This week Sam takes Danielle on a mystical adventure through the 1997 movie Warriors of Virtue. Ryan Jeffers is an ordinary teenage boy who dreams of playing football and impressing girls. He also reads comics in his bathroom while home alone and hangs around at a Chinese restaurant’s kitchen with the chef who cooks with Kung Fu. This chef gives Ryan a mysterious scroll (which is actually a book) of Tao and some wise words of advice, then Ryan heads off to meet up with the cool kids who invited him out for an initiation that night. Ryan and the cool teens break into a building whose purpose is unclear, but there is a strange, open whirlpool in one room which Danielle is super excited about. Ryan falls into this whirlpool and is transported to the magical world of Tao which is under threat from the evil Komodo who wants to drain all the Life Springs of their energy sustaining element Zubrium so he can use it to stay young and powerful while the rest of the people in Tao die. Sam doesn’t get it either, but is all about the word Zubrium and Angus Macfadyen’s amazing acting choices as Komodo. Ryan eventually meets up with the titular Warriors of Virtues who are, in fact, Kung Fu Kangaroos and nothing has delighted Danielle or Sam more than that simple phrase. However, one of the five warriors has left to be a hermit in a swamp after failing to uphold the vow of never killing anyone. Now it’s up to Ryan to reunite the Warriors, mostly by berating them, and to try and find a way home all while learning absolutely no Kung Fu. You can also join Danielle’s quest to have a watch party where Sam re-dubs all the sound effects in the movie; he will not do a good job.
This week Danielle brings a little Halloween in July with the 2014 film Vampire Academy. Rose Hathaway is a teenage Dhampir (mostly human vampire) and is guardian-in-training for her best friend Princess Vasilisa (Lissa) Dragomir, a Moroi (pacifist full vampire). They have run away from their titular school after a deadly car accident left Lissa without her family. They are soon tracked down and returned to school, because they’re teenagers, where they arrive in the middle of a Strigoi (evil, non-pacifist vampire) attack at the school gates. At this point, Sam has reached his limit of nonsense fantasy words and exposition, but the movie, and Danielle, aren’t even close to done. Back at school there’s some sinister force harassing Lissa who uses her magic powers (of course she has magic powers) to manipulate everyone into liking her and becoming like, so totally popular you guys. There are some dreamy, broody vampire (and half-vampire) boys, of course, but none of that really seems to matter. In fact, none of the plot of this book really seems to matter as it serves more as a vehicle for vampire world exposition. And boy, does Sam have questions about that vampire world, questions for which Danielle has too few answers. Lissa’s life is eventually endangered in a predictable twist, there’s some almost sex that is surprisingly responsible in terms of power structures, and something called Psi Hounds make an appearance, which are basically just regular dogs with glowing eyes that are psychic in ways that are subtle and irrelevant. So listen and enjoy as both Sam and Danielle examine the finer points of vampire caste systems and reproductive habits. We could seriously use a biologist, and maybe a sociologist, to help figure this one out.
This week Sam shares the conclusion of the supremely weird 1967 Dodie Smith book The Starlight Barking. Pongo and his brood are still wrestling with what’s going on while the rest of the world, aside from dogs, sleeps. Finally deciding Cruella de Vil might be involved, the dogs, a cat, and Tommy sneak into her house, some with the intent of just straight-up murdering her. Although the air is filled with pepper, Cruella is asleep and the dogs are relieved that’s she not involved, and, much to Sam’s consternation, that’s the last we’ll hear of her during the story. Back at Downing Street, a mysterious light appears on the TV and commands all the dogs in England to appear in Trafalgar Square at midnight to receive an explanation for all the strange goings on. When asked questions, the voice provides answers that are less than useless before rushing off. At midnight, the dogs gathered in the Square experience euphoria and then utter terror as a bright light descends into the square. It’s the Lord of Sirius the dog star come to offer all the dogs a permanent home on Sirius to live forever in total bliss. The star lord’s reasons for making this offer are crazy, as is the stipulation that it will be an all-or-nothing deal so all dogs are to go or none at all. For some reason, the dogs elect Pongo to make the decision on their behalf. Despite all the supposedly high stakes, Danielle and Sam are really much more interested in the pressing question: What the heck happened to the missing Roly Poly?
This week Sam brings the little-known sequel to The Hundred and One Dalmatians, the 1967 Dodie Smith novel The Starlight Barking. Dalmatian heroes Pongo and Missis have retired to the countryside at Hell Hall with their massive brood, but Pongo is feeling restless for his previous life of adventure. That’s when he wakes one morning to find the entire world asleep except for dogs, and no amount of barking will wake any other creature. He and Missis venture forth to investigate, and find that doors and gates obligingly open for them as they approach. Soon they learn they can communicate telepathically with other dogs and float, a.k.a “swoosh”. At this point, Danielle is just about done with this nonsense. Still, Sam presses on and explains how all the dalmatians have been called to London to form a dalmatian army by their daughter Cadpig who, as the prime minister’s pet, is acting as the prime minister for dogs. There are still no clues as to why any of this has happened, but as the dogs enter London Pongo and Missis notice a sign for Cruella de Vil’s new business, leading Danielle and Sam to believe she’s somehow behind this. The dogs ignore this obvious threat and proceed to 10 Downing Street to partake in a cabinet meeting. Seriously, this is the most boring dog reaction to an apocalypse that has ever been. Danielle continues to spin her own theories as to what is happening since the dogs seem utterly uninterested in investigating on their own. Still, there’s a floating tractor and a young boy who speaks a kind of pidgin dog, so the book has that going for it.
This week Danielle revisits another classic fairy tale in the 2013 film Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. When, as children, Hansel and his sister Gretel are left in the woods by their parents for what will turn out to be stupid reasons, they encounter and manage to kill a witch. They decide to go pro and become full time witch hunters, which is very convenient considering there’s currently a witch plague across the land. Now adults, Hansel and Gretel dispense deadly justice against witches, handing down verdicts based on nothing more than whether or not they look witchy enough. This, as Sam and Danielle both agree, is a terrible means of witch detection, and Sam is convinced that, from the witches’ perspective, this is more akin to a witch genocide. The pair of professional murders eventually encounter a grand witch (which is apparently a thing) who’s stealing children in order to produce a spell for fireproofing herself. This is baffling to Sam as Hansel and Gretel seem to use pretty much any method they want to dispose of witches, fire or not. Nonetheless, there’s also some good witches involved who were hitherto unknown to H&G, so who knows how many “good” witches they murdered over the years. None of that really matters because all Danielle and Sam care about is the morally conflicted troll named Edward, who is just the best. Also, this whole thing is steampunk because this movie needs to find every way possible to annoy Sam.
For our very special 50th episode celebration, Danielle and Sam have teamed up to bring you a double feature of weird media! This week consists of two 50th episodes from different TV shows being shared completely out of context. First up, Danielle shares the 50th episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. For some reason, an unusually sexy Ares has tasked Xena with destroying an upstart religion’s temple for some reason. Xena ignores Ares because they have history, and immediately joins in on a campaign against Caesar, because they also have history. Spoiler alert: The new religion turns out to be bonkers and Xena’s friend Gabrielle is impregnated by magic fire somehow. If you want this to make more sense, watching some other episodes of Xena may help, but we’re dubious. Next up Sam shares not one, but two episodes of Regular Show, the surreal animated series about a slacker blue jay and his raccoon buddy working at a park. A few highlights: There’s a rap battle with higher than expected stakes, a wise yeti spells out advice in alphabet soup, cars engage in aerial combat somehow, and we meet the lovely Scabitha. So we hope you enjoy this double-dose of weirdness as much as we did, and thank you so much for all your support, we could never have reached 50 episodes without such a lovely and strange audience.
On this episode Sam brings Danielle the 2002 box office bomb Reign of Fire. In the distant future year of 2020 dragons have been awoken from their cicada-like hibernation and have ravaged the earth, reducing humanity to a few pockets of life. Quinn (Christian Bale) leads one such colony in Northumberland, though food is scarce and there’s dissension in the ranks. None of that really matters as soon enough militia leader Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) shows up to rope Quinn into his quest to wipe out the source of the dragons: The single male dragon living in London. At this point, Sam cannot understand the biology of a species that only has one male capable of breeding, and how these same dragons were apparently responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs. Danielle, meanwhile, is more upset about the fact that the starving survivors let a perfectly good dragon carcass go to waste instead of just eating it. There’s also some tension between Quinn and his adopted son Jared about his joining Van Zan’s soldiers, but it’s over so quick Sam’s still not sure it wasn’t just a hallucination brought on by all the dragon special effects and dark lighting. Either way, the heroes square off against the dragon king in a battle that’s kinda lame, but does have a shirtless Matthew McConaughey wielding a battleaxe in one of the best scenes ever put to film, so it’s totally worth it.
This week Sam shares the conclusion of the the Michael Ende novel The Night of Wishes. We rejoin our story as our two bumbling animal heroes wander out into the snowy night with no plan to stop the evil sorcerer Preposteror and his aunt Tyrannia Vampirella from completing their evil deed quota via magic wishing potion. Fortunately, Preposteror and Vampirella have to spend an inordinate amount of time doing ridiculously complicated magics to brew the potion, when they’re not wasting time they don’t have trying to back-stab each other, that is. Through some pure, blind luck Mauricio (née Morris) and Jacob manage to obtain a time traveling bell ring from the upcoming the New Year’s Eve bell tolling, which, if we’re understanding this correctly, would undo the reverse wishing effect of the potion and foil the evil plans. At this point, both Danielle and Sam have a little breakdown because they’re so confused by the time traveling sounds and complicated wishing/reverse wishing/undo reverse wishing magic rules. It doesn’t help that Preposteror and Vampirella continue to do ridiculous things like race while riding a giant scorpion and bedbug respectively. However, it’s when the wishes start that things really go off-the-wall, so enjoy as Sam tries desperately to make Danielle understand just any amount of what he’s saying.
Sam shares a lesser known work of the author of The Neverending Story, Michael Ende, with the book The Night of Wishes. When the nefarious sorcerer Beelzebub Preposteror (whose name Danielle is incapable of saying correctly) falls behind on his quota of evil deeds for the year, he has until midnight to fulfill his contract or face foreclosure by the devil himself. Fortunately, his witch aunt Tyrannia Vampirella, who’s in the same boat, shows up with a plan: To brew the legendary Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion that will let them literally wish all their problems away. Unfortunately, each of them is living with a spy from the High Council of Animals, a cat named Maurico di Mauro and a raven named Jacob Scribble, who are determined to stop them. These spies, however, are incompetent to a degree that is only surpassed by the sorcerer and his aunt’s inability to cooperate, and none of them seem capable of forming a coherent plan. So listen to Sam struggle with German wordplay and pronunciations and Danielle struggle with character names and pretty much everything else, especially the overly complicated rules of the magic potion in a book that’s both incredibly goofy and unexpectedly dark.
This week Danielle brings a movie she has an uneasy history with, it’s the 1990 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film Joe Versus the Volcano. Joe Banks is your typical work-a-day cog, unhappy with his life. Fortunately (?) he learns he has a rare disease called a brain cloud, which is asymptomatic but will kill him in six months. Joe accepts this without question, and so also agrees to help a millionaire superconductor magnate secure the mining rights on a small Polynesian island by jumping into a volcano. None of this crazy plot really matters because this movie has, just, so many Meg Ryans, you guys, so many. It seems Sam and Danielle have uncovered the truth of the Tom Hanksiverse series of movies and it will shock you (it’s Meg Ryan, the truth is it’s Meg Ryan all the way down). Despite these shocking revelations, Danielle and Sam manage to get through this movie about a man dealing with his mortality through encounters with a series of Meg Ryans, but they have one qualm with the film: It needs more Meg Ryans.