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PodmassPodmassIn 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.

Bake Off, Undressed
With Benji from GBBO Season 7


PG-rated internet thirst trap Matt Adlard has been baking up sugary designer confections on his YouTube channel as the Topless Baker for about two years now. In a Sisyphean twist of fate, the British social media star’s success as an amateur pâtissier disqualifies him from consideration as a contestant on The Great British Bake Off—an obsession of his—which strictly forbids anyone who’s been paid for their bakes. So instead, Adlard and his toned arms fan out each week with a guest on his new half-hour podcast, quickly breaking down installments of GBBO series nine and then comparing thoughts. Previous episodes have featured cake expert and consultant Juliet Sear, whose Bake Off responsibilities include gussying up goodies for ads, and twin podcast personalities Niki and Sammy. This week’s episode features the first guest with a personal knowledge of what it’s like inside the tent. It’s a delightful chat full of behind-the-scenes tidbits, and it features disclosures like how bakers, for editing purposes, must wear the same clothes two days in a row, chocolate smudges be damned. One adorable bit of news: Benji, along with fellow series-seven vets, will collectively bake cakes for Candice Brown’s upcoming wedding. [Dan Jakes]

Behind The Bastards
Part One: How Hollywood Helped The Nazis


The axiom about evil triumphing amid the inaction of others was borne out when Hitler met Hollywood. One researcher goes so far as to label the relationship between the two as a collaboration. Though his is not a universally held view, it’s a fact that American movie studios edited classic films like All Quiet On The Western Front and King Kong for German audiences at the behest of the Nazi regime. Furthermore, the same studios removed some, but not all, Jewish employees from Germany when the Nazis asked, along with scaling back the number of Jewish characters in American movies, and even quashing an anti-Nazi script before it could be filmed. According to HowStuffWorks’ Behind The Bastards, Hollywood’s appeasement seems primarily motivated by financial interests, although there was some concern by at least a few Jewish studio executives that aggressive criticism of the Nazis could lead to persecution of American Jews, as German fascism wasn’t exactly unpopular in the U.S. during most of the ’30s. We also get a fun rundown of Thomas Edison’s anti-immigrant sentiments and Hitler’s cinema habits. [Zach Brooke]

Dr. Death


Dr. Death, the latest offering from Wondery, is a clear spiritual sequel to the network’s earlier success Dirty John, a collaboration with the L.A. Times that The A.V. Club praised for avoiding true-crime tropes in favor of incredible reporting and storytelling. Similarly, Dr. Death is expertly reported by host Laura Beil, who takes listeners on a spine-tingling journey as she unfolds the story of neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch and “a medical system that failed to protect [its] patients at every possible turn.” Already four episodes in, Dr. Death spends this week explaining one of the many errors that allowed Duntsch to continue his malpractice, sneaking from hospital to hospital before being sentenced to life in prison in the winter of 2017. Shining a light on an ill-equipped (or as the podcast presents it, “spineless”) medical system, Wondery provides another masterclass in investigative reporting, highlighting the terrifying truth that there’s currently no rigid system in place to keep crimes like the ones detailed here from happening again. [Becca James]

Gadget Lab
Where Social Media Is Going, There Are No Roads


Wired’s podcast tries to read the tea leaves of social media regulation following recent Congressional testimony of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Even though Google no-showed (possibly because of rumors the company is preparing to release a Great Firewall of China–compliant version of its search engine), the session is being hailed as more productive than Zuck’s trip to Congress back in April. But there were no big reveals, according to Wired reporter Issie Lapowsky, who is pessimistic the summit will lead to any legislation given the dysfunction of Congress. There’s also little advancement in the debate over whether social media itself can be fixed beyond banning individual bad actors like Alex Jones, who helpfully showed up at the hearings acting a fool. Twitter’s bot crackdown and Facebook’s recent ad transparency are small industry-led changes, but the larger problems of algorithms recommending outrageous and possibly dangerous content remains unsolved. One tactic Lapowsky doesn’t think is a solution is lobbying users to delete their Facebook pages. Social media has changed the world so much that there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. [Zach Brooke]

In Voorhees We Trust With Gourley And Rust
Episode III

When Matt Gourley and Paul Rust announced that they would be starting a Friday The 13th rewatch podcast, fans of comedy, horror, and podcasts in general rejoiced. One month in and that enthusiasm feels increasingly warranted. Gourley and Rust have fantastic chemistry as co-hosts because, at heart, they’re both charming dorks who unabashedly love this series of (occasionally corny) slasher movies. While other franchise rewatch podcasts get bogged down in needless nitpicking, episodes of In Voorhees We Trust—which regularly clock in at twice the length of the films they’re discussing—feel like genuine discussions between two friends excitedly recounting their favorite characters, favorite kills, and their best guesses at explaining the series’ complex chronology. This episode, covering Part III, marks a turning point in the franchise where producers began relying on self-parody and gimmick, which explains the film’s use of 3D technology. The victims are less likable and the lake is noticeably fake, but we do get to see Jason don his iconic hockey mask for the first time. Gourley and Rust’s wild tangents and penchant for dad humor will only help this podcast as it ventures further into the series’ less cogent films. [Dan Neilan]


The McElroy Brothers Will Be In Trolls 2
Chapter 6


They did it. They actually did it. In May of last year, the McElroy brothers (My Brother, My Brother, And Me; The Adventure Zone; a million other podcasts) hatched a wild, edibles-fueled scheme: They were going to launch a new prestige podcast based on the premise that they were definitely going to appear in the next Trolls movie despite having absolutely no idea how they were going to make that happen. Now, 16 months and six episodes later, they can publicly confirm that DreamWorks Animation has offered each of them a minor speaking role in the upcoming Trolls World Tour. Their inclusion in the film was, of course, always a foregone conclusion for the boys, but it’s fun to hear their faux bravado and cocksureness butt up against the realization that, holy shit, this might actually happen. That’s not to say they can’t still screw this up. Yes, they’ve each been offered a role. Yes, the story of their triumph was featured in Vanity Fair. But Trolls World Tour doesn’t come out until 2020, which leaves plenty of time for them to bungle the whole thing or, at the very least, make a few more episodes. [Dan Neilan]

This Particular Album is Very, Very Important To Me
Ted Leo And The Pharmacists’ Hearts Of Oaks with Alex Fernie 


It’s instinctual to imbue music with personal associations in such a way that listening to a specific song immediately transports the listener back to the moment and emotional state in which the song was first heard. This phenomenon is at the heart of This Particular Album Is Very, Very Important To Me, in which hosts Joel Spence and Deborah Tarica are joined by a guest who unpacks the personal significance of a specific release. As ever, they start off with the segment “This Particular Song Is Very, Very Important To Me.” Spence’s selection is “Juke Box Hero” by Foreigner, while Tarica opts for Beyonce’s “Love On Top,” which she walked down the aisle to at her wedding—a relevant selection for this episode, given that its guest is Tarica’s husband, Alex Fernie. The comedy writer and director discusses Hearts Of Oak by Ted Leo And The Pharmacists, detailing how he first received it as a burned CD from a friend in college and further reflecting on the 2003 album’s ability to achieve a celebratory nostalgia in much the same way the podcast itself does through its very premise. [Jose Nateras]

Uncover: Escaping NXIVM
The Branding


Well, you knew this was coming. The story of NXIVM, a bizarre, deeply misogynistic sex cult that somehow counted Hollywood actors like Allison Mack and Kristin Kreuk among its ranks, was just too strange a story not to get its own documentary treatment. The first in-depth look at the cult comes via the CBC’s investigative Uncover podcast. Host Josh Bloch foregrounds his series with Sarah Edmondson, a former high-ranking member whom, oddly enough, he also knows from his own childhood. Rather than a lurid tell-all, the series is more interested in understanding how someone like Edmondson—a smart, independent woman from a good family—would submit herself to someone like NXIVM’s monstrous leader, Keith Raniere. One of Raniere’s most extreme requests was that members brand themselves, and it’s in Edmondson’s description of not only the branding process but also the pretzeled logic the cult’s women used to justify it that this debut episode finds its power. Edmondson is an articulate, empathetic narrator, asking her past self why she didn’t run when the impulse first hit her. The answer, as we all tend to learn at some point in our lives, contains multitudes. [Randall Colburn]

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