The Incomparable Mothership
The Incomparable Mothership is the flagship of the Incomparable podcast network. It’s all about geeky media we love, including movies, books, TV, and more, featuring a rotating panel of guests and hosted by Jason Snell and friends.
May 26, 2023 “Max Headroom” (ABC)
667 This Show Was Weird, Right?
We go 20 minutes into the future and 36 years into the past to discuss ABC’s cyberpunk drama “Max Headroom.” For a show with an 80s pop-culture icon as its title character, it’s actually a prescient satire about where our culture was (and still is?) headed. Even more than three decades later, its discussions of data security, the right to privacy in a technological age, artificial intelligence, and even deepfakes are still state of the art. (Non-American viewers who thought this was the show where Max Headroom introduced various music videos… uh, no.) Catch the wave and join us, won’t you?
Host Jason Snell with panelists Cicero Holmes, Moisés Chiullán, Monty Ashley, Warren Frey, and Austin Rich.
May 15, 2023 “Star Trek: Picard” season 3
665 Defragment Your Data
They said that “Star Trek: Picard” wasn’t just going to be a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” reunion show, and that turned out to be true, at least about the first two seasons. We review the show’s just-completed third season, which brought us the emotional and nostalgic moments we craved, introduced an assortment of new characters we liked (or didn’t), and introduced some plot elements that we puzzled over.
May 5, 2023 “The Mandalorian” season 3
664 The Book of Bo Katan
We gripe because we love! We break down the third season of “The Mandalorian.” Is burying part of the story in another show doing a disservice to this one? Why are there so may plot threads that seem to go nowhere, or get resolved in an anticlimactic fashion? And, despite all that, how did we all still have a good time?
April 28, 2023 Book Club: “Spear” and “Mountain in the Sea”
663 A Lot of Ocean
Our Book Club begins our walk through awards shortlist reading with two Nebula Awards nominees for best novel, “The Mountain in the Sea” by Ray Naylor and “Spear” by Nicola Griffith. One’s a near-future thriller about sentient octopi, the other’s an Arthurian fantasy with a few twists.
Next time we’ll be reading Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher and Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree. If you’re on Goodreads, you can also join our Book Club there.
April 21, 2023
662 Bipedal Murder Robots
Everyone laughed at the title, and many laughed at the over-the-top violence, but 1987’s “RoboCop” turned into a sleeper hit that kickstarted a major franchise. We revisit Paul Verhoeven’s first and best big-budget sci-fi satire.
April 14, 2023 “Poker Face”
661 Sad Banjo
Sure, she’s a human lie detector, but she’s also a murder magnet who’s running from a guy who seems to want her dead. We enter the world of Rian Johnson’s “Poker Face,” where Natasha Lyonne is both Columbo and The Fugitive.
April 7, 2023 “12 Angry Men” and “Witness for the Prosecution”
660 The Monocle Test
Old Movie Club throws itself into the turning wheels of justice with two legal films from 1957, “12 Angry Men” and “Witness for the Prosecution.”
April 1, 2023 “The Last Of Us” (HBO)
659 Infested With Love
Grab a backpack and get ready to siphon some gas—we’re setting out from the safe zone on a quest to find opinions about the first season of HBO’s video game adaptation, “The Last of Us.”
March 24, 2023 Time-Travel Movie Draft
658 Nowhere In Time
Avoid stepping on butterflies, step into your time machine, and go kill your grandfather—it’s time for our Time Travel Movies Draft! We select favorite films from all corners of the time-travel genre, from time loops to historical shenanigans to nonsensical plot twists.
March 17, 2023 Book Club: “Sea of Tranquility”
657 A Cloud Atlas with 12 Monkeys
Our Book Club reads “Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel, a beautifully written story set in multiple timelines that—like her earlier novel “Station Eleven”—frustrated some, but not all, of our panelists. We also recommend a lot of other books to read!
March 10, 2023 “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 7
656 Endless Slumber Party
We wrap up our seven-year walkthough(!) of the seven seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The show is slowly grinding to a halt, but are there gems to be discovered? Buffy’s got a speech about that. Maybe the real Big Bad was the friends we made along the way!
March 3, 2023 Disney Princess Draft
655 Princesses Don’t Have to Wear Pink
This week we’re drafting Disney Princesses! There are two simple rules: They must be Disney, and they must be princesses. How far will our intrepid panelists go to stretch those rules? Join us to find out.
February 24, 2023 “Wednesday”
654 Goth Girl Handbook
Wednesday Addams is not the girl of your dreams — she’s the stuff of your nightmares. Our group of outcasts gathers in our secret library to conjure our thoughts on the first season of “Wednesday”, streaming on Netflix. We discuss what we love about the show, while also trying to figure out, is it really meant for us?
February 17, 2023 “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
653 Royalty Don’t Mess Around
Put on your home-built Iron Man suit and whisper into some beads, because it’s time to discuss “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Our panel talks about how the movie leaves space to grieve Chadwick Boseman and T’Challa while also providing a platform for a bunch of black women to take the lead in a geopolitical battle involving the charismatic Namor, the U.S. government, and… the French? We drift into the shipping lanes for a moment, but it doesn’t generate any enthusiasm about the film’s big boat battle.
February 10, 2023 Book Club: R.F. Kuang’s “Babel”
652 A Long Zoom
Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss R.F. Kuang’s “Babel.” It’s a story about magic and empire and revolution, and our feelings about it are similarly complicated. Plus: A whole bunch of book suggestions!
Our next Book Club selection: “Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel.
February 3, 2023 “Sky High”
651 Breakfast Club for Superheroes
Get in line to order a hero sandwich—not so fast, sidekick! We’re here to talk about 2005’s thoroughly delightful Disney movie “Sky High,” featuring superhero action and teen drama that are both full to the brim—but never quite over the top.
January 27, 2023 Secret Agent Draft
650 The Sum of All Tildas
This week, we’re drafting some spies, secret agents, and con artists. Con artists? Why not? They all use similar skills—sometimes, it’s impossible to tell the difference. From fiction to spoof to inspired by real life, we’ve got it all. Also, is that Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton? Good luck, Jim. This episode will self destruct in five seconds.
January 20, 2023 “The Peripheral” (TV series)
649 I’m Gonna Marry That Robot Lady
Put on your headset and get ready to jump into a polt, because we’re going to discuss “The Peripheral,” Prime Video’s adaptation of William Gibson’s novel. What makes its approach to certain famous sci-fi tropes unique? How interesting are the accents? Why is there an invisible car? We’ll answer those questions as soon as we flee to another stub.
January 13, 2023 Naomi Novik’s “Scholomance” trilogy
648 Magical NDA
Store up some mana and watch out for maleficers and maw-mouths! We’re going to discuss Naomi Novik’s Scholomance trilogy, which takes the familiar story of a school for teenage magicians and does some very different things with it! Before the Spoiler Horn, we talk generally about the books and why you should read them. Then we dig into some of the details of how the series changes as it comes to its end.
[Our next Book Club selection is “Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution” by R.F. Kuang.]
January 7, 2023 Our 2022 Favorites
647 Obnoxiously Vegan
Our favorites from 2022, plus a few clips.
December 23, 2022 “The Green Knight”
646 A Christmas Quarrel
The Knight before Christmas this year is David Lowery’s 2021 film “The Green Knight.” This year’s final Mothership episode is a game inside a gift inside a game, much like the movie. Is every episode featuring Glenn secretly (or not-so-secretly) about Zardoz? What secrets of the exotic West Midlands does Antony have to reveal? Find out as we champion diverging from the path as the most direct route to completing a quest.
December 16, 2022 Rocket Surgery: “Red Planet”
645 Oh No, My Spleen!
Our annual Kilmas tradition leads us to watch the questionable 2000 sci-fi film “Red Planet,” in which Val Kimer is at his best, and several other actors are also present. Also, the main plot points of this film are so similar to “The Martian” that we’re now convinced Andy Weir must have seen this film and vowed to do it better. But if you’ve ever wanted to watch a dumber version of “The Martian,” have we found the movie for you.
December 9, 2022 “Andor”
644 Spoilers for “ALF”
Star Wars gets serious with “Andor,” a show that gives us exactly what we needed (but didn’t know we wanted?) from the venerable franchise. We break down the plots, characters, and storytelling choices, live from John Siracusa’s living room!
December 2, 2022 “The Poseidon Adventure”
643 Shouty Oscar Winners
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, the S. S. Poseidon, enroute from New York to Athens, met with disaster and was lost. A handful of podcasters follow the challenges faced by a handful of Oscar winners and other assorted stars from the 1970s to celebrate that 50th anniversary of this classic disaster flick. This is their story.
November 24, 2022 “GoodFellas”
642 Management Advice From Mobsters
Are you calling us funny? Are we like a clown? Do we amuse you? More than thirty years later, “GoodFellas” still stands up. In honor of the late Ray Liotta, we break down Martin Scorsese’s classic film about street-level gangsters.
November 18, 2022 “She-Hulk” and “Ms. Marvel”
641 Miles Ahead of Lou Ferrigno
Put on a magic bangle and pick up your briefcase, because it’s time for us to discuss two Marvel Disney+ series that push the universe in some new and interesting directions, “Ms. Marvel” and “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.”
November 11, 2022 “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”
640 Did He Really Date Madonna?
“Weird” is the direct-to-Roku movie that accurately chronicles every aspect of Al Yankovic’s life. This podcast accurately chronicles every aspect of the movie.
November 5, 2022 “The Rings of Power” and “House of the Dragon”
639 Prologue: The Television Series
We watched “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and “House of the Dragon” and have thoughts.
October 28, 2022 “The Thing” (1982)
638 A Loose Assemblage of Goo and Blobs
Put on a jacket and charge up your flamethrower, because it’s almost halloween, and that means it’s time for Old Spooky Club to discuss 1982’s “The Thing.” It’s foul and drippy and gooey—the Thing, that is, and not the movie. The movie’s not foul. It’s the other two, though.
October 21, 2022 “Chinatown”
637 Sorry, Charlie, It’s Chinatown
Our Old Movie Club sits down with a nice plate of fish and a large glass of water to watch 1972’s “Chinatown.” We discuss the merits of Jack Nicholson, the horror of John Huston’s character, and perhaps the perfect noir screenplay.
October 14, 2022 TV Detective Draft
636 The Elephant in the Trenchcoat
Mystery and mayhem are on the menu as we draft favorite TV detectives. Thomas Magnum is off the board, but everyone else is fair game. Who will our panelists choose to figure out whodunit? Will it be the usual suspects? Surely Jim Rockford will be on the list, unless he didn’t get his voicemail…
October 8, 2022 Antony’s book list
635 Throw a Rock at a Reader
It’s time to reconvene our Book Club, not to talk about an awards shortlist but to recommend books from arbitrarily selected categories. So many books! And not many rocks, we promise.
September 30, 2022 Netflix’s “The Sandman”
634 Addicted to Sand
Grab your helm, pouch, and ruby and watch out for dream vortexes! The classic Vertigo comic “The Sandman” has been adapted to a new Netflix show. What do we love about this modern retelling of the story—and what are we unsure about?
September 24, 2022 “Thor: Love & Thunder”
633 Thor Family
Russell Crowe! Christian Bale! Natalie Portman! Are they starring in a prestige film that we’re sure to hear about when Oscar time comes around? No, it’s “Thor: Love and Thunder!” But while this movie might not be able to live up to “Thor: Ragnarok,” there are a lot of things we appreciated about it. And also some things we didn’t. It’s all about tone.
September 16, 2022 “Time Bandits”
632 Time Bandit Titanic
Mum, Dad, it’s evil, don’t touch it! The Summer of Time Travel reaches its end—or is it the beginning?—with 1981’s “Time Bandits,” a children’s fantasy written and directed and even featuring some Monty Pythons. Does it work for adults? Does the tone still work? We fall through a time hole and give our verdict.
September 9, 2022 “Time After Time”
631 Timecop After Timecop
What if H.G. Wells used a time machine to chase Jack the Ripper into the present day (of 1979)? It would look an awful lot like 1979’s “Time After Time,” we’re guessing. David Warner and Malcolm McDowell match wits! Mary Steenburgen is a modern lady looking for an old-fashioned man! Also Jason observes the film’s (pretty good) depiction of San Francisco geography and Jean confronts her young moviegoing trauma.
September 2, 2022 “Timecop”
630 Saunter in From the Future
The Summer of Time Travel meets Rocket Surgery as we watch the very 90s, good-bad film “Timecop,” the movie that answers the question, “What would happen if you tried to kick time itself?”
August 26, 2022 “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
629 Bum Bag Beatdown
We take a sideways break from the Summer of Time Travel by verse-jumping across realities to Everything Everywhere All At Once, the multiverse movie directed by The Daniels and starring Michelle Yeoh. Is empathy the superpower Doctor Strange needed all along? Too bad, because he isn’t in this movie!
August 19, 2022 “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”
628 Dumbness is Timeless
The Summer of Time Travel begins/ends/continues (pick one) with 1989’s “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” in which two dumb guys collect some of history’s greatest figures and take them to the mall. Party on, dudes!
August 12, 2022 21st Century TV Draft
627 The Czech Office
The days of appointment television are long gone, but what if you could create a streaming service broadcasting the best that TV had to offer in the 21st century? What shows would be on your marquee? We’ve got you covered, with our very first Peak TV draft (patent pending)! Will your favorite shows get drafted? Tune in to find out!
August 5, 2022 “Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”
626 Don’t Copy That Chip ‘n Dale Floppy
The release of the super-meta “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” with John Mulaney and Andy Samberg on Disney+ put us in mind of a movie from which it borrowed a hunk of its DNA: “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. We first toon, er, tune our dial to that classic, groundbreaking 1988 Robert Zemeckis-directed film, then look at its 2022 chip off the old block. Forget it, Dale, it’s Toontown.
July 29, 2022 Star Trek three-series season wrap
625 Frisky Vulcans
Thirty-three episodes of new live-action “Star Trek” have now concluded, and we’re going to talk about all of it. We bring some tough love for “Discovery” and “Picard”, which disappointed us. But all is not lost—there’s a lot of unabashed love for “Strange New Worlds.”
July 22, 2022 Dan Moren and “The Nova Incident”
624 You Got Ludlumed
On the occasion of the publication of “The Nova Incident,” Jason asks Dan a bunch of questions from readers (and listeners) about his writing career, techniques, tools, and more.
July 15, 2022 “Obi-Wan Kenobi”
623 Sand Tuna Thief
Hello there! We discuss “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on Disney+, including Ewan MacGregor’s delight in the role, the return of Hayden Christensen, and balancing the needs of superfans with movies-only fans.
July 8, 2022 “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”
622 The MacGuffin Twins
Put on your flying cloak and load up on pizza balls, because we’re here to talk about “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” This is an interesting one, because most of us agree that the movie is fun and inventive in a lot of enjoyable ways—but also entirely mishandles its villain. Can you love a movie that also make you angry? We try! Some of us fail.
July 1, 2022 “Halo” season 1
621 They Built the Halos
Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of evidence to support the cause of adapting video games for movies or TV. And yet we tried the “Halo” TV series from Paramount+ and… liked it? We discuss making the Master Chief a real character with a strong supporting cast, why the UNSC is not trustworthy, the origin of Cortana, and the show’s connections to Star Wars, Firefly, and… 2001?!
June 24, 2022 2022 Awards Book Club, part 3
620 Alien Donut Lady
2022 Awards Book Club concludes with three Hugo-nominated novels: Andy Weir’s deep-space problem-solver “Project Hail Mary”; Shelley Parker Chan’s historical epic “She Who Became the Sun”; and Ryka Aoki’s alien-and-demon-packed “Light from Uncommon Stars.” Also, Erika and Jason highlight some of their favorite short-fiction Hugo nominees.
June 17, 2022 Cartoons for grown-ups
619 Who Will Speak For Fish Police?
From Duckman to Dicktown, this week we’re covering cartoons… for grown-ups. These animated series have an adult sensibility, and they don’t all feature obscenity, graphic violence, or sexual acts… though some do! Shows like The Legend of Vox Machina, Harley Quinn, Hit Monkey, and Invincible have an adult audience clearly or primarily in mind, while others, like Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law or The Tick require a deep well of cultural references that might leave children (and many adults) baffled. We discuss the overall trend, highlight shows past and present we love, and puzzle out how some shows (good and inexplicable) even came to be.
June 10, 2022 Rocket Surgery: 1930 to 1980
618 Mars Monkey Dance Number
Rocket Surgery takes a time machine back to 1930 for “Just Imagine,” a visionary view of the far future of 1980 that’s three movies in one—and feels like it. Then we jump to the real 1980 where, instead of evil martian twins, we find “Flash Gordon,” quarterback, New York Jets.
June 3, 2022 “Moon Knight”
617 Group Therapy for One Guy
Moon Knight—the butt of a thousand jokes on this very network who improbably made the Sweet Sixteen of our infamous Summer Superhero Spectacular—got his own limited series on Disney+. We talk about the Oscar Isaac of it all, the loving attention to modern Egypt, whether the show is well served by its near-total disconnection to the MCU, and how it might have held up as a ’90s syndicated actioner. (Think “Relic Hunter” production values. You can see it, can’t you?)
May 27, 2022 2022 awards book club, part 2
616 Bad Decision Theater
Our Book Club continues its walk through the Hugo and Nebula nominees for Best Novel with three books, “The Galaxy and the Ground Within” by Becky Chambers, “A Master of Djinn” by P. Djèlí Clark, and “The Unbroken” by C.L. Clark.
May 20, 2022 “Our Flag Means Death”
615 People-Positive Management Style
What do you get when you blend historical fiction, pirates and Taika Waititi? You get “Our Flag Means Death,” an ensemble romantic comedy featuring both ship battles and biting insults.
May 13, 2022 “Severance” season one
614 Eternal Spotlight of the Sunless Mind
Step into this elevator and leave your personal biographical memories behind… Welcome, Listener I., you’re now part of Lumon, a Very Friendly Company that always has your best interests at heart. We discuss the Apple TV+ series “Severance,” and try to explain why you should watch it, what shows it resembles, and just how much we liked the twists and turns of its first season.
May 6, 2022 “Turning Red” (2022)
613 Kaiju Panda
Put on your toque and be sure you’ve got your 4*Town tickets—we’re here to discuss Pixar’s “Turning Red,” a delightful coming-of-age movie about a Chinese-Canadian girl whose body is undergoing some telltale adolescent changes—you know, becoming interested in boys, rebelling against her parents, and transforming into a giant fuzzy red panda. The usual.
April 29, 2022 “The Batman” (2022)
612 YABM: Yet Another Batman Movie
Our panel of caped crusaders assemble to dissect 2022’s “The Batman.” The last thing we may have needed was another Batman movie, especially the grimmest, darkest, and longest one ever… but what if we actually liked it? We take apart the new approaches to classic batman stories, Robert Pattinson’s performance, souped-up batmobiles, and Gotham’s weather patterns.
April 22, 2022 2022 Awards Book Club, part 1
611 Distributed Disinterested Dystopia
Our annual shortlist book club is back! We read two novels that were nominated for Best Novel in the Nebula Awards! SB Divya’s “Machinehood” is a near-future story of gig workers, weak AI servants, and rebellious space stations. Jason Sanford’s “Plague Birds” is a post-apocalyptic story about strong AIs and gene-altered people that’s so far in the future that it feels almost like fantasy. Plus: We recommend other books we’ve enjoyed recently!
April 15, 2022 “No Time to Die” and the Craig Era of Bond
610 No, Mr. Blond, I Expect You to Die
Cue the electric bass and the full brass section, we’re talking Bond, James Bond this week. We make time for “No Time to Die,” of course, and the rest of the Daniel Craig era. How does it hold up, where does it go from here, what would we like to see? How does the latest movie reset the table? Were we shaken, stirred, or something in between?
April 8, 2022 Old Movie Club violently overthrows the U.S. government!
609 Chekhov’s Toy Store
Old Movie Club returns with two films that imagine attempts to disrupt the United States government. In 1954’s “Suddenly,” Frank Sinatra’s going to try to kill the President. In 1964’s “Seven Days In May,” Burt Lancaster is plotting a military coup. Both films are in black and white from more than 50 years ago, and yet for some reason Phil thinks their themes may resonate even today…
April 1, 2022 “Speed Racer” (2008)
608 A Centaur, Only for Cars
Fire up your Bernoulli Conversionator and check your trunk for stowaways, because we’re entering the Wachowski sisters’ candy-colored 2008 road rally through the Uncanny Valley, “Speed Racer.” It’s an eye-searing acid trip of a movie, with groundbreaking storytelling, an earnest heart, and a curious void at its center. (There is also a chimp.) We’ll discuss how this film fits into the Wachowskis’ canon, the supporting character whose story is way more interesting than the lead‚ and the only other big-budget film since that has dared to get this stylistically weird.
March 25, 2022 2022 Film Festival Draft
607 I Regret So Many Great Movies
We’re back with our third Incomparable Film Festival! Nine of us are programming a day’s worth of films, all with secret themes which will be revealed as the podcast progresses! And while we are currently unable to pull off the Incomparable Film Festival in an actual movie theater, we encourage you to watch these great movies in the comfort of your own home.
March 18, 2022 Podcast draft
606 The Bears Did It
We’ve drafted many things on many episodes of this podcast, but we’ve never drafted podcasts! You get it: Panelists share (and draft!) their favorite podcasts, in categories like Comedy, Narrative, Fiction, Entertainment, and more.
March 11, 2022 “Station Eleven” (miniseries)
605 Apocalypse Doctoring
Get out your pocket knife and stick to the Wheel—we’re a traveling band of podcasters who move from town to town to re-enact conversations from before the apocalypse! Or at least that’s who we’d be in our version of the HBO Max miniseries, “Station Eleven.” We discuss the moving, optimistic post-apocalyptic tale that is told in a fractured time sequence and features lots of Shakespeare and a suspiciously powerful self-published graphic novel. And though there’s definitely no “Station Twelve” on the horizon, we can’t help but imagine what other stories are there just waiting to never be told.
March 4, 2022 Little Nightmares 2
604 Team Creepy
Let’s hold hands and sneak through some eerie city ruins. Video game club is back in session to discuss “Little Nightmares II”, the creepy prequel to the beloved spooky platformer, Little Nightmares. We play as Mono, a bag-faced boy, as he and his companion navigate a world of puzzles and monsters lurking in the dark, only to be led to his own nightmare.
February 25, 2022 Book Club: “A Desolation Called Peace” and “Witness for the Dead”
603 Witness for the Airship
This episode features a book with fantasy zombies and a book with alien hive minds. Talk about range! Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss the fantasy mystery “Witness for the Dead,” a standalone book set in the world of “The Goblin Emperor”, and “A Desolation Called Peace,” the conclusion of the duology begun in the award-winning “A Memory Called Empire.” Plus: What are we reading?
February 18, 2022 “The Book of Boba Fett”
602 The Show You Think You Saw
Remember that cool bounty hunter from The Empire Strikes Back? What happens when you give him his own show? “The Book of Boba Fett” is the answer—or is it? After all, parts of this show are really episodes of a different, arguably better show. Our panel discusses the seven-episode season and tries to figure out if this mess is hot or cold.
February 11, 2022 “The Expanse” season 6 and “Leviathan Falls”
601 The Most Holden Move
In this episode we break down the final season of Prime Video’s “The Expanse.” Was it too abrupt? What was all that Laconia stuff? Then, after a brief intermission for TV viewers to depart, we discuss “Leviathan Falls” and the end of the Expanse book series. One story, so many endings!
February 4, 2022 2010s book draft
600 The Machine Was a Vampire
In this six-hundredth episode of The Incomparable, recorded across two separate sessions, we talk about a whole bunch of novels—namely, our picks for the best SF/F novels of the first decade of The Incomparable, the 2010s! For our purposes, we’re designating the “decade” as 2010-2019. Along the way, we may ponder the most important question a reader should ask: Are there Zeppelins?
January 28, 2022 “Marvel’s Hawkeye”
599 Have You Tried This Arrow?
It’s time to channel that Tired Dad Energy, because we’re going to discuss Marvel’s “Hawkeye,” bro. Kate Bishop! Yelena! Echo! Surprise cameos, including one by an owl! It’s a TV series nobody watching “The Avengers” would have ever wanted, yet a worn and exasperated Jeremy Renner as the mentor to a young woman with strong archery skills ends up being a delightful holiday adventure.
January 21, 2022 “The Harder they Fall”
598 Tropiest of Spaghetti Westerns
We’ve rounded up a posse and are saddling up to discuss the Netflix original film “The Harder They Fall,” a revisionist western starring Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, and Regina King. This movie is more ornery than a pole cat with a hangnail! We ride at noon!
January 15, 2022 “Spider-Man: No Way Home”
597 Get Me Pictures of Seven Spider-Men!
Get your college applications ready and prepare to gross out about organic web shooters—it’s time for us to discuss “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the conclusion of Tom Holland’s origin trilogy as the web-slinging hero… and a surprisingly substantial follow-up to five other Spider-Man movies, too. It’s “Spider-Man: Endgame,” and with great podcasts, there must also come great responsibility… to talk about Spider-Man.
January 8, 2022 “The Wheel of Time” (season 1)
596 Tom Bombadilification
More than three decades since the Wheel of Time book series began, it’s arrived as a TV series on Prime Video. We discuss the first season with the help of our resident Wheel of Time book expert and three non-book-readers. How much is or isn’t it the “next Game of Thrones?” Why would it need to be be? And how does a book series that was wildly progressive for the 1990s approach a modern audience?
January 1, 2022 2021 year in review and clip show
595 I Didn’t Have a Tab - The Best of 2021
Hot dog! It’s time for our annual look back at the year gone by. And it was certainly a year! Some of us caught up on stuff, while others who usually abandon their lists as winter turns to spring decided not to bother making lists at all! As is traditional, our panelists and listeners pick favorite Incomparable episodes and moments in this episode. Did the best moment of the year happen in last year’s clip show? Are there multiple clip loops running now? Has The Incomparable finally ground Jason down into mush? The answers are within!
December 24, 2021
594 Money in His Underwear
Merry Kilmas to all who celebrate the works of Val Kilmer! This year, our Kilmas selection is “The Saint,” a very 90s spy movie featuring surprise sweater reveals, tension-free water pipe escapes, and a wide collection of accents, wigs, and pseudonyms—all from Val Kilmer, of course.
December 18, 2021 “The Beatles: Get Back”
593 The Beatles Need Me!
We watched all eight hours of the Disney+ documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” and now we’re going to talk about it. Toast, vests, London Bobbies sucking on their chin straps, Debbie the receptionist, Paul as “second boss”, Yoko’s knitting, George Harrison’s pinstripes, and most importantly, the amazing view of a bunch of musical geniuses having a very difficult time creating anything at all.
December 11, 2021 “Doctor Who: Flux”
592 A Glorious Mess
Grab your Tamagotchi Baby Monitor, because it’s time to discuss “Doctor Who: Flux,” a six-episode season that had a lot of plot, a lot of characters, and a lot of questions, many of them unanswered! We discuss what worked this season and what didn’t, anticipate the 2022 run of specials to end Jodie Whitaker’s era, and ponder what Modern Doctor Who looks like when Russell T Davies takes over the show (again) in 2023.
December 4, 2021 “Eternals”
591 That Poor Pie
We discuss Marvel’s weird and epic “Eternals,” which breaks a lot of Marvel-movie conventions while attempting to tell a different kind of story with a whole lot of new characters. It’s full of interesting choices, some of which pay off, while others end up amounting to not very much.
November 21, 2021 “Last Action Hero”
590 The Car Explodes In Midair
We’ve gathered the family around the table to celebrate F’sgiving, a thing we just made up in which we care enough to watch a film featuring F. Murray Abraham. In this case it’s “Last Action Hero,” a movie that Wikipedia claims is a cult classic. We don’t know about that, but it certainly is unjustly maligned. This is a big, loud action movie that is also a parody and celebration of big, loud action movies. Sure, it’s got its flaws—we’re looking at you, kid—but there’s a whole lot to like.
November 14, 2021 “Dune” (2021)
589 Sometimes Beige Is Beautiful
Put on your stillsuit and prepare your sand compactor. We’re venturing out into the uncharted deserts of Arrakis with “Dune,” Denis Villeneuve’s cinematic take on the oft-filmed Frank Herbert novel. We do some comparing and contrasting with David Lynch’s version, question whether this adaptation is for fans for for people who know nothing about “Dune”, and basically stare at a bunch of big spaceships hanging in the air. Denis Villeneuve knows what we like.
November 7, 2021 “Freaks and Geeks”
588 All These Different Jackets
Buy those bongos and make it a 30-piece drum set, because legendary one-season wonder “Freaks and Geeks” is finally available to stream. This is an amazing show with a fantastic cast about a bunch of geeks and burnouts in Michigan in the early 1980s. It’s a sweet and funny and awkward and painful story about growing up and trying to figure out who you are, while everyone else in the world wants to label you and make sure you never forget your label. We discuss our favorite ancillary characters, the richness of the world of “Freaks and Geeks”, and how upon rewatching the show 20 years later, we have gained even more appreciation for Mr. and Mrs. Weir.
October 31, 2021 “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and “Young Frankenstein”
587 Is Dracula the Frankenstein?
Just in time for Halloween, our mega-sized Old Movie Club meets up in a spooky haunted house to discuss two horror-comedies that honor their source material more than you might think — it’s 1948’s “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and 1974’s “Young Frankenstein.” We learn that werewolves can fly, quoting film dialogue on the playground can be cruel, and in the end it turns out that none of us are the doctor—we’re the monster.
October 24, 2021 “Ted Lasso” season 2
586 Discotheques in Disused Churches
We return to “Ted Lasso” to discuss the second season of the Apple TV+ comedy-become-dramedy, with an increased view into mental health, questions of relationship power dynamics, the power of Rom-Communism and Holiday Specials, and much more.
[The original version had two minutes of weird audio at 18:30. You can press “forward 30 seconds” four times, or delete the file and re-download.]
October 16, 2021 2021 SF/F Novel Shortlist, part 3
585 Remember the Soup
Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss two final 2021 Best Novel nominees, “Harrow the Ninth” and “The Relentless Moon.” We also discuss all the Hugo Award nominees for short fiction, rank the books, and recommend some books we’ve been reading lately!
October 10, 2021 “Rear Window” and “The Conversation”
584 Window and Chill
Old Movie Club likes to watch… old movies. And these are old movies about the price and perils of watching (and listening). We view the Hitchcock classic “Rear Window” and visit the smelly, greasy, fuzzy ’70s film for “The Conversation.” Also, we call back to the Summer of Spielberg with a discussion of how Francis Ford Coppola’s career making art films like “The Conversation” was derailed by fantastic commercial success.
October 2, 2021 The prodigal showrunners return
583 Could They Reboot ‘Supernatural’?
In this flash episode we discuss the head-scratching news from two of our favorite franchises, as the prodigal showrunners have returned! First it’s the news that Russell T Davies, who brought “Doctor Who” back in 2005, is reuniting with his producers from that era to produce and write the show. Then came the announcement that J. Michael Straczynski has been contracted with The CW to write a pilot for a rebooted “Babylon 5.” Can you go home again? Will they play the hits or strike out in new directions? Just a reminder, nobody is going to delete your favorite old episodes—not even the BBC.
September 25, 2021 “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
582 We Have All Ridden Buses
Get out your bus ticket and get ready to go live on the Internet, because it’s time to talk “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Marvel returns exclusively to theaters, and so do we, as we discuss Tony Leung, the dangers of deferred maintenance on articulated buses, hanging a lantern on a dragon, and the emotional weight of a single arrow.
September 19, 2021 “Hook”
581 Bad Dad, Cellphone Dad
Arr, matey! Not only be it days from the equinox, but it be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. What better time to wrap up the Summer of Spielberg with “Hook,” a (misguided?) Peter Pan sequel starring Robin Williams as Peter, Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, all gallivanting around a very crowded and overlit stage-set version of Neverland. We discuss the movie’s appeal to early-nineties kids, Spielberg’s commercial sensibility as a director, and the film’s many misguided creative decisions.
September 12, 2021 “Ready Player One” (film)
580 We’re Gonna Be Good CEOs
As we prepare to exit the Summer of Spielberg, things have taken a bit of a turn. We’ve taken out our surgical tools to diagnose just what went wrong with “Ready Player One,” in which a director who is much more interested in movies than video games and who himself deeply influenced 80s culture is put in charge of a too-faithful adaptation of a book about video games and 80s culture. We spent a lot of our time imagining a much better movie that could have been made instead of this one.
September 4, 2021 “War of the Worlds” (2005)
579 Bad Dad, Crane Dad
Hop on your tripod killing machine and watch out for common cold viruses — if it’s New Jersey, it must be an alien invasion! We cover 2005’s “War of the Worlds,” starring Tom Cruise as a dad who just wants to protect his kids from the end of the world. Well, maybe one of his kids. Screaming! Explosions! Implausible plot points! Not enough Miranda Otto! Maybe too much Tim Robbins! The 9/11 influence is strong in this one.
August 28, 2021
578 Fish in the Milk
Stand up and prepare to operate your computer by waving your hands! The Summer of Spielberg continues with 2002’s “Minority Report,” a sci-fi noirish murder mystery combined with a vision of the future and a dose of social commentary. We discuss the future’s retinal-scanning obsession, Tom Cruise’s security eyes, and the amazing precog named Agatha. Is it now? I’m tired of the future.
August 21, 2021 “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”
577 Robot Monster Truck Rally
The Summer of Spielberg turns its eyes to “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” a project begun by Stanley Kubrick and completed by Steven Spielberg. Whether it works for you may hinge entirely on if you consider it a science-fiction story or a fairy tale. We marvel at some great performances, are frustrated by some creative choices, and in the end find ourselves applauding the boldness of the ending. (Now pass us some tissues, we’re ugly crying.)
August 14, 2021 “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”
576 Unlicensed Dinosaur Park
The Summer of Spielberg continues with what was once the biggest movie of all time, “Jurassic Park.” And you know what? It holds up, though we have an awful lot of questions about John Hammond and his business choices. Unfortunately, we also watched the Spielberg-directed cash-grab sequel, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”
August 8, 2021
575 You’re Going to Your Sister’s? I’m Going to Space!
Prepare your mashed-potato sculpture and zip up your red jumpsuit, because we’re about to discuss the 1977 film classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” We discuss why this film is Steven Spielberg’s tapas, French-American UFO projects, “American Graffiti” with flying saucers, and much more. Plus Dan reveals a most unusual location to watch this film for the first time. It’s shaping up to be a real Summer of Spielberg.
July 31, 2021 “Loki”
574 Time Cop, Not a Time Cop
Grab a TemPad and step through a Time Door, because we’re discussing “Loki”, Marvel’s Disney+ series about how the god of Mischief met his match and learned to love himself. Along the way we talk about the “Doctor Who” references, the deep-cut comics references, the mighty Richard E. Grant, and the spectacular look and sounds of this outstanding series.
July 17, 2021 “Black Widow”
573 Evil Helicarrier
Put on your catsuit and your tactical vest, because we’re about to talk about Marvel’s “Black Widow,” which some of us saw in theaters. (And some of us didn’t.) This is a movie delayed from pre-COVID times, it’s the first Marvel movie in the Disney+ era, and it’s set during 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War”—conveniently before the main character dies. With all that, it’s also a film that puts its title heroine at the center of a “Mission: Impossible” style story that’s also, strangely, about a couple of particularly messed-up families.
July 4, 2021 “Attack the Block”
572 Selfie in the Weed Room
Get out your ice skates, baseball bats, kitchen knives, and samurai swords—pretty much any weapon at hand, because we’re watching 2011’s “Attack the Block”! While not officially part of the Cornetto Trilogy, this British alien-invasion film shares a lot of DNA with those movies, and it’s about as close an analog to “Shaun of the Dead” as you’ll find—but with the comedy dial turned down a bit. It features career-making performances by John Boyega and Jodie Whittaker, who went on to become the faces of famous sci-fi franchises. And after the last 10 years, some of the social commentary in this film hits home more than ever. Allow it!
June 26, 2021 The Midnight Bargain, Mexican Gothic, and Network Effect
571 You Paint Mushrooms Beautifully
Some people read with their eyeballs, and still others talk to their books—we do both! In part two of our three-part survey of novels shortlisted for 2021’s top SF and Fantasy awards, we’re discussing the magic and romance of “The Midnight Bargain” by C.L. Polk, the spooky “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and the murderbotiness of “Network Effect” by Martha Wells. Plus, what else are we reading?
June 19, 2021 Muppet movie pitch draft
570 Why Can’t All Movies Be Muppet Movies?
Look, we love the Muppets. But the franchise has been very quiet lately. It’s time to get Muppet movies back on the big screen! And so in this episode, all our panelists pitch new Muppet movies we’d like to see. And along the way they do a bunch of Muppet voices, too, because of course they do.
June 5, 2021 Helene Wecker and “The Hidden Palace”
569 The Worst Way to Write a Book, Ever
Back in 2014, we read Helene Wecker’s novel “The Golem and the Jinni,” and we liked it! Little did we know that she was listening to us… and that she would end up as an Incomparable panelist! Now a sequel, “The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni” has arrived! In this special episode, Jason and Helene discuss the first novel, how real life can intrude on a publishing schedule, the value and temptation of research, and how “The Hidden Palace” ultimately came together.
May 30, 2021 “Invincible” season one
568 Collateral Damage
Put on your capes because we’re flying into superhero action with season one of Prime Video’s “Invincible,” based on Robert Kirkman’s long-running comic. Before the Spoiler Horn, we’ll tell you why this show is worth watching—and warn you about how it mixes its love of brightly colored superhero imagery and storylines with logical but unrestrained violence and gore. Then we break down some of this adaptation’s interesting story choices and ponder where it might be headed in season two and three.
May 22, 2021
567 Summer of Man-Thing
We know there are a lot of superhero movies out there. Sometimes it seems like there are so many, it’s as if a random-number generator just assigned pieces of intellectual property to film directors. But where some might despair at this situation, we looked at it as an opportunity to harness the terrible power of the random-number generator and use our own creativity to assign the right directors to the right comic-book film projects. Now listen to our choices and try to tell us that any currently in-production films are any less ridiculous.
May 15, 2021 “Megamind”
566 Everyone Loves Metroman
Olo! It’s time to discuss an underappreciated superhero movie that’s only become more relevant after a decade full of superhero movies. It’s 2010’s “Megamind,” which transcends being an extrusion from the Dreamworks animation factory (well, except for its pop-music soundtrack) to become something greater. With an all-star cast led by Will Ferrell and Tina Fey, this is a great riff on the Superman mythos and the true meaning of destiny and heroism. Code: It’s great.
May 9, 2021
565 The Avengers of Cities
Our Book Club returns with a new way to approach this year’s SF novel shortlist: we’re reading all the Hugo and Nebula novels in three batches. First up: “Black Sun,” “The City We Became,” and “Piranesi.” Plus: What are we reading?
May 1, 2021 “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”
564 The Millennial Falcon
Don your winged jetpack and strap on your cybernetic arm, because it’s time to fight over a shield. Marvel’s second Disney+ series, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” picks up the story of two of Captain America’s pals as they confront serious societal issues, the representation of America in the modern age, and a gaggle of super-powered foes. It’s a show that takes some big swings, even if it does get a bit muddled, and we discuss its ambitions, what it gets right, and where it misses the mark.
April 23, 2021 “Cloverfield”
563 When Harry Met Sally (With Monsters)
Drop the camcorder and whatever you do, don’t run toward the bridge! 2008’s “Cloverfield” mixes giant monsters, post-9/11 reactions to urban destruction, rom-com tropes, “Jaws” style monster hiding, and found footage shaky-cam into an incredibly intense movie experience. Does it matter that the main characters are generic, or does it actually help? Is this a slasher film or more of a smasher film? Why did it kick off a nonsensical franchise of unrelated movies? And if it was made today, how would it be different? (Hint: Less shaky-cam!) Find a quiet place to hide somewhere and join us!
April 17, 2021 Miyazaki Club graduation
562 The Gentleness Axis
We have reached the end (for now) of Miyazaki Club. So we gather back together to consider why we’re drawn to Hayao Miyazaki’s work, how we define the differences between films as different as “Ponyo” and “Spirited Away,” a list of the director’s favorite things, subs versus dubs, the music of Joe Hisaishi, and which of Miyazaki’s movies we all prefer.
April 11, 2021 “Kill and Kill Again”
561 Lackeys Don’t Wear Khakis
After years of Monty telling us we should watch it, we’ve given in. It’s time to discuss 1981 South African karate movie “Kill and Kill Again,” a film featuring many middle-aged men kicking people, as well as a James Bond-style plot about a madman who wants to take over the world via an unusual application of potatoes. We cover strange ties to “CSI: Miami” and “The A-Team,” introduce you to the wonders of Hot Dog and his bag of tricks, weigh the movie’s knowing sexism against its unflinching racism, and contemplate Villanous Operations and how they are named. Also, Jason has a tight five about t-shirts.
April 4, 2021 “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”
560 Gaseous Anomaly Platform
In space, all warriors are cold warriors! An ecological disaster leads to the breakup of an enemy empire, but in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” it’s the Klingon moon Praxis subbing in for the Soviet power station Chernobyl. Kirk and company struggle with their animosity toward the Klingons, but we are more concerned with what graduate school Gorkon’s daughter went to, the Klingon guard who carries a box, the one Klingon who laughed at McCoy’s joke, the importance of gaseous anomalies to Federation politics, and the lack of respect given to the Enterprise court reporter. Discussing this movie must’ve been our lifelong ambition.
March 27, 2021 “Chariots of Fire” and “Amadeus”
559 Men vs. Selves
Six episodes ago, Jason made Phil mad by suggesting that “Chariots of Fire” and “Amadeus” might not be worthy of their Academy Awards for Best Picture. This episode is Phil’s revenge, as we watch two acclaimed early-80s films and see how well they hold up. They’re both period pieces, but one is set to the electronic sounds of Vangelis and the other to the classical masterpieces of Mozart. Running in slow motion has never looked better, and there’s never been more braying laughter in a film!
March 20, 2021 Shakespeare Club: “Taming of the Shrew”
558 A Product of Its Time
Shakespeare Club returns! “The Taming of the Shrew” is a Shakespeare play that’s crying out to be adapted for modern audiences, which is why it keeps being adapted—with varying degrees of success. We discuss the play, the unpleasant Franco Zeffirelli 1967 film starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the film and TV versions of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate,” the teen rom-com “10 Things I Hate About You,” and even the 1980s TV adaptation on “Moonlighting,” which might be the best of the bunch? What we’re saying, Shakespeare, is that we’ve got some notes.
March 13, 2021 “WandaVision” season wrap-up
557 You Like Witches? Name Three
It’s a classic sitcom! It’s a Marvel movie! It’s both! It’s the first Disney+ MCU show, “WandaVision.” And it managed to be a walk through television history while simultaneously being an exploration of the stages of grief. Plus, an android in a turtleneck! We break it all down, from where Wanda and Vision go from here to what Monica Rambeau, Darcy Lewis, and Jimmy Woo should be doing next. Tune in, won’t you?
March 7, 2021 “Porco Rosso”
556 Pig’s Gotta Fly
Is this the end of Miyazaki Club? Probably not, but we’ve reached the end of our survey of all the feature films he’s directed with “Porco Rosso,” the story of a pig man, the airplane he loves, the woman he doesn’t feel worthy to love, and the seaplane pirates who terrorize the Adriatic after World War I. There are lots of clouds and planes and boats, as you might expect.
February 27, 2021 “Buffy” season 6
555 Dawson’s Crypt
The sixth season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” features dark and unpleasant themes, a painful magic-as-heroin allegory, and creative decisions that manage to be cruel to both the show’s characters and its audience. But there’s also a musical!
February 21, 2021 “The Expanse” season 5
554 Don’t Split the Party
We discuss the latest season of Amazon’s “The Expanse,” which separates its main characters for storylines all across the solar system. How well does that approach work? How do Amos and Peaches differ? Why should Alex never be a detective? And do we hate Marco Inaros the appropriate amount?
February 14, 2021 Bad Best Pictures Draft
553 In the “King’s Speech” Barrel
We’re using our powers over space and time to capriciously right wrongs throughout movie history. That’s right, it’s the Bad Best Picture Draft, in which our panelists will select a Best Picture Oscar winner, take its statuette away, and hand it to a more deserving winner.
February 6, 2021 “Ponyo”
552 Oh No, My Elixirs!
Miyazaki Club gets weird with “Ponyo,” a story of a fish who gets the taste of human blood, lives in a bucket, can cure all diseases with a lick, and just wants to be human. Also there’s a plot for the sea to sweep away humanity, and the Moon comes perilously close to Earth. But cute!
January 30, 2021 “The Space Between Worlds”
551 Transdimensional Tech Warlord
After a long gap, our Book Club reconvenes, and if they can remember Micaiah Johnson’s “The Space Between Worlds,” they’ll recommend it to you. It’s a story about identity and society set across parallel worlds that are even more similar than they initially appear to be. Also, what else have we read lately? Curl up with a good book and keep an eye out for parallel-universe warlords!
January 25, 2021 “Letterkenny”
550 How Are Ya Now?
From Canada comes “Letterkenny,” an unlikely comedy series about rural hicks, burnouts, and hockey players that’s hyper-verbal, charmingly prone to a donnybrook, and one of the funniest things we’ve watched recently.
January 17, 2021 “Star Trek: Discovery” season 3
549 Future of the Future
Let’s fly! Our panel discusses the just-completed third season of “Star Trek: Discovery,” including new characters, future technologies, turbolifts that are bigger on the inside, and how Saru is very much like Poochie.
January 10, 2021 Pixar’s “Soul”
548 Conveyor Belt to Heaven
This week we’re discussing Pixar’s “Soul,” a film about the meaning of life, but also occasionally a wacky comedy about a talking cat or a dream pirate! But mostly the meaning of life. Watch out for the great Bug Zapper in the sky!
January 1, 2021 2020 favorites and clip show
547 Catching Up On Stuff - The Best of 2020
It’s time for our annual look back at the year gone by, and what a year it was! Still, we managed to watch, read, and listen to some great stuff this year. As is our custom, our panelists and listeners pick favorite Incomparable episodes and moments. This year, a panelist gets stuck inside a clip, and then Jason has to explain the Skeletor Clip Loop to a first-time Clip Show panelist who is not sure it really exists. It does—and 2021 is the year we fight back.
December 27, 2020 “The Mandalorian” season 2
546 Cracks In His Armor
Is this the way? We break down the second season of “The Mandalorian,” which sees our title character struggling with his own identity as a Mandalorian as well as coming to grips with the important task of protecting the child that he’s been caring for. What’s the difference between good and bad fan service? How many different spin-off shows were being set up this season? And we workshop a Baby Yoda sitcom.
December 20, 2020 “Willow”
545 Chekhov’s Disappearing Pig
The Kilmas season reaches its peak with a fantasy film about a fellowship of people small and large who must journey far at the behest of a wizard, carrying something that may lead to the complete destruction of a kingdom. Except the thing isn’t a ring, it’s a baby. It’s 1988’s “Willow,” a charming movie with swords, sorcery, brownies (the bad kind), love potions, cartoonish snowballs, magic acorns, dangerous dragons, and even a magic trick or two. Merry Kilmas, one and all!
December 13, 2020 “Top Secret!”
544 Let Go and Let Kilmer
Kilmas rolls on with Val Kilmer’s first screen role, as the Elvis-like Nick Rivers—who is sent to East Germany and falls into a plot to destroy NATO submarines. But don’t sweat it, this is “Top Secret!”, from the same people who made “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun,” so it’s really all about the jokes. So many jokes. We rave about some, and remain extremely perplexed about others. But you know who makes the whole thing work? Yep, Val Kilmer, that’s who.
December 5, 2020 Rocket Surgery - “Island of Doctor Moreau”
543 I Want to Go to Dog Heaven
Merry Kilmas! We begin our seasonal celebration of actor Val Kilmer with one of his most mysterious works, 1996’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” You’ll go in wanting to see Marlon Brando and David Thewlis, but you’ll exit talking about Goat Man and Dog Butler and why the last half hour of the film makes no sense at all. It’s a legendary disaster of a movie, and maybe that’s what Kilmas is all about!
November 28, 2020 “Lovecraft Country”
542 Don’t Open the Cthulhu Box
Pick up a baseball bat and climb into the Woodie car that’s bigger on the inside, because it’s time to discuss HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.” This is a breathtakingly ambitious multi-genre anthology series with recurring characters. It’s about race and sex and society and love and hideous supernatural monsters. It’s set in the Jim Crow era, but also the past and the future and other planes of existence. And if you like the genres that we cover on The Incomparable, it’s worth your time.
November 17, 2020 Commentary track - “The Star Wars Holiday Special”
541 The Incomparable Life Day Special
Happy Life Day! To celebrate this important occasion, The Incomparable hereby presents a commentary track, to be viewed alongside The Star Wars Holiday Special.
You’ll need to find the Holiday Special via the usual rebel channels. We watched the version with ads in it, so if you find a different version, pause the show during the ads.
November 14, 2020
540 Too Good to Live
It’s silly draft time! In this episode we’re drafting TV series that only lasted a single season. No, miniseries and unaired pilots and shows that got a second season don’t count! Also, everyone gets “Firefly.”
November 7, 2020 “Aliens”
539 There Will Never Be Another Alien Movie
Game over, man, game over! We return to the world of xenomorphs and Weyland-Yutani Corp. as we discuss 1986’s “Aliens,” James Cameron’s fascinating follow-up to the Ridley Scott original. We discuss space marines, alien-friendly elevators, white milky blood, and subsequent Alien movies that are very much uncanonical.
October 31, 2020 “What We Do in the Shadows”
538 Creepy Paper
It’s one of the best things on television right now. It’s “What We Do in the Shadows,” a show that honors vampire lore while placing them in ridiculous mundane situations. A mockumentary sitcom featuring vampires might seem like an entry from TV Mad Libs, but this show (based on an indie feature film also by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi) uses its stellar cast and sharp writing to create a bizarre world of energy vampires, complaining familiars, new-age witches, and—the horror—local politics.
October 24, 2020 “Ted Lasso”
537 Roast Me, Amigo!
Football is life! But even if you don’t care about sports, you should still watch “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+. It’s a very funny show that’s also full of empathy and respect for its characters, which never goes for the cheap joke, and takes the tropes of every sports movie you’ve seen and uses them in ways you’re not expecting. And we’ve left plenty of space before the Spoiler Horn for our cross-Atlantic panel to explain why you should watch it and why we love this fusion of American and English sensibilities. We believe in Ted Lasso, and you will too.
October 17, 2020 “The Last Of Us Part II”
536 Sometimes the Drawer is Empty
Duck into the prone position and aim your bow, because it’s time for us to talk about “The Last of Us Part II”, the sequel to a beloved apocalyptic video game. We follow the characters on their pursuit of cross-country revenge, filled with flashbacks and the infected. But on this journey, as we trade our adrenaline for tears, we learn that we were the last of us all along.
October 10, 2020 Muppet Draft
535 The Internet is for Muppets
It’s time to play the music
It’s time to light the lights
It’s time to draft the Muppets
On the Incomparable tonight
October 3, 2020 “Henry V”
534 The Young Henry Chronicles
Once more unto the breach, dear friends! This episode kicks off a new recurring feature, Shakespeare Club. Our first subject is “Henry V.” We watch Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 film and discuss Shakespeare’s Expanded Henry Universe, tennis balls, d’elbow, and what a jerk young Harry actually is.
September 26, 2020 “Midnight” (1939) and “Some Like It Hot” (1959)
533 Confiscate the Trumpeter’s Mute
Our Old Movie Club takes on two Billy Wilder comedies from 1939 and 1959, to see if they still hold up 81 and 61 years later. Erika Ensign’s selection is “Midnight,” starring Claudette Colbert and Don Ameche, and Philip Michaels counters with “Some Like It Hot,” starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe. Both films are about people pretending to be something they aren’t. And then the fun begins… hopefully!
September 19, 2020 Star Trek character draft
532 Most Crushable Crew
Launch the Photon Torpedoes! In this episode we’re drafting mostly obscure characters from all of Star Trek lore, and creating our own TV series pitches with the results. If you think our drafts have gone off the rails before, you haven’t seen anything yet!
September 12, 2020 “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”
531 Linda Hamilton Bicep Fan Club
Grab a shotgun, climb on a stolen motorcycle, and get out your 90s slang phrasebook, because it’s time to watch one of the definitive summer blockbusters, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” We marvel at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s perfectly robotic demeanor, Robert Patrick’s steely stare and creepy walk, and Linda Hamilton’s—well, pretty much everything. Hasta la vista, baby.
September 5, 2020 “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”
530 Let’s Talk About Turnips!
Hop a flight piloted by a Dodo and leave behind the world you know! Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the perfect escape. Journey to a deserted island to do digital equivalents of chores you’re avoiding doing in the real world! One of the most subjective experiences in all of gaming turned out to be just what millions of us needed this summer. Guest host Moisés Chiullan and his six panelists are proof that “the friends you make along the way” really is the whole point after all. Well, that and draft-format podcasts.
August 30, 2020 “Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro”
529 Ancient Goat Lettering
Grab a wad of counterfeit cash and get ready to swim up a waterfall! Our Miyazaki Club goes back to the beginning, to the great animation director’s first feature, “The Castle of Cagliostro.” It’s a franchise work-for-hire being executed by a budding genius, which is a fascinating combination. The film mixes cartoony action and heist-movie tropes with clouds and landscapes and flying machines that come straight from Miyazaki’s brain.
August 22, 2020 Our tenth anniversary!
528 To Quantity!
Ten years ago today, The Incomparable began. To celebrate a decade of whatever this is, Jason gathered a dozen of the podcast’s top panelists for a round of toasts.
August 15, 2020 “Palm Springs”
527 Quantum Physics Training Montage
Inflate your pool floaties, prepare a wedding speech, and whatever you do, don’t go in the glowing red cave, because we’re discussing the delightful film “Palm Springs,” starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons, and currently available (to Americans, anyway) on Hulu. It’s the kind of movie we’ve seen before, but with so many interesting twists on the concept that it always feels fresh. In addition to pointing out what makes the movie work, we’ve got a bunch of nerdy questions about its premise, the multiverse, where you can find C4 and a policeman’s uniform on short notice, and the ultimate disposition of one very strange goat.
August 2, 2020 Comic book reading list
526 The Years Have Pants
Want to pick up a comic book or graphic novel and don’t know where to start? Our panel has a bunch of very different ideas for you to choose from! We’ve made a list of nearly two dozen for you to try—all available in collections, all ready to pick up without knowing anything about history or backstory or continuity or anything.
July 25, 2020 2020 Hugo Award nominees
525 Sorry, Ocean
It’s our annual read of the annual science fiction and fantasy shortlist, the Hugo Awards nominees! Our panelists catch up on the three books that weren’t covered in our Nebula Awards episode, and then Jason and Erika spend a little time on the short fiction nominees. And the raging debate on whether a planet is space or not continues!
July 18, 2020 “Devs”
524 ASMR From Hell
Alex Garland has followed up his film “Ex Machina” with another philosophical drama about technology, the miniseries “Devs.” It’s unique, beautiful, thought provoking, and doesn’t remotely stick the landing. We spend a lengthy pre-Spoiler Horn slot discussing why you might want to watch it (and why you might not), and then we break down the strengths and weaknesses of the show overall and the final episode in particular.
July 12, 2020 “Da 5 Bloods”
523 Chekhov’s Land Mine
It’s time to take a trip back to Vietnam and discuss Spike Lee’s new film, “Da 5 Bloods”! We discuss Netflix’s decision to release the movie right now, the plot’s many twists and turns, and all of the ways Spike Lee incorporates references to other genres and directors. Plus, heaps and heaps of praise for the cast.
July 4, 2020 “Contact”
522 Burning Man for Aliens
They should have sent a poet, but instead we sent ourselves to celebrate the 23rd (it’s a prime number, as any alien would know) anniversary of the Robert Zemeckis film “Contact”, starring Jodie Foster in an adaptation of the novel by Carl Sagan. How do we reconcile the film’s debate about science and religion? Is this really two movies in one? How showy are the film’s set pieces and special effects? We’re ok to go—otherwise this podcast would be an awful waste of space.
June 27, 2020 “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 5
521 Knights of Exposition
Our walkthrough of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” continues with season 5, in which Buffy inherits a sister with retcon powers, the gang loses someone close to them, and everyone realizes it’s time to grow up. Also, the Big Bad thinks she’s prettier than Buffy, but when you spend all that time around a bunch of gnomish lackeys, your aesthetic sense is bound to get a bit skewed.
June 20, 2020 Rocket Surgery: “The Emoji Movie”
520 Words Aren’t Cool
It’s not 🧠🧑🏻🔬⚛️, it’s 🚀🧑🏻⚕️🔪. Emojipedia’s own Jeremy Burge joins our crew to watch the heck out of 2017’s “The Emoji Movie,” a very 😑 movie in which Patrick Stewart plays 💩 and we’re told that 🍆 belongs in the Loser Lounge.
June 14, 2020 “Wall-E”
519 Relics and Garbage
Put on your Sunday clothes and get ready to patrol the trash heap that is Earth, because it’s time to discuss Pixar’s “Wall-E.” We cover the nearly dialogueless first act, whether the broader comedy on the B&L ship Axiom works, Fred Willard (RIP), and the greatness of Ben Burtt. Watch out for rogue robots!
June 7, 2020 “Westworld” Season 3
518 Mother of Androids
We break down the third season of HBO’s “Westworld”, a show that we may appreciate more for the big swings that it takes rather than the number of times it actually connects. This just-finished season was messy, with one clear through-line and a bunch of other characters who are not served particularly well. We break down the character arcs for Dolores, Bernard, Dolores, Maeve, Dolores, Serac, and Dolores. There’s also praise for Marshawn Lynch (and his shirt), for the show’s continued excellent use of music, and we ponder who the emotional center of the show might actually be.
May 31, 2020 “The Big Sleep” and “The Long Goodbye”
517 Intensely Interesting
Old Movie Club takes on two distinctly different Raymond Chandler adaptations: 1946’s “The Big Sleep” (with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe) and 1973’s “The Long Goodbye” (with Elliott Gould as Marlowe). Both of them have twisty plots that unravel, leaving dead bodies behind. Women throw themselves at Bogie! Elliott Gould needs to buy cat food! Film Boir will never be the same.
May 24, 2020 2020 Nebula Award novels
516 Like a Fruit Salad
We’ve completed our read of this year’s six Nebula Award nominees for best science fiction/fantasy novel of the year, and have returned with our opinions! And this year was a pretty good one, with very few of our readers experiencing the pain of bad books. From space opera to portal fantasy to Mexican mythology, there are almost certainly books on this list that will strike your fancy. Also, we debate the perennial question: Are planets in space?
May 16, 2020 TV Theme Draft II
515 Guitar Riff for Grandma
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful show
We drafted yet more TV themes
And the theme song list did grow
The guest list was a lengthy one
The pickers came prepared
If not for the courage of our editor
The listeners would be scared
So join us on your podcast app
You’ll listen till you’re full
It’s favorite TV theme songs
Here on The Incomparable
May 9, 2020 “The Aleph Extraction”
514 You Can’t Pants a Heist
Dan Moren joins Jason to discuss what went into writing his new novel, “The Aleph Extraction.” No spoilers for the story, but we do discuss how he builds characters, the optimal length of a novel, how writing a novel under contract is different from having years to write one without a publisher, and why Jason has access to the Galactic Cold War wiki.
May 3, 2020 “Knives Out”
513 Hats Off
This podcast is like a donut hiding inside the hole of another donut. That’s because we’re talking “Knives Out,” Rian Johnson’s twisty and clever murder mystery set in the family of a very rich and very awful family. We discuss the movie’s storytelling choices, debate whether it plays fair with all its flashbacks, ponder which of the family members is the least awful, and laugh about all the jokes. (And yes, if you listen to this episode before watching the movie, you’re a monster.)
April 26, 2020 1990s album draft
Put on your best shaggy flannel, because it’s time to go back to the ’90s for another album draft! In this episode Jason is joined by a decade’s worth of panelists to choose our favorite music albums from the 1990s. And yet, somehow, some of our panelists were born in that very decade! Isn’t it ironic?
April 19, 2020 “The Magicians” season 5
511 Whales Are Powerful Magicians
The final season of SyFy’s “The Magicians” is in the books, and we’re here to wrap it up, as well as share some overall thoughts on the series as the whole. But before we do that, we spend 17 minutes convincing you that it’s a show that’s absolutely worth watching.
April 12, 2020 “Apollo 13”
510 Failure Is Not an Option
Put on a white vest, climb in your Corvette, and whatever you do, don’t stir the cryo tanks! It’s the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13 and the 25th anniversary of “Apollo 13,” so we’re here to discuss Ron Howard’s film, starring Tom Hanks, Ed Harris and an enormous collection of character actors. The real-life story of Apollo 13 is so unlikely that if they made it into a movie, you’d never believe it—but in 1995 they did, and you will.
April 4, 2020 “Star Trek: Picard” season 1
509 The Battle of Control-V
Engage! Season one of “Star Trek: Picard” is in the books, and so now it’s time to break it all down. Is Data’s death the overriding theme of the season? Does Picard’s final destination live up to the set-up? How did Hugh and Seven fare? Were the other visits from past cast members cheesy or good? How cool are Romulan warrior nuns? Who’s your favorite synth? And can storytelling ever be described as “lumpy?”
March 29, 2020 “High Fidelity” (2000)
508 But Who Would That Woman Be?
By the end of this episode we will sell several copies of “The Three E.P.s” by The Beta Band. It’s time to put on that horrible Cosby sweater and rearrange your record collection autobiographically. On the 20th anniversary of its release, we’re here to discuss one of our All-Time Top 5 movies featuring Lisa Bonet coming alive like Frampton, “High Fidelity.” Based on Nick Hornby’s novel, this film stars John Cusack as a bad boyfriend with a glimmer of hope at finding a clue, features a career-making performance from Jack Black as a gatekeeper fan with a surprising singing voice, and still resonates with us after two decades.
March 21, 2020 Where does “Star Wars” go from here?
507 No More Death Stars
The Skywalker Saga is over—so what’s next for “Star Wars”? This week we’re suggesting potential directions for the franchise to go, on both the big and small screens. What kinds of movies should come next? Is Disney+ a development platform or the next big thing? Our team of franchise fans has no fiduciary responsibility and plenty of ideas!
March 15, 2020 “Doctor Who” series 12 wrap-up
506 Hold My Infinite Beers
This week we review the just-completed season of “Doctor Who.” It’s the second year for showrunner Chris Chibnall and star Jodie Whittaker, and this one felt like a real return to form after a tentative set of episodes in 2018. What do we make of the show’s canon-altering revelations? Which episodes were good and which ones were stinkers? How do you make the Cybermen interesting? How’s the fam holding up? Curl up in a haunted house—or just go sit on a lounge chair for three hours—and listen to this episode, followed by the Master’s TED Talk.
March 7, 2020 “Counterpart” season 2
505 It’s Always Overcast In Berlin
“Counterpart” is one of the best TV series in recent years, and in the U.S. it’s finally available in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video. In this episode, we generally discuss why this show is great and you should watch it, and then after the Spoiler Horn we dive in to discuss the show’s second and final season, how the world(s) come to be, and the meaning of the show’s final scenes.
February 29, 2020 “The Good Place” season and series wrap-up (bonus panel)
504 Bullied by Local Toughs and Snails
We love NBC’s “The Good Place” so much, we couldn’t restrain ourselves to a single episode about its final season. Straight from The Medium Place, another group of Incomparable panelists wrap up The Good Place’s four-season run by walking through each season and reminiscing about the characters’ arcs. Plus, how well was the final season paced? Did we need more time to say goodbye to Team Cockroach?
February 29, 2020 “The Good Place” season and series wrap-up
503 God Is a Job Nobody Wants
NBC’s “The Good Place” recently completed its fourth and final season. We send off this instant television classic with a discussion of its view of the afterlife, philosophy, and dumb jokes. Did the final season’s shift in perspective work? Did the final episode provide the closure we wanted? Shut up, Glenn!
February 22, 2020 “House of X” and “Powers of X”
502 He’ll Always Be Goldballs To Me
Make more mutants! Comic Book Club re-forms to discuss “House of X”/”Powers of X”, a paired set of comics miniseries that are an exciting new take on the X-Men. If you’re an old-school mutant fan who has been out of the business for years (like Jason), these 12 issues are a great read. They’re all available in a single collection, and the issues are also now rolling out weekly on Marvel Unlimited, so there are plenty of ways to partake. We discuss the politics of mutant separatism, the wisdom of backing up souls to a hard drive, the difference between Xavier and MLK, the many lives of Moira MacTaggart and how they free us from the burden of continuity, and much more. Finally, Moisés advises us on what to read among the follow-up series that were released in the wake of this book.
February 14, 2020 “To Be Taught, If Fortunate”
501 The Kickstarter of Space Exploration
Climb aboard your spaceship and prepare your skin to be sparkly, because we’re discussing “To Be Taught, If Fortunate,” a novella from Becky Chambers, a writer we enjoy quite a lot. This is a story about science, adventure, sacrifice, and the difficulty of being away from home for a very, very long time. An interesting crew of characters explores strange, new worlds—while trying to fit in biologically. Sometimes it goes really well, and other times it doesn’t. Also: What are we reading?
February 8, 2020 Episode D.
500 Amalgamated Zeppelin Monocle Company
On the occasion of our 500th episode, our most prolific panelists of all time draft their favorite episodes of The Incomparable and suggest new drafts for future episodes of the podcast.
February 1, 2020 “The Expanse” season 4 wrap-up
499 I Love Space Fedoras
Step into the alien architecture and watch out for death slugs, as we discuss season four of Amazon Prime Video’s “The Expanse.” We’re happy to have our characters saved from the clutches of the SyFy channel, but how has the transition to streaming been? Why are alien planets so much like quarries? Why is Avasarala so competent and unelectable? What shenanigans is Bobbie Draper getting into on Mars? Listen, or be spaced.
January 25, 2020 “The Mandalorian”
498 That Puppet Has an Agent
Grab a tracking fob and saddle up a bluurg, because it’s time to discuss “The Mandalorian,” the first live-action Star Wars TV series. Why is the show’s main character always wearing a mask? How much merchandise money did Disney forego in order to keep Baby Yoda a secret? Is the Mandalorian capable of providing an environment in which Baby Yoda can thrive? Why is serving tea so civilized? We’ve got to get us one of those jet packs.
January 18, 2020 “For All Mankind”
497 A Concerning Amount of Tootsie Rolls
Hi Bob! We continue our early 2020 survey of late 2019 TV favorites with “For All Mankind”, an Apple TV+ series from Ron Moore about a NASA space program that has taken some dramatic turns since Soviet Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov became the first person to set foot on the moon. We discuss the show’s balancing modern themes with its alt-historical context, how purely fictional and fictionalized historical characters fare, the merits of a weekly episode drop, lunar FaceTime and fax machines, and where it all might be headed in as the show’s second season (perhaps) reaches the 1980s.
January 12, 2020 HBO’s “Watchmen” (2019)
496 Get Into the Elephant Stuff
There was a lot of great TV released in 2019, but if you ask us, there was none better than HBO’s “Watchmen”, which took a classic comic and tried to match it as a modern TV series. We discuss how the series dealt with race, superheroes, empire, masks, eggs, and legacy. Also: Will there be a second season? Should there be? Nothing ever ends, Adrian, especially if the spin-offs remain profitable.
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January 3, 2020 Our favorite works and audio clips of 2019
495 Congratulations, You’re All Pregnant - The Best of 2019
Happy New Year! Another year has gone by, but we don’t want to miss the opportunity to take one last look back at 2019, as our most frequent panelists of the year share some of their favorite works and discuss their favorite Incomparable moments while we play some classic 2019 audio clips.
December 31, 2019 “Rise of Skywalker” Jedi Panel
494 No Sith For You
Our trilogy of panels about “The Rise of Skywalker” concludes with a discussion of the film’s themes, how Kylo Ren keeps sliding into Rey’s DMs, whether you can ever have enough “Star Wars”, and how “Star Wars” is a little bit like “Seinfeld.”
December 27, 2019 “Rise of Skywalker” Rebel Panel
493 Maybe They’ve Got Evil Droids
Our panel of rebel podcasters, striking again from their hidden base, present another perspective on “The Rise of Skywalker.” Why does James want to see evil droids? Does Liz find Ben Solo or Kylo Ren more intriguing? Can Chip be satisfied with the ending to this generation-defining saga? Why are we in the midst of a global Porg shortage? Guest host Antony Johnston will seek the answers.
December 22, 2019 “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker”
492 The Sith You’ve Dated
The Dead Speak, and so do we! It’s our first panel reviewing “The Rise of Skywalker.” Can this film bear the gravitational pull of the eight previous Skywalker Saga films? Does it provide a proper ending? We discuss Rey’s parentage, Finn’s increasing abilities, Poe’s lessons in leadership, whether Kylo Ren can possibly be redeemed, Zen and the Art of X-Wing Maintenance, how the film balances honoring Carrie Fisher with serving Leia’s character arc, and much more.
December 15, 2019 “Elf”
491 The Yellow Ones Don’t Stop
Get out your flask of maple syrup, warm up your Lite Brites and Etch-A-Sketches, and check the Clausometer, because it’s time to tell the story of Buddy the Elf. It’s 2003’s “Elf”, the modern Christmas classic starring Will Ferrell. What are the theological implications of the seven levels of the candy cane forest? Why so many “Lord of the Rings” references? How can James Caan and everyone else at the publishing company be so bad at their jobs? Wait a second… this isn’t maple syrup!
December 8, 2019 What to do with “Star Wars”?
490 Treat It Like the Bible
Though Disney’s purchase of Fox clears all final hurdles in terms of rights to the original “Star Wars”, there’s still no way for anyone to watch the historic theatrical cuts of any of the original films. Instead, the new Disney+ streaming service now offers a 4K Special Edition with even more changes to the beloved classic. Is this the definitive version of “Star Wars” for the rest of eternity? Does Disney’s assumption of the franchise provide a new hope? Can Disney honor history and give fans what they want without negating George Lucas’s insistence that his Special Editions are the only editions? What is “Star Wars” and what will it be in the future? In this episode, we solve the whole thing. You’re welcome.
November 30, 2019 “Lawrence of Arabia”
489 He Likes Your Lemonade
Old Movie Club finally takes on the big one, David Lean’s 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia.” Sand! Endurance! Men! Camels! Violence! Anticolonialism mixed with racism! Omar Sharif redefines thirst in the desert! The real romance in the movie without romance! This is a movie that builds myths with one hand and undermines them with the other. This episode has no overture, but there will be a brief intermission.
November 24, 2019 “This Is How You Lose the Time War”
488 What If Romeo and Juliet Were Terminators
Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss “This Is How You Lose the Time War”, a beautiful novella about the relationship between two time-traveling operatives in a multiverse-wide struggle. Also, Erika keeps stuffing us full of food metaphors. Plus: What are we reading? This episode will go down like ice cream on your brain tongue.
November 16, 2019 Sequel or Not Draft
487 Save It for the Sequel
We live in a world of film sequels and franchises. And yet, some films we love, that were certainly worthy, never received a sequel. This episode attempts to correct that, but in order to create we must also destroy—and name the film sequels we would like to eradicate from memory. All of these momentous decisions are made via the most perfect decision-making process yet devised: a draft. This episode is so good, you’ll be begging for a sequel.
November 10, 2019 “The Amazing Spider-Man” films
486 Crazy With the Lizard Juice
In this final appendix to our Summer of Spider-Man, we watch a movie that’s probably much better than you’ve heard—2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Yes, it wasn’t necessary to re-tell Spidey’s origin ten years after the Tobey Maguire version, but you know what? This movie does it better, Andrew Garfield is pretty great as a mopey skateboarding Peter Parker, and Emma Stone is a fun and smart Gwen Stacy. We also discuss “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which is a movie that reminds us of Batman movies—the really awful ones.
November 2, 2019 “Edge of Tomorrow”
485 Iterative Movies Are My Jam
Watch movie. Do podcast. Repeat. We’re pretty sure this is our first time discussing “Edge of Tomorrow,” but can you ever really be sure? Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in this film about fighting an alien invasion through countless iterations of a single event. But unlike “Groundhog Day”, the origin of the time loops is key to the plot. If you haven’t seen this one yet, you’re missing out on one of the decade’s most under-appreciated sci-fi films. Watch movie. Do podcast. Repeat.
October 26, 2019 “Ginger Snaps”
It’s almost Halloween and we’re watching a horror movie! As recommended by Steve Lutz 475 episodes ago, it’s a Canadian tale of girls becoming women, and women becoming wolves: “Ginger Snaps.” We discuss parallels to “Buffy”, connections to “Orphan Black”, and ultimately whether this film can live up to its feminist aspirations or if it’s yet another case where a girl is punished for becoming a woman—er, werewolf.
October 20, 2019 “Batman” (1966)
483 Light Mode Batman
Holy Nostalgia! Our tour of live-action Batman features comes to an end with 1966’s “Batman”, in which a rogues gallery of villains from the Batman TV series—Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman—take on Batman and Robin. We praise the… acting stile of Adam West and why…. he… was perfect for this part. We ponder how influential the 1960s Batman was on public perception of superheroes and comic books for decades thereafter. And we finally answer the question you’ve all been asking: What weighs five ounces and is very dangerous? To the batcave!
October 13, 2019 “Sneakers”
482 A Problematic Hen
Your voice is your passport, so prepare to be verified. We discuss 1992’s “Sneakers,” a spy/heist thriller in which a team of smart people solve puzzles while trying to navigate the NSA, Russian spies, and an angry genius who works for the mob and is trying to overthrow the world order. Yes, star Robert Redford rolled a very high Charisma score, but the rest of the cast is also amazing.
October 5, 2019 “The Dark Crystal” (1982)
481 An All-Puppet Production
Grab a shard, climb up your orrery, and get ready for the conjunction—it’s time to watch 1982’s “The Dark Crystal”, directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. This is a fantasy film featuring a prophecy, a young hero, a plucky animal sidekick, and villains so scary that it scarred several of our panelists’ young minds. And did we mention everyone’s a Muppet? Netflix has a new “Dark Crystal” prequel series, but we won’t spoil that—this is all about the original 1982 film.
September 29, 2019 X-Men Draft
480 The Whole McCoy
Jason’s commitment to drafting things as a lifestyle continues in this episode, in which he’s joined by six panelists to draft X-Men from across movies, TV, and comics. The goal is to form a four-person X-Team, complete with names. Along the way we learn a lot about childhood loves, softball, vampires, the basics of German, and how the coolest and worst X-Men can co-exist.
September 21, 2019 Saturday Morning Draft
479 Specifically Boo Berry
Pour a sugary bowl of cereal and sit down in front of the TV for a long morning of entertainment. It’s time for our Saturday Morning draft, in which nine people of various ages draft favorite their favorite kid programming from their childhood. Plus cereal. Did we mention cereal?
September 14, 2019 “The Wind Rises”
478 Death Snuggle Fort
Our survey of the films of Hayao Miyazaki turns to his most recent film, 2013’s “The Wind Rises.” In many ways, it’s his most adult film, the story of an aeronautical engineer who must pursue his dreams amid earthquakes, rising geopolitical tensions, and personal challenges. Is movie tuberculosis like real tuberculosis? Is Miyazaki’s approach to pre-war Japan (and its allies, Germany and Italy) delicate or problematic? Does the film sufficiently address whether creators are complicit in how their work is used? Is the wind still rising?
September 7, 2019 “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 4
477 Klimt Versus Monet
Our season-by-season survey of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” goes to college, as we explore season four. UC Sunnydale is full of welcoming professors, friendly TAs, annoying roommates, and a collection of government commandos who are experimenting on the local demons and vampires. Spike returns as comic relief. We’re all about Willow and Tara. And then there’s that episode where nobody talks and that other one where they’re all dreaming. We break it all down like it’s 1999.
August 31, 2019 “Spider-Man 3”
476 Lucky Crime Shirt
The Summer of Spider-Man concludes with 2007’s “Spider-Man 3”, a controversial sequel that’s packed full with villains (Sandman, Venom, and Extreme Sports Goblin) battling the increasingly unpleasant emo version of Peter Parker. Sandman’s daughter is very ill. Eddie Brock is an awfully unpleasant person. And at long last, the greatest character in the franchise—Bernard the Butler—gets his due. We watched it so you don’t have to!
August 25, 2019 “Spider-Man 2” (2004)
475 Count the Coats
Our Summer of Spider-Man swings on with 2004’s “Spider-Man 2.” Flush with the success of the first film, this is a much more confident outing that’s also more clearly set in modern times, isn’t afraid to have a sense of humor, and makes great use of director Sam Raimi’s horror-movie resume. And at the center is perhaps the biggest reason for the film’s success: Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius, a Frankenstein who is his own monster, after having created a set of robotic limbs so intelligent that each pair needs its own jacket.
August 18, 2019 “Spider-Man” (2002)
474 World Unity Day
We live in a world awash with superhero films today, but back at the beginning of this century it was a dark age. 2002’s “Spider-Man” finally brought one of the world’s most popular superheroes to the big screen, setting the stage for the genre’s elevation later in the decade. The Summer of Spider-Man is here, as we revisit Sam Raimi’s three Spidey films and judge how well they hold up to modern eyes. Up, up and away, web!
August 10, 2019 “Chernobyl”
473 Belarusian Chupacabra
Comrades, we come to discuss HBO’s excellent miniseries “Chernobyl.” It’s simultaneously a horror movie about radiation poisoning, a indictment of a system that suppressed the truth in order to avoid showing signs of weakness, a tragedy about a humanitarian disaster, and an exciting tale of scientists attempting to work the problem and avert a continent-wide catastrophe. The subject matter may be hard, but the result is some of the most compelling television we’ve seen in some time.
August 3, 2019 2019 Hugo Nominees
472 33 Percent Rule
Our Book Club returns with reviews of the six finalists for the Hugo Award for best science fiction/fantasy novel of the year. You’ll be thrilled by our panelists attempting to remember what happened in books they read months ago! We liked five out of the six, which is a great batting average—but oh, that sixth book. Also, we read some novellas and short stories, too! And Erika’s up for another Hugo!
July 28, 2019 “Veronica Mars”
471 High School Is a Strange Time
A long time ago we used to be friends, but I haven’t thought of you lately at all—until you got that new series at Hulu, anyway. We’re discussing the UPN/CW classic series “Veronica Mars”, featuring Kristen Bell as a teenage noir detective trying to solve her best friend’s murder with the reluctant help of her disgraced private-investigator dad. If you’ve never seen it, it’s worth a watch! We discuss season one of the show in detail (including revealing who the murderer is at the end), but don’t discuss much at all about the next two seasons and don’t touch at all on the contents of the fourth season that just premiered.
July 20, 2019 “Alice in Wonderland” (2010)
470 Futterwacken Hats
Our Rocket Surgery crew returns to the current decade to discuss Tim Burton’s billion-dollar 3-D smash hit, “Alice In Wonderland.” What if everything you remember fondly from Lewis Carroll was turned into a catchphrase? Why so much eye stabbing? Who is the Jabberwocky and what has it done with the Jabberwock? What does Johnny Depp bring to his role of a mild hat enthusiast? When did Monty give up and start reading IMDB trivia? Nobody mention how big the Red Queen’s head is!
July 13, 2019 “Spider-Man: Far From Home”
469 Snap, Blip, Pop, Crackle
Fresh from the theater, we tackle “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” We consider the lighter side of the death and resurrection of billions of people, the unique position this Spider-Man has in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the value of various surrogate dads. We’re also surprised at how interesting Mysterio turned out to be despite the fact that he’s Mysterio.
June 30, 2019 Old Movie Club: “Jaws”
468 Did the Shark Order Takeout?
For 4th of July week we’re going to the beach — Amity Island, to be precise. Old Movie Club takes on the original summer blockbuster, 1975’s “Jaws”, directed by some kid named Steven Spielberg. Two of our panelists have never seen it! But we all learn some important lessons about how much blood the human body contains, the ins and outs of tourism marketing, and how the most important part of the journey is the sharks we met along the way.
June 29, 2019 Improv Rocket Surgery: “Last Dance of the Devil’s” (1993)
467 Lord of Board and Sword
If we told you that there was a 1990s movie starring Martin Sheen’s brother featuring a post-apocalyptic world of skateboarding, sword-wielding Jedi dudes, would you believe us? Well, you shouldn’t, because we made it up on the spot. Concluding our trilogy of improvised “Rocket Surgery” episodes, this is “Last Dance of the Devil’s”, a film so bad that its title is mispunctuated.
June 23, 2019 “The Dark Knight Rises”
466 Bane on a Plane
Our survey of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films concludes with “The Dark Knight Rises.” It’s clear why fans of the gritty darkness of “The Dark Knight” might have been disappointed with this film, because it’s strange in many surprisingly comic-booky ways… and we kind of love it? We discuss the choice to have the film’s primary villain have his mouth covered and speak in surround sound, the competence of Selina Kyle, the steadfastness of Michael Caine’s Alfred, the heir apparent earnestness of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the proximity of certain middle-eastern rendition sites to Gotham. If you miss this episode, look for us in a café in Florence and give us a nod.
June 15, 2019 “The Dark Knight”
465 Camus With a Smiley Face
Our cinematic survey of Batman rolls on with Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” Nolan’s film was a huge hit and remains well loved, but how does it hold up on rewatching? Our panel found a film overflowing with ideas, sometimes to its credit and sometime to its detriment. Is this really two movies jammed together into one? Why was Rachel Dawes re-cast? Why does Batman hate dogs? Turn on your sonar vision and find out!
June 8, 2019 “The Magicians” season 4
464 Tapestry of Cakes
If you’re not watching “The Magicians”, you’re missing out. This is a TV series that started off fine, but then became spectacularly good with its third and (just completed) fourth seasons. We take some time at the beginning of the episode to try to entice new viewers to watch, and then dive into the shocking events that occur in the most recent season. After all, sometimes you’ve got to be a fish.
June 1, 2019 “Game of Thrones” season 8 wrap-up
463 West of Westeros
Climb on a dragon and join us for our traditional breakdown of the just-completed season of “Game of Thrones.” Did the story reach a satisfying conclusion? Were the character arcs consistent? Did the structure of the season satisfy us or undercut our assumptions about what the show was really about? And what is to become of the Night’s Watch? One last time, we go to Westeros.
May 26, 2019 Best and worst of TV endings.
462 Misunderstanding-Based Murder
For some reason, this seemed like a good time for our panelists to get together and draft their favorite and least favorite TV series endings of all time. We’ll wager that there are opinions you’ll disagree with and shows you’ve literally never heard of.
May 18, 2019 Nebula Novels 2019
461 Team Jerkface
It’s time once again for our Book Club to tackle the six novels that made it to the Science Fiction Writers Association’s shortlist, the nominees for the Nebula Awards. All four of us read all six nominees and we discuss their merits (and occasionally demerits). The concept of being a Reverse Nemesis With a Twist is introduced. If you’re looking for a few books to add to your reading list, this episode will hit the spot.
May 12, 2019 “Star Trek: Discovery” season 2
460 Three and a Half Mothers
Time to boldly go back to the earliest days of the Star Trek canon with our review of the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery”, which mixed in some Doctor Who and Star Wars sensibilities with varying results. We praise the characters, shrug at some of the mystifying plot points, and are left pondering where the series and the franchise go next. Plus there’s an enormous amount of love for Anson Mount’s Christopher Pike. Never forget: #theybuilttheset.
May 5, 2019 “Avengers: Endgame” (Panel 2 of 2)
459 Next Up: The Ronan Movie
Part Two of our team coverage of “Avengers: Endgame!” Chip Sudderth assembles more of our Incomparable regulars and newer voices for a different angle on the movie—weaponized nostalgia, timey-wimey nonsense, delightful surprises and sour notes, and what this movie means for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
May 4, 2019 “Avengers: Endgame” (Panel 1 of 2)
458 San Francisco Rat
We’re in the endgame now. In this, the first of two episodes about “Avengers: Endgame,” we break down the plot of perhaps the biggest movie of all time. How does time travel work? How do we feel about the final destinations of beloved characters? Why does the Hulk need to take the stairs? Who is worthy of wielding the power of Thor? Also, Jason has a pitch for a new Captain America TV series.
April 27, 2019 Improv Rocket Surgery: “The Howling Horror of Dracula”
457 Dracula’s Home Alone
We’re all out seeing “Avengers: Endgame”, so here’s something completely different to tide you over. A while ago we all were talking about how our Rocket Surgery selections are so weird and obscure that we could just make up an entire movie and nobody would be able to tell the difference. So we did that. As with episode 453, here’s a Rocket Surgery about a movie you won’t find on IMDB or YouTube, because it totally doesn’t exist. We made it up on the spot, plot point by plot point. It’s 1963’s “The Howling Horror of Dracula.”
April 20, 2019 “Incredibles 2”
456 Where’s the Raccoon?
Pop on your mind-control goggles, unpunch your nemesis, and prepare to board the world’s largest hydrofoil—it’s time for us to discuss 2018’s much-awaited Pixar sequel “Incredibles 2”. Brad Bird’s original film tops the list of favorite animated films for many of us. This film… doesn’t. In this episode we detail all the ways that both story and an unfortunate change in Pixar’s release schedule let this movie down, while trying our best to also highlight the many reasons we still find it worthy of revisiting.
April 14, 2019 “Star Wars: Episode IX” teaser trailer
We break down the “Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker” teaser trailer scene by scene, speculate about what the title means, question how to balance the closure of the classic saga without straying too far into nostalgia trips, and offer some wild speculation. Then we wrap things up with a discussion of the future of the franchise now that it’s moving (at least temporarily) to the forthcoming Disney+ streaming service.
April 6, 2019 “Paper Girls”
454 I Wrote a Letter to Myself
“Paper Girls” is a comic that looks like it’s steeped in ’80s nostalgia, then makes you think it’s a modern story commenting on ’80s nostalgia, and then takes a 90-degree turn and becomes something even more interesting. This week we discuss the comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, which begins as a story about four girls delivering newspapers on a morning in 1988. The first 25 minutes or so is all spoiler-light, and then after the Spoiler Horn we jump into our discussion of the first two trade-paperback collections. (There are five volumes in all, with the sixth and final collection due this summer.)
March 30, 2019 Rocket Surgery: “Star Raiders” (1983)
453 Turn Left at the Asteroid
It’s the Rocket Surgery Film Festival! In this episode, we’re watching something that proves that computer-game film adaptations were a bad idea from the very beginning! Based on a late 1970s Atari game, it’s the ill-fated “Star Raiders.” There’s a not-dashing star pilot, a sullen space princess, an annoying robot, and is that Sheriff Lobo in a tight-fitting jumpsuit? If you’re looking for a cross between “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, are you in for some disappointment. Once again, we watched the movie so you don’t have to.
Correction: Due to a clerical error, none of these movies actually exist. This episode was entirely improvised.
March 23, 2019 “Travelers” season 3
452 Parties for Time Travelers
Protocol Omega has been activated, so it’s time to discuss the final season of Netflix’s “Travelers.” This is a mid-budget Canadian time travel show that we love, and if you haven’t dived in yet, now’s a great time. In this episode we talk about the show’s surprisingly satisfying ending, try to work out what makes this show’s particular brand of time-travel rules so intriguing, discuss some of our favorite moments, and air a few of our complaints about the final season.
March 16, 2019 “Captain Marvel”
451 My Brain Unclenched
Put on some flannel and pop in a grunge CD—it’s time to talk about Marvel’s 1990s throwback movie, “Captain Marvel.” We discuss Brie Larson and Samuel Jackson’s buddy-movie connection, surprise twists designed to trip up comics know-it-alls, and the dangers of gaslighting someone with cosmic powers. Strap in, and let’s fly this thing into orbit!
March 9, 2019 Alternate Spider-Man characters and “Spider-Verse”
450 A Surprising Number of Spider-Meetings
Spin a web, any size, and join us as our Comic Book Club discusses the comics from 2014 that inspired “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and, more generally, the concept of alternate versions of Spider-Man. We read “Edge of Spider-Verse,” which introduces Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker, and the “Spider-Verse” issues of “Amazing Spider-Man.” Along the way we talk about our favorite alternate spiders and what path the makers of “Into the Spider-Verse” might choose as they ponder sequels and spin-offs.
March 3, 2019 “Source Code”
449 An Onion of a Movie
Take our advice—it’s good advice—and revisit 2011’s “Source Code”, an under-appreciated gem of a sci-fi thriller directed by Duncan Jones and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. A first glance at the plot summary would suggest it’s a certain kind of movie, but this film has many more layers that are revealed over its 93 well-paced minutes. (And if you don’t know what it’s about, don’t look!) We’ve got praise for the script, the direction, the performances—especially by Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga—and at some point we order Jeffrey Wright a creepy pizza. You’ll never look at Chicago commuter trains the same way again.
February 26, 2019 Dan Moren’s “The Bayern Agenda”
448 A Bank the Size of a Planet
Dan Moren’s second novel, “The Bayern Agenda,” is coming soon to bookstores. He joins Jason to discuss how writing a novel is different the second time around, how the book connects (and doesn’t connect) with his previous novel, where he writes, and how he balances tech writing and podcasting and novel writing. And in a final lightning round, Dan answers some of the Internet’s most pressing Dan Moren-related questions.
February 23, 2019 “Doctor Who” monster draft
447 Look at Potatoes Differently
We’re just back from the annual Gallifrey One convention, and so with “Doctor Who” on our minds we thought we’d ask a panel of fans both new and old to select their favorite “Doctor Who” monsters of all time. But let’s keep in mind that if science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that we were the true monsters all along.
February 17, 2019 William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition”
446 Allergic to Brands
Clip the labels off your clothes and put on a World War II replica bomber jacket—it’s time to revisit one of our favorite novels of this century, 2003’s “Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson. It was Gibson’s first book to be set in the present day, and yet 16 years later it still feels like a work of science fiction, with a very modern story about brands and viral marketing and our desperate search to find meaning in a world that may have none. If all you’ve read of Gibson is “Neuromancer”, it’s past time that you visited the post-9/11 world of cool-finder Cayce Pollard, the mysterious internet video clips known as The Footage, the global marketing firm Blue Ant, and a series of increasingly lonely international hotel rooms.
February 9, 2019 “Howl’s Moving Castle.”
445 It’s Probably Going to Be Weird
Put on your fake beard and step out of a magic door, because 2004’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” is in the spotlight. Hayao Miyazaki adapts Diana Wynne Jones’s novel as an anti-war statement that also plays as a Miyazaki’s Greatest Hits collection. We discuss the choices of the English audio dub versus the original Japanese version, ponder the film’s many discarded story threads, note the lengthy scenes involving climbing and cleaning, and debate the true role of Calcifer the fire demon in Howl’s household.
February 3, 2019 Unusual movie musicals
444 Why People Don’t Like Musicals
Our Old Movie Club visits two musicals—but they’re both unusual. From near the beginning of the sound era comes “Gold Diggers of 1933”, a Depression-era tale of showgirls and swells and misunderstandings with enormous Busby Berkeley production numbers. And from the early days of Beatlemania comes 1964’s “A Hard Day’s Night”, intended (at least by its financiers) to be disposable boy-band fluff, but ended up being one of the most influential films of the 20th century.
January 26, 2019 “Batman Begins”
443 Right Off the Bat
It’s time to dive in to the first film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, 2005’s “Batman Begins.” We discuss how it changes the tone after the embarrassing Joel Schumacher films, its remarkable roster of acting talent, the more grounded tone and technology, and a whole lot more. Plus, one panelist’s deep love of Michael Caine is revealed at last.
January 19, 2019 “Cowboy Bebop”
442 Sword is Definitely a Personality
We convene a special panel of anime mavens to discuss the iconic series “Cowboy Bebop.” Why has this series made such an impression? We cover all the best characters, episodes, and moments.
January 12, 2019 Book-to-TV-series pitch session
441 Evil Dukes Are the Worst
In this era of peak TV, with more than 500 scripted English-language series on the agenda for 2019, what better time for our very well-read panel to suggest books and book series they’d like to see turned into new TV shows? If you’re a TV producer, you’d better act fast—since we recorded this episode, one of our picks has already been announced as a new project! If you’re not a TV producer, consider this a great reading list of books that you’ll like so much you’ll wish they were adapted into TV shows.
January 6, 2019 The best stuff of 2018, plus clip show
440 Full Disclosure - The Best of 2018
Happy New Year! We take this opportunity to look back at 2018, as a collection of panelists shares some of their favorite works from the past year. Then a second group discusses their favorite Incomparable (and related podcast) moments and we play some classic audio clips.
December 30, 2018 “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
439 Dad Bod Spider-Man
We all suspected Sony’s new animated Spider-Man movie would be a slapdash cash grab. Instead, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is one of the best animated movies of this or any other year, with great characters, an exciting story, and a mind-boggling visual style that changes the game for animation and superhero movies alike. We come in praise of Miles Morales, Peter B. Parker, and all the other spiders who populate this delightful gift of a film.
December 22, 2018 “Doctor Who” series 11
438 There’s a World of Biscuits
The latest “Doctor Who” season—and the first featuring Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and Chris Chibnall as showrunner—is now in the books. In this episode we bring Doctor Who podcasters, experts, and fans to discuss what worked about the new season, what didn’t, and what our hopes are for the next series when the show returns in (gasp) 2020.
December 16, 2018 “Star Trek IV”
437 Whale Logistics Movie
In this holiday season, what could be more emblematic of the spirit of Peace on Earth (of the past) and Goodwill toward men (who aren’t whalers or aquarium directors) than 1986’s “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”? We celebrate “the one with the whales”, an enjoyable romp through 1980s San Francisco that also features a soundtrack that sounds like a Christmas carol, nuclear wessels with terrible security practices, and Admiral Kirk’s to-go pizza box.
December 8, 2018 “Planet of the Apes”
436 Most Important Chimpanzee
Consult the lawgiver’s scrolls and watch out for talking dolls! It’s a madhouse! A madhouse! And also, the 50th anniversary of “Planet of the Apes.” Join us as we explore the world of spaceman Taylor (Charlton Heston) and his long journey through an empty desert into a land populated by officious orangutans, plucky chimpanzee scientists, and wry yet violent gorillas. Does it hold up? Why did such a dark vision generate kids’ lunch boxes and multiple sequels and spinoffs? And what are the intricacies of Ape Law?
December 2, 2018 Board Game Draft II
435 Fun Facts!
Break the shrink wrap and lift off the lid! It’s time to get together with friends and family to play some games. In this second Incomparable Board Game Draft, we’re allowing all sorts of tabletop (non-roleplaying) games. The result: 21 more games you might want to consider playing this holiday season—some classics, some brand new.
November 23, 2018 Rocket Surgery: “The Black Hole”
434 All Wormholes Go to Heaven
Jason chose Disney’s “The Black Hole” for this edition of Rocket Surgery, and after viewing it, he’s pretty confident in his decision. But there is dissention in the ranks! Some panelists will stick up for Disney’s strange 1979 horror-as-sci-fi film, which features ranting scientists, robot ESP, laser contests, a giant rolling gumball on fire, a down-home robot prospector, and one hell of a chandelier. Oh, and did we mention there’s a black hole?
November 17, 2018 Thanksgiving dinner draft
433 You Like Garbage
Gather ‘round the dinner table and prepare to partake in an amazing feast produced by your podcast pals. To celebrate Thanksgiving we’re drafting an entire meal, dish by dish. Kathy reveals her hands-off approach to Thanksgiving dinner. Phil has follow-up questions. Monty has a plan for immortality. Moisés implores you not to eat the Bay Leaf. And once we’re all full, Brian will bring you coffee. Pull up a chair!
November 10, 2018 “2010: The Year We Make Contact”
432 It’s Called a Ballute
Last week, we tackled the cinema classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.” This week, we look at its sequel, 1984’s “2010: The Year We Make Contact.” There’s no denying it—this movie carries a heavy burden, and tries to explain a lot of things that fans of the original film didn’t need to have explained. And yet, at its core is a smart, entertaining mid-80s sci-fi movie with a great cast, some kitchen dolphins, and a few questionable Russian accents. Listening to this episode will be as easy as cake, comrade.
November 3, 2018 “2001: A Space Odyssey”
431 Overture and Apes
Pick up a femur, order a moon sandwich, and always remember to bring your space helmet with you! On its 50th anniversary, we’re discussing Stanley Kubrick’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.” What is the Monolith’s purpose? When and why does HAL become murderous? And why is there so much solarized stock footage of landscapes? Watch out for cheetahs!
October 27, 2018 Film score draft.
430 We’re the Magnificent Seven
Sit back and let our panelists take you into the world of movie music, as we draft our favorite film scores. (Songs with lyrics not eligible!) Who is this John Williams guy and why is he hogging the limelight? If James Horner’s scores all sound the same, why do we keep picking them? This is one episode that wasn’t overproduced by Hans Zimmer.
October 20, 2018 “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 3
429 A Juicer For People
Well, gosh! Our slow walk through all seven seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” reaches season three, full of extra slayers and friendly-but-demonic mayors and all the hallmarks of your senior year in high school. Is Faith a good addition or does she disappoint? Does Xander continue to stink or does he grow up? Was the introduction of Anya (and the vampire version of Willow) all we could wish for? Did the WB network demand all of the romance and love-triangle subplots? We talk about the season as a whole and our favorite (and least favorite) episodes.
October 13, 2018 The second beer episode.
428 Sour and Smells Like Feet
Two years ago we drank beer on a podcast and talked about it, and wouldn’t you know it, we’re back for more beer! The Incomparable’s Oktoberfest returns with five polarizing beers chosen by listener (and Almanac Brewing co-founder) Jesse Friedman and mailed to all of our houses. We open them and drink them on air—in stereo, just like the flavor of a hazy IPA!
Will we finally understand why people line up to drink Pliny the Elder? Who put coconut in our stout again? Why does Dan keep trying to ruin the podcast? Will the podcast get progressively sillier as we drink beer? The answer to that last one is “yes.”
October 6, 2018 Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut” novels
427 A Lot of Rocket Metaphors
This summer we devoured two novels by Mary Robinette Kowal, “The Calculating Stars” and “The Fated Sky.” They’re both exciting tales of space exploration, with well-rounded characters having to navigate challenges both external and internal, cultural and scientific, personal and global. They’re set in an alternate timeline where the Space Race we know happened quite a bit differently, and at the center is the world-famous Lady Astronaut, Elma York. We seriously can’t recommend these books highly enough. Listen in to find out why, and then stick around for a list of other books we really enjoyed!
September 29, 2018 Rocket Surgery: “Equilibrium”.
426 Up to the Puppies
After “The Matrix” was a hit, we got the inevitable plague of Matrix-like tales of ultraviolent dark pop philosophy. Of these, 2002’s “Equilibrium”… was one. At the pleading of Dan Moren, our Rocket Surgery team disassembles this tale of totalitarianism and gun-based martial arts starring Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Taye Diggs, and Sean Bean. It’s a movie that thinks it’s very, very smart when it’s actually really dumb. Be sure to take your Prozium, or the Grammaton Clerics will set you on fire!
September 22, 2018 “Dark City.”
425 Congratulations! You’re Dead in Space
Look, the ’90s was a dark time, okay? A year before “The Matrix” there was another film about identity and memory and the meaning of reality, cloaked in noir tropes and gunfire and mind-blowing revelations. It’s 1998’s “Dark City”, directed by Alex Proyas and starring Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, and a heavy-breathing Kiefer Sutherland. This is a film that was a favorite of both Roger Ebert and European video pirates. Why is Kiefer Sutherland the only being alive who can use a syringe? Why is memory like paint? And can you tell us the way to get to Shell Beach?
September 15, 2018 “Princess Mononoke”
424 Never Not Wolves
Grab your crystal dagger and leave your village forever! It’s time to discuss our latest Miyazaki movie, as selected by John Siracusa: 1997’s “Princess Mononoke.” We lend a certain ugly dignity to the proceedings by discussing this medieval fantasy tale featuring wolf gods, disgusting pig spirits, and the occasional cartoon beheading. Stand away from the leper holes!
September 8, 2018 “The Expanse” season 3
423 Weird Alien Jiminy Cricket
Thanks to Amazon, this most recent season of “The Expanse” won’t be the last! The show has been saved, and it’s a good thing, because we really enjoyed season 3. In this episode, we discuss how the show’s producers made some clever diversions from their source material, space spies, hallucinatory cops with hallucinatory hats, David Strathairn’s amazing Belter accent, amoral fathers and the rage-monster daughters who love them, and the plethora of stolen spaceships that populate the solar system.
September 2, 2018 Summer of Marvel finale
422 The Inevitable Moon Knight Movie
It’s been fun, but just as Labor Day Weekend is the traditional end of summer, so too is this the end of the Summer of Marvel! In this episode our panelists pitch Marvel movies they’d like to see in the future, and we save some time at the end to reveal the results of our poll of Incomparable panelists to see where all the MCU movies rank.
August 26, 2018 Revisiting “Guardians of the Galaxy”
421 Beautiful Space Idiot
Hang on to your cyborg limbs! As the Summer of Marvel winds toward a close, our penultimate installment has us revisiting the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. How do they hit us upon rewatching? How vitally important was the tone of the original film in terms of making the Marvel Cinematic Universe less of a snooze? What do the movies have to say about the power of sisterhood? Does Peter Quill have any internal life at all? Why does Jason dislike Ego’s Planet so much? And how does “Avengers: Infinity War” rely on the character development of the second Guardians movie? All that, plus a tree and a raccoon outwit a human repeatedly.
August 18, 2018 “Thor: Ragnarok.”
420 A Painting on a Van
There are Thor movies, and then there’s “Thor: Ragnarok.” From the liberal use of the Hulk to the perfectly bizarre Jeff Goldblum to the delightful villainy of Cate Blanchett, this is a wacky cosmic romp that’s a universe apart from the two previous Thor installments. Loki just wants to eat grapes, Valkyrie wants to be left alone, and Doug’s not here anymore, man. Pour one out for ol’ meow meow and join us for the Lord of Thunder—or is that the God of Hammers?—and his finest hour.
August 11, 2018 “Doctor Strange”
419 This Is Why I Can’t Be a Wizard
The Marvel Universe has wizards now? Yes, and “Doctor Strange” is the movie where we meet them. But more than anything, this is a character study of Mister Doctor himself, who is laid low by distracted driving and then has to rebuild his life by moving to Nepal, stealing books from a magical library, and getting half-frozen on the side of Mount Everest before being thrust into mystical battles against his will. Spectacular visuals! Mads Mikkelsen trapped in a wall! Tilda Swinton as a super weird ageless magical being (who was Asian in the comics)! Dormammu, we come to bargain.
August 5, 2018 “Ant-Man” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp”
418 I Enjoyed It on a Quantum Level
Our Summer of Marvel rolls on with a movie we haven’t covered—2015’s delightful comedy heist film “Ant-Man”—as well as its brand-new sequel, 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” We discuss de-aging Michael Douglas, the unlikely brilliance of casting Paul Rudd, the relentless competence of Hope Pym in the face of Scott Lang’s incompetence and the unpleasantness of her father, and everything we love about Luis.
July 28, 2018 The Avengers, revisited
417 Ultimate Frisbee
Order some schwarma, because we’ve assembled a powerful panel to discuss Earth’s mightiest heroes. Our Summer of Marvel continues with a re-examination of three films we originally reviewed when they were released: “The Avengers”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, and “Captain America: Civil War”, which is really an Avengers movie when you think about it. How do they hold up? What works and, in hindsight, what doesn’t? Which characters benefit from Joss Whedon’s screenwriting tics, and which do not?
July 21, 2018 “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Captain America: Winter Soldier”
416 My Favorite of the Chrises
Thaw yourself out of the ice and wave a flag, because we’re revisiting “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” as we continue our walk through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We discuss the charismatic power of Chris Evans, the smoothness of the Red Skull’s face, the unrecognizability of the Winter Soldier, our lack of trust in Robert Redford, and how Black Widow splits time between setting Steve Rogers up on dates and changing all the sizing tags on his clothing. Buy some war bonds and join us as we discuss that star-spangled man with a plan!
July 14, 2018 “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World”
415 Congratulations to the Flat Earthers
Take off your pants and prepare a long scene-setting speech about space mythology, because it’s time to discuss “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” as we continue our Summer of Marvel. We praise the excellent casting of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, as well as smaller players Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings, while wondering about what went wrong with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. (Hint: It’s mostly the writing.) Perhaps most importantly, Jason finally sees what other people see in “The Dark World” that he doesn’t… even if he remains unconvinced.
July 7, 2018 “Hulk” and “Incredible Hulk”
414 Credible Hulk
The Summer of Marvel continues our walk through the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s “Incredible Hulk,” starring Edward Norton. Released weeks after “Iron Man”, it’s often ignored, and yet it’s a fascinating look at the decisions Marvel did (and didn’t) make as it built its film franchises. Also just for kicks, we compare and contrast with Ang Lee’s 2003 “Hulk” starring Eric Bana, because gamma dogs.
June 30, 2018 “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2”
413 How Ironic, Tony!
The Incomparable’s Summer of Marvel begins with a look back at 2008’s “Iron Man” and 2010’s “Iron Man 2.” How unlikely was it that a B-list Marvel Comics superhero nobody had ever heard of would end up kicking off one of the most successful film franchises of all time? How did perfect casting and a light touch with the subject matter pay off in this unlikely success? And how does the sequel balance being a second “Iron Man” film and the launch of a much larger franchise?
June 23, 2018 Hugo Award nominees 2018
412 His Books Are Like Popcorn
The Incomparable’s Book Club reaches the finish line of our annual SF/Fantasy award read, as we discuss the six nominees for the Hugo Award for best novel. From new series to concluded trilogies to standalone epics, this year’s list had a lot of variety. And for good measure, we throw in a few of the short-fiction nominees that we really liked.
June 17, 2018 1980s album draft
411 In the Pay of Big Ultravox
Put on your leg warmers, insert your shoulder pads, and warm up your synthesizers. It’s time for us to take a time machine back to the 1980s, where our panelists will participate in a draft of their favorite musical albums from that decade. This is one episode that is guaranteed to be totally awesome.
June 9, 2018 “The Simpsons” quote draft
410 I Am Not a Crackpot
Inflammable means flammable? What a country! It’s a perfectly cromulent thing to do, to pick quotes from “The Simpsons” in draft form. So we have assembled a learned panel of people who haven’t seen the show in years, bribed them with plenty of Malk (with Vitamin R!), and set them to choose their favorite lines from the most quotable TV show of all time. We hope you find this episode excellent. If you don’t, don’t blame us—we voted for Kodos.
June 2, 2018 “Casablanca”
409 Marshmallow Traitors
Endlessly quoted, residing on every list of the best films of all time, you might think that “Casablanca”—released 75 years ago—is overrated and played out. Nope! It’s a fun film with romance, snappy ironic dialogue, and a stunning cast. And it’s also a fascinating historical document, given that it was written before Pearl Harbor and produced in the early days of America’s involvement in World War II, when the end of the war was anything but a foregone conclusion. We discuss the magical letters of transit, Captain Renault’s jocular amorality, Victor Laszlo the speechifying drip, Ilsa’s piercing stare, Major Strasser’s favorite cereal, Sam’s implausible piano handwork, the Ken Cinema in San Diego, and how the war was like a rap battle.
May 26, 2018 “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
408 Sometimes You Need a Wookiee
Fresh from the movie theaters, here’s our flash review of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” In a world where there’s a new “Star Wars” movie every year, sometimes it’s a relief not to have the fate of the galaxy at stake. What are the rules of Sabacc? Are references the lowest form of fan service? Will casual fans be more enthusiastic than hard-core ones? Why watch droids fighting for entertainment when you have holograms? From train heists to floating space yachts to surprise cameos, we break it all down.
May 19, 2018 Nebula Novels 2018
407 Robot Lovin’
Our Book Club has reconvened to take you on a tour of the seven novels nominated for this year’s Nebula Awards, honoring the best in Science Fiction and Fantasy. After you listen your summer book list will be replenished! We liked almost all of these books, so there’s a lot to choose from—and only one of the six is a later book in a series, so you won’t have to do homework to get reading. Read them all and Jason will give you a gold star and a pizza party, but he’s eating all the pizza.
May 13, 2018 “The Magicians” season 3
406 A Really Kinky Bunny
Climb aboard your sentient sailing ship, put on a high-fashion eye patch, and prepare for the big musical number—it’s time to talk about Season 3 of “The Magicians.” This is a series that just keeps getting better, and for our money, this was one of the best and most unexpected seasons of television we’ve seen in a long time. Along the way we mention Buffy, Star Trek: TNG’s “Darmok” and “The Inner Light”, and how the journey can be appreciated even when the story doesn’t quite stick the landing.
May 6, 2018 Childhood canon, part 2
405 That’s Definitely You
It’s time for the second episode in our series on “childhood canon”—the works we encountered as children that set us on the pop-cultural path we walk to this day. For the purposes of this discussion, “works” may also include furniture.
April 29, 2018 “Avengers: Infinity War”
404 Thoughts About Thanos
After seeing opening-weekend showings of Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” our panelists got together for a quick discussion of our first impressions, favorite moments, key complaints, and thoughts about where the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes from here. (If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t listen!)
April 21, 2018 Childhood canon, part 1
403 Computers Are Educational
What were the works we encountered as children that set us on the pop-cultural path we walk to this day? We begin a two-episode series on our individual childhood canon. Also, John McCoy would really like you to find a movie he remembers seeing as a kid.
April 14, 2018 “Counterpart.”
402 His Planet Is Terrible
Check that your documents are in order and prepare to make an unusual border crossing. “Counterpart” is a spy thriller with a science fiction twist. Featuring a great lead performance from J.K. Simmons and an incredibly strong supporting cast, this is a show that features exciting spycraft mixed with some serious questions about identity, the sum of our experiences, and the road not taken. We discuss the first season, with a spoiler horn before we get to the most surprising plot twists that lead into the show’s forthcoming second season.
April 8, 2018 Harlan Ellison short stories
401 He Uses His Powers For Evil
His reputation precedes him. Harlan Ellison is probably one of the best writers of the last century, but he may be more famous (or infamous) for his irascibility, his lawsuits, and his reputed bad behavior. In this episode, six people (two of whom are Ellison novices) read six of his most lauded short stories and discuss the man and his words.
April 1, 2018 Four drafts
It’s our 400th episode. What better way to celebrate than with a draft featuring some of our most prolific panelists? We pick topics both impractical and practical, and works both unrealized and culturally vital. (Don’t ask questions.)
March 24, 2018 “The Prisoner”
399 We Endured It, You Adored It
Fifty years ago Patrick McGoohan fascinated and confused us with “The Prisoner”, a 17-episode TV series about a man stripped of his name, given a number, and held captive in an idyllic village that doubles as a bizarre surveillance state. It’s allegorical and metaphorical and downright mind-bending, with a baffling conclusion that we’re still scratching our heads about today. What makes this show so great? How does it hold up so well to this day? And have you ever really looked at your hand? We want information, and by hook or by crook, we’ll get it.
March 18, 2018 Ursula K. Le Guin
398 Apart From All the Skiing
Our Book Club returns to discuss two late 1960s works by the legendary Ursula K. Le Guin, who passed away earlier this year. We tackle the fantasy novel “A Wizard of Earthsea” and the science fiction novel “The Left Hand of Darkness”, both deeply influential in different ways. The works were new to some of our panelists and old favorites for others, so we discuss both what they represented at the time and how we view them from the perspective of 2018.
March 11, 2018 “Black Panther”
397 Mystical Herbologist
It’s already one of the most successful superhero films of all time, but it’s so much more than that. Our topic this episode is “Black Panther,” which dives into issues from feminism to the long-term effects of imperialism to the legitimacy of monarchies. Plus there’s spectacular production design, some amazing action scenes, and one of the most memorable (and sympathetic) villains in recent movie history. Wakanda Forever!
March 4, 2018 “The Incredibles”
396 A Lifeboat Made of Mom
Put on your super suit, but be sure to take off the cape! We discuss Pixar’s “The Incredibles”, a spectacular story of superheroes, being your best self, family, mid-life crises, and the dangers of machine-learning AIs.
February 24, 2018 “The Cosmic Man” (1959)
395 Joe DiMaggio of the Slide Rule
We return to bad 1950s science fiction for our latest Rocket Surgery installment, which features 1959’s “The Cosmic Man.” There’s a UFO the likes of which we’ve never seen, in the form of a ping-pong ball in a canyon. Army men and a world-famous scientist that even little kids recognize joust over whether the UFO should be used as a weapon or to benefit all of humanity. And meanwhile, there’s John Carradine checking in to a mountain lodge in an outfit that is not at all like what an alien would wear his first time on Earth.
February 17, 2018 “Star Trek: Discovery” season one
394 High on Mushrooms
Hop into your spore chamber and prepare for Black Alert — “Star Trek” has returned to television, and we’ve got our overview of the first season of “Star Trek: Discovery.” Did it meet our expectations? Was it more comfort food or modern TV drama? “Star Trek” shows live or die by their characters, so did Burnham, Saru, Tilly, Stamets, and company find their way into our hearts? Why were there so many plot twists? And what are we hoping for in season two? We break the whole thing down.
February 10, 2018 “The Good Place” season 2
393 The Ol’ Reverse Lucifer
“The Good Place” just finished its second season, and we still couldn’t love this show more. We discuss the moral growth of all the show’s characters in season two, break down the meaning of the final episode, and float a bunch of theories about where the show might be headed next.
February 3, 2018 “Midnighter”
392 Quantum Computer for Violence
Step through a teleportation door and boot up your brain’s fight computer, because our Comic Book Club has returned to discuss DC’s “Midnighter.” He’s was once a Batman analogue but now he’s his own man, with no secret identity, a penchant for strategic violence, and an amazing dating profile. And thanks to three recent trade-paperback collections written by Steve Orlando, you can get to know this singular superhero as he journeys from Oakland to Boston to various made-up DC Comics cities.
January 27, 2018 “Doctor Who” story draft
391 You Stole My Layer
In the 54 years of “Doctor Who” there have been roughly 275 different stories. We collected seven “Doctor Who” fans and forced them to pick favorites in a draft format! The result is a great selection of 28 stories from both the classic and modern eras, unless you’re a fan of the single Doctor who did not have a single episode picked.
January 20, 2018 “Travelers”
390 Ice Cream Headache from the Future
Welcome to the 21st! Your mission is to listen to us discuss “Travelers”, an enjoyable time-travel TV series available in most of the world on Netflix. With a twisty science-fictional premise, some fascinating character complications, and a dose of humor, this Canadian import is worth your time. We discuss the basic premise of the show and why we like it a lot, and then fire off the Spoiler Horn to discuss the details of the show’s first two seasons.
January 14, 2018 “Spirited Away”
389 Tales from the Spirit Bathhouse
Our survey of the films of director Hayao Miyazaki continues with 2001’s “Spirited Away.” It’s a real weird one, and sure to be turbocharged nightmare fuel for kids… but as adults, we have more capacity to appreciate a film as absolutely bugnuts as this.
(Some downloads of this file contained an audio error at 32 minutes, with multiple overlapped voices. Re-download the file to get a corrected version, or just skip ahead about a minute.)
January 6, 2018 TV Theme Song Draft
388 Lyrics Are for Losers
Here’s the story
Of nine lovely people
Who were picking songs from favorite TV shows
It was a very short draft
Just four rounds
With some picks no one knows
January 1, 2018 Our favorites, plus our annual clip show!
387 Good Job, Jerks - The Best of 2017
Happy New Year! We take this opportunity to look back at 2017, as our top hosts and panelists of the year talk about their favorite stuff from the year gone by. And then it’s time to list our favorite Incomparable moments and play some clips.
December 22, 2017 “The Last Jedi”, a third view
386 Sometimes He Doesn’t Bother With That Bottle
Our (increasingly inaccurately named) team of rebel UK podcasters takes on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Join us for another deep dive into the themes, performances, and surprises of the latest “Star Wars movie.” We promise not to mention Porgs until the very end!
December 20, 2017 “The Last Jedi”, a second view
385 Delta and the Porgs
“Time and Relative Dimension in Space” meets “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” as a hardy rebel band of podcasters who are “Doctor Who” fans form The Incomparable’s second panel about “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. We take on the themes of failure and redemption, the unexpected fan reactions, and specious comparisons between “Doctor Who” showrunners and Star Wars directors. And porgs. Always porgs.
December 16, 2017 “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
384 An Old Sock Full of Diamonds
Grab a porg, put on your matching necklaces, and get out your ancient Jedi texts—it’s time to discuss “The Last Jedi,” episode VIII of the “Star Wars” saga. (And if we missed something, please understand that we’ve only seen it once so far!)
December 10, 2017 Holiday Traditions
383 Upstairs Christmas Tree
In this special episode we discuss our personal holiday traditions, including foods, travel, gift-giving, decorations, and media. We also debate the reality of tofurkey and learn many things about legendary bearded gift-giving characters courtesy of a country that’s shaped like a chicken.
December 2, 2017 “It’s a Wonderful Life”
382 She’s a Librarian
Stand above the icy river waters and ponder what life would be without 1946’s holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Would you be shocked to discover that not everyone likes it? In this episode we’ve got two fans of the film to tell us why it’s great, and a detractor who is attempting to crash this car into the town’s oldest tree. What are the pros and cons of one of the definitive Christmas movies of all time?
November 25, 2017 “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 2
381 That’s Me Only Shirt!
Yeah, baby, we’re back! It’s time to return to Sunnydale and discuss the second season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” considered by many fans (including Jason) to be its best. The main adversaries are a trio of vampires, including Billy Idol, the bizarrely insane Drusilla, and Angelus—because Latin names are more evil. Plus there’s an evil smurf, a tragic rendezvous at Giles’ apartment, a big rock, inexplicable gypsy ensoulment curse strategies, and a whole whiteboard full of classic horror tropes.
November 19, 2017 “What Remains of Edith Finch” and “Tacoma”
380 Floppy Shark
Our Video Game Club is back in action as we play two short artsy-fartsy narrative games. “What Remains of Edith Finch” is a game about a young woman returning home to the Pacific Northwest and exploring the mysteries left behind by her family—which sounds an awful lot like other games we’ve played, but it’s very different! We also played “Tacoma”, by the developers of “Gone Home”, which (despite its title) is not set in the Pacific Northwest but in outer space. Both games have interesting approaches to immersive storytelling, and they’re both worth playing.
November 12, 2017 “Labyrinth”
379 High Fantasy with Muppets
Eat a peach, put on a white ball gown, and join us as we enter a fantasy world full of puppets and David Bowie musical numbers. In 1986’s “Labyrinth”, a teenager accidentally gets her baby brother kidnapped by goblins. To get him back, she has to enter a magical world and meet many strange creatures along the way. The credits are full of notable names, including Jennifer Connelly, Jim Henson, George Lucas, and Terry Jones. It’s Erika’s favorite movie, but Jason has never seen it! Are puppets people too? Let’s find out!
November 5, 2017 “The Third Man” and “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”
378 A Parrot Bit Me
Old Movie Club returns with two paranoid films set amid the intrigue of postwar Europe: 1949’s “The Third Man” and 1965’s “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.” The former features Orson Welles, a collection of suspicious characters in Vienna, and a whole lot of zither music. The latter features Richard Burton mixing insobriety with spycraft, and a very peculiar library. (This episode is presented in black and white.)
October 28, 2017 A list of books!
377 Kids Love the Kaiser (An Autumn Reading List)
Here in North America, the leaves are brightly colored and there’s a chill in the air. What better time to stay inside, make a warm pot of tea, and curl up with a good book? Our panel has many suggestions for excellent books to read if you or a friend is looking for a good science fiction or fantasy novel.
October 22, 2017 The books of Roald Dahl
376 Terrifying Fear of Clouds
Beloved (yet creepy?) children’s author Roald Dahl is in our spotlight this week, as we talk about some of our favorite books by Dahl, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “James and the Giant Peach”, “Danny, the Champion of the World”, and “Matilda.” We also discuss film adaptations and all the uncomfortable bits that have been cut out of new editions of Dahl over the years. Look for the golden ticket inside this podcast!
October 14, 2017 Disney Animated Features Draft
375 Sentimental Spite
Join us for a draft of animated Disney movies! From across 80 years of Disney history, our panel will pick 24 of our very favorites.
October 7, 2017 The Dark Tower novels
374 Just Give Me 35 Years
It took thousands of pages over seven novels, but eventually Stephen King finished his genre-busting series, The Dark Tower—and eventually we finished it too! Join four faithful readers who have taken the journey with Roland and his Ka-Tet and are ready to report back. We’ve got 30 minutes of non-spoiler discussion for prospective readers, followed by a lightning-round palaver about all seven main-sequence books, and how they link with other parts of King’s work.
October 1, 2017 “Star Trek: The Next Generation” at 30
373 Great Joy and Gratitude
On the 30th anniversary of the debut of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, we watched the show’s first and last episodes and used them to appreciate what worked right out of the gate (casting) and what took a bit longer to jell together into one of the great science fiction TV series of all time.
September 23, 2017 Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels overview
372 Jedi Inflation is a Serious Problem
With Jason away “on assignment,” a Rebel force of podcasters takes over The Incomparable’s transmission tower to celebrate (and introduce you to, if you haven’t watched them yet) Lucasfilm’s animated extensions to the Star Wars canon: the six-season Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, which is entering its fourth and final season. Why do adult fans love them? Did they actually redeem the prequels? Who are the breakout characters who became as important as anyone in the movies? We steer clear of the big spoilers!
September 16, 2017 “Whisper of the Heart”
371 Grandpa and His Musical Friends
Our survey of Miyazaki movies crosses over with Anime Club in this episode, where we discuss Studio Ghibli’s 1995 film “Whisper of the Heart.” Written by Miyazaki but directed by Yoshifumi Kondô, it’s a coming-of-age story with some resonance with “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” except there’s no magic and the cat doesn’t talk. But it’s still one magical cat.
September 9, 2017 “Star Wars: Episode IX” Director Draft
370 Someone We’ve Never Heard Of
This week we learned that Lucasfilm has parted ways with Colin Trevorrow, who was previously slated to write and direct 2019’s installment in the “Star Wars” saga, and realized that the absolutely dumbest way to react to the news would be to draft a bunch of possible replacements. So in this episode we present our suggestions to fill that director’s chair, from the real to the ridiculous to the ones from beyond the grave! Along the way we take time to discuss the challenges of finding ways for creative people to mesh with big studio-controlled franchises. And all without a single “Star Wars” spoiler!
September 3, 2017 “Game of Thrones” season 7
369 We’ve Eaten All the Vegetables
The penultimate season of “Game of Thrones” is in the books, and we’re here to wrap the entire thing up. All of that slow travel and scene-setting from the previous seasons is swept away, and this is our reward. Reunions! Death speeches! Dragon-on-dragon action! And we discover the secret of Jon Snow—no, not his actual parentage, but the fact that he’s best when paired with other, more interesting characters.
August 26, 2017 “Batman & Robin”
368 This Movie Ends, Right?
Time for 1997’s “Batman & Robin”, featuring George Clooney as Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. At least we can laugh about it now… to keep from crying.
(Part two of two.)
August 19, 2017 “Batman Forever”
367 Batman! Aaaaaa!
So when Batman won our Summer Superhero Spectacular, we embarked on a quest to talk about all the Batman movies. Which leads us to the unfortunate spectacle of us watching both “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.” This week, it’s the Val Kilmer Era, so let’s go back to 1995 and marvel at Jim Carrey’s understated performance as the Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’s equally subtle performance as Two-Face. We are so, so sorry.
(Part one of two.)
August 12, 2017 “The Tick.”
Destiny has her hand on our backs, and she’s pushing! That’s why we’re talking about The Tick, Ben Edlund’s hilarious superhero satire, in all its forms. From the original comics to the groundbreaking animated series to the 2000s live-action series to the all-new series premiering on Amazon Prime Video this month, we’ll cover it all. The night is young and we have umbrellas in our drinks. Evildoers, eat our justice!
August 5, 2017 TV Hall of Fame Draft, Part 2
365 Humour With a U in It
We return to our first wave of inductees into The Incomparable’s Television Hall of Fame, as we enshrine 10 more series that our panelists consider among the greatest of all time. This second batch spans seven decades and includes sketch comedy, animation, sitcoms, dramas, and even a show that premiered less than a year ago.
[Part two of two.]
July 29, 2017 TV Hall of Fame Draft, Part 1
364 The Show of Theseus
Using our authority as a podcast about popular culture, The Incomparable has established a new Television Hall of Fame. Enshrined within will be the greatest TV series of all time, as chosen by a panel of 10 Incomparable experts in draft format. New inductees include shows created across six decades, and in every conceivable genre.
[Part one of two.]
July 22, 2017 Antony Johnston’s journey from graphic novel to feature film
363 From Cold City to Atomic Blonde
“Atomic Blonde,” a major motion picture opening this summer, started its life as a graphic novel written by Antony Johnston. In this special episode, Jason and Antony discuss the origin of the graphic novel “The Coldest City”, why some stories fit better as graphic novels rather than serialized comics, the value of taking some time to indulge passion projects, the process of having Hollywood option your story, and the choices made when adapting a story from one medium into another. (This episode contains no spoilers for “Atomic Blonde” or “The Coldest City”, so listen without fear.)
July 15, 2017 “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
362 An Old Man With Wings
Despite a lot of trepidation based on previous lackluster film efforts, our panel rushed out to their local cinemas to see “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and came away with a pleasant surprise! They made a good Spider-Man movie! But did Tony Stark save the day, or just get in the way? Does Michael Keaton give a better villain performance than he ever did as a superhero? Did Tom Holland wear the suit, or did the suit (which talks, by the way) wear him? Our very own sinister six take apart the highs and lows of this exciting new chapter in the cinematic life of our favorite wall-crawler.
July 9, 2017 “Doctor Who” series 10
361 Things Inside Other Things
The latest season/series of “Doctor Who” is over, and there’s only one last Christmas special to go before Peter Capaldi leaves the role. In this episode, we take a look at the season as a whole, including analysis of the Doctor, Bill, Nardole, and Missy. We pick our favorite episodes and then throw our least-favorites on the bonfire, before turning our attention to idle speculation about where Capaldi’s final episode might take us.
July 2, 2017 Rocket Surgery: “Dungeons and Dragons”
360 A Dwarf Named Elwood
Settle back with a bagel or two and get ready for a film that fails to bring all the excitement and world-building of fantasy roleplaying to life! Our brave panelists watch 2000’s “Dungeons & Dragons”, which features dungeons, dragons, a horribly unbalanced party, an infuriating lack of connection to the game, a set of polar-opposite performances by Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch, a six-foot-tall “dwarf”, political theater even more boring than The Phantom Menace, generous garnishes of racism and sexism, and a villain who wears blue lipstick. Oh, and did we mention that TV’s Doctor Who is in it as an exposition elf? Join us as we watch until the end and finally say, “Ugh, WTF?”
June 24, 2017 Hugo and Nebula novels 2017
359 I Tried to Quit This Book Twice
Looking for a good science fiction or fantasy book to read? Have we got a list for you. Our intrepid panel read all the novels nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards this year—eight in total—and has returned with the results. No spoilers, but we’ll share our feelings about all eight books. With any luck, you’ll come out with one, or four, or eight books to add to your reading list.
June 17, 2017 “Life is Strange”
358 I Kissed Them Both
Our video game club is back in session, having played “Life is Strange”, the story of two young women in a town on the Oregon coast who become enmeshed in the town’s surprisingly dark underbelly. Every choice you make and every fact you uncover could completely change the story… or more likely, change the details a little bit. Plus there’s school politics, young love (or not—you decide!), diner food, beached whales, evidence dungeons, and more than a little time travel. We had a hella good time playing, and you probably will, too!
June 10, 2017 “Wonder Woman”
357 It’s Above Average
“Wonder Woman”, the first female-led superhero movie in ages, has arrived! After praising director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Godot in a pre-spoiler segment, we discuss the necessity of the post-“Batman v. Superman” framing sequence, the choreography of the fight scenes, the innate humanity of Gal Godot’s Diana, how this compares to recent superhero fare, the World War I setting, and maybe even Chris Pine’s watch.
June 3, 2017 “The Godfather Part II”, Part Two
356 I’m Smart, Not Like Everybody Says
Our discussion of “The Godfather Part II” concludes with coverage of the street parade in Little Italy that leads to Vito’s murder of the previous Don, a peculiar congressional hearing, Fredo’s ultimate betrayal, Vito’s revenge, and the widening chasm between the approaches Vito and Michael take to being the head of a crime family.
[Part two of two.]
May 28, 2017 “The Godfather Part II”, Part One
355 What Would Pop Do?
We take a deep dive into Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II”, which is really two movies in one. Robert De Niro stars as young Vito Corleone, who comes to America and learns how to become The Godfather. And Al Pacino stars as Michael Corleone, trying to live up to the standard set by his father in the first film. In this episode we talk about its overarching themes, the two-timeframe approach, and the first portion of the film itself, including a visit to pre-revolution Cuba and Lee Strasberg as a grumpy old man who really wants you to look at his cake.
[Part one of two.]
May 23, 2017 Dan Moren wrote a book!
354 Sons of Caledonia
A panelist from the very first episode, Dan Moren is now a published science-fiction novelist. Dan’s book, “The Caledonian Gambit,” was released today. Seven years ago, before The Incomparable even existed, Jason read a draft of Dan’s book… proving that sometimes the road to having your book published can be a long one, but with talent and perseverance it can be done. In this special episode, Jason talks to Dan about how he started writing novels, when he started working on what would become “The Caledonian Gambit”, how he got an agent, the revision process, and where his novel-writing career takes him from here. (The episode doesn’t have any spoilers for the book.)
May 20, 2017 “Star Trek: Discovery” trailer
353 Young Sexy Harry Mudd
The first footage from the new Star Trek series, “Star Trek: Discovery” has arrived, and our crew of Trek fans has assembled to break down the details from the trailer and gauge their expectations. New Klingons! Mysterious alien objects! The potentially doomed crew of the USS Shenzhou! A holographic Sarek (and a lousy childhood on Vulcan)! A creepy alien who senses that death is near! In true Incomparable style, we talk for an hour about 143 seconds of trailer.
May 12, 2017
352 Hold My Space Beer
The Guardians of the Galaxy are back, and so we’ve convened our panel of moviegoers to break down the good and bad of “Vol. 2.” Ego’s weird art collection! Yondu’s true status as a Space Dad! Sylvester Stallone being himself! Fighting sisters, deadbeat dads, and Fleetwood Mac. We break it all down, as usual.
May 7, 2017 AMC and Channel Four’s “Humans” season 2.
351 You’re Right, Father—Kill All Humans
Channel Four and AMC’s “Humans” intrigued us with its classic sci-fi premise—what if human-like androids integrated throughout society suddenly become sentient?—when it premiered in 2015. The show’s second season recently completed on American screens, so we’ve gathered to discuss the latest developments. It’s a unique mixing of big ideas and domestic life, but does the second season suffer from the show’s reluctance to make major changes at the end of season one? What made this season so frustrating, so often? Which storylines worked—and which ones were missed opportunities? Why does Carrie Anne Moss keep talking to blades of grass stored on a server? Why would any human want to be a Synth? What’s Mark Zuckerberg doing here? We cover it all.
April 29, 2017 “The Magicians”
350 Magic Pixie Dream Girl
This week we draw your attention to another excellent TV series that recently concluded a run of episodes: SyFy’s “The Magicians”. Based on a series of books by Lev Grossman, this is a show that starts out as a mash-up of Harry Potter and Narnia and goes in some very surprising directions while continually improving in quality. Love, war, sex, fairies, gods (some evil, some capricious, some just annoying)—there’s a lot to love about this show.
In the first half of the episode we talk generally about the show and why we like it; the second half, after the Spoiler Horn, is devoted to breaking down the events of its just-completed second season.
(Content advisory: “The Magicians” contains a couple examples of sexual assault/abuse. And we talk about them.)
April 23, 2017 FX’s “Legion”
349 I’ve Got a Creamy Nougat
FX’s “Legion” TV series is based on a character from the X-Men comics, but knowing the backstory isn’t important. This isn’t another superhero comic adaptation, but something unlike anything we’ve seen before—a visual and auditory feast, great actors, and smart writing that will make sure you sit up and pay attention. If you’ve written off comic-book TV shows and movies, time to circle back and appreciate this eight-episode first season from writer/producer Noah Hawley (“Fargo”). Expensive music! Beautiful sets! And actors who used to be in “Downton Abbey”, “Parks & Recreation”, and “Designing Women”! What more could you ask for?
April 15, 2017 “American Graffiti” and “Breaking Away”
348 He’s Way Better Than Fonzie
A bunch of people born in the 1970s discuss two films from that decade about young people coming of age: 1973’s “American Graffiti” and 1979’s “Breaking Away.” The first is a film (set in 1962) featuring young people driving around a northern California town on the last night of summer before reality sets in; the second is about young people riding bikes (and swimming in a quarry) in Indiana. The first comes from the future director of “Star Wars”; the second comes from the future director of “Krull”. Both are full of faces you will recognize. And both have interesting things to say about being young and the prospect of growing up.
April 8, 2017 Star Trek Episode Draft
347 I Tore My Pants
We draft our favorite episodes across every “Star Trek” series, to induct 35 episodes into the Trek hall of fame. Human Play Dom-Jot?
April 1, 2017 The books of N.K. Jemisin
346 Go to the Moon
Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss the works of novelist N.K. Jemisin, specifically her most recent books, “The Fifth Season” and “The Obelisk Gate.” We also discuss the Inheritance Trilogy, which started with “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.” Plus, what are we reading now?
March 25, 2017 “The Good Place.”
345 Evil Giggle
Rarely do we devote an episode to a television comedy, but “The Good Place” earned our love and your attention. It’s a single story told over 13 half-hour episodes, with twists and turns and a lot of laughs. Why has Eleanor been sent to heaven by mistake? Why did a 70s dude high on mushrooms figure out the secret to eternal life? Why do we keep being gently reminded of Douglas Adams? Why is there a lava man in the conference room? Why does purgatory feature warm beer and Eagles live albums? We break it all down, and leave space after the Spoiler Horn to discuss the many surprising plot developments as the season went along.
March 18, 2017 Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”
344 Metaphors All the Way Down
Tape plastic wrap to your windows and wear a heavy jacket, because we’re revisiting Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel “American Gods” (and its not-a-sequel, 2005’s “Anansi Boys”) before these books make it to TV screens. We appreciate Gaiman’s writing style and the tightrope he walks to tell the story he wants to tell, but have some questions about invisible gods, tall tales, roadside landmarks, and the rules of this world.
March 11, 2017 “The Rocketeer”
343 Billy Campbell’s Soup
Put on your helmet, strap on your rocket pack, and stash that chewing gum somewhere, because it’s time to discuss 1991’s throwback adventure film “The Rocketeer.” Timothy Dalton chews the scenery! Billy Campbell is a bad boyfriend! Every character actor ever makes an appearance! Gangsters join forces with the Feds to fight Nazis! Jennifer Connelly… is also present! And there’s a Zeppelin!
March 5, 2017 “Unbreakable”
342 Sad Superman
In the wake of the enormous success of “The Sixth Sense”, M. Night Shyamalan’s follow-up “Unbreakable” was seen as a disappointment, but we think it deserves a critical reappraisal. 2000 was a desert for superhero movies, but “Unbreakable” actually seems more impressive after 15 years of modern takes on the genre. We discuss the film’s interesting color palette, the weight of a full paint can, the water-resisting qualities of Bruce Willis’s green poncho, why anyone would like the colors rust and brown, and the practicality of Samuel L. Jackson carrying a glass cane. And stick around—I hear this one’s got a surprise ending.
February 25, 2017 Rocket Surgery: “The Wizard of Mars”
341 Might As Well Keep Going
Our survey of terrible movies from various decades returns with a stop in the 60s, to visit 1965’s low-budget spectacle, “The Wizard of Mars,” featuring John Carradine in the title role as one of the horrors of the red planet. How many parallels are there between this film and “The Wizard of Oz”, really? Why are caves on Mars so peaceful? How much oxygen does it take to stay alive on Mars? Join us as we laugh to keep from crying—we’ve come all this way, there’s no reason to turn back now!
February 18, 2017 “Laputa - Castle in the Sky”
340 Give the Robots Some Time
Our walk through the films of animation master Hayao Miyazaki continues with 1986’s “Castle in the Sky.” From floating princesses to angry pink pirates to exciting train chases, this film—set in a sort of steampunk Wales—has it all. Oh, and did we mention the airships? It wouldn’t be a Miyazaki movie without flying things and lots of clouds.
February 11, 2017 “Fahrenheit 451” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”
339 Burned Like Books
The Incomparable’s Book Club reconvenes to discuss two books from the past about future dystopias: Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Is Bradbury just angry about reality TV? Does Orwell just want you to read his essay about language? Can we read these famous books without bringing along our preconceived notions of what they’re supposed to mean? At what temperature do Kindles burn? Don’t worry—in the end this entire episode is going down the Memory Hole.
February 4, 2017 “V for Vendetta”
338 All About Evey
Remember, remember, the fifth of November… We discuss the 2005 film “V for Vendetta” and the Alan Moore and David Lloyd comic series that inspired it. Who, if anyone, is the hero of the film? How did the Wachowskis adapt the 1980s comic’s sensibilities to the 2000s? What’s with the film’s strange structure and surreal visual choices? And, most importantly, is V a man, an idea, or both?
January 29, 2017 The rest of “Black Mirror”
337b …But Too Much
You’ve heard us talk about the best of “Black Mirror”, now hear us talk about… the rest of “Black Mirror.” Cut from the main episode for time, here’s our (unedited) discussion of “Fifteen Million Merits”, “The Entire History of You”, “The Waldo Moment”, “Playtest”, “Men Against Fire”, “The National Anthem”, “White Bear”, and “Shut Up and Dance.”
January 28, 2017 “Black Mirror”
337 20 Minutes Into the Future
Charlie Brooker’s anthology TV series “Black Mirror” has been compared to “The Twilight Zone”, with its dark, twist-laden tales about the advance of technology and how it affects society. Does it live up to the hype? Our panel watched all 13 episodes—all currently available on Netflix—and is here to report back on the strengths and weaknesses of the series. We also discuss our five favorite episodes in detail, so you can skip to the highlights if you don’t want to utterly darken your soul.
January 21, 2017 Comic book movie pitches
336 You Had Me at ‘Splorch’
Comic book movies got you down? Too much of the same old thing? This episode has the cure for what ails you, as we pitch a bunch of great comics that we’d like to see get the big-screen treatment that would be guaranteed to enliven the genre. And maybe along the way, we’ll add to your comics reading list, too.
January 14, 2017 “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”
335 Perfect Kid Logic
Grab your flowerpot and engage the rainbow drive! It’s time to discuss Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” the film that eclipsed “Star Wars” as the biggest grossing film of all time. What makes the film a perfect time capsule of being a kid in 1982? Does it hold up to modern eyes? Is it science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or something else? Where did all those frogs come from? Hey, he’s an alien, we don’t know what he’s capable of.
January 7, 2017 Tim Burton Batman movies
334 Three Pillars of Batman
We begin an ongoing series of looks at the Batman film series with the first two modern entrants, Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns.” Tony educates us on the most important traits of Batman. We recall the marketing campaign that put the bat logo on everything. We spend a lot of time breaking down the first film, and…. yeah… “Batman Returns” is also a movie that exists.
January 1, 2017 Best of 2016
333 That’s How It Works: 2016 Year in Review
It’s time to send 2016 into oblivion! Our four most commonly-heard panelists join Jason for a look back at our favorite media stuff of last year. Then we recall some of the best episodes and moments from The Incomparable in 2016.
December 24, 2016 “Rogue One” rebel podcaster opinions
332 She’s the Han Solo
Striking from a hidden base, our rebellious European podcasters have once again taken over the Incomparable Death Star—er, Zeppelin—to provide their own unique opinions on “Rogue One,” the latest Star Wars film.
December 17, 2016 “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
331 I Refuse To Call It a Prequel
Put on your Kyber crystal necklace, don a stylish white cape, and keep the Force with you! It’s time to break down “Rogue One,” the first big-budget live-action non-saga “Star Wars” film. We discuss how the film juggles its many characters and settings, the issues with reviving past film elements through CGI, the splendor of Darth Vader’s bachelor pad (and the weirdness of his bathroom), the unexpectedly spectacular space battle, the vacation plans of the Empire’s records division, the film’s strange disconnection with its teaser trailer, and a whole lot more.
December 10, 2016 “Westworld” Season 1
330 Team Killer Robot
Get your cowboy hat and your favorite Radiohead playlist, because it’s time to venture into the park for our first-season review of HBO’s “Westworld.” Is Anthony Hopkins running Westworld the park or “Westworld” the show we’re watching? Why can’t the Man in Black take a hint? Who is good and who is evil? Are the hosts sympathetic characters or empty, scripted shells? (And can’t you ask that question that about any fictional character?) We provide some quick analysis and also ponder where the show might take us in season two.
December 3, 2016 “Star Wars” travesty draft
329 He’s More Man than Puppet
As a new “Star Wars” movie nears its release, we turn our attention to some of our least favorite features of this franchise we love. Our panelists draft our least favorite Special Edition changes, retcons, Original Trilogy and “Force Awakens” elements, and more. Plus we each pitch a new “Star Wars” movie that can right a wrong in the existing canon.
November 27, 2016 “Arrival”
328 Panspermia, but for Clothes
We deconstruct and reconstruct the recent release “Arrival,” staring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker, and based on a story by Ted Chiang that we discussed nearly 300 episodes ago. There’s praise for the story’s restraint, quiet tone, beautiful scenes of solitary obelisks in remote cow pastures, and realistic portrayal of its main characters. We also enter a spirited debate about the film’s sci-fi plot mechanism, the way its aliens (and alien language) are portrayed, and the morality of a choice that one character may—or may not—have made.
November 19, 2016 “The Twilight Zone”
327 This Robot is Eisenhower
Submitted for your approval: A discussion of one of the finest and most influential television series of all time, “The Twilight Zone.” We dive into a few handpicked episodes and try to explain the reason why the show still resonates more than 50 years later. Is Anthony really just a misunderstood kid? Why do we hope that the Air Force re-uses its flying saucers? How much Shatnering is too much? And how many years should you let cherry brandy age? You’ll be shocked by the twist at the end of the story. (It turns out we were the monsters all along.)
November 12, 2016 “The Right Stuff.”
326 Likeable Jerkability
The epic film about the early days of the space race, 1983’s “The Right Stuff,” is on the launch pad this week. What does the film say about modern mythmaking? Can you have too much Chuck Yeager? Is this peak Dennis Quaid? Why do astronauts have to be test pilots instead of demolition-derby drivers? We’ll figure it out. Let’s light this candle!
November 5, 2016 Monster/Supervillain Draft
325 The Monster Mash
Live from the Now Hear This podcast festival in Anaheim, it’s our supervillain/monster draft. What makes a villain super? When is hating a monster actually just a misguided case of space racism? Who—other than Lex Friedman—is the greatest monster of all? It might be you! Listen to find out!
October 31, 2016 Marvel Unlimited Draft
324 Pants-Wearing Dragons
We’ve spoken many times about the great deal the Marvel Unlimited all-you-can-read comic subscription service can be… but if you’ve got tens of thousands of comics available to you, where do you start? We convened our Comic Book Club to come up with 20 suggestions—ranging from single issues to long runs and major events—that will help you make the most of a month or a year of Marvel Comics.
October 22, 2016 “The Godfather”
323 Abe Vigoda Knows All the Toilets
Leave the gun and take the cannoli—it’s time for us to discuss 1972’s “The Godfather,” truly one of the most lauded films of all time. We discuss why Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone is truly the main character, ponder how that horse head really got in that bed, marvel at how long it takes for news of assassination attempts to reach family members, explain the Vito Corleone retirement plan… and then drop our hands to our side and let the podcast slide naturally out of our hands.
October 14, 2016 The beer episode.
322 Tastes Like College
We’ve done episodes where we’ve sat around and drunk beer before, but we always had the thin veneer of some other topic to guide us. This time, however, the topic of the episode is beer, and we’ve conscripted listener (and Almanac Beer co-founder) Jesse Friedman to select five different beers for us to imbibe and discuss. Is Jason a monster for liking dark beer? What will our panel think of the sour and bitter choices? What’s the difference between a lager and an ale? What makes dark beer dark? Jesse has the knowledge, and we let him share it while we drink the beer he bought us.
October 8, 2016 “Toy Story 3.”
321 Purgatoy Box
Our review of Pixar movies reaches 2010’s “Toy Story 3”, the first film in more than a decade for a bunch of classic characters. Are the toys traveling from purgatory to hell to heaven, Divine Comedy-style? Who’s working on that garbage truck? Does the climactic slide to death go too far? And yes, our panel of parents gets a bit weepy as Andy prepares to go off to college.
October 1, 2016 Rocket Surgery: “Frankenstein Island”
320 The Power! The Power! The Power!
Our rocket surgeons take on 1981’s “Frankenstein Island,” Jason’s go-to bad movie from his high school days. What do balloons have to do with Frankenstein? What’s that brain doing in that tupperware container? Why are there zombies dressed like longshoremen? What is John Carradine doing? How did Jocko lose the eye? There are so many questions, but so few answers.
September 24, 2016 “Alien”
319 Squirting Milky Fluid
Get out your space pen and take the cat out of its hibernation chamber, because it’s time to take on the 1979 classic “Alien.” We discuss how the film cleverly layers sci-fi and horror movie conventions, discuss its initially slow pace, and speculate about the crew’s taste in underpants and footwear. Corporate android betrayals! Questionable parenting! Phallic concept art! Chest bursting! We break it all down.
September 17, 2016 “Inside”
318 Creepy Hug
We discuss Playdead’s video game “Inside”, a compelling and meticulously realized side-scrolling puzzle game with some amazing surprises along the way.
September 8, 2016 “Star Trek: First Contact”
317 You Broke Your Little Ships
On the occasion of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, we’re talking about one of our very favorite Star Trek movies: 1996’s “Star Trek: First Contact.” (What? We already did a two-parter about TOS!) Featuring zombie-like Borg, a time travel plot, and some great guest stars, it’s the definitive Next Generation movie.
September 4, 2016 “The Sparrow”
316 Just Add Jesuits!
After 20 years, we revisit Mary Doria Russell’s first-contact classic “The Sparrow.” It’s a story about aliens, spirituality, and why God allows terrible things to happen to good people. And boy, do terrible things happen to people in this book. (Content advisory: One of those things is sexual assault of humans by aliens.)
August 28, 2016 “Sunset Boulevard” and “Stalag 17”
315 Show Some Respect for the Chimp
Old Movie Club returns with two classic films directed by Billy Wilder and starring William Holden: The darkly tragi-comic Hollywood story “Sunset Boulevard” and the dramati-comic World War II prisoner-of-war story “Stalag 17.” Monty pitches a “Sunset Boulevard” prequel featuring a butler and a chimp. We notice the similarities between “Stalag 17” and an enormous number of sitcoms and comedy films from the following 30 years.
August 20, 2016 “Astro City”
314 Vampire Batman
There are a million stories in Kurt Busiek’s “Astro City”—and that’s why we love this comic-book anthology series. From alien invaders to creepy floating protectors to regular everyday people, the broad canvas of “Astro City” awards the reader with short stories and longer arcs. Plus: What are we reading?
August 14, 2016 “Star Wars: Rogue One” trailer analysis
313 The Ziggurats of Yavin IV
Nope, Jason, John, Serenity, and Dan aren’t going to analyze the trailer for “Star Wars: Rogue One.” It’s not going to happen. It would take rebel podcasters, striking from a hidden studio, to bring this podcast to its knees…
August 6, 2016 “Johnny Mnemonic”.
312 A Cyborg Dolphin
Our Rocket Surgery series returns to the heady days of the ’90s, home of questionable cyberpunk movies, to watch Keanu Reeves in “Johnny Mnemonic.” How can a movie written by the godfather of cyberpunk, William Gibson, be such a disaster? We’ll fax you the answer.
July 30, 2016 “Star Trek Beyond”
311 Chekhov with Two H’s
We review “Star Trek Beyond,” the latest installment in the J.J. Abrams-produced “Star Trek” movie universe. What are the best cast pairings? Why was Idris Elba’s character in need of simplification? When does the spin-off about Jaylah in Starfleet Academy start filming? And what is this franchise’s best destiny?
July 23, 2016
310 I Hated Mrs. Slimer
Women instead of men! Slimer with a girlfriend! Dogs and hats living together! Mass hysteria! We review the 2016 version of “Ghostbusters.”
July 16, 2016 Spaceship draft
309 Boats in Space
Strap in and prepare for the jump to lightspeed—it’s time for us to pick the very best (and weirdest) spaceships throughout film, TV, books, and more. Let’s hope this thing where we draft spaceships doesn’t get too nerdy!
July 9, 2016 2015-16 TV season, Game of Thrones season six
308 Is Winter Coming?
We convene a panel to discuss the TV shows we’re watching and liking from the past year, and then take our traditional deep dive into the latest “Game of Thrones” season.
July 3, 2016 “Cool Cat Saves the Kids”
307 Mascot Hands
Our Rocket Surgery panel attempts to apply logic to “Cool Cat Saves the Kids,” an inexplicable educational film featuring a couple of people in animal suits, some music videos, parade footage, and many questionable lessons for children. But there are cameos by Erik Estrada and Vivica A. Fox! Anyway, our logic slides right off.
June 25, 2016 Professor Siracusa’s Anime 103
306 Only One Spaceship
Professor Siracusa’s Anime class is back in session, as we watch two short films with similar themes, both by director Makoto Shinkai. First there’s “The Voices of a Distant Star,” which features a boy and a girl separated by light-years as she fights an alien scourge. Then there’s “5 Centimeters Per Second,” in which a boy and a girl are separated by… a long train journey. Both are beautiful explorations of teenage romantic angst and isolation, with images that will stick with our panelists for a long time.
June 18, 2016 “Toy Story 2”
305 Mint in Box
Ride like the wind, Bullseye! Our survey of Pixar films continues with “Toy Story 2,” the movie that introduced us to that Pixar Moment. You know the one. (Bring tissues.) We also discuss the philosophy of the Toy Story movies, a bunch of amazing gags, the state of the art of computer animation in 1999, and a whole lot more.
June 11, 2016 Superhero TV season wrap-up
304 Law of Diminishing Ninja Returns
We convene a panel of superhero TV experts to recap the past year’s superhero series, including “Arrow”, “The Flash”, “Gotham”, “Agents of SHIELD”, “Agent Carter”, “Daredevil”, “Supergirl”, “Legends of Tomorrow”, and “Jessica Jones.”
(If you’re a complete spoiler-phobe, you may want to avoid some of these segments, though there is probably not a single character death or other twist that couldn’t be reversed at any point…)
June 4, 2016 The X-Men
303 Kitty’s in Space Now
We celebrate all of mutantkind with a broad discussion of Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men, especially the versions we grew up reading in comics. What makes their outsider status resonate? Where should new readers start? And we choose some of our favorite X-Men characters in a sequence of choices that is definitely not a draft.
May 28, 2016 “HIs Girl Friday” and “The Thing from Another World”
302 Keep Watching the Skies
Old Movie Club views two films produced—and some would say directed—by Howard Hawks. The fast-paced comedy “His Girl Friday” leads us off, followed by the original sci-fi horror film “The Thing from Another World.” Both feature snappy overlapping dialogue, but only one features a murderous alien carrot man.
May 21, 2016 2016 Nebula Novels
301 All the Best Words
It’s time for our annual survey of some of the best science fiction and fantasy novels of the year, as we read all seven of the nominees for the Nebula Award. If you’re looking for some new books to read, check out our discussion—we tread lightly on the spoilers.
May 14, 2016 Our 300th episode.
300 The Incomparable Is People
After 300 episodes, we discuss how our media-consumption habits have changed because of the podcast. Then we shift gears for a couple of drafts, and we answer a bunch of questions from listeners.
May 8, 2016 “Captain America: Civil War”
299 Stark Differences
Flash! Direct from theaters to this podcast, we convene a panel of recent viewers of the latest Marvel superhero epic, “Captain America: Civil War.” Do the rationales of the two sides hold together in the face of reality? Is Tony a bad dude for recruiting a kid to use against his opponents? How do the new faces, including Spider-Man and Black Panther, fare? And how well does this movie fit into the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe series as a whole?
April 30, 2016 “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season one
298 Tumblr Would Have Loved It
It’s a cult show that could’ve hit the zeitgeist if it had just happened a few years later. From angsty vampire-human romances to a butt-kicking lead in a nice dress, the first season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” delivers. We break down our favorite episodes, marvel at the show’s great casting, and appreciate the unlikely nature of a smart, character-driven teen series emerging from the wasteland that was The WB network in the late ’90s.
April 23, 2016 “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”
297 The Ohm Whisperer
Our survey of director Hayao Miyazaki’s work continues with 1984’s “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” in which a post-apocalyptic world (of the 1980s nuclear armageddon variety) is populated by princesses, bugs that can’t help but be buggin’, a bunch of flying vehicles, and a suspicious fall through quicksand.
April 16, 2016 “Batman: The Animated Series”
296 The Official Batman
You asked for it, and we delivered! Batman University is in session, as we dive into “Batman: The Animated Series.” Lifelong Batman fan Tony Sindelar has provided us with a 10-episode watch list, which served as a refresher for our panel and an introduction for our host. What makes many people call this version of Batman the definitive one? How does a show that’s for kids end up being so strikingly adult? How is the character of this Batman not like recent movie depictions? We’ve got the answers.
April 8, 2016 “Rogue One” teaser trailer breakdown
295 A History of Things That Never Happened
The first teaser trailer for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” has dropped, and so in the spirit of our “Force Awakens” teaser breakdown, we’re back to provide frame-by-frame analysis of all 90 seconds. This is the first in a new series of “Star Wars” anthology movies, this one set before and around 1977’s original film. How do you make a period piece about a fictional period? What’s Felicity Jones’s character all about? Why does Forrest Whitaker have a Darth Vader breathing harmonica? And why does Jason refer to all droids like they’re vacuum cleaners? For some questions there are no good answers.
April 2, 2016 Rocket Surgery: “GOG”
294 Science Is Never Frightening!
Our survey of questionable science fiction films moves to the 1950s for “GOG,” a story featuring a secret nuclear base, a couple of “robuts,” a shifty Swiss scientist, a neglected Coke machine, a whole lot of science lectures, and then many dead scientists.
March 26, 2016 “The Wicked + The Divine”
293 I Think I’m Still Confused
Comic Book Club returns with a discussion of Kieron Gillan and Jamie McKelvie’s “The Wicked + The Divine.” It’s a story about the temporary return of a pantheon of gods, and touches on issues of fame, youth culture, and—as Wikipedia informs us—pop music. Fortunately, there’s also a murder-mystery plot to drive everything forward. Plus: Lisa tells us what comics to read next!
March 18, 2016 Bad Star Trek: “Insurrection” and “Nemesis”
292 I Have an Appointment with the Tholian Ambassador
The worst of the Next Generation “Star Trek” movies, “Insurrection” and “Nemesis”, are in our sights. Why don’t they work? What were the producers thinking? How tenuous was Star Trek’s life as a franchise that two bad movies in a row could kill it? You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.
March 12, 2016 “Aurora” and “Luna: New Moon”
291 I Like Complicated Books, Glenn
Our Book Club returns to read two recent, highly praised science fiction novels. From Kim Stanley Robinson comes “Aurora,” the story of a spaceship sent from Earth to a far-off star in a trip that will take generations. And from Ian McDonald comes “Luna: New Moon,” a sort of “Dallas” (or is it “The Godfather”?) set on and under the surface of the moon. Plus, what else are we reading?
March 5, 2016 “Firewatch”
290 Team Bucket
The recently released video game “Firewatch,” by Campo Santo and Panic, is the subject of our discussion this week. This is a game that’s got a plot, but so much of the richness comes from characters and dialogue. Also, there are a lot of trees.
February 27, 2016 Album Draft, part 2
289 It’s Not “Hamilton”
Our draft of favorite albums concludes! Opera, classical, and show tunes are heard from, amid the squalls of electric guitars. Also, we lose our Canadian government funding. But you’re sure to find (or rediscover) some music of interest! (Part 2 of 2.)
February 20, 2016 Album Draft, part 1
288 I Wish I Was Back in Norway
And now for something completely different: A draft of our favorite albums. Live from that metaphorical desert island, we select some favorite collections of music for you to listen to again and again—or to discover for the very first time. (Part 1 of 2.)
February 13, 2016 Star Trek TMP and V
287 Hole Farmers
What does God need with a starship? We take a look at the two most (justly) maligned films starring the original “Star Trek” cast, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.” What do these two films have in common? Do they have any redeeming qualities? We watched them so you didn’t have to, because we need our pain!
February 6, 2016 “Hamilton”, the musical
286 No One in a Powdered Wig is Scrappy
It’s taking the culture by storm, the biggest Broadway musical in years—and it’s about… the first U.S. secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton? It seems unlikely, but nothing about the “Hamilton” story is likely. Lin-Manuel Miranda took the biography of a lesser-known early American figure and turned it into a story full of catchy songs and social commentary, including the rapid-fire hip-hop lyrics and the casting of non-white actors in most of the parts. Four of our “Hamilton”-mad panelists discuss the appeal of the show and why it works so incredibly well.
(This we’ve also launched an entire podcast devoted to “Hamilton”, so if you want to hear various panels discuss the show song by song, you may want to subscribe to that, too.)
Piano intro and outro music from Hamilton played by Christopher Breen.
January 30, 2016 Ms. Marvel
285 The Answer is One Elephant
In this edition of Comic Book Club, we discuss one of Marvel’s newest heroes, Kamala Khan, the star of G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s “Ms. Marvel.” She’s a Muslim from New Jersey, so in some ways she’s a very different kind of Marvel super hero, but she’s also a tortured teen trying to come to terms with her identity—so in other ways, she’s very much the model of a Marvel super hero. Plus: What are we reading?
January 23, 2016 The X-Files
284 She Scullys Herself
Just as “The X-Files” is revived for a limited-run miniseries, we take time to look back at this classic TV series from the 90s. (With gorgeous new HDTV versions available on Netflix!) We discuss some classic episodes, the dynamic between Scully and Mulder that really made the show work, and a whole lot more. The truth is in here—you just have to want to believe.
January 16, 2016 Remembering David Bowie
283 The Stars Look Very Different Today
We celebrate the amazing life and career of David Bowie, from his stunningly varied music career (yes, including those collaborations with Queen, Mick Jagger, and Bing Crosby) to his film and theater roles. (And between Major Tom and the Spiders From Mars, who was more sci-fi than Bowie?)
January 9, 2016 “Doctor Who” series 9 wrap-up
282 Head Clara
Jump in your TARDIS, visit the Space Lions, and get prepared for a 24-year-long night! This week our panel takes on the recently-concluded ninth series of “Doctor Who.” How does this season measure up to the previous ones? Was the more character-focused conclusion a good change of pace? How did Missy, Ashildr, and Clara make things feel a bit different? And how well did the show handle the moment when Clara faced the raven? This episode is bigger on the inside.
January 2, 2016 The Best of 2015
281 I Love a Lot of Awful People - The Best of 2015
In this year-end review episode, our panelists discuss their favorite bits of entertainment from 2015. When that’s done, we review the top moments from The Incomparable in 2015, complete with clips—and a mysterious visitor.
December 24, 2015 “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, a fourth view
280 They’re Not Alone
Our many-part analysis of “The Force Awakens” continues. In this episode we praise the casting of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, and ponder how the diversity of the “Star Wars” universe has increased. Plus, did Luke hide something in all the droids? Why does Finn hold a lightsaber like a baseball bat? Why would one of the Weasley brothers become a fascist? And ultimately, why is this film redemptive for the franchise as a whole?
December 23, 2015 “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, a third view
279 They Were Jerk Planets
In this installment of our continuing coverage of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” our East Coast panel gushes a little, complains about Starkiller Base a little, ponders “The Force Awakens” as a buddy movie, copes with death, and tries to imagine what it will be like to get a new “Star Wars” movie every year. Also, Scott keeps bringing up “Star Trek.”
December 22, 2015 “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, a second view
278 Fake Jedi Boy
Lots of people have opinions about “The Force Awakens,” and it’s sort of our charter to overdo it when it comes to “Star Wars.” So this week we’re presenting several follow-up panels about this new film. In this installment, we travel across the pond for a panel predominantly made up of residents of the UK. Why are there Scottish people in space? Who is the face of fresh young fascism? Where can we get red replacement arms?
December 19, 2015 “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
277 Stormtroopers Are People
After three years of anticipation, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is finally here, and our panel of “Star Wars” fans is ready to review it. So here we go.
December 11, 2015 Star Wars Anticipation
276 Don’t Drink the Bacta Tea
With “The Force Awakens” only a week away, we pause to ponder why we’ve anticipated this film release for more than three years. What spoilers have we avoided? (This episode certainly contains none.) What does it mean that “Star Wars” is now an extended film franchise releasing new films annually? How many times are we going to see the film next weekend, and how will we find time to podcast about it? And perhaps most importantly, can any new “Star Wars” movie ever possibly hope to capture the excitement we felt when we discovered these films as children?
December 6, 2015 “Miracle on 34th Street” and “The Lion in Winter”
275 Comprehensive Tapestry Policy
On this Old (Holiday) Movie Club, we review a certifiable Christmas classic, “Miracle on 34th Street.” Then we watch a very different sort of film set on Christmas, “The Lion in Winter.”
November 27, 2015 Classic Christmas specials
274 Rudolph’s Hideous Mutation
Join us as we revisit three childhood holiday TV classics, 1964’s “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and 1966’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” You’ll learn about Big Santa’s despotic reign over the Grotto of Malfunctioning Headlamps, groove to Schroeder’s piano jazz trio stylings, and may even discover a Hoober-Bloob or two.
November 21, 2015 “Her” and “Ex Machina”
273 The Long-Term Plan Is Kill All Humans
We tackled “Her” and “Ex Machina,” two films about artificial women and the men who love them. But while Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha wants to send a ‘Dear John’ update to all humanity, Alicia Vikander’s Ava has more in mind than pleasant dinner conversation. What do these films say about online relationships, society’s power dynamics, and tech-industry culture?
November 14, 2015 Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy
272 Laid a Lot of Foundations
We have seen tens of thousands of years into the future, and our best psychohistorians think the Galactic Empire will once again reign supreme… so long as there aren’t any surprise mutants or aliens. In this episode, we discuss Isaac Asimov’s classic “Foundation” trilogy. From the perspective of 2015, what still works, and what seems out of date? Plus: What else are we reading?
November 7, 2015 Anticipating a new “Star Trek” series
271 Nostalgia Bomb
This week came the announcement we’ve been waiting for: A new “Star Trek” series is in the works. But with the announcement came a bunch of interesting details (it’s going to be exclusive to CBS’ streaming service, it’s going to be produced by one of the co-writers of the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” movies) and a lack of specifics (they’re still interviewing writers and didn’t announce even the most basic of premises). Our panel of Star Trek fans analyzes the interesting decisions CBS has made so far, tries to imagine how a “Star Trek” series from 2017 might differ from its predecessors, and discusses the importance of creating a series that can keep the franchise alive by appealing to a new generation of fans.
October 31, 2015 “Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster”
270 Love Blooms Naturally on a Vespa
On Halloween, our Rocket Surgery series takes us to the swinging ’60s and the height of NASA space exploration at Kennedy Space Center! In this corner, a robot astronaut named Frank! In that corner, a horde of invading aliens and their terrifying monster! In between, a bunch of stock footage, a very ’60s soundtrack, a bunch more stock footage, scientists riding scooters, the least sexy beach bikini scene ever, some military stock footage, and a party where everyone is wiggling their butts until the guy on the diving board is lasered to death. And did we mention the stock footage?
October 24, 2015 “The Hunt for Red October”
269 Crazy Ivan
It is a great day, comrades. We will sail our submarine to America, and watch one of their greatest thrillers, 1990’s “The Hunt for Red October.” Join us as we talk about how time has made the cold-war themes feel even more classic, ponder why the movie works despite plenty of signs suggesting that it shouldn’t, and… well, let’s just say we do a lot of Sean Connery impressions. This podcast contains one ping only, so don’t slip on your tea!
October 17, 2015 “The Martian”
268 Let’s Hear It for Botanists
We all went and watched “The Martian” at movie theaters and then came home and joined together to talk about it! From Vicodin-topped potatoes to shiny zoomy space stuff, we work the problem to provide something a bit more informative than a Tumblr full of sad pictures.
October 10, 2015 “The Water Knife” and “Seveneves”
267 I Read It All
Our Book Club reconvenes to cover two books that are both sort of about the end of the world: Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife” and Neal Stephenson’s “Seveneves.” Regional apocalypses versus worldwide apocalypses! Plus, what else are we reading?
October 3, 2015 The Muppets
266 It’s Impossible Being Green
The premiere of ABC’s new comedy “The Muppets” prompts us to look at the entirety of the Muppet universe and lore, from TV to movies to viral videos. We also ponder what’s wrong with the new ABC series, posit some theories about how Kermit went from “Sesame Street” to “The Muppet Show,” and participate in an impromptu Muppet draft. Don’t felt, don’t tell.
September 26, 2015 So it’s come to this
265 Summer Superhero Spectacular: Final Rounds
Our pointless search for the best superhero concludes. In these final rounds, we challenge our heroes (and their advocates) with devilish scenarios suggested by Incomparable listeners! Our advocates face a jury of their peers, leading to a final confrontation with our two remaining heroic contestants.
Our final pairings are:
(1) Spider-Man vs. (2) Captain America
(5) Doctor Strange vs. (3) The Flash
(1) Batman vs. (2) Wonder Woman
(12) The Thing vs. (2) Wolverine
September 19, 2015 Classic books about computers and technology
264 Passwords Are Wrong, Man
Our interests in reading and technology collide in this survey of books about computers and the tech industry, using the 20th anniversary of Douglas Coupland’s “Microserfs” as the jumping off point. Soldering irons and circuit boards! Berkeley hippies fighting German hackers! Early signs of the tech industry’s ongoing mistreatment of workers! Glenning! Join us in a trip through technology’s past, all the while keeping an eye on where we are today.
September 12, 2015 “Mr. Robot” and “Humans”
263 Television Shaped Like a Mom
We discuss two notable TV series from the summer of 2015, “Mr. Robot” and “Humans.” They’re both excellent. One is about humans, and one is about robots (or not), but not the ones you might think from the titles.
September 5, 2015 “Anatomy of a Murder” and “The Hustler”
262 District Attorney Doofus
Old Movie Club returns with two films featuring George C. Scott: “The Hustler” (featuring an electric performance by Paul Newman) and “Anatomy of a Murder” (starring Jimmy Stewart as a simple country lawyer). One more outburst and I’ll clear this courtroom!
August 29, 2015 Taco Paradox
261 Summer Superhero Spectacular: Round Three
Our summertime superhero tournament continues, as 16 champions are reduced to eight. This round brings new judges and a requirement to argue against the opposite opponent! Who will withstand the withering assaults? Only time will tell.
(1) Spider-Man vs. (4) Kitty Pryde
(11) Beta Ray Bill vs. (2) Captain America
(1) Superman vs. (5) Doctor Strange
(3) Barry Allen/The Flash vs. (2) The Hulk
(1) Batman vs. (13) Moon Knight
(6) Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle vs. (2) Wonder Woman
(1) Iron Man vs. (12) The Thing
(6) Rorschach vs. (2) Wolverine
August 22, 2015 Fifth anniversary episode
260 High Five
On the occasion of our fifth anniversary, we present this special episode where Jason and five of our favorite panelists come together live around a table to talk about nothing in particular.
August 15, 2015 You’re Three Feet from a Spider
259 Summer Superhero Spectacular: Round 2
Our ridiculous celebration of superheroes continues in round 2, in which 32 heroes enter and 16 depart! This round incorporates your comments and votes, which we solicited after our last round. This also marks the final round for judges Lutz and Michaels, who assure you that absolutely no cash has changed hands in exchange for their votes. We’ve also added some new advocates and shuffled the deck a little bit. Join us on the next segment of our journey to discover which superhero reigns supreme.
(1) Spider-Man vs. (8) Aquaman
(5) Silver Surfer vs. (4) Kitty Pryde
(11) Beta Ray Bill vs. (14) Kate Bishop/Hawkeye
(10) Wally West/The Flash vs. (2) Captain America
(1) Superman vs. (9) The Falcon
(5) Doctor Strange vs. (4) The Tick
(11) Invisible Woman vs. (3) Barry Allen/The Flash
(7) Ghost Rider vs. (2) The Hulk
(1) Batman vs. (8) Black Widow
(5) Daredevil vs. (13) Moon Knight
(6) Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle vs. (3) Green Arrow
(7) Deadpool vs. (2) Wonder Woman
(1) Iron Man vs. (9) Gambit
(12) The Thing vs. (13) Big Barda
(6) Rorschach vs. (14) Invincible
(10) Nightcrawler vs. (2) Wolverine
August 8, 2015 Super Mario Bros.
258 Chekhov’s Bob-omb
Our survey of terrible films continues with 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.”, which features surprisingly little of the characters, setting, or joy that one might attribute to the beloved video-game franchise. Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, and the directors of the original “Max Headroom” film collaborate on this dreadful tale about evolved dinosaurs, dystopian parallel-universe New Yorks, and a couple of plumbers named Mario, one of whom is also named Luigi.
August 1, 2015 Vaughan and Alphona’s “Runaways”
257 Raptor Sipping Tea
Our Comic Book Club reconvenes to discuss “Runaways,” the 2003-2004 comic series by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. This is a Marvel Comic that’s also an original creation, and we’re tackling the 18 issues of the first volume, which form a self-contained story. How does the book alienate its teenage protagonists? Does the plot twist make sense? And why isn’t this a Marvel movie or TV show?
July 25, 2015 2015 Hugo Award nominees
256 Space Bureaucracy
It’s time for our annual dive into the Hugo Awards, focused mostly on the five nominated novels, but also touching on short fiction, comics, films, and TV episodes, as well as this year’s big Hugo controversy.
July 11, 2015 Summer Superhero Spectacular round 1
255 Summer Superhero Spectacular: Round One
In celebration of the four days of Comic-Con 2015, we present a four-day celebration of silly superhero debates! We’ve seeded 64 heroes into a tournament that’s designed to find the most incomparable superhero of them all. Or something like that. The advocates are sometimes passionate and sometime disinterested, but that’s okay, because the judges are completely capricious.
July 4, 2015 Pixar’s “Inside Out”
254 You’ve Ruined Pizza
Pixar’s latest film, “Inside Out,” tells the unlikely story of the conflict of emotions inside the head of a young girl. Join us as we draw a circle around our own parental sadness and instead focus on the joy of an instant Pixar classic.
June 27, 2015 “The Maltese Falcon” and “The Thin Man”
253 Ignoring the Movie Completely
Old Movie Club reconvenes to watch two films based on the works of Dashiell Hammett: 1934’s “The Thin Man” and 1941’s “The Maltese Falcon.” We appreciate the drunken aplomb of Nick and Nora and the shifty glory of Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, all while taking in the faint scent of gardenias.
June 19, 2015 TV season wrap, and Game of Thrones Season 5
252 Three Shames and a Ding
Time to once again wrap up the TV season as a whole and “Game of Thrones” in particular. First we discuss shows we’ve enjoyed watching this year (including the final seasons of “Justified” and “Mad Men”), and then we fire off the Spoiler Horn and talk about the controversial fifth season of “Game of Thrones.”
June 13, 2015 2015 Nebula Award Novels
251 Tea, Sandwiches, and Mushrooms
Time for our annual review of the Nebula Award nominees for the best SF or Fantasy novel of the year, with podcasters from Skiffy and Fanty, SF Signal, and The Three Hoarsemen! We’ll cover (in a spoiler-light fashion) books about space stations, alien invasions, empires, mushrooms, and tea ceremonies. There’s even a deadly incident involving a Zeppelin!
June 6, 2015 Zardoz
250 Stay Inside My Aura
Draw a beard on your face with a Sharpie, prepare to learn math via touch, and we’ll take you to the second level! Our trek into films of questionable quality continues with John Boorman’s 1974 sci-fi epic “Zardoz,” starring Sean Connery in a red diaper and a floating stone head. Even the writer/director/producer can’t explain what happened, and neither can we—except maybe for Glenn.
May 30, 2015 Superhero TV wrap-up
249 Critical Batman Deficit
After a season full of comic-book superhero TV shows, we’re here to chart the highs and lows of “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Agents of SHIELD,” “Agent Carter,” “Daredevil,” and “Constantine.” Some of them were great, some quite surprising, and others crushing disappointments. (This episode contains light spoilers—nothing we consider completely earth-shattering, but if you wish to be completely spoiler free, listen after watching or consult the time code in our show notes.)
May 23, 2015 Ghost in the Shell (Anime 102)
248 Most Poetic Sledgehammer
Professor Siracusa’s Anime 102 is in session! This week we’re discussing the 1995 anime classic “Ghost in the Shell” and touching on its follow-up TV series, “Stand Alone Complex.” This is a cyberpunky action story about cyborgs and the meaning of life, and it’s full of guns, car chases, ninjas, weird outfits, and exposition.
May 15, 2015 Farewell, David Letterman
247 Monkey Cam
On the occasion of David Letterman’s retirement after 33 years of hosting a late-night talk show, Jason Snell presents his take on Letterman’s significance, told with the help of a few friends.
May 9, 2015 Assigned reading
246 The Shmoop Index
This episode is all about assigned reading from our school days. Stuff we loved and, more importantly, stuff we hated. Does Jason hate all French literature, or just Emma Bovary? Whose teachers assigned Ursula LeGuin and Kurt Vonnegut? And will Charles Dickens tear our friendly group of podcasters apart? Be sure to do the reading—there might be a quiz tomorrow.
May 3, 2015 Avengers: Age of Ultron
245 Incomparable, Assemble!
Six members of The Incomparable panel went to see “Avengers: Age of Ultron” together, in person! And afterward we convened at Dan Moren’s house to discuss it over pizza and beverages. This is that conversation.
April 25, 2015 Marvels and Kingdom Come
244 The Adventures of Maggie the Mutant
Comic Book Club returns to discuss two ’90s stories featuring art by Alex Ross, “Marvels” and “Kingdom Come.” These books—one each for Marvel and DC, each available in a single trade paperback—feature lavish art and intriguing themes about the relationship between superhumans and regular humans. How do they told up two decades later? Our panel of longtime comic experts and babes in the continuity woods weighs in.
April 17, 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Trailer 2 analysis
243 Find My Lightsaber
A new “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” trailer has appeared! And, as was fated, we are here to deconstruct it within an inch of its life. Dark Side IKEA end tables! John Boyega quotes us the odds! Bespoke evil ships! And is that a glimmer in your eye, or just some lens flare? Plus we give some love to BB8, everyone’s favorite robotic soccer ball.
Dan Moren reports in from the Star Wars celebration, and Serenity Caldwell phones in from her car. This is serious business, people.
April 11, 2015 Star Trek Debate Club part 3
242 ‘B’ for Bad Captain
Lay in a course and engage the warp drive! Our “Star Trek” Debate Club returns with spirited discussion of the best and worst captains in the galaxy, along with the best and worst aliens. Plus we get controversial with our choices for the most overrated and underrated things in “Star Trek,” and engage in a bit of lightning philosophy. Live long and prosper!
April 4, 2015 “Pride of the Yankees” and “The Bad News Bears”
241 Shopping With Mrs. Gehrig
Play ball! It’s opening weekend, so Old Movie Club returns with two classic baseball movies: “Pride of the Yankees” and “The Bad News Bears.” Even if you don’t like baseball (like Erika), you may enjoy these movies just fine! One’s a biopic from the 1940s complete with a song, and the other is an appropriately gross 1970s comedy. Join us, won’t you?
March 27, 2015 “The Ice Pirates”
240 Pooping Alien
Our Rocket Surgery visit to bad sci-fi movies returns with a look at 1984’s “The Ice Pirates.” Foam robots! Swords and lasers! A mysterious water world! A strange balance of racism and social commentary! Bad effects! Baby animals! Robert Urich! A space herpe! Questional castration methods! Poop jokes! Oakland Raiders! John Carradine! Please, someone make it stop.
March 20, 2015 Terry Pratchett
239 The Colour Blue
In honor of Sir Terry Pratchett, who died a week ago, four voracious Pratchett readers discuss what made Pratchett great, their favorite Pratchett works, and recommend places for newcomers to Terry Pratchett to get started.
March 13, 2015 “Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” part 2
238 Caucus with the Dark Side
Finished, this podcast torture is. We conclude our conversation about “Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” taking you all the way through the dissatisfying ending. As a bonus, we try to rank the prequels, and discover a surprising winner. (part 2 of 2)
March 6, 2015 “Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” part 1
237 Force Denier
War! We begin our final battle with the “Star Wars” prequels with our take on “Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” After a long string of opening statements, we take on the crawl and the first few scenes of the film. Why does a droid wheeze? Why are villains introduced off screen? Why is Christopher Lee wasted? What’s the deal with all the elevators? Why is Darth Vader a chump? Why is there even more boring political science? What happened to Natalie Portman, and why is she wearing beaded bedclothes while standing on balconies? (part 1 of 2)
February 28, 2015 Celebrating Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spock
236 Lived Long and Prospered
We celebrate Leonard Nimoy, pondering what made us love Mr. Spock, discussing some of Spock’s finest moments, and even bringing up some lesser known corners of the Nimoy canon.
February 21, 2015 Underappreciated Hitchcock
235 Plot Advancement Tribune
Our Old Movie Club, featuring classic films many of us haven’t seen selected just for us by Philip Michaels, is back!
In this edition, we look at two underappreciated films of Alfred Hitchcock: 1943’s “Shadow of a Doubt” and 1948’s “Rope.” The former features Joseph Cotten shooting up through the ceiling of creepy, a battle of telepathy versus telegraphy, the special bond of people named Charlie, murder by soda, and an appearance by the Exposition Radio Network. The latter offers long unbroken scenes, drunk Farley Granger, a perfect murder perpetrated by Batman villains, and Jimmy Stewart as Columbo. Both films have Hitchcock in common, as well as Hume Cronyn… and murder!
February 14, 2015 Rocket Surgery: “The Core”
234 The Only Way Out Is In
Introducing a new recurring segment on The Incomparable that we call Rocket Surgery, in which we watch an unappreciated science fiction movie from the past and then talk about it.
For our first installment, we watched the 2003 film “The Core,” starring Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, Stanley Tucci, Delroy Lindo, and Bruce Greenwood. Yes, this is a movie about people riding a spaceship (of a sort) down into the core of the Earth in order to blow it up with nuclear bombs because reasons.
Our discussion topics include the science of birds, peaches as metaphors for the Earth, friendly whales, the destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the powers of computer hackers.
February 7, 2015 Comic book continuity and events
233 Selective Amnesia
We convene our Comic Book Club not to talk about a specific comic, but more generally the plight of the comic-book reader when it comes to events and continuity. Marvel and DC are both in the process of revisiting and changing their continuity via dramatic in-universe events. Is continuity worth the trouble? Are events fun, or soul-crushing? How do we feel about the old and new Marvel Secret Wars? Does the new all-woman Avengers team fill us with excitement or trepidation or both? And stick around after the show as we discuss Superman’s new power, the appeal of Harley Quinn, and even more comic nerdery!
January 31, 2015 “Groundhog Day”
232 Learning to Love Heidi II
Okay campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s coooold out there! We partake in our midwinter ritual of watching “Groundhog Day” over and over again, not because we have to, but because we want to. How does something that seems so generic on its surface unfold into one of the deepest and (dare we say it) most beloved films of all time? Plus, we cope with the Andie MacDowell problem, theorize about everything Phil did in Punxsutawney that the movie didn’t show us, and liken the entire thing to a video-game speed run. Let’s live here!
January 24, 2015 “Station Eleven” and “The Peripheral”
231 Eat Pray Love Die Survive
The end of the world is here, or in the near future, or in the far future, or maybe all three? Our Book Club reconvenes to talk about three somewhat apocalyptic novels: “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel, “The Peripheral” by William Gibson, and “Slow Apocalypse” by John Varley.
January 17, 2015 Alan Moore’s “Promethea”
230 World-Class Weirdo
Comic Book Club returns, with a look at a work by legendary writer Alan Moore. This one’s “Promethea” (1999-2005), a strange mixture of Wonder Woman and mysticism and tarot cards and… well, there’s a lot. We discuss the amazing visuals, coloring, and lettering, and ponder the difference between appreciating a work of art and being entertained.
(Ideally you’d read Promethea Book 1 and Promethea Book 2 before listening, but the choice is yours.)
January 10, 2015 “Portal” and “Portal 2”
229 Divorce Mode
Hello and, again, welcome to the Aperture Science computer-aided enrichment center. We hope your brief detention in the relaxation vault has been a pleasant one. You are now in possession of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. With it, you can create your own portals. These intra-dimensional gates have proven to be completely safe. You, Subject Name Here, must be the pride of Subject Hometown Here.
You know what my days used to be like? I just tested. Nobody murdered me. Or put me in a potato. Or fed me to birds. I had a pretty good life. And then you showed up. You dangerous, mute lunatic. So you know what? You win. Just go. It’s been fun. Don’t come back.
January 2, 2015 Best of 2014
228 It’s Not a Draft: Our 2014 Favorites
It’s a new year! So as is traditional, we spend some time looking back at our favorite stuff from the past year. Plus we pick some of our favorite moments from the podcast and listen to listener choices for favorite Incomparable moments of the year.
December 27, 2014 The Marx Brothers
227 The Europeans Do It Better
In just moments, Rufus T. Firefly will appear, and all the people of Freedonia will cheer at the presence of their new leader. In the meantime, let’s take some time in our Old Movie Club to discuss the enduring and hilarious works of the Marx Brothers in general and the films “Duck Soup” and “A Night at the Opera” in particular.
December 20, 2014 The Star Wars Holiday Special
226 Stop Circulating the Tapes
It’s the holiday season, when it’s time to consider what’s truly important. We spend time with family and friends and maybe even reserve a few moments to ponder some of life’s mysteries: Is Bea Arthur really Boba Fett? Does Han Solo have a secret Wookie bride? What is Tobor spelled backward? And does C-3PO have eyelids?
December 13, 2014 “The Last Policeman”
225 A Very Different Idea of Fun
It’s your usual detective story, with a guy obsessed with a mystery, a femme fatale, and… an asteroid that’s about to kill most of the living things on the earth? That’s the premise for “The Last Policeman” by Ben Winters. We liked the book (and its two sequels) quite a lot, though that comes with a big caveat based on what your definition of “fun” is, and apparently if you’re a soulless monster or not. Plus: What are we reading?
December 6, 2014 “Galaxy Quest.”
224 Canonical Space Goo
Not many people remember the ’80s sci-fi TV series “Galaxy Quest,” starring Jason Nesmith and Alexander Dane, let alone remember it with fondness. But we’ve assembled a panel full of Questarians who will change your mind. By Grabthar’s hammer, what a topic!
November 29, 2014 Mystery Science Theater 3000
223 Picking My Shorts
In the not too distant future—next Sunday A.D.—there was a guy named Joel, not too different from you or me. He worked at Gizmonic Institute, just another face in a red jumpsuit. He did a good job cleaning up the place, but his bosses didn’t like him, so they shot him into space. And thus began “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
November 28, 2014 “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” teaser trailer
There’s now a teaser trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, and you know we have opinions. And so, in great Incomparable fashion, we’re here to talk about 80 seconds of video for more than an hour. How could we not?
November 22, 2014 Doctor Who season 8 recap
221 Do the Hand-Wavy Thing
With this season of “Doctor Who” completed, it’s time to break down the start of Peter Capaldi’s tenure as our favorite Time Lord. Is he a good man or a cosmic hobo? Why are hugs untrustworthy? Why does Jason keep watching episodes in hotel rooms? These questions and many others are asked, and some of them are even answered.
November 15, 2014 Webcomics
220 Authentic Cop Mustache
We wade into the world of webcomics, discussing the explosion of sequential art on the Internet and our very favorite webcomics. If you don’t spend hours and hours reading comics after listening to this episode, we haven’t done our jobs.
November 7, 2014 Film Noir movie club
219 Terrible Things for Awful Reasons
Old Movie Club returns! And things get dark awfully fast, because we watched two Film Noirs: “Kiss Me Deadly” (1955) and “Out of the Past” (1947). These films contain action, punching, unlikely romance, death by fishing line, horrible ethnic stereotypes, questionable female characters, inexplicable plots, and a box containing a nuclear whatsit. Va-va-va-voom!
November 1, 2014 2014 Fall TV shows
218 Three Dads and a Superfast Baby
We review the new TV shows of the fall, including the influx of new comic-book based series such as “The Flash,” “Gotham,” and “Constantine.” Also we highlight some of the best shows the fall has to offer, and laugh at some of the worst.
October 25, 2014 “The Terminator.”
217 Weird Reverse Hidden Charisma
Come with us if you want to live! It’s time for our re-watch of 1984’s classic sci-fi/horror/monster/car chase movie “The Terminator.” It’s a film that offers a fine distillation of everything ’80s, from Linda Hamilton’s Guess jeans to the pulsating Casio keyboard soundtrack. How do Kyle Reese’s stolen pants remind him of home? And whatever you do, keep an eye out for a gigantic Austrian!
October 18, 2014 Urban fantasy novels set in London.
216 Maps of London
London is a thriving modern metropolis, but beneath its streets and behind its doors are ancient, magical secrets. In this episode, a group of (North) Americans discuss some of our favorite London-based urban fantasy novels. This is a spoiler-light episode, so listen in and get ready to add a whole bunch of books to your to-read list. Plus, what are we reading?
October 11, 2014 More of the best and worst of “Star Trek.”
215 Someone Is Threatening My Whales
Set your phasers to stun and get ready for another round of our panel’s choices for the best and worst of “Star Trek.” This time, we’re debating the best and worst Trek series and movies. Jason and Brianna’s mirror-universe duplicates are revealed. And Tony spends a lot of time talking about sea life.
October 4, 2014 “The Expanse” book club.
214 Fun is Underrated
Space detectives! Pathologically honest spaceship captains! Murderous alien molecules! Solar-system-wide diplomacy! You’ll find all this and more in “The Expanse,” a sci-fi novel series by James S.A. Corey that’s soon to become a SyFy channel series. The members of our Book Club highly recommend it. Also: What are we reading?
September 27, 2014 Fantasy “Saturday Night Live” draft
213 You Need an Agent of Chaos
Why build fantasy sports teams when you can build a fantasy sketch-comedy team? On the occasion of the debut of season 40 of “Saturday Night Live,” we assemble six different SNL fantasy casts from the very first cast to the most recent vintage. Almost everyone gets a Phil Hartman! But only after a whole bunch of rules debates.
September 20, 2014 “Toy Story.”
212 A MacGyver in the Making
Wind the frog and acquire more monkeys! It’s time for us to discuss the very first computer-animated feature film, 1995’s “Toy Story.” We ponder the rules of when toys can reveal themselves to people, question the physics of the Pizza Planet claw, and speak in defense of Sid (but not of Randy Newman). Also: Is this the end of Slinky Dog?
September 12, 2014 TV show reboot pitches.
211 These Are All Good Ideas
Dear Network Executives,
We know your libraries of intellectual property are full of perfectly good shows, ready to be dusted off and revived for modern audiences. That’s why our panel of esteemed Idea Men is here to provide you with some suggestions about what shows to bring back, and how.
Also, please consider casting John Hodgman in everything.
September 5, 2014 Stephen King’s “The Stand.”
210 You Ain’t No Nice Guy
Take your flu medication, head west out of the abandoned cities, and join us for our discussion of Stephen King’s classic novel “The Stand.” We discuss why we enjoy (literary) apocalypses, question King’s setting of the revised edition in 1990, and join forces with an impossibly wise Yoda figure to plan the ultimate battle between the forces of good and the forces of Vegas. Baby, can you dig your man?
Post-show: Our own personal apocalypse plans, revisited.
August 30, 2014 The best and worst of the “Star Trek” franchise.
209 One Gorn Limit
Set your phasers to stun and join us for a celebration of everything we love… and hate… about Star Trek. Our panel of Star Trek fans picks their favorite episodes and characters! But we balance out the niceness by also picking the worst episodes and characters “Star Trek” has brought us over the years across five different TV series.
Want more Star Trek? And don’t forget to listen to our very own Random Trek podcast, hosted by Scott McNulty.
August 23, 2014 “The Last of Us.”
208 The Good People Are Dead Already
Sharpen your shivs and barbecue some rats, because it’s time for us to talk about the apocalyptic video game “The Last of Us.” We talk about the story and the characters in this relentlessly bleak story of a man and a girl trying to survive both zombies and people. If you want even more, stay tuned after the music for an entire bonus episode about gameplay and technical aspects of the game.
August 15, 2014 “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
207 I Am Groot
Put in your mix tape and get ready for a climactic dance-off! We’re talking “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Marvel’s latest hit movie and a real departure in so many ways. What makes the movie work? What are its flaws? We break it all down.
August 9, 2014 British TV picked by silly Americans.
206 It’s All BBC to Me
Oi, guv’nor! In this episode five people from North America spend a lot of time talking about British TV we love. If you are not from the UK, you’ll find a lot of fantastic “programmes” from the telly that are worth your attention. And if you are from jolly old Blighty, please laugh along as ignorant Americans assume that every TV show from England is produced by the BBC. Grab a cuppa and a curry and join us, won’t you?
August 2, 2014 “The Iron Giant.”
205 Love Machine
In the long tradition of big, giant robots came 1999’s “The Iron Giant,” the film Brad Bird made before he made “The Incredibles.” It was kind of a flop in its initial release, but this animated feature has become rightfully recognized as a classic. We debate the Giant’s original purpose, break down a surprisingly large succession of poop jokes, and ponder the Giant’s ultimate destiny to be the benevolent robot-king of Iceland.
July 27, 2014 Re-casting classic comics characters.
204 Where Cynicism Meets Optimism
On Comic-Con weekend, we convene to discuss the latest rash of re-casting comic book heroes. Thor is now a woman! Captain America is black! We’re all for increasing diversity in a medium whose classic characters are dominated by white men, but what are the right ways to do it? And are there wrong ways, or does every little bit help?
July 19, 2014 Getting started with “Doctor Who,” and the show’s Eccleston/Tennant era.
203 Get to the Farting Aliens
“Doctor Who” will be returning shortly, with Peter Capaldi stepping into the role. So what if you’re “Doctor Who”-curious, but intimidated about where to jump in? Our panel of extraordinary “Doctor Who” fans has lots of recommendations for you. Then we survey the highs and lows of the show’s revival era, which featured Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant in the role of The Doctor.
July 11, 2014 The 2014 Hugo Award nominees.
202 The Partial Monty
Bury your dead in a Zeppelin and call your interplanetary accountant—it’s time for our annual read of the Hugo Award nominees. We cover this year’s award nominees, plus the “retro Hugos” from 1939, both of which will be awarded in August in London. Also, someone defends Mira Grant.
July 3, 2014 Patriotic musicals.
201 Democracy is Awful
Break out the stars and stripes, put on your tap shoes, crawl into your shame hole, and join us for a very patriotic edition of Old Movie Club. We discuss the musical “1776,” which stars KITT from “Knight Rider” and the guy from “The White Shadow,” and the biopic musical “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” which stars James Cagney.
June 27, 2014 Our 200th episode!
200 Butter Zone
We celebrate our 200th episode with this mega-sized installment. We discuss what it means to have geeky enthusiasms (and whether we should grow up), and then listen to some reader feedback. Plus there’s a draft, some beer, and special guest stars.
June 21, 2014 2013-14 TV season in review, plus “Game of Thrones.”
199 Get This Man Some New Paint
In this episode we recap our take on the TV season that recently concluded. In a segment with little to no spoilers, we largely discuss shows we like, including “Orphan Black,” “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” and even “The Blacklist” and “The Good Wife.” Then at the end of the show we slip into spoiler territory and talk about season 4 of “Game of Thrones.”
June 14, 2014 Women in geek culture.
198 A Critical Mass of Lady Geeks
In this episode we convene a panel of women who love geeky stuff to discuss portrayals of girls and women in geek media, how girls and women are received in geek culture, and the books, movies, comics and TV shows that do it right.
June 7, 2014 Pixar and Ed Catmull’s “Creativity Inc.”
197 Fail Fast
We love Pixar, and we’re a bunch of creative professional types. So as you can imagine, we devoured “Creativity Inc.”, by Pixar president Ed Catmull. Is it a business book or an anti-business book? How do you foster creativity? Is Pixar’s formula one that provides safety while preventing works of staggering genius? How much is a director or writer the author of a Pixar movie, and how much is the studio itself? And is the wild success of “Frozen” proof of anything?
May 31, 2014 2014 Nebula Award nominees
196 Golem and Jinni Detective Agency
Every year Scott and Jason read all the Hugo Award-nominated novels, which supposedly show off the best science fiction has to offer. That hasn’t always gone well, so this year they’ve read the eight novels nominated for the Nebula Awards—and recruited three other SF podcasters to join them in the fun. We discuss all eight novels with extremely light-to-no spoilers, so it’s safe to listen. And the good news? All eight of these novels are pretty good!
May 17, 2014 Computer game draft.
195 Peak Crate
Following in the footsteps of our video-game draft, it’s time for us to select some of our favorite computer games of all time. Real-time strategy! Arcade style! Text adventures! From the earliest days of video games up to the present, we’ve got it covered. Now if we could just figure out what was in those crates…
May 10, 2014 “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”
194 A Real Imaginary Friend
Grab your black cat and portable radio, climb on your mom’s broomstick, and join us for a king-sized discussion of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animated film “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” This film features a climactic scene featuring an out-of-control dirigible, so you know we love it.
May 2, 2014 Casting “Star Wars: Episode VII.”
193 Don’t Worry, We Got This
The casting for “Star Wars: Episode VII” has been announced, and so our team of interested “Star Wars” fans has arrived to break down the returning actors, the new faces, and our hopes for the future of the franchise. Plus we talk Kremlinology and Soviet industrial design, lament a bag of villains, and confuse screenwriters with pasta.
April 26, 2014 A draft of favorite robots.
192 Murderous Roomba
Danger, Will Robinson! It’s time to think outside the bots. We follow up our computer draft with a draft of favorite robots, androids, and other artificial intelligences. Also, we debate a whole lot about what makes a robot different from a computer. Kill all humans!
April 19, 2014 Computer draft, live from Macworld/iWorld.
191 They Don’t Make Them Anymore
Live from Macworld/iWorld in San Francisco, it’s the Incomparable Computer Draft! We pick the best computers of all time—real and fictional. (It goes off the rails quickly.)
April 12, 2014 “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
190 The Cloud is Run by Hydra
Grab your shield, steal your old uniform, and hop on your motorcycle, because it’s time for us to discuss “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” It’s the latest Marvel movie, and even though Steve Rogers is the title character, there’s an awful lot of SHIELD in this movie, too. Does the franchise aspect of these films help or hurt? Are the action scenes more interesting than the urban disasters featured in most recent superhero movies? And is the Falcon really Cap’s only friend outside SHIELD? Also, we reveal the Hydra secret handshake.
April 5, 2014 “WarGames.”
189 Using Computers to Impress Girls
Warm up your modem and turn your nuclear-launch key—it’s time to play Global Thermonuclear War! We discuss “WarGames,” the 1983 John Badham film starring Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, and Ally Sheedy. Is this the ultimate film for computer nerds like us? How do the film’s Cold War themes contrast with its anti-technology themes? Can a computer make moral decisions? Why is there so much nerd shaming and sexism? And why do they let tour buses into the heart of America’s nuclear command? So many questions, Professor Falken, and so few remote-controlled pterodactyls.
March 30, 2014 Another Incomparable game show.
188 Game Show II
In the spirit of April Fool’s Day, we present the second edition of The Incomparable Game Show. Two teams match up in a battle of trivia and pointlessness. (Or is that redundant?)
March 24, 2014 Book Club: “The Martian” by Andy Weir.
187 Man versus Mars
Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss “The Martian” by Andy Weir. It’s a nuts-and-bolts adventure about a stranded astronaut who uses his botany and engineering skills to stay alive on Mars. Did we mention botany? And engineering? There’s a lot of both. Also, we tell you what we’re reading.
March 15, 2014 Old Movie Club: “Get Carter” and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.”
186 Kazoo Parade
We reconvene our Old Movie Club to watch two gritty early-1970s films that have been unfortunately remade in the last decade: “Get Carter” starring Michael Caine, and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” starring Walter Matthau. We learn about slide-based pornography, metaphors involving stick-shift cars, angry New York transit officers, kazoo parades, and so much more.
March 7, 2014 “Babylon 5,” for new viewers as well as veterans.
185 A Three-Edged Sword
It was the dawn of a new age—the rise of sci-fi shows with story arcs, complex characters, and computer-based special effects. “Babylon 5” was a trailblazing TV series and we give it the treatment it deserves in this double-sized episode. The curious can join us for a lengthy pre-Spoiler Horn conversation about why we like the show, and the veterans can stick around for detailed, spoilery conversations about where the show went during its five seasons on the air.
March 1, 2014 A draft of favorite board games.
184 Genius Edition
Do you love cardboard and hate sanity? Then join us for our draft of favorite board games! We do some uranium mining on a donkey, propose a new trivia-themed podcast, debate the merits of Sanka versus Yuban, and discuss two different versions of Risk—three, if you count the version Tony invented where each Risk battle is settled by a full game of Monopoly.
February 22, 2014 “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” (Part 2 of 2.)
183 How I Sold Your Mother
Do you like sand? Then you may get upset as we conclude our discussion of “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones,” in which we ponder the mystery of droid consciousness, fail to get excited about seeing our old friends from Episode I again, open a Variety Pack of monsters, debate Yoda’s fighting strategy, and talk John Siracusa off the ledge. Finally, we ponder whether it’s worse for a movie to be bad or boring. (Part 2 of 2.)
February 14, 2014 “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” (Part 1 of 2.)
182 Full-Fledged Force Mullet
Against the advice of our doctors, we’re back with more prequels. This time it’s “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” With three different opening statements, our podcast is about as bureaucratic as the Imperial Senate. We also discuss R2’s incompetence as a security system, ponder Anakin’s puzzling pick-up lines (and haircut), sympathize with the boring job of the Jedi, and question the plight of the Fett family and the clone troopers. (Part 1 of 2.)
February 8, 2014 Casting new actors in iconic parts.
181 You’re the Christopher Reeviest
Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones, but will he always be? We discuss the interesting problem of replacing the face of your franchise, whether it’s Doctor Who or James Bond or Captain Kirk or Batman or Superman. Fortunately, we leave plenty of time for digressions into old TV shows (including “Three’s Company,” “Bewitched,” and “Magnum P.I.”) and anger the internet’s foremost Robocopians. Spoiler: In the end, Hollywood ruins everything.
February 1, 2014 Season 3 of the BBC’s “Sherlock.”
180 Locked-Shower Mystery
Unlock the front door to your mind palace, fake your death in numerous ways, and draw on a fake mustache! Season 3 of “Sherlock” is on our agenda, and we discuss all three episodes in turn. How does the introduction of Mary improve the cast dynamic? Does the middle episode sag as in past seasons, or prove to be a highlight? The game is on, Watson.
January 25, 2014 “The Lies of Locke Lamora” and “Ancillary Justice.”
179 Thief-Based Economy
Our book club returns with discussion of two books! First we talk Scott Lynch’s “The Lies of Locke Lamora,” a fantasy book about a gang of thieves that are even outlaws to other thieves (spoiler horn at 12:00). Then it’s Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice,” a space opera about AIs and ships and empires and corpse soldiers that brings Iain M. Banks to mind (starts at 28:48, spoilers at 33:22). Confusingly long prologues! Fun with gendered pronouns! Questionable burrito metaphors! Plus: What are we reading (starts at 68:13)?
January 18, 2014 Console video games. (Part 2 of 2)
178 A Smoother Yar
We continue selecting our favorite all-time console video games. John chooses the classics. Steve has a bad fur day. And Moisés continues his descent into madness. Boop beep beep boop! (Part 2 of 2)
January 10, 2014 Console video games. (Part 1 of 2)
177 Six-Pixel Sword
It’s time for us to select some of the very best console video games of all time. From Mario to Zelda, from sports to music, from Atari to Intellivision, we’ve got the entire history of the video-game industry covered. Are you a bad enough dude to listen? (Part 1 of 2)
January 3, 2014
174b Behind the Christmas Spectacular
We discuss how we made the Incomparable Christmas Spectacular.
January 1, 2014 Best stuff of 2013, plus our favorite podcast moments.
176 Solo Adventures (Our 2013 Favorites)
We say goodbye to 2013 by listing our favorite stuff from the past year. We also recall our favorite podcast moments and read a whole bunch of listener comments. (This is a new episode, though it does contain a few classic Incomparable clips from 2013 and earlier.)
December 25, 2013 “The Time of the Doctor” - A live, unedited reaction.
175 War on Christmas
“Doctor Who” said farewell to Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith on Christmas Day. In an Incomparable Christmas tradition, we convened almost immediately after the airing of the episode to discuss “The Time of the Doctor” in great detail in an unedited live flashcast. Cyberman-head companions! A turkey that takes 300 years to cook in the vortex! Lots of past plot boxes checked! A teary farewell and regeneration! Kidneys of a dubious color! We break it all down.
December 22, 2013 The Incomparable Radio Theater of the Air wishes you all the best.
174 The Incomparable Christmas Spectacular
The Incomparable Radio Theater of the Air wishes a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
December 15, 2013 The complete and unedited “masterpiece”
173z Human Santapede (the unedited version)
‘Tis the season for holiday music! Unfortunately, while we unabashedly love the holidays, only some holiday music strikes our fancy. Join us as we talk about what make good and bad holiday songs.
(This is the unedited version of the session that became Incomparable 173, our holiday music episode.)
December 14, 2013 Best and worst of Christmas music.
173 Santa-Based Christmas
‘Tis the season for holiday music! Unfortunately, while we unabashedly love the holidays, only some holiday music strikes our fancy. Join us as we talk about what makes a good holiday song and then stick around (if you dare) as we complain about some of the worst the season has to offer. Happy holidays, folks!
(This is a new full edit of the classic episode done by Jason in 2021, with improved sound and fewer editorial “improvements” so it more closely resembles the original, infamous recording session. This is Jason’s preferred version, though the unedited version remains available.)
December 7, 2013 Some favorite (and not so favorite) holiday TV.
172 The Incomparable Holiday Vault 3
Holiday TV: There’s a lot of it, and some of it is good. A lot of it is bad. We talk about classics great and not-so-great and induct some very special shows into the Incomparable Holiday Vault. Also, Steve reveals a deep, dark secret.
November 29, 2013 A large collection of books we think you should read.
171 Pirate Politics (A Winter Reading List)
Winter’s here and it’s time to light a fire, get under a blanket, and curl up with a good book. Our panelists are well read and of exquisite taste, so we’ve got a boatload of suggestions for you. From funny to serious, there’s a book in our list that will hit the spot the next time you’re looking for something to read.
November 23, 2013 The 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, “The Day of the Doctor.”
170 Let Zygons Be Zygons
In this special unedited flashcast edition, we talk about the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, “The Day of the Doctor,” immediately after viewing it! It just about made our heads explode and we want to watch it again immediately. Join us for our post-episode breakdown of what we saw and what we liked.
November 21, 2013 50 years of “Doctor Who.”
169 A Man with a Long Scarf
50 years ago some very clever people invented “Doctor Who.” 50 years later we still love it. On the occasion of the show’s golden anniversary, here’s our unabashed lovefest for the BBC’s most clever invention. Four American fans discuss how we discovered the show, our favorite Doctors and stories, and the unique and welcoming culture of sci-fi fandom.
November 16, 2013 “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” “Sleepy Hollow,” and more fall TV.
168 A Different Kind of Sleeper Agent
Pick up the clicker and join us for our conversation about the new TV season. We talk ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Sleepy Hollow,” “The Blacklist,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “The Crazy Ones,” “The Michael J. Fox Show,” “Masters of Sex,” and also NBC’s “Dracula”—which we haven’t actually seen. Plus returning shows of note like “Parks and Recreation,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “The Big Bang Theory.” We also talk about how exciting corporate synergy can be, Scott endorses a show you should watch if you have the channel it’s on, and we provide our pitch for “CSI: Dracula.”
November 9, 2013 “Singin’ in the Rain,” “High Noon,” and “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
167 Space Wizard Musical
Old Movie Club returns! We look at three films from 1952: “Singin’ in the Rain,” “High Noon,” and Best Picture winner (!) “The Greatest Show on Earth.” One of these movies is not like the others. Plus: The haunting repetition of Tex Ritter! Charlton Heston’s commitment to the circus! And Phil asks Jason what it feels like to have no soul! Travel back 61 years in time and join us, won’t you?
November 2, 2013 Separating authors from their art, and series that have disappointed us.
166 I Assume Everyone is Awful
Awful people can make great art. Nice people can write bad books. Can you separate the creator from the art? We struggle with Orson Scott Card and his (rightfully) classic novel “Ender’s Game” and go on to list other writers and series who we’ve hand to break up with. To make things not entirely disappointing, we also talk about authors and series that have never let us down.
October 28, 2013 Video games “Brothers” and “Gone Home.”
165 Grieving for My Left Thumb
In this episode we talk about two video games even non-gamers like Jason can enjoy, “Gone Home” and “Brothers.” We ponder what makes a game challenging, and if a game must be challenging to be good. John likes both games, but has a list of grievances. All disagreements will be settled with a duel of ’80s mixtapes at dawn! Plus: What other games are we playing?
October 19, 2013 Pegg and Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy” films.
164 Put In the Zom and Out Comes Com
Grab a pint and marinate your brain as we discuss the “Cornetto Trilogy,” three films by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright that are linked in theme if not in characters: “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” and recent release “The World’s End.” Why aren’t there more smart genre comedies? How do Pegg and Wright so deftly handle different genres? How are these movies like the Commedia dell’arte? Why do Jason and Jeff want to punch Nick Frost, then hug him? Plus, we give even more Incomparable love to “Spaced.”
October 11, 2013 Alt-history novels and military sci-fi.
163 What If Galactus Was Made of Jello?
The winner of our iTunes review contest had us read John Birmingham’s “Weapons of Choice,” which our Book Club used as a jumping-off point to talk about alt-history novels, time travel, military SF, and a whole lot more. You don’t need to read the book to appreciate the episode! Plus: What are we reading?
October 4, 2013 The indie content revolution, live from Portland, Oregon.
162 Disintermediated Peep Shows
Live! From a (somewhat echoey, sorry) room in Portland Oregon, we talk about the exciting new world of Internet-aided content creation. How have sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo and even Amazon changed how people create and consume books, movies, TV shows, and music? And what’s the missing piece of this content revolution?
October 1, 2013 Part 4 of our Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
161 Southern Skeleton
Bonus episode! Here’s an edited fourth installment of our Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Our heroes have made it inside a strange desert temple and have mostly not died… yet. But the night is young and the basins in this temple are full of an unknown magical fluid, so anything could happen!
September 27, 2013 “The Matrix.”
160 Super-Secret Sony MiniDiscs
Take the red pill and enter “The Matrix,” 1999’s influential sci-fi/action classic. Why does Morpheus talk like a fortune cookie? Is Keanu’s woodenness an asset or detriment? Was skeuomorphism the fall of man? And if we accept that living things can be used as batteries, why wouldn’t the machines just use cows? Grad students, we are about to blow your minds. Whoa.
September 19, 2013 The 2nd annual Incomparable Film Festival. (2 of 2)
159 Full Shatner
We conclude the second Incomparable Film Festival with 21 more films we think are worth seeing, in fantasy draft format. Don’t miss the exciting Lightning Round, and stay tuned when it’s all over for our expert post-draft analysis! (Part 2 of 2.)
September 14, 2013 The 2nd annual Incomparable Film Festival. (1 of 2)
158 Peak Clooney
It’s time for the second Incomparable Film Festival! We pick 35 films that we think are worth seeing, in fantasy draft format. From horror to comedy to drama to sci-fi to kung-fu, we’ve got just about every genre covered. (Part 1 of 2.)
September 7, 2013 “Hawkeye” by Fraction and Aja.
157 Bros and Arrows
An entire comic book about Hawkeye, the lesser Marvel superhero with a bow and arrow? Okay… this looks bad. But seriously, bro, this is one of the very best comics being published today. We cover the first two trade-paperback editions of Fraction and Aja’s series, including Lucky the Pizza Dog, 50 Shades of Purple, and how hooking up a laserdisc player is similar to defusing a bomb. Hop on board and join us—we’re great at boats.
August 31, 2013 Two caper movies from the 1950s: “The Lavender Hill Mob” and “The Killing.”
156 Airline of Snitches
Special guest star Philip Michaels gives us an old-movie education with two caper movies from the 1950s, “The Lavender Hill Mob” and “The Killing.” One’s funny, one’s not, but both teach us that crime doesn’t pay! Plus young Stanley Kubrick, funnyman Alec Guinness, the second-greatest fight scene Steve has ever seen, and a guest appearance by General Eisenhower.
August 24, 2013 Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.”
155 The Cat Who Listened to Podcasts
A boy with no name travels to the end of the lane and discovers how a pond can be an ocean in Neil Gaiman’s brief and wonderful novel “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” Also Dan explains Jason’s perfect vacation, there’s lots of talk about cats, why David has issues with Old Yeller, and we talk about other Neil Gaiman works that we like.
August 17, 2013 “Saga” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
154 Seahorse on Line One
Do you like stories, love, and life? Then even if you’re not a regular comic book reader, you should read “Saga,” by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. (Unless naked robot sex disturbs you, in which case you shouldn’t.) We cover the horns and the wings, bad connections on the interstellar cellphone network, seahorse agents, super space high school, a frog with a banjo, the wisdom of hiring a ghost as your babysitter, and much more.
August 10, 2013 Time-travel movies “Primer” “Looper” and “12 Monkeys.”
153 Monkey with a Tinfoil Sandwich
Load your shotgun, put on your clear plastic suit, and climb into that suspiciously humming box! We’re here to talk about three very different time-travel movies: “12 Monkeys,” “Looper,” and “Primer.” Is “Crazy Brad Pitt” a thing? If you met a younger version of yourself, would you fight or cuddle? Why is the apocalypse like Philadelphia? Also something about a Weeble in a time machine, we didn’t really understand that part.
August 3, 2013 A post-Comic-Con beer session with Steve Lutz and Greg Knauss.
152 The Comic-Con Episode
Live! From San Diego County! It’s a podcast where Jason Snell, Steve Lutz, and Greg Knauss drink beer and talk about Comic-Con, a glut of too much good media, the pros and cons of wearing costumes, Adventure Time, Glenn’s health scare, and much more. It’s slightly tipsy and more than slightly rambling, but we hope you’ll crack a beverage of your own and join us for this cocktail party.
July 27, 2013 The 2013 Hugo Award Nominees.
151 Not Technically Incest
Put on your red shirt, renew your blogging license, and swallow some alien bacteria! It’s time for our annual read of the five Hugo Award nominees for best novel. We liked some of them, we hated some of them, but we talked about all of them! But beware: The diabolical eyes of the Centers for Disease Control are watching us all.
July 21, 2013 Listener feedback.
150 I Look Forward to Ignoring Your Criticism
It’s our 150th episode! Since we don’t normally answer listener questions and read comments on the show, we’re devoting this episode to that very topic. We read your emails, your iTunes reviews, and your tweets, and announce a contest that will let one lucky listener choose the topic of a future episode. Are we too critical or not critical enough? Do we disagree too much or not enough? Plus: Why we’re not kidnapping Stephen Fry, a new magazine for apes, light eatage, and some Glenning.
July 13, 2013 Superhero draft.
149 Gleekless (A Superhero Draft)
The Incomparable’s Superhero Draft is now in session, and justice is on the clock! Hear our collection of panelists assemble several excellent super-teams. Who will inhabit the Hall of Justice? And why are Superman and Batman looking on forlornly? Are they just not team players? Take your Sharknado to the Evil Museum and ponder just why Iron Man might not be the hero you think he is.
July 4, 2013 Our Dungeons and Dragons campaign, part 3.
148 Between Two Obelisks
Jason’s on vacation this week, so instead of a conventional episode, here’s an edited third installment of our Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Hot on the heels of the death of Eglath, our heroes step into the maelstrom and discover the secret of the stone temple on the other side. Also, is that a lobster? And who is that guy wearing a hat?
June 29, 2013 John Scalzi’s “The Human Division” and Hugo-nominated short stories.
147 Space Fish
Though we were tempted to release this episode in eight 10-minute installments, we refrained. Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss John Scalzi’s novel “The Human Division,” which was initially released as a serial and later as a single-volume novel. Does the serialized format help or hurt? Is Scalzi’s return to his “Old Man’s War” universe a triumph? PLUS! We discuss all the short fiction nominated for the Hugo Award this year.
June 21, 2013 “Man of Steel.”
146 Bashing Two Action Figures Together
Quick! Before the planet is destroyed! Climb on your Kryptonian dragonfly-horse thing and join us to discuss “Man of Steel,” the first in a new cycle of Superman movies. We debate the talents of director Zack Snyder, question the movie artistically and as a calculated act of commerce, praise a lot of very good things about the movie, and complain a whole lot about gleeful destruction and the accompanying property damage.
June 15, 2013 “Game of Thrones” season 3, and other 2012-13 TV.
145 He Lives By a Stupid Code
Winter is coming! Any day now. No, really… Wait for it… Hmm. In the meantime, here’s our review of this year’s “Game of Thrones” season, recorded with all of us in the same room! Haven’t seen it? Skip ahead an hour and listen to us talk about other TV shows we watched during the 2012-2013 TV season, including the finale of “Fringe.”
June 9, 2013 “My Neighbor Totoro.”
144 Hangin’ With the Totes
“My Neighbor Totoro” is an animated classic in which nothing much happens, but we love it anyway. We discuss how the movie is all about children’s fears of change, ponder the differences between subtitled and dubbed versions, and contemplate corn as a cure for tuberculosis. CREEPY!
June 1, 2013 “Star Trek Into Darkness” and J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek.”
143 The Best “Star Wars” Movie In Years
Press down on the warp lever and hide away your out-of-date continuity reference materials. It’s time for us to discuss J.J. Abrams’ reimagined Star Trek, with an emphasis on the new film “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Among our topics: The great casting in both movies, the merits of a Spock-to-Spock Skype call, McCoy’s Tribble-based scientific method, and the themes of self-sacrifice in the new movie. Plus we reference every single classic Star Trek movie along the way! And yes, there are spoilers. Lots and lots of spoilers.
May 24, 2013 “Doctor Who” season 7 wrap-up.
142 Free Public WiFi
From aliens in the wi-fi to a brain leech under a hat, from some bad nannying to a trio of idiots with a really big space magnet, it’s been an odd half-season for our favorite Time Lord. Here’s our recap of the second half of series 7 of “Doctor Who.” Plus: The Spoiler Horn makes it safe for everyone who wanted to learn the Doctor’s real name.
May 20, 2013 “Iron Man 3.”
141 Tony Stark Wants the Credit
Put on your high-tech suit of armor and join us for our discussion of “Iron Man 3.” We talk about Tony’s post-traumatic stress, his problematic relationship with technology, and his questionable choice to use remote armor to give a present to his girlfriend. We also discuss the pros and cons of the first two Iron Man movies, analyze how this film fits in as a post-“Avengers” story, and appreciate Tony’s MacGyver moment.
May 12, 2013 Marvel Comics’ “House of M.”
140 The Sublime Magicks of Exposition
No more mutants! We discuss the 2005 Marvel Comics miniseries “House of M,” in which writer Brian Michael Bendis gets to show off his love of meetings, Doctor Strange, and meetings chaired by Doctor Strange! Also, there’s a crazy “What If?” style parallel universe, approximately a billion spin-offs, and in the cruelest twist, Peter Parker is briefly allowed to be happy. And finally there’s a shocking finale that set the tone for mutant storylines up to the present day. Listen before the Scarlet Witch wishes this podcast out of existence!
May 4, 2013 “A Wrinkle In Time”, book and graphic novel.
139 Flying Horse Angel People
We delve into the children’s literary classic “A Wrinkle In Time,” by Madeline L’Engle, as well as its recent graphic-novel adaptation by Hope Larson. Why is there a brain on that table? What are the pros and cons of cooking dinner on a Bunsen burner for the average Super-Cool Science Family? Come for the Cold War allegories about communism, stay to talk religion with a bunch of nerds!
April 30, 2013 Our Dungeons and Dragons campaign continues.
138 All Hail the Lion!
Bonus episode! Here’s the (warning: UNEDITED) result of our second Dungeons and Dragons session. After some dithering in the local vicinity, we venture out into the desert to meet glass spiders and some really unpleasant green guys.
April 28, 2013 “Star Wars: Episode I” (part 2 of 2)
137 Go Wash a Droid
We conclude our discussion of “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.” We discuss the merits of podracing, debate who the Jedi’s version of Fonzie is, and grapple with tricky euphemisms. Plus, is the final lightsaber duel cool or just over-choreographed? And why is there a hall full of forcefields, next to a room with no guard rails? Party on, Darth! (Part 2 of 2.)
April 20, 2013 “Star Wars: Episode 1” (part 1 of 2)
136 We Waited 16 Years For This?
They said it couldn’t be done! They said it shouldn’t be done! But here we are, talking about “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” Why are the Jedi such jerks? A little Jedi goes a long way. Also, the biggest letdown of John Siracusa’s life to date, stupid droids, good actors being boring, text versus subtext, the merits of prequels in general, and why this is a movie that makes us dream… of a better movie. Exqueeze me? (Part 1 of 2.)
April 14, 2013 We play “Dungeons & Dragons.”
135 Total Party Kill
Get out your 20-sided dice and join us in a game of Dungeons and Dragons. Scott McNulty is our DM. Jason, Ren, Dan, Steve, and Tony are our party. Things don’t go well.
April 7, 2013 Apocalyptic novels “The Dog Stars” and “The Road.”
134 Obligatory Cannibalism
Load your shotgun and gather your platonic apocalypse friends around you! It’s time for us to discuss two books about the end of the world, Peter Heller’s “The Dog Stars” and Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Do names matter when the world has ended? We also revisit John Siracusa’s doomsday plans (a moat is involved), Lex offers a depressing death plan, Jason extolls the virtue of dirty apocalypses, and Scott laughs it up from his apartment full of canned food.
April 5, 2013
133b Behind the Incomparable Radio Drama
A behind-the-scenes discussion of The Incomparable’s radioplay special. Plus outtakes and the original read-through of “The Fog.”
April 1, 2013 Our salute to old-time radio drama.
133 Incomparable Radio Theater of the Air
How much do we love old-time radio dramas and full-cast audioplays? This much.
March 23, 2013 Hulk, She-Hulk, and other Hulks I’ve known.
132 Kind of Like a Dinosaur
Don’t make us angry… you wouldn’t like us when we’re angry. Our Comic Book Club talks all things Hulk. We begin with a discussion of two She-Hulk series, by John Byrne and Dan Slott, and then move to talk about Proper Hulk, Gray Hulk, Red Hulk, Planet Hulk, Ruffalo Hulk, and more! Plus: What are we reading? (Jason gets really excited about “Hawkeye,” who is not a Hulk.) And, other than being green, how is the Hulk like parsley? Channel your inner rage and listen to this episode.
March 16, 2013 Anime director Satoshi Kon.
131 Professor Siracusa’s Anime 101
John Siracusa assigns us two animated films from director Satoshi Kon, “Perfect Blue” and “Millennium Actress.” Then we watch them! Featuring: What to look for in Anime tropes, blurring of reality and fantasy, when animation is better than live action, and the lovingly rendered start-up sequence of a Macintosh Performa.
March 2, 2013 The original “Star Trek.” (Part 2 of 2.)
130 And the Children Shall Lead
Disconnect the intelligent computer that runs your entire planetary society, because it’s time for the second half of our discussion of the original “Star Trek.” What do today’s kids think of this nearly 50-year-old show? We ponder the gender politics of splitting Captain Kirk (and a little dog in a weird costume) into good and evil halves. And what about the low standards of the Enterprise’s Engineering department? Please listen: It will only take 71 of your Earth minutes! (Part 2 of 2.)
February 24, 2013 The original “Star Trek.” (Part 1 of 2.)
129 Prescription Salad
Lay in a course and set your phaser to stun! We discuss our favorite (and least favorite) episodes of the original “Star Trek” series. Was Dr. McCoy promoting vegetarianism? Why did Spock have such a lovely collection of hats? What does Bob Barker have to do with the Guardian of Forever? Join us as we boldly go where so many have gone before. (Part 1 of 2.)
February 15, 2013 “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley.
128 Bureaucracy Is Her Superpower
Cut off your thumb and send it to a friend just to see what grows! In this episode of our Book Club, we talk about Daniel O’Malley’s modern supernatural fantasy novel, “The Rook.” (We liked it a lot!) It’s sort of about a supernatural version of Britain’s MI-5, written by an American-educated Australian civil servant. Also: What are Scott, Dan, and Jason reading?
February 9, 2013 Aaron Sorkin.
127 Walking and Talking
We convened on the Macworld Live stage at Macworld/iWorld 2013 to discuss the works of Aaron Sorkin. From “The West Wing” to “Sports Night,” “The American President” to “The Social Network,” it’s all here.
February 2, 2013 “Locke and Key.”
126 A Dark, Dark Narnia
Get out your magical key ring and prepare for our discussion of “Locke and Key” by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. It’s a dark fantasy/horror comic with some touches of Stephen King, fitting since Joe Hill is Stephen King’s kid! It’s also really good. We drop some mild spoilers for Vol. 1, “Welcome to Lovecraft,” which you should go buy right now. Plus: What comics are we reading?
January 26, 2013 The “Lord of the Rings” films (part 2 of 2)
125 Kiss the Elf
Our fellowship is sundered, as we wrap up our look at the “Lord of the Rings” movies with a discussion of our favorite (and some least-favorite) performances. Also, is Yoda better than Gollum? Who likes Orcs, anyway? Why does Liv Tyler make Jason want to go to the bathroom? And there are many, many endings. (Part 2 of 2.)
January 19, 2013 The “Lord of the Rings” films (part 1 of 2)
124 Hobbit Hanukkah
It’s a two-part podcast about a three-part movie series spread across six discs based on a novel divided into three parts! We tackle Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, from its epic length to the perils of adapting such rich source material. Plus a spotter’s guide to differentiating between Dwarfy, Elfy, Beardy, and Hobbits One through Four. And Glenn proves that he knows Elvish. The road goes ever on, and on, and on… (Part 1 of 2.)
January 12, 2013 “Wreck-It Ralph” and classic videogames.
123 Ski Lodge Pick
Insert a quarter and settle back to listen to us discuss the Oscar-nominated animated feature “Wreck-It Ralph,” which is inspired by classic video games. If you make it past the first level, you’ll also hear us discuss some of the video games our collection of elderly gentleman played when they were children back in the ’70s and ’80s. If you don’t make it that far, keep trying—the change machine’s right over there.
January 1, 2013 The best of 2012.
122 Recursive Clip Loop: Our 2012 Favorites
We say goodbye to 2012 by listing our favorite stuff from the past year. We also recall our favorite podcast moments, read a whole bunch of listener comments, and celebrate the three brand-new words we popularized this year. (This is a new episode, though it does contain a few classic Incomparable clips from 2012—and beyond.)
December 26, 2012 “The Snowmen,” Doctor Who’s 2012 Christmas episode.
121 Ice Mary Poppins
A live “flash” episode recorded right after we watched the 2012 “Doctor Who” Christmas special, “The Snowmen.” We welcome (back?) Jenna-Louise Coleman and discuss whether this new start for the Doctor has rekindled our enthusiasm for the show.
December 23, 2012 Anticipating the blockbuster films of 2013.
120 A Horse with a Hat
Showing remarkable optimism, we gathered on the eve of the Mayan apocalypse to discuss movies we might see in 2013. In this episode, we discuss the trailers for much-anticipated films “Star Trek Into Darkness”, “Man of Steel”, “Pacific Rim”, “Oblivion”, “After Earth”, “The Lone Ranger”, and “Upstream Color.” Also: Robot Thursdays, the merits of Star Trek punctuation, a Bolivian, Ethan Hunt versus the Fresh Prince, and traditional Kryptonian formalwear.
December 15, 2012 “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
119 The Guilt-Trip Superhero
With great power comes the responsibility to book great guests. And so when it came time to discuss “The Amazing Spider-Man” and Spidey in general, Jason turned to reknowned spider-fans Andy Ihnatko and Dan Benjamin. We discuss how the Spidey in the new movie is a different sort of guilt-trip superhero. Dan explains why you can’t actually kill a spider. Andy previews his new comic book, The Indigestible Spider-Man. We touch on the changes in Ultimate Spider-Man and speculate about the soon-to-arrive Amazing Spider-Man #700. Jason sings two different Spidey theme songs and does his J. Jonah Jameson impression. This giant-sized episode is more Spidey than you can shake a web at.
December 8, 2012 Five favorite holiday films or TV shows.
118 The Incomparable Holiday Vault 2
Trim the tree, wrap the presents, and watch out for the killer in your attic! It’s time for us to place five new gems into the Incomparable Holiday Vault! We discuss some beloved holiday classics and offer a few surprise choices. This is a darker installment, as we uncover the racism in some holiday staples, and then Steve inducts a horror movie. And can a talk show really be a holiday special? You’re gonna shoot your eye out with that thing!
December 2, 2012 “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” and reading on the iPhone.
117 Intergalactic FedEx
We follow up on our previous episode to ask Serenity Caldwell how she uses her iPhone to read books (and discover her shocking method of scanning pages). Then there’s a discussion of Lois McMaster Bujold’s latest Vorkosigan novel, “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance.” Finally (at 65 minutes in if you’re skipping ahead), Jason asks Scott to recommend which unread book on his Kindle he should dive into next.
November 24, 2012 Ebooks versus paper books. Plus what we’re reading.
116 Very Well-Read Hobos
We talk a lot about what we read, but how do we read? Join our Book Club as we talk about ebooks, paper books, and libraries, and how we like to read today. Plus, we tell you some of the books we’re reading right now.
November 19, 2012 A review of new and returning fall TV shows.
115 For Dunces, By Dunces, To Dunces
Turn on your electrical generators, fire your nuclear missiles, and notch your bow and arrow—it’s time for our review of the fall TV season, including both new and returning shows. We discuss “Revolution,” the since-cancelled “Last Resort,” “Arrow,” “Elementary,” and returning shows “Fringe,” “The Walking Dead,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and many others!
October 31, 2012 A review of new and returning fall TV shows.
114 When You Wish Upon a Star Wars
Were we pranked, or did Disney really just buy Lucasfilm and announce a new Star Wars trilogy? We decided to just assume it’s happening and record a live flash podcast about this unexpected turn of events.
October 26, 2012
113 Indiana Jones is Immortal Now!
We discuss the Indiana Jones movie series, including a brief revisitation of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the good parts of “Temple of Doom,” Dan’s childhood love for “Last Crusade,” and utter denial about “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Also, Lex hasn’t seen it. Recorded live at Cingleton Symposium, Montreal, October 2012.
October 19, 2012
112 Schrodinger’s Cat Box
Our very own Glenn Fleishman’s was on “Jeopardy!” We debriefed him about his adventures immediately on his return. In this episode, Jason and Glenn are also joined by Andy Ihnatko and Steve Lutz, and we talk about game shows and their modern reality-competition show equivalents, as well as harken back to the heyday of the panel show, where drunk celebrities engaged in witty repartee. It’s an episode so comfy you’ll feel like you were back in the womb at Bill Cullen’s house.
October 15, 2012 “This Is Spinal Tap.”
111 These Go to Eleven
Rob Reiner’s legendary heavy-metal mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap” is in our sights. This is one of our very favorite films, and so Jason, Andy Ihnatko, and Ben Boychuk talk about why they love it while regaling one another with favorite lines from this amazingly quotable movie.
October 5, 2012
110 Cyborg Cowboy
Robot sheriff, coming through! We break down the first half of “Doctor Who” season 7, and discover the truth about the Siracusa Threshold. Today we are all John Siracusa, except for Scott. He’s our Rory.
September 30, 2012 “Cloud Atlas”
109 Evil, Surfing Ronald McDonald
Soon to be a major motion picture you probably shouldn’t see, David Mitchell’s 2004 novel “Cloud Atlas” is in our sights. This novel consists of six separate stories set in different genres and timeframes from the 1850s to a post-apocalyptic future, and yet they’re all interlinked. Somehow. It’s fun, weird, and challenging, but what does it all mean? Read it now before every character in it becomes Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.
September 16, 2012 “Journey”
108 Then We Touched, Then We Sang
A video game beloved by John Siracusa, “Journey” for the PS3, is in the spotlight. We toot the biggest Spoiler Horn of all time — don’t listen if you haven’t played it! — and then talk about what we liked and didn’t like about Thatgamecompany’s desert-and-spoiler epic.
September 9, 2012 “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”
107 A Little Obsessed With Kirk
We take on one of our favorite movies, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” while also acknowledging the flaws that make it all the more lovable. Topics include: How Genesis is the galaxy’s worst Kickstarter project; Why it’s always important to count the planets, especially at Ceti Alpha; The size of the Botany Bay library and why it makes Khan so mad at Kirk; Why Scott’s email is more secure than the Reliant; The real name of Khan’s right-hand man; and how Spock’s death solves Kirk’s mid-life crisis. Also, we scientifically prove that “Wrath of Khan” is better than Star Wars.
September 4, 2012 Doctor Who flashcast: “Asylum of the Daleks”
106 Dance With a Dalek in the Pale Moonlight
FLASH! A bonus (unedited) episode, in which we react quickly to the premiere episode of this season of Doctor Who, “Asylum of the Daleks.” Plus: The Incomparable won an award! For podcasting! We react quickly to the announcement of the Hugo Awards. And we do many, many Dalek impressions.
September 2, 2012 Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy
105 That Mr. Hitler Seems Nice
Our Book Club reconvenes to discuss Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy of novels, “Farthing,” “Ha’Penny,” and “Half a Crown.” (We fire off the spoiler horn before each novel.) These novels explore an alternate-history in which Britain makes peace with Nazi Germany, and focus on a detective who just wants to do his job—but his job keeps changing in increasingly awful ways.
August 25, 2012
104 Kids Have Bad Taste
Believe it or not, some of us have managed to breed successfully. Even Steve Lutz. So we talk about what media we provide for our kids. Topics include dealing with the Star Wars prequels, Spongebob Squarepants, how young you need to be to watch “Apocalypse Now” or “The Exorcist,” why “Tron: Legacy” cost Ben dearly, why John became a master weaponsmith in his childhood, Jason’s debates with his son over whether Spider-Man or Batman is better, Lisa’s childhood reading of “The Godfather,” picking video games for your kids, and how your children’s peers will just ruin them anyway.
August 18, 2012 “Top 10”
103 Fat-Guy Comics
Our Comic Book Club returns to discuss super-team comics. What makes them work, and what makes them fail? And our primary subject is Top 10, Alan Moore’s other amazing twelve-issue superhero comic series. If you haven’t read it yet, you should!
August 12, 2012 “Brave.”
102 Princess Indiana Jones
Pixar takes on princesses with the new film “Brave.” We discuss Pixar’s mother/bear-daughter story, but also the larger issues of female characters in animation and film in general. What’s wrong with the Disney Princesses? Why can’t girls play Belle or Ariel as if they were an action hero, anyway? How does Merida compare with the female protagonists in Miyazaki’s work? Did Pixar change its own fate?
August 5, 2012
101 Insular Nerdosphere
Our Book Club discusses “Redshirts” by John Scalzi. It’s a book that’s far more complex than its elevator-pitch premise would suggest, but did our panel appreciate its winking narrative-within-narrative structure? And more broadly, why are we worried about some of our favorite geek creators turning inward and pandering to the nerd audience?
July 24, 2012 Episode 100!
100 Who Cares What We Think?
In our hundredth episode, we take a look at why we do The Incomparable. Can entertainment be appreciated without analysis and criticism? We also discuss how The Incomparable came to be, and pick some of our favorite (and least favorite) moments. Please forgive us for this self-indulgent meta-episode. We promise not to do another one until number 200.
July 16, 2012 Summer Reading List
99 Convenience Store Clerk of Dune (A Summer Reading List)
Summer’s here and it’s time to get to the beach with a good sci-fi novel. Our panelists are well read and of exquisite taste, so we’ve got a boatload of suggestions for you. From funny to serious, there’s a book in our list that will hit the spot the next time you’re looking for something to read.
July 7, 2012 Jonathan Coulton.
98 Obscure References and SadnessWe tackle the works of Jonathan Coulton as our Geek Music Appreciation series continues. Join guest host Lex Friedman as he and our panelists build a JoCo playlist and discuss why Coulton has so much geek appeal. But just because Lex is guest-hosting doesn't mean that Jason Snell won't make a dramatic appearance at the end, so keep listening!
July 1, 2012 “Futurama”
97 Everybody Loves Hypnotoad
Good news, everyone! We’re here to talk about the animated TV comedy “Futurama.” Join guest host Glenn Fleishman, special guest Andy Ihnatko, and virgin guests Jonathan Seff and Dean Putney as we discuss Bender, Fry, Dr. Zoidberg, and even Morbo.
June 24, 2012 2012 Hugo Award nominees
96 Space Fedora
The 2012 Hugo Award Nominees. Of all the sci-fi novels published in the last year, these are five of them! (And four aren’t actually sci-fi.) But that hasn’t stopped us from reading them and giving you our opinions. Join our book club as we talk about five books and pick our favorites. Plus: Vomit Zombies! A unique novel-sponsorship opportunity for Coca-Cola! Our near-unconditional love of author Jo Walton! And what the locusts are reading this year!
June 16, 2012
95 Don’t Take the Cinnamon Challenge
Unfurl your banners, steal some dragons, slap your insolent nephew, and get ready to listen to us discuss the second season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” in this special live session. Plus, John explains the Internet to Jason.
June 9, 2012
94 If You Think It’s Funny, That’s Fine, You’re Wrong
We travel to where geekiness and comedy come together, to discuss our favorite geek TV comedies. From traditional sitcoms to animation to movie commentary, we’ve got you covered. Plus there’s a lot of singing.
June 2, 2012 “Ship Breaker” and “The Drowned Cities”
Our book club takes a dive into the world of Paolo Bacigalupi, covering his award-winning novel “Ship Breaker” as well as its recently-released follow-up, “The Drowned Cities.” These books are apparently considered YA (or Young Adult) fiction, leading us to discuss what that label means, if anything. We also talk about Bacigalupi’s particular brand of eco-apocalypse, his use of science fiction to make us reconsider what’s going on today in the world, and how to pronounce his name. And of course, we coin a new word: it’s half monster, half mentor, all Scott McNulty.
May 26, 2012 “The Avengers”
92 Nick Fury’s Google Hangout
Avengers assemble! We discuss Joss Whedon’s Marvel movie, which has been a hit with audiences and critics. But some members of our panel don’t agree. How much do expectations factor in to one’s enjoyment of a movie? Has the bar for summer action blockbusters been set too low by the likes of “Transformers 2”? Should every action-adventure movie aspire to be something more? Why is this the first time that the Hulk has been portrayed properly in a film? Grab your cosmic cubes and prepare for 90 minutes of movie-smashing discussion.
May 20, 2012 “The Hunger Games” book series.
91 The Hungry Tributes of Catan
From despotic rulers to lethal hummingbirds, it’s time for us to address the cultural phenomenon of “The Hunger Games.” Join us as we discuss the movie and original book, as well as (following carefully placed Spoiler Horns) the other two books in the trilogy. Why do all households in Panem get the Bravo network? Should “1984” be a Little Golden Book? And why does Lisa know which district of Panem is in charge of making lumber? This episode has the odds ever in its favor.
May 13, 2012
90 A Suspiciously Efficient Morgue
Take off all your clothes and set the lock code on your mobile phone! It’s time for us to discuss the second season of the BBC’s “Sherlock,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. We walk through all three movie-length episodes, starting with the exemplary “Scandal in Belgravia,” moving on to the not-so-exemplary “Hounds of Baskerville,” and concluding with the mind-blowing “Reichenbach Fall.”
May 6, 2012 “Return of the Jedi” (part 2)
89 Also Known as Endor
We wrap up our six-part series on the classic “Star Wars” movies with the climactic final half of “Return of the Jedi.” We discuss how the Empire is ahead of the rebels every step of the way, question Luke’s choice of forest camouflage, and explain why Ewoks are better unsubtitled. Also, how is Luke’s journey to being a Jedi not like what you see in most action movies? Who is more heroic in the end, Luke or Vader? Why does the Emperor wait so long to show us his lightning fingers? Why are rebel ships equipped with fireworks? And is Endor the name of the moon, or the name of the planet the moon is orbiting, or both?
April 29, 2012 “Return of the Jedi” (part 1)
88 Skywalker’s Eleven
We tackle the last of the classic “Star Wars” trilogy, “Return of the Jedi.” Why does Jabba the Hutt enjoy avant-garde wall hangings and ’80s dance moves? Isn’t it sad how Boba Fett goes out with a whimper? Are the alien languages in “Star Wars” too fake-sounding? And what’s up with Leia’s metal bikini? (Part 1 of 2.)
April 22, 2012 Dragons!
87 Where Do the Dragons Go to the Bathroom?
Here be dragons! Special guest hosts Glenn Fleishman and Lisa Schmeiser discuss books featuring winged and scaly creatures, from Anne McCaffrey to George R.R. Martin. Glenn and Lisa are joined by special guest stars Dori Smith and Sarah Barbour, who are also knowledgeable in the ways of the dragon.
April 14, 2012 “The Magicians” and “The Night Circus”
86 Like “Catcher in the Rye,” Except Crappier
Get out your magic wands, prepare your incantations, and prepare for a battle of wills involving ancient powers and callow youths. We discuss two recent novels with magic at the fore: Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” and Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.” One of them we liked a lot… the other, not so much! Prepare yourself for a magical podcast.
April 1, 2012
85 Game Show
It’s the Incomparable Game Show! In a clash of young(ish) versus old(ish), two teams vie for the honor of being the team who wins. Sci-fi questions, confused androids, and a visit from a parallel-universe version of The Incomparable are all part of the story. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you won’t learn a darned thing. Join us, won’t you?
March 24, 2012 The films of Hayao Miyazaki
84 Wind is the Enemy
Please join us for Jason and John’s survey of the films of director Hayao Miyazaki. Even if you don’t have kids, like animation, or care about Japan, we think these are some of the greatest films ever made. From “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” to “Spirited Away” and “Nausicaa,” we cover the highlights (and oddities) of his filmmaking career.
March 17, 2012 Watchmen
83 Nothing Ever Ends on Taco Tuesday
Who Watches the Watchmen? We discuss Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s classic comic “Watchmen.” What made it remarkable and influential? Is it too stuck in an ’80s sensibility? Did the movie ruin everything? And will the recently-announced prequels stink?
March 10, 2012
82 Apocalypse Book Club
It’s the end of the world! And since our eyeglasses are intact, we have time enough at last, to read. We discuss Maureen McHugh’s “After the Apocalypse” short-story collection, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” and other apocalypse tales we have known. Do zombies have their own David Attenborough, leading expeditions into Cleveland? Why should you be afraid if heavy snowfall combines with the appearance of strange invisible magic ghost sex-dragon monsters? And why does John Siracusa plan to ride out the apocalypse in style? We ask several of these questions, but you’ll have to listen to see if we ever answer any of them.
March 5, 2012
81 McRibs and Bacon Martinis
We close the books on the first Incomparable Film Festival with this special follow-up episode. We provide the show times for each day of the festival, share your feedback, and reveal the results of your vote for the best slate of films. We also check in with two panelists who couldn’t make the original draft, one of whom has a bone to pick with John Siracusa. The other one instead tells a heartwarming tale of projectile vomiting. (Part 3 of 2.)
February 24, 2012
80 Khan Film Festival
Continuing our assembly of the Incomparable Film Festival! We fill out our list of 35 classic films for imaginary display to imaginary crowds. Find out our final 21 (or is it 22?) choices! Then vote for your favorites. (Part 2 of 2.)
February 19, 2012
79 Everything Sounds Beautiful in German
We’re creating the Incomparable Film Festival! Each day for a week, one of us will introduce five films (to be screened at an imaginary location not to be determined). To prevent duplication of selections, our seven participants will choose favorite films in a draft format. When all is said and done, 35 classic movies will be chosen by our panel of geeks. (Part 1 of 2.)
February 11, 2012
78 Clones and Telepaths vs. Love
Our Comic Book Club gets in a romantic mood with a discussion of comic-book romances—the (very) few that have stood the test of time and the (very) many that have been thwarted by clones, telepaths, cloned telepaths, and—worst of all—Satan’s Annulment. Also, what are we reading?
February 4, 2012
77 Women’s Libber
Step through your time portal, buy some cheap 1950s hamburger, and prepare for our discussion of Stephen King’s new novel 11/22/63. How does a 21st century man react to the racism and sexism of the south in the mid-20th century? Would the world have been a better place if Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated? Is Canada really eyeing the state of Maine anxiously? Like the book, we have some—but not all—of the answers.
January 29, 2012
76 Robert Redford’s Foot
Live from the Macworld |iWorld Live Stage, it’s a discussion of our favorite (and least favorite) uses of technology in movies, TV shows, books, and more.
January 21, 2012
75 My Gazebox is Full of Menhirs
Go north, get lamp, and check your inventory, as guest host Greg Knauss takes you on a journey into the world of interactive fiction, also known as “text adventures.” Did families in the ’80s really sit around the Apple II playing “Mystery House?” Will saving a game really erase your floppy disc? Listen if you dare, but watch out for grues!
January 15, 2012
74 I’m Definitely Not a Girl
It’s fun for the whole family, as we discuss some of our favorite movies for kids (and their parents). Did we really recommend an animated movie from Dreamworks? And a movie with Melanie Griffith? And a German fantasy film? Well, yes, but you’ll have to listen to find out which ones.
January 7, 2012
73 Ugh - A 2011 Clip Show
We bid farewell to 2011 by listing the favorite things we inhaled into our brains during the past year. We also recall our favorite podcast moments, read a whole bunch of listener comments, and more. (Although this is a clip show, two-thirds of the running time is actually original material!)
December 26, 2011
72 The Screams of Trees
All hail the power of motherhood! We discuss this year’s “Doctor Who” Christmas special, “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.” Plus, why Christmas episodes make us feel warm inside, and the amazing scanner-blocking powers of wool!
December 18, 2011 Favorite holiday movies and TV
71 The Holiday Movie Vault
Grab some eggnog and hitch up your reindeer! It’s time to put six holiday films in the Incomparable Film Vault! We discuss some beloved classics and offer a few surprise choices that redefine what “holiday” and “film” actually mean. What is a realistic depiction of Santa? Is Bill Murray’s best Scrooge not actually in “Scrooged”? Has Clarence the angel left a trail of dead bodies behind him? Is Kris Kringle the original Apple Genius? Happy holidays, everyone!
December 10, 2011 They Might Be Giants.
70 At the Time, They Were Just Average Height
It turns out we all like They Might Be Giants! So we did an entire episode about geeky music. We pick favorite TMBG songs, and then bring up some other geeky tracks