables, he’s broadened that concept to encompass the kinds of movies that he (and his staff) are literally unable to pull themselves away from when they air (and air, and air) on TNT or wherever else. The first proper episode of the podcast centers around 1992’s Tom Cruise-led A Few Good Men and features Simmons alongside Ringer editors Chris Ryan and Amanda Dobbins, the latter of whom claims to have seen the first 20 minutes two times and the rest of it at least 50 times. The hour-long discussion is filled with laughs, criticism, trivia, and plenty of digressions about Julia Roberts, the film’s many cameos, and how completely unforgivable it is that Kevin Bacon would just up and abandon a pickup basketball game. Also, did Santiago have it coming? Hot takes? Simmons floats ’em.

[Randall Colburn]


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The Sound Of Fear
1977-1984

The Sound Of Fear has been exploring the connection between horror films and music, kickstarting its premiere episode at 1922 and working toward the modern era. The most recent podcast focuses on 1977 through 1984, a range that saw the birth of the American slasher film with John Carpenter’s Halloween. With a concentration on the Italian horror of Dario Argento and Mario Bava and their contemporaries, the episode traces the evolution of the detective stories cum terror tales of giallo to the masked men who terrorized multiplexes throughout the ’80s. The show makes for a nice companion piece to J. Blake Fichera’s book, Scored To Death: Conversations With Some Of Horror’s Greatest Composers (which gets a mention on the show). The podcast showcases a “greatest hits” of horror music, covering Goblin’s Suspiria score, Carpenter’s Halloween, and Harry Manfredini’s Friday The 13th, topping things off with Charles Bernstein’s grimy score for A Nightmare On Elm Street. It’s an excellent primer for newcomers to the genre and provides insight on less-appreciated scores, such as Alan Howarth’s work on Halloween II.

[Mike Vanderbilt]

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