Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Photo: Warner Bros.
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.

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.

Brews And Blasters: Star Wars Podcast Party
Rob Zombie Voice

Hosts Chris Salton and Joe Tavano give a very Bostonian take on all things Star Wars each week on Brews And Blasters. This is the start of the hosts’ busy time of year as the Star Wars marketing machine is armed and fully operational in anticipation of the release of The Last Jedi this December. This week, Pumking Imperial Ale is on the menu as the boys dig into their Force Friday haul. Explaining what it means to “shop like gentleman,” the hosts’ midnight quest for a Hera action figure might even appeal to cynics who think that Star Wars is simply a vessel for selling toys, revealing a dorky camaraderie amongst the fans. This episode is definitely for the collectors: Star Wars toys have come a long way from the empty box sold in Christmas of ’77, and the hosts review the first wave of Last Jedi action figures before debating cloth robes versus plastic and the detailed armor on the new baddies (the Praetorian Guards). [Mike Vanderbilt]

F This Movie!

On the latest F This Movie!, host Patrick Bromley is joined by filmmaker Joe Maddrey to discuss the latest big-screen adaption of Stephen King’s It. Maddrey opens the show with the confession that while he liked It, he might have enjoyed last month’s maligned Dark Tower adaptation even more. The It 1990 miniseries is touched on as the two discuss the necessity of setting the film in 1989 rather than the late ’50s, an appeal to a generation that grew up with the novel as well as potential audiences’ nostalgia for the era as stoked by Stranger Things. (Full disclosure: Spoilers abound for the film, the book, and the imminent follow-up film in this deep exploration by two longtime King enthusiasts.) Highlights include an exploration of Sophia Lillis’ nuanced performance of Beverly as both the strongest and most vulnerable character in the film, the herky-jerky jump-scare editing, and whether boys in the ’80s actually liked New Kids On The Block. [Mike Vanderbilt]

Frontline Dispatch

Child Marriage In America


PBS investigative series Frontline is the latest legacy media entrant into the world of podcasting, with producer Sophie McKibben making a compelling case that some stories are best told through the intimacy of audio. The opening exhibit, so to speak, concerns the prevalence of child marriage in the U.S. There have been more than 200,000 minors legally married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2015, including high-profile cases like Courtney Stodden. Less well known but equally shocking is the marriage of Heather, who is featured in the episode. Heather was 14 when she met 24-year-old Aaron at her father’s fly-fishing shop. After Heather found out she was pregnant, her family decided marriage was the best option, partially out of respect for the tradition of bearing babies in wedlock and partially out of a desire to keep Heather’s boyfriend from going to prison. Heather’s father drives the couple from Idaho to Missouri, where they wed immediately after Heather’s 15th birthday. Spoiler alert: They don’t live happily ever after. [Zach Brooke]

Hanging Out With Audiophiles
Patrick Carney


Imagine the film Two-Lane Blacktop, but with compressors and line mixers instead of carburetors and intake valves. Hanging Out With Audiophiles is essentially just a couple of music gearheads getting dizzily granular with their common fascination. For his new podcasting project, British soul singer and producer Jamie Lidell will sit down with respected names from an array of positions within the music industry to discuss their preferred methods for capturing sounds and assembling them into songs. In this debut episode, he and Black Keys drummer-producer Patrick Carney spend the better part of an hour reminiscing on the romance of 4-track cassette recorders and lamenting the rise of digital perfectionism. Be forewarned: These guys are not talking down to an audience of laypeople. They’re having an in-depth conversation near a microphone. Unless you’ve spent a decent amount of time laying down tracks in a professional studio, there will likely be times when your eyes go crossed and your jaw hangs slack. But the opportunity to listen in on this ardent chat provides its own kind of tranquility. Those unfamiliar with Lidell or Carney’s music should not feel unwelcome. This is more about the process than the product. [Dennis DiClaudio]

Hidden Brain
Regrets, I Have A Few …


Everyone has regrets, and man, can they be painful. By some accounts, they are the most common negative emotion humans experience. But are all regrets the same, and can be they useful? Psychology professor Amy Summerville, who runs the Regret Lab at Miami University in Ohio, says no and yes, respectively, with the caveat that excessive reenactment of regretful situations can be a symptom of more significant mental health issues. Some regrets are tied to guilt when we fall short of our personal standards, while others center on unseized opportunity. Sometimes regret is entirely situational, based on the distance between our predicament and our ideal outcome. Evidence exists in a photo study of Olympic medalists: while on the podium, the silver medalists actually display subtle pained expressions suggesting they are upset they didn’t perform well enough to win gold, whereas the bronze medalists seem elated to have distinguished themselves from the crowd enough to win any medal. Regret in all these forms, Summerville says, can be helpful to our future experiences. [Zach Brooke]

Pod Save America
Hillary Clinton


There is so much to say about Hillary Clinton, the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination, but the description of this week’s Pod Save America is easily the show’s shortest: “What Happened.” Coming from the title of Clinton’s new book, its brevity is genius, but maybe more so when offered up as a question instead of a declaration, as it allows Clinton to tell her own story, and she does so with surprising candor. Clinton pulls no punches, speaking on everything and everyone from Bernie Sanders to James Comey, who she asserts ultimately cost her the election. Her comments about Donald Trump, however logical, are the most stirring, perhaps because they give voice to what so many are thinking: “If I had lost to a Republican—a normal Republican—of course I’d be disappointed and I’d be really upset with myself, but this is beyond anything I had imagined.” [Becca James]

Lost In Time


Presented by Snap Judgment and WNYC Studios, Spooked is also hosted by Glynn Washington and features stories of supernatural encounters as told by the people who experienced them. With sound design that brings the stories to eerie life, the vocal qualities and natural delivery of the storytellers leaves listeners feeling close to the encounters, as though they might have happened to a friend or relative. The first story tells of a roadside bar in Northern Wisconsin. When two travelers pull in late one night, they find themselves the focus of more attention then they’d like by the bar’s patrons, all of whom seem to be portrayed in the large mural on the opposite wall. As the encounter grows more and more surreal, the travelers start to make out two new figures in the mural. A second story tells of a family moving into a home haunted by the spirit of a woman who had killed herself. The program’s production quality and adept storytelling is enough to give you goosebumps; not the “scary” of jump-inducing contemporary horror movies, but a subtle and sinking sensation of a more familiar sort of fear. [Jose Nateras]

The Bechdel Cast
Grease 2 with Solomon Georgio


This week on The Bechdel Cast, Caitlin Durante and Jamie Loftus are joined by the lovely Solomon Georgio to discuss Grease 2 and all its pink ladies. They agree this sequel is far superior to Grease: Sure, it’s not a “feminist masterpiece,” as Durante observes—most of the action is still centered around which guy Stephanie (Michelle Pfeiffer) will decide to date—but it’s a huge step up from the casual rape jokes and coerced makeovers of the first film. At least this female lead makes decisions for herself and knows what she wants, which, of course, is a “Cool Rider” (which Georgio claims is the best of all Grease songs and can stand alone as a great pop song). The trio praise Michael (Maxwell Caulfield), categorizing him as a hot Phantom Of The Opera type who definitely goes down on women, while noting the toxic masculinity of the T Birds and Frenchy’s flawed yet enchanting life. There’s singing, Danny Zuko–hating, Loftus calling characters “dumb as rocks” repeatedly, an Alfred Molina update, and everything you’d want from a classic Bechdel Cast episode. [Rebecca Bulnes]

The Unseen Hour
Hebe - The Fountain Of Dark Waters


Here’s one for Welcome To Night Vale fans. Recorded in front of a live audience at London’s Rosemary Branch Theatre each week, The Unseen Hour offers up an absurd horror-comedy podcast in the style of an old-time radio melodrama. Three performers play nine roles, doing all their own foley work to tell the story of Rufus Strideforth. This week, the focus is on their protagonist’s search for eternal youth, which manages to bring both the horror and the humor in equal measure. As is custom, this tale is interrupted by a five-minute guest monologue as well as a musical interlude. Clocking in around the half hour mark, The Unseen Hour offers a fun escape from the world. [Becca James]

We Hate Movies
It (1990)


By and large, when folks say they love the screen adaptation of It, what they’re really saying is, “I love Tim Curry as Pennywise. In this lively season-eight premiere, hosts Andrew Jupin, Eric Szyszka, Stephen Sajdak, and Chris Cabin poke fun at the ABC made-for-TV adaptation’s plodding, ponytailed, puppet-stomping two hours and 45 minutes: “It’s Stephen King. We’re all just fuckin’ around in a rock quarry, aren’t we?” The gang delves into the world of Derry, Maine; when in a horror movie is the appropriate time to commit suicide; how Harry Anderson’s godawful stand-up led to the rise of Jay Leno; and what on earth King was thinking when he wrote the book’s notorious “bonding” sewer scene. There’s no shortage of great comedians trash-talking bad movies on the internet, but We Hate Movies consistently sets itself apart by taking aim at sacred cows like It that haven’t been heavily tread in the so-bad-it’s-good zeitgeist. It’s an auspicious episode on which to start the new season, and if Hollywood keeps up the performance it showcased this summer, We Hate Movies won’t be running out of prime material anytime soon. [Dan Jakes]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter