We have this November tradition where we give thanks for some things we enjoy in pop culture. Usually we do this every Thursday, but we plum forgot and before you know it, November is half over. But we’ve still got time, so we’re going to fill these weeks with gratitude.
Stan Against Evil – Look. I’m never going to be over the cancellation of Ash Vs. Evil Dead. But if you thought that was the only place to go for horror comedy, you’re a fool. This IFC comedy, currently in its three season is an absolute blast. In the small town of Willard’s Mill, an ancient curse regularly brings forth demons and other supernatural menaces. Created by Dana Gould, Stan stars Janet Varney as Sheriff Evie Barret and John C. McGinley as former sheriff Stan Miller. Obviously, those two are fantastic and you should already be sold. But there’s also a great supporting cast, just enough mythology to make for some satisfying cliffhangers, and some excellent standalone episodes. I’m a huge fan of the genre parody episodes, like the recent kaiju battle between Eddie Pepitone in a gorilla suit and David Koechner mutated into a caterpillar monster. Or the X-Files tribute where the ersatz Mulder and Scully were always lit with those Venetian blind shadows falling across their faces. It’s an affectionate send-up of horror and sci-fi tropes that’s also really funny and surprisingly emotional. The first two seasons are on Hulu and the third is currently airing. It’s wondeful and I love it and I want it to run forever.
Action Comics – For several years, Superman’s comics have been either stale or nigh-incomprehensible. I’m actually still baffled by his continuity because it seems the rebooted Superman from 2011’s New 52 died and the Superman from before the reboot took his place but it’s constantly being indicated that the rebooted universe is the same universe with five years removed so there’s really only one Superman and I can’t keep it straight. Point is, after one hundred years as a Marvel exclusive, writer Brian Michael Bendis came over to DC to head the Superman family. I was a huge fan of Bendis for years and then he got in what felt like a rut to me. It didn’t help that he was writing mostly team books and he has a bad habit of writing every member of a team like Spider-Man. But he’s been great on the Superman titles. I’m singling out Action because I’m enjoying it more – oddly, Superman is almost entirely fight scenes while Action has a lot more of the supporting cast and an ongoing mystery and a lot of neat takes on how Superman interacts with the people in his life/lives. Plus, he’s back in his real costume and not that dumb armor, so I’m a happy man.
The Deuce – This HBO show wrapped its second season and it’s hard to believe a David Simon show isn’t getting more buzz. Sure, it’s not The Wire, but what is? This is a period piece, documenting the sex industry in the Seventies and focusing on a small section of New York City. James Franco plays brothers, a gimmick that may have overshadowed the show itself in the first season. If you’ve heard of The Deuce, that’s why. But the second season really went to some interesting places as changing laws enabled porn production to ramp up and we see some of the sex workers and club owners going into the movie business. It’s a fascinating look at who profits from exploitation, the power dynamic between pimps and prostitutes, and just how hard it is for a woman to make it as a director. As you’d expect from a David Simon show, there are a million characters and it’s hard to keep them straight (despite the fact that I remember every last one of The Wire‘s cast) but there’s some really fascinating storytelling here.
Comedy Bang! Bang! – What’s that? I’m thankful for my favorite podcast? The devil you say! Here’s why I’m bringing it up. I’ve been listening to CBB every week for ten years now. It’s the first podcast I downloaded and it means a lot to me. I listen to so, so many podcasts now. And while it’s easy to focus on the ones that are blowing up right now (Doughboys, the McElroy family of products), returning favorites like Thrilling Adventure Hour, or those bad boys over at Hollywood Handbook, the fact is that CBB remains so darn good. Scott Aukerman still runs a tight ship and in any given week, it’s still going to be one of the best episodes out there. The show is constantly bringing back our old favorites while cultivating a steady stream of new favorites. It never feels like it’s coasting – CBB is a show you can count on, week after week.
And this is a little bit off the pop culture beat, but I also want to spotlight spunkybuddies doing cool stuff, and so I direct you to Law Talkin’ Guy. Yes, that is a Lionel Hutz reference, so you know he’s good. I just noticed the LTG doesn’t use his real name on his blog, so I won’t name him here. But he’s a real lawyer who’s a good friend of our site and occasionally encourages me to spend too much on Batman merchandise, and on his blog, he breaks down real-life constitutional law issues. When you watch the news and wonder if the President can do that, LTG will tell you whether or not he can in a way that’s both accessible to dumbs like me and scholarly enough that you will walk away smarter for having read it.
That’s it for this week. Let me know what you’re thankful for in the comments!