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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Food” with Andrew Sleighter
Groomzillas is a podcast “by grooms, for grooms, and everyone in between” hosted by grooms-to-be Dan Gill and Eric Dadourian. This week they’re joined by fellow comedian Andrew Sleighter and caterer Chris Register to discuss wedding food. Dadourian dreams of Zankou Chicken for his wedding, while Gill plans to replace his wedding cake with soft-serve ice cream. Dadourian also tells the story of his wild last day as a wedding bartender in Palm Springs, while Sleighter talks marriage and the nightmare of getting sick at your own wedding. Register—an actual wedding expert, unlike the Groomzillas guests they’ve had thus far—offers tips and cautionary tales from his experiences as a caterer. This show has an easygoing charm that comes from both a simple format (funny guys talking sincerely about love and marriage) and the chemistry between best friends Dadourian and Gill. A podcast with genuine friendship at its core is a guaranteed endearing listen, and these groomzillas have a positive banter that clearly comes from a true love for each other, their fiancées, and the Dodgers. Perhaps not in that order, but either way, it adds up to some delightful podcasting. [Rebecca Bulnes]
I Think You’re Interesting
Vox’s I Think You’re Interesting is as straightforward as the title suggests: each week, host (and A.V. Club alum) Todd VanDerWerff invites someone of general interest on for a detailed look into their career. It’s a simple premise that produces stunning results. Take this week, for example, when Kellie Martin stops by. Known mostly for her work on the critically acclaimed ’90s family drama Life Goes On (now best remembered as the first TV show to have a major character with Down syndrome) and the ubiquitous hit ER, Martin reveals that her character’s death in the latter (“one of the most terrifying moments in ER history”) was nowhere near as harrowing as what was going on in her life behind the scenes. Her vulnerability is enthralling, a testament to both VanDerWerff’s skills and the notion that podcasting lends itself to a more intimate interaction between interviewer and celebrity. The podcast contains many more revealing stories with an actor whose 35-year-long career has seen her work with everyone from Patti LuPone to the Mad Men crew. [Becca James]
Godzilla ‘98 LIVE Discussion!
This episode of the Kaijusaurus podcast presents the raw audio of a live discussion between hosts Steven, Ross, and Laura regarding Roland Emmerich’s 1998 film Godzilla originally broadcast on Facebook Live a few days prior. Steven, the Kaiju connoisseur, brings his expertise to the conversation (along with returning guest host Laura) while Ross, newcomer to the Kaiju genre, provides a fresher perspective. Steven’s affection for the genre/series is apparent, and Ross and Laura’s commitment to diving into the films makes for a fun listen for anyone who has shared a movie they love with a friend who’s up for it. The three level a lot of valid criticism against a movie with a reputation for being bad—in particular, the political implications of changing the source of the film’s causal nuclear activity from the U.S. to France—while still enjoying themselves. And the trio is Scotland-based, so audiences less familiar with the dialect will enjoy listening for that too. [Jose Nateras]
Mission To Zyxx
All Hail The Federated Alliance!
A mashup of improv and science fiction, this new narrative offering centers around the exploits of a hapless crew of diplomats from the Federated Alliance, recent victors in the war against the Galactic Monarchy, as they attempt to normalize relations with inhabitants of the far-flung Zyxx quadrant. The debut episode sees farmboy-turned-ambassador Pleck Decksetter bungle an attempt to normalize relations with Zyxx residents without consulting his briefing materials, igniting an attack when his attempt to placate the Grand Kula with a complementary koozie falls flat. This leads to a painful recounting of the episode to Junior Missions Operations Manager Nermut Bundaloy, who engages in a passive-aggressive back-and-forth with the crew over who can humiliate the other the worst by stringent adherence to federation protocol. Rounding out the crew are Dar, the horny security officer hindered by both rules preventing her from carrying a gun and her jarring alien appearance, and C-53, the know-it-all android perfectly programed to point out others’ failings. Also part of the team is their bitter and bitchy ship Bargie, who has not adjusted well to the present after a glamorous past working with some of the universe’s most respected celebrities. [Zach Brooke]
My Neighbors Are Dead
Predator With Tim Baltz
The joy of My Neighbors Are Dead is that the concept ties each new character to a larger universe (of horror films), and that context rids each episode of the chore of exposition, and it thrives because these characters are tangential. They begin loosely connected to the horror stories we know, but what’s exciting is when they create their own. This week’s episode is a perfect example of the show’s formula working from all angles: the hilarious Tim Baltz guests as Woody Dirkson, a military man whose life was spared when an injury took him off the mission that would cross paths with “the predator thing.” Woody feels instantly knowable, and the dynamic between Baltz and host Adam Peacock only aides in developing the character line by line. There’s a wonderful balance of creation and reference, as they know just when to dip into the pool of Predator information without letting that narrative limit their conversation. In fact, much of the episode sees Woody chastising Peacock for his yogurt-eating habits and fawning over his beautiful curvy wife. Instead of a Predator rehash, listeners are given new context that only leaves them wanting more. [Rebecca Bulnes]
The Bangkok Podcast
Do Only Weirdos Live In Bangkok?
This show, focused on expat life in Thailand, hosted by an American and Canadian émigré, finally breaks from gawking at the elephants outside the studio to address the one planted firmly in the room: is Bangkok full of Western weirdos? Their answer is yes, with the caveat that “weird” is a squishy concept applicable to almost anyone depending on the beholder, from those who experience panic attacks envisioning lives frittered away mired in a long slog of upward mobility in the city they were born to “some 70-year-old guy who weighs 450 pounds with psoriasis, three girls around him, yelling at someone in German and half-drunk.” Both hosts describe themselves as weird in some respects, while they simultaneously relate tales of being weirded out by others, like a Spanish ex-convict-turned-flamenco-dancer or a group of French painters who have established an artistic enclave in the country. They decide there are certain reasonable assumptions that can be made collectively about people who abandon their indigenous culture, including the ability to tolerate and even enjoy strangeness in others, which isn’t exactly humanity’s most common trait. But the similarities stop fast, and people contain multitudes.[Zach Brooke]
The L Word Made Me Gay
The L Word premiered on Showtime 13 years ago, bringing the intimate story of a group of lesbian friends living in Los Angeles into American homes. It was the first show centered on an ensemble of queer women, a feat that still holds weight in an age where representation remains lacking, so much so that Showtime recently announced that a sequel season is in the works. In anticipation of this recreation, may we suggest The L Word Made Me Gay, in which friends and Chicago-based lesbians Sarah G .and EOB take listeners through every episode of the series. This week focuses on the second season’s 12th episode, “L’Chaim.” Though it’s obviously better to start at the beginning, this humorous and involved look—the hosts are adept at pointing out some of the show’s more problematic plotlines without insulting its legacy—is a perfect example of what makes the podcast so enjoyable. Bonus: If you happen to live in Chicago, you can catch the show live and for free on September 30 and October 1. [Becca James]
The Shadow Man
The second season of the in-depth cold case series from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel focuses on the 1981 death of 2-year-old Michelle Manders. Michelle went missing late in the evening on October 13 and her body was found in a nearby river some weeks later. A lack of trauma coupled with signs of drowning led the medical examiner to conclude the death was a tragic accident. But the family could never shake the feeling something else happened. A purse belonging to Michelle’s mother was found in an alley a block from the Manders’ home a day after Michelle’s disappearance. Then there was a sighting by Michelle’s 4-year-old sister Jennifer the night she went missing: She recalls a man coming in the bedroom she shared with Michelle and approaching the girls’ bunk bed. At the time, Jennifer assumed it was her father. In reality, her father’s job as electron microscope technician had taken him out of town, as it did most weeknights. Whoever Jennifer saw that night was not him: It was the shadow man. [Zach Brooke]
WR313-Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D
Becky D’Anna drops by Wrong Reel to discuss a formative film in her life, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Along with guest Adam Rackoff and host James Hancock, D’Anna explains the impact that James Cameron’s blockbuster sequel had on her and her movie marketing career. She eventually lived out a dream when she landed a gig on Terminator: Salvation. This episode is tied into the 3D release of Terminator 2, now in theaters, and Hancock and his guests explore the newest version of the film as well as the original theatrical release and Cameron’s director’s cut. The discussion on this episode is vibrant and informative, not only in regards to the Terminator franchise but 3D technology as well. Hancock is a terrific host and interviewer; he finds the perfect guest for the subject at hand and allows his guests to expound on what certain films mean to them. D’Anna is the heart of the episode, speaking with great passion on the heartbreak and emotion in one of the highest regarded sequels of all time. [Mike Vanderbilt]