Monday, December 5, 2016

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #168 – Final Fantasy XV Spoiler-Free Impressions, Plus Game Awards and PSX News



It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link.

On this week’s show, we dive into a slew of trailers and announcements from two major gaming events of the past week – the Game Awards and the PlayStation Experience – breaking down everything from The Last of Us Part II announcement to the joyous insanity of Hideo Kojima’s latest Death Stranding tease. And after the news, we give our spoiler-free first impressions of one of the year’s biggest releases, Final Fantasy XV. It’s been a long road to finally be playing this game – it was announced, as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, when Sean and I were in middle-school – and now that it’s here, it’s safe to say this is one of the most singular and unique games we have ever played. This chat is spoiler-free, and we’ll be back next week to go more in-depth with the story, so feel free to listen if you haven’t yet picked up the game.

Enjoy!

TIME CHART:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:10:03
Jonathan talks Mad Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome Edition: 0:10:03 – 0:23:56
Game Awards and PSX News: 0:23:56 – 1:26:20
Final Fantasy XV: 1:26:20 – 3:09:15

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #168







The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman is a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Weekly Stuff Podcast #167 – November Game Review Extravaganza! Pokemon, Call of Duty, Titanfall, Dishonored, & More!



It’s time for another episode of The Weekly Stuff Podcast with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman, a weekly audio show that explores the worlds of film, television, and video games. You can subscribe for free in iTunes by following this link.

We’re back from the Thanksgiving break with an absolutely packed, absurdly long episode in which we review no less than eight – count ‘em, eight – new video games from the past two months. Going back and forth, Sean reviews Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2, XCOM 2, and Titanfall 2, while Jonathan reviews Pokemon Sun and Moon, Dragon Ball Fusions, and gives more thoughts on Skyrim Special Edition, while both Jonathan and Sean tell more stories from the wonderful world of Hitman. Throw in some quick movie discussions – Arrival and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – and a slew of movie trailers to discuss and make fun of, and you have one of our longest episodes ever, clearing the deck for the busy final weeks of 2016.  

Enjoy!

TIME CHART:

Intro: 0:00:00 – 0:03:00
Jonathan talks Arrival, Fantastic Beasts, and Gilmore Girls: 0:03:00 – 0:29:15
Persona 5 Delay News: 0:29:15 – 0:36:10
Movie Trailer Round-up: 0:36:10 – 1:07:05
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Review: 1:07:05 – 1:25:19
Skyrim Special Edition Follow-up: 1:25:19 – 1:33:50
XCOM 2 Review: 1:33:50 – 1:52:39
Hitman Follow-up: 1:52:39 – 2:08:48
Dishonored 2 Review: 2:08:48 – 2:26:50
Dragon Ball Fusions Review: 2:26:50 – 2:54:34
Titanfall 2 Review: 2:54:34 – 3:14:55
Pokemon Sun and Moon Review: 3:14:55 – 3:45:23

Stream The Weekly Stuff Podcast Episode #167


  





The Weekly Stuff with Jonathan Lack & Sean Chapman is a weekly audio podcast, and if you subscribe in iTunes, episodes will be delivered automatically and for free as soon as they are released. If you visit www.jonathanlack.com, we also have streaming and downloadable versions of new and archival episodes for your listening pleasure.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"Gilmore Girls" Greatest Hits - The Top 20 Episodes, Part 4: #16 - #20 and the best of the final seasons


So here’s something you may not know about me: There are few things I love on this good earth as much as Gilmore Girls. And with the A Year in the Life ‘reunion’ season debuting on Netflix this Friday, I’ll be spending the week sharing my thoughts on my Top 20 favorite episodes of the series. Why Top 20? Because when I tried to list just 10 I came up with so many more. Gilmore Girls was a qualitatively consistent show – most episodes are at least very good, and few, even during the show’s rougher patches, are obvious outliers one way or another. Normally, I would try ‘ranking’ a list like this, but I quickly found that to be a foolhardy task. I cannot name my favorite episode among these 20, nor can I easily say any of them are better or worse than one another. So instead, we’ll be revisiting these episodes chronologically, from the very beginning to the very end, in four articles, posting Monday through Thursday, featuring 5 episodes apiece. You can read Part 1 here, covering #1 – 5, Part 2 here, covering #6 – 10, and Part 3 here, covering #11 – 15.

So without further ado, let us conclude our journey with Part 4 of the Gilmore Girls Top 20 after the jump…

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Gilmore Girls" Greatest Hits - The Top 20 Episodes, Part 3: #11 - #15 and the best of Seasons 3 and 4



So here’s something you may not know about me: There are few things I love on this good earth as much as Gilmore Girls. And with the A Year in the Life ‘reunion’ season debuting on Netflix this Friday, I’ll be spending the week sharing my thoughts on my Top 20 favorite episodes of the series. Why Top 20? Because when I tried to list just 10 I came up with so many more. Gilmore Girls was a qualitatively consistent show – most episodes are at least very good, and few, even during the show’s rougher patches, are obvious outliers one way or another. Normally, I would try ‘ranking’ a list like this, but I quickly found that to be a foolhardy task. I cannot name my favorite episode among these 20, nor can I easily say any of them are better or worse than one another. So instead, we’ll be revisiting these episodes chronologically, from the very beginning to the very end, in four articles, posting Monday through Thursday, featuring 5 episodes apiece. You can read Part 1 here, covering #1 – 5, and Part 2 here, covering #6 – 10.

So without further ado, let us continue our journey with Part 3 of the Gilmore Girls Top 20 after the jump…

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Gilmore Girls" Greatest Hits - The Top 20 Episodes, Part 2: #6 - #10 and the best of the early years



So here’s something you may not know about me: There are few things I love on this good earth as much as Gilmore Girls. And with the A Year in the Life ‘reunion’ season debuting on Netflix this Friday, I’ll be spending the week sharing my thoughts on my Top 20 favorite episodes of the series. Why Top 20? Because when I tried to list just 10 I came up with so many more. Gilmore Girls was a qualitatively consistent show – most episodes are at least very good, and few, even during the show’s rougher patches, are obvious outliers one way or another. Normally, I would try ‘ranking’ a list like this, but I quickly found that to be a foolhardy task. I cannot name my favorite episode among these 20, nor can I easily say any of them are better or worse than one another. So instead, we’ll be revisiting these episodes chronologically, from the very beginning to the very end, in four articles, posting Monday through Thursday, featuring 5 episodes apiece. You can read Part 1 here, covering #1 – 5.

So without further ado, let us continue our journey with Part 2 of the Gilmore Girls Top 20 after the jump…

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Gilmore Girls" Greatest Hits - The Top 20 Episodes, Part 1: #1 - #5 and the best of Season 1



So here’s something you may not know about me: There are few things I love on this good earth as much as Gilmore Girls. It pretty much goes 1) my family, 2) my dog, 3) the gift of life, and then televisual trips to Stars Hollow.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I’m one of the people who finally caught Gilmore Girls when it came to Netflix a few years ago, and discovering it there was like meeting the long-lost family I never knew existed, finding a language and a tonal wavelength that hit me right in the heart, on a practically chemical level. I have already watched the entire series start-to-finish twice, and I’m more excited for Netflix’s upcoming A Year in the Life revival than almost anything else this or any other year.

I love going to Stars Hollow. It’s easy to call this series ‘comfort food,’ as many do, but I think that undersells its achievement – that it’s not just comfort food, but smart comfort food, soulful comfort food, comfort food that is makes one feel at home because it develops complex characters in a wonderfully rich setting, a world that is fully fleshed-out, not free of conflict, nor strictly beholden to reality, but true and honest to itself and its worldview. It is perhaps the closest any live-action American TV series will ever come to having a town as fully inhabited and richly developed as Springfield on The Simpsons (Pawnee on Parks and Recreation would be an obvious #2), and the core character dynamics are so fundamentally strong and unique that the show could frequently build long, endlessly entertaining scenes out of the most mundane interactions (the most dramatic Gilmore Girls sequences are, more often than not, family dinners).

With A Year in the Life debuting on Netflix this Friday, I’ll be spending the week sharing my thoughts on my Top 20 favorite episodes of the series. Why Top 20? Because when I tried to list just 10 I came up with so many more (and because 20 is easily divisible by 4, the number of parts in which I’ll be publishing this list). Like Mad Men, which I also did a Top 20 'Greatest Hits' list for, Gilmore Girls was a qualitatively consistent show – most episodes are at least very good, and few, even during the show’s rougher patches, are obvious outliers one way or another. Normally, I would try ‘ranking’ a list like this, but I quickly found that to be a foolhardy task. I cannot name my favorite episode among these 20, nor can I easily say any of them are better or worse than one another. So instead, we’ll be revisiting these episodes chronologically, from the very beginning to the very end, in four articles, posting Monday through Thursday, with 5 episodes apiece.

Today, we’re looking exclusively at Season One episodes, which has the most entries on the list (there will be one more from the season tomorrow). The first year is, to me, definitely the best – I look at the list of early episodes and how clearly the show was executing on its fundamental themes and philosophy, and it’s kind of staggering just how strong the series roared out of the gate. Each era of the series has its strengths, of course, and there are lots of periods even late in the game where Amy Sherman-Palladino and company were conjuring a kind of indescribable magic in bringing this town and its inhabitants to life in ways that were consistently entertaining and powerful. I love this show, and going on a journey down memory lane seems like the perfect way to celebrate it before Stars Hollow returns to our screens on Friday.

So without further ado, let us begin our journey with Part 1 of the Gilmore Girls Top 20 after the jump…

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Review: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is a delightful exercise in fantasy world-building


The best thing about Harry Potter was always J.K. Rowling’s extraordinary aptitude for world-building. She could spin a good yarn, sure, but as engaging as it was, the main narrative through-line about Harry’s battle with Lord Voldemort was never the primary draw of the series. Its appeal lied in the hundreds of wonderfully-defined characters Rowling wrote into life and in the palpably complex and vibrant world they inhabited. When I was a kid, my favorite parts of Harry Potter books were rarely the sections dealing directly with the main narrative; instead, I preferred the chapters about Harry’s day-to-day life at Hogwarts, going to classes and meeting new characters and interacting with strange new parts of the Wizarding world. Rowling’s work initially succeeded for the same reason it endures, nearly twenty years past the first novel’s publication: Because her ability to breathe life into a fictional world was a magic trick all its own, and because everyone who got a glimpse of it wanted to go and live there.

It should be no surprise, then, that the Rowling-scripted Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is such a delight. What inevitably started as a panicked Warner Bros. executive reacting to downturns on a spreadsheet in the years since the last Harry Potter film hit theatres finds its artistic reason to exist in the realms of Rowling’s seemingly boundless imagination. The film is a chance not only for her to stretch her Potter muscles again, but to do so more or less completely in service of world-building. Fantastic Beasts has its narrative connections to the original Harry Potter stories, but they are for now modest, and on the whole, the film is a beautiful, endlessly creative extension of a world both Rowling and her audience only previously explored through a relatively narrow lens. With new characters, a new setting, and a new time period, Fantastic Beasts tests whether or not Rowling’s world is deep enough to expand past Harry and his friends, and the result is a resounding success, a richly entertaining experience that stands firmly on its own two feet.

Continue reading after the jump…