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.
Sam introduces Danielle to the 1992 Robin Williams film Toys. Enter a whimsical world where an eccentric Willy Wonka-esque toy maker dies when his propeller beanie connected pacemaker fails. He leaves his wacky toy factory to his brother, three-star general Leland Zevo, instead of his man-child son Leslie for reasons that are unclear. Despite having no interest in toys, General Zevo agrees to run the toy factory, and quickly pivots to making “war toys” and then to making actual weapons of war that he plans to trick children into using for military applications. If that plan sounds insane, then the plan Leslie comes up with to stop this is somehow even crazier (hint: it involves making a highly produced fake MTV music video for no apparent reason). This movie has it all: Creepy murder-toys, unnecessary romance, gratuitous sex, overly complicated plans, eerie music, actually beautiful aesthetics, and more whimsy than a Wes Anderson fan convention. Despite all that, Sam is convinced this movie is actually a thinly veiled horror film and its world is actually a dystopia; Danielle is just plain confused.
This week Danielle has the thrilling conclusion of Madeleine L’Engle’s The Arm of the Starfish. Adam finally learns a bit about the experimental work of Dr. O’Keefe, and Sam is aghast at the reckless disregard for safety and scientific rigor. Adam seems less bothered by this and is ready to commit to O’Keefe and his work, but O’Keefe, inexplicably, insists that Adam go on dinner date with Kali at her father’s hotel first. Before leaving for the date, Poly has a premonition and insists Adam take a switchblade syringe filled with shark tranquilizer and conceal it in his swimming trunks for when he and Kali inevitably go swimming. It’s difficult to convey how truly crazy this is, and it’s even crazier that they are indeed attacked by sharks but are saved by the kinda psychic dolphin. After that incident, O’Keefe gives Adam the assignment to slip some secret papers about his work to his friends in the embassy right under Typhon Cutter’s nose. It’s a plan that is far too unnecessarily convoluted to get into here, but there are complications, backstabbing, mortal peril, and some truly hilarious attempts at cloak-and-dagger shenanigans. Also, just when this book should be over, there are more shark attacks. Seriously, for a book titled The Arm of the Starfish, there are way more sharks than you’d think, and and way fewer starfish.
This week Danielle breaks out the Madeleine L’Engle classic The Arm of the Starfish. Adam is your typical-sixteen-year old biology prodigy on his way to Lisbon to work with superstar biologist Dr. O’Keefe. While being held up at the airport because of fog, Adam is approached by the attractive Kali who warns him not to trust the O’Keefes. Adam is perplexed by this encounter, but shrugs it off as he jets off across the Atlantic, before making an unexpected stop in Madrid due to yet more fog. While there, a friend of the O’Keefes, a priest named Canon Tallis, is escorting Poly, the twelve-year-old daughter of the O’Keefes, back from a vacation in the U.S. Tallis asks Adam, the teenage boy he just met, to take over the escort duty of this young girl while he does some business in Madrid. This is the first of many bafflingly terrible decisions every character seems to make. On the flight from Madrid to Lisbon Poly is immediately, and expertly, kidnapped. Fortunately, Dr. O’Keefe is nonplussed by the loss of his daughter when Adam arrives. Later, while recuperating in a hotel Adam is magically found by Kali, who just happens to be in the neighborhood and who insists on taking him to meet her mega-rich-totally-not-evil businessman father Typhon Cutter. Typhon has just so happened to have found Poly and is returning her to the O’Keefes on the condition Adam reports to him on the super secret, world changing work Dr. O’Keefe is doing. Sam is annoyed that Typhon gives up a perfectly good kidnapped hostage to instead rely on a stranger of a teenager to get his information for him. Adam, meanwhile, must wrestle with the most difficult question of who to trust: The world famous scientist he’s going to work for, or the kidnapping businessman who wants him to spy on the O’Keefes. Also, there aren’t really any starfish in this part, but there is a kinda psychic dolphin, so that has to count for something.
In the first full episode of the new year, Sam shares with Danielle the 1999 Antonio Banderas film The 13th Warrior. When Ahmad, an Arabic poet, is caught canoodling with a courtier’s wife, he is exiled in the form of being sent out of his home as an ambassador. An ambassador to where? That doesn’t matter, because he immediately hooks up with a band of Vikings who are called on a quest to stop an ancient evil from destroying some other Vikings. Sam doesn’t really get it either. The point is, Ahmad will have to learn to get along with his new friends if they’re to accomplish their mission. In his journey, Ahmad will get to know the Viking people, more than Sam at least, who still can’t remember a single one of their names. Ahmad will find love, hear tales of dragons, and deal with Viking political intrigue, and if you think all of those things aren’t immediately discarded by the movie as irrelevant, then this movie will surprise you. Don’t worry though, the film has plenty of cave bear-people who love retreating through the mist while hissing to keep things wacky.
In this episode Danielle shares a bizarre take on the classic fairy tale with the film Red Riding Hood. If you thought that Red Riding Hood would be improved with the addition of a werewolf and a lackluster love triangle, than have we got a movie for you. While an adult Red Riding Hood descending into paranoia because anyone in her village might be the werewolf terrorizing her is pretty great, it pales in comparison to the crazed werewolf hunter Gary Oldman and his giant iron elephant oven (that was not a typo). There’s not a lot of plot to cover, but the abundance of insanity more than makes up for it. To understand any of this Sam and Danielle could really use the expertise of an astronomer, an anatomist, a cryptozoologist, or really all the help they can get.