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PopFilter Versus Horror Movies of the 2000s

To celebrate the most terrifying month of the year (as we are legally obligated to do), we bring you PopFilter Versus Horror Movies of the 2000s. Listen to the gut-wrenching and death-fedying conversation between Mike and Ryan as they countdown they’re favorite recent horror films. They also discuss what it takes to be a good horror film, and quite a long tangent about Quentin Tarantino. Enjoy!


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The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge








See the bracket!!!


I know that The Affair isn’t getting the kind of buzz that Showtime was probably hoping for, but I seriously didn’t learn until I just recently watched the first two episodes back-to-back that THIS SHOW IS MCNULTY VS RAWLS. I feel let down by all of you, and my ability to keep my thumb on the pulse of pop culture is slipping. It’s a sad-ass day.


I feel like it’s my job here to explain that even though The Affair is moving on to Round 3, it’s not simply because it’s a prestige cable drama, while The Flash is a cheesedick superhero show on The CW. The Flash is one of the best new shows of the fall. It had a great pilot, and the second episode was as good as could be expected. I think both shows took a step back in the second episode (more on The Affair in a minute), but The Flash’s step backwards was inevitable. This isn’t just because the pilot was so good, but instead because the pilot had too much energy. It was unsustainable. In the second episode, we get a better glimpse of what The Flash will be for the rest of its run: fun, episodic, dependable. It’s a special show, but The Affair might be special…er.
That being said, The Affair shows a few too many of its strings this episode. I’m really digging it, but it already feels like it might run out of steam. I know why it’s shot so dreamy sometimes, as the two main characters are doing their darndest to remember something that happened years ago, but too often it feels like I’m watching an hour long douche commercial. Flash, you were a great competitor, and The Affair, if you want to win this thing, you better shape up quick.


– Ryan Haley



Kerri Battles the AFI’s Top 100 — #79: The Wild Bunch

Each week, I try to do as little research or reading up on the film I’m about to watch prior to viewing it because I like to go in with a completely open mind. I usually glance at the runtime and basic credits on IMDb, but that doesn’t often give much away. However, the moment I saw Sam Peckinpah listed as director of The Wild Bunch, I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for this week — a good old fashioned shitkicker western full of blood and gore as far as the eye can see. As expected, Peckinpah did not disappoint.

No, I’m not kidding.

Our tale begins as a group of US Army soldiers ride on horseback into a small south Texas town and head straight to the railroad office. Once inside, it becomes clear that these men are not soldiers at all, but rather a  wild bunch of outlaws, led by Pike Bishop, using Army-issue guns to take a railroad fortune. The Bunch are sloppily ambushed by Pike’s former comrade, Deke Thornton, and a group of bounty hunters Thornton repeatedly refers to as gutter trash. A bloody melee ensues and, with the aid of some human shields formerly known as the South Texas Temperance Union, Pike and 4 of his men escape unharmed. Most of the townsfolk don’t fare quite as well. Pike and The Bunch soon discover that the large cache of silver they thought they’d swiped is actually nothing more than steel washers — bait for a poorly laid trap intended to snare the hefty prices on their heads. Pike and The Bunch ride on to a small town in Mexico where one of them, Angel, was born. As they find rest and refuge, Pike and Ernest Borgnine discuss the need to find one last great score to retire. They also discover that a General Mapache has been through the town to loot, plunder, murder Angel’s father, and woo away his best girl. When they stumble upon a merry party held by Mapache, Angel spots his ex-girl canoodling with the General and shoots her dead on the spot. In order to make good with the General for the loss of his puta, The Bunch agrees to rob a US train of rifles and ammo on his behalf. In exchange, the General promises to reward them handsomely. Later, Angel requests to give up his share of the promised gold in exchange for one of the cases of rifles. He laments that, if his hometown had been better armed, they may have stood a fighting chance. The heist goes off as planned though, because he knows how Pike’s mind works, Thornton and his men give good chase. Ultimately, the thugs take a swim in the Rio Grande thanks to a shoddy trestle bridge and a little TNT. After The Bunch delivers their booty — in small increments so as not to be double crossed — Mapache informs them that Angel has been ratted out by one of his own and takes him captive as The Bunch escapes. Unfortunately for The Bunch, Thornton and his men continue doggedly in their pursuit. With no where else to turn, they seek refuge back in Mapache’s camp. Upon their return, they find Mapache dragging Angel behind his sweet new car. Pike offers to give back half his share of gold in exchange for Angel, but Mapache decides Angel isn’t worth that much and continues his joy ride. After some rest, reflection, and stinky on their hangdowns on Mapache’s dime, The Bunch decides to make a stand. Meagerly armed, they approach Mapache as he holds court and demand Angel’s return. Mapache agrees and prepares to shove a half-dead Angel into their arms. At the last minute, he pulls out a knife and slits the “traitor’s” throat. Without contemplation, Pike riddles Mapache’s body with bullets. So stunned by this act, none of Mapache’s men immediately react. Borgnine laughs and Pike shoots  Mapache’s German advisor in the head. That’s when things get ugly.  Bullets and blood fly everywhere until none but a few remain. It’s then that Thornton and his men arrive. Thornton, seeing his corpse dangling from a machine gun, takes Pike’s revolver from the holster and tells his men they’re free to take the bodies back to collect their rewards. He plans to remain.

Thornton lives out the rest of his days with this guy, Sykes, and a bunch of Mexican Guerilla fighters with machetes. … That’s also not a joke.

None of this may sound very original or unique for a Western. Fighting railroad tycoons by blowing up bridges and shooting Mexicans is basically the plot of 50% of the genre. But what makes it all stand out is the fact that these men are a dying breed. The Wild Bunch is set in 1913, when the rest of the world was preparing to go to war with Germany for the first time. Pike Bishop and his men should have been shot or hanged a long time ago, even if they are the best. Unfortunately, they’re so good that they’ve lasted longer than they should — longer than the evolving world around them would like. They ache for one last great score on which to retire because old age isn’t the only thing threatening to put an end to their bandit ways. These are good old fashioned cowboys grasping at what’s left of their lives in a world that is already starting to look at cowboys as relics from days past. The moment that they all decide to stand up to Mapache isn’t just a moment of fraternal love and respect for one of their own. It’s also the moment they all realize that there is no retirement from the firm of Outlaw, Bandit, & Thief. It’s the moment they realize the only way they can go out is in one last great hail of bullets, blood, and glory. They don’t think they can win. Hell, they’re fully prepared to lose. But they know they’re going to take down as many of Mapache’s men as they can in the process. In that, at least, they’re successful. And for all of this, The Wild Bunch becomes far more intriguing than your average root-for-the-outlaw Western.

Who wouldn’t want to watch this mug for two and a half hours?

Also pushing The Wild Bunch ahead of the genre pack is the equally artful and grotesque eye of director Sam Peckinpah. The man’s talent for editing is unparalleled and, in this project, he utilizes quick cuts to create tension and action in ways that would make Darren Aronofsky look like a film school amateur. At the start of the film, just after the railroad office robbery has gone awry, there is a scene of utter chaos and destruction in the center of town. In this moment, Peckinpah chooses to focus on two terrified, blonde, cherubic children who cling to each other as women are trampled and horses are shot all around them. He alternates between long, steady shots of these two innocent faces as they stare in abject horror and rapid fire edits of the violence and carnage that surrounds them. And OH is there carnage. The opening credits include shots of children laughing as a colony of ants eats a scorpion. Then the children light them all on fire. At that point, it becomes readily apparent why Peckinpah is known for his displays of butchery on film. Everything after that moment is just super-fake-blood-and-dismemberment-flavored gravy. Frankly, it’s a refreshing thing to see in a genre that more commonly pretends people don’t really bleed that much after gunfights at high noon.

This is one of the lighter scenes

I probably should have led with this because disclaimers are generally best suited at the start. Still, you should know that I’m actually a big fan of the Western, so I was a bit biased this week. I was prepared to like this movie. I wasn’t prepared for how much I would like this movie. For 2 weeks running, the AFI and I are on the same page with a pick.  I’m afraid to get too comfortable with that. –KSmith

The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge







See the bracket!


(NOTE: This is Gotham’s first four episodes versus Transparent’s first four.)


One of the things I like about Gotham is the way it tows the DC universe lines. Now, the good folks at the Popfilter offices have pledged allegiance to the Marvel flag. With good reason, Marvel has been outshining DC going on two decades now. But growing up, Batman was my jam. The comics that created the city of Gotham had a special appeal to me. The black and white color saturation, the use of streetlights and shifty headlights and blacked-out buildings gave Gotham a kind of urban grit. It created an atmosphere that allowed peculiar criminals to slither out of the shadows and disappear as if they were smoke. Cliche as it may be to say this as a critic but Gotham is a character in an of itself, and one that is integral to the Batman story.


Gotham the television series knows where it came from. It translates the look of the comics to the screen impressively well. But I find myself wishing the show would take more time to develop the intricacies of the city’s identity. The darkness and grit are what makes Gotham Gotham. This show should be about the degradation, seediness, with the focus on the criminals. The latest episode’s introduction of a female singer that Fish plans on using as a weapon is enthralling. But so far the show has too many troubling issues. The campiness can be problematic. What at first I found kitsch I am beginning to find obnoxious. Gordon’s fiancee Barbara is a weak character and I can’t decide if its the acting or the writing. Gotham is falling short of the potential I saw for it in the beginning.


Speaking of plunging an audience into a mysterious world, Transparent is Gotham’s opponent in this round. Transparent lets the audience become familiar with a world that has only existed on the fringes of society since, well, always. At the same time, it covers familiar ground with as much depth as it allows the uncharted territory. The ground breaking nature of the show is in the subtitles. I had heard it said, but never really understood, that trans people and homosexuals get unfairly marginalized together. Transparent was able to show me just by Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura banging on her new neighbor’s wall with her shoe, screaming at them to turn down the music. This show is about the agony of finding a place to belong. Congratulations, Transparent, you are our first finalist!!


-Stephanie Rose



Top Ten – Costumes You’ll See at Every Halloween Party in 2014

Top Ten Costumes You’ll See

at Every Halloween Party in 2014



The biggest animated hit this decade came out last November, which means little girls all over the world have been frothing at the mouth for 11 whole months just dying to dress up like their favorite new adorkable princesses. I’m just saying prepare for absolute hordes of little Anna’s and Elsa’s running around this year people. Tons of adult interpretations too if Pinterest’s hair inspiration boards are any indication. Not to mention the obligatory slutty styles that have already popped up, but you expect the Legs version of the princess sisters.  The Slutty Olaf the Snowman costume however was requested by no one, it just appeared one day as an example of the lowest point of humanity.

Walking Dead


Televisions best zombie drama just came back into our lives last week and just in time to go trick or treating as your favorite walker or apocalypse survivor. Darryl and Michonne will remain popular choices, who doesn’t want to rock a crossbow or machete? Rick and Carl are a good option for a father/son duo looking to do a coordinated look that makes the most of their burgeoning tension and adolescent angst. The beauty of dressing up as someone from The Walking Dead is the chance to pretty much just wear regular clothes splattered in dirt and blood and call it a costume.

Guardians of the Galaxy

These are going to be the groups winning all the costume competitions. Not only is Star-Lord like the coolest superhero we’ve had in a while, practically every guy will be able to pull him off – it’s just a fact that gasmasks and leather jackets look good on everyone.  Nebula and Gamora are both total kickass chicks tyhat basically just require body paint and some skintight pants. And we all know that one guy who lifts all year long so he can go shirtless on Halloween, Drax was made for him. Groot will be a challenge being a 7 foot walking tree and all, maybe some of you nerds have an old Ent outfit in the closet you can repurpose. Add a Rocket raccoon cape and mask to the dog and you have a group costume that’s fun for the whole family.

Hunger Games

Halloween comes just a month before everyone’s favorite Dystopian teen franchise ends, well begins to end in part one of the two-part ending. Katniss is great because you have a choice between super glamorous Girl on Fire in crazy makeup and a ballgown, or go low key with a causal Katniss hunting at home look just add jacket, braid and bow and arrow. Effie is always a good look as a complicated character who oozes style, plus most girls have a ridiculous bridesmaid dress that makes the look when worn with a blonde wig and neon eye shadow.

Doctor Who

There’s a new Doctor in town and fans can’t wait to cosplay as his latest dignified and brusque persona. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is so easy too without any wacky scarves or hats,  all it takes is a button down shirt, long-ish jacket (lined in red if you’re being picky) and serious case of attack eyebrows. Add a cutie-pie chipmunk of a girl in a short skirt, black tights and bangs and you have a super easy couples costume of the Doctor and Clara that is sure to be all over the place come Halloween. Don’t forget your sonic screwdriver, and maybe something that goes ding when there’s stuff.

Ebola Patient Zero


As the biggest Ebola outbreak in history it’s practically all that’s in the news these days and a legitimately scary threat…so naturally we need to make fun of it. Abstract ideas make the most fun costumes so I predict lots of different takes on this one. Most generic zombies out there this year will probably work ebola into their names somehow and hospital gowns and nurse outfits are sure to reign. There’s even bound to be a flippant few actually dressed as America’s first diagnosed patient Thomas Duncan, they’ll be the ones in the neon green jackets giving HIPPA the finger.


maleficent headpiece

Angelina Jolie is the quintessential fantasy “hot girl” every woman wants to be so it’s no surprise her characters are always Halloween favorites. Female villains are most appealing cosplay when they exude a wicked elegance  and  this summer saw Jolie’s cheekbones starring as the Queen of the wicked fairies herself. Those delicate sharply pointed horns worn with a corset and wings will make any woman look like a dark goddess and spend all night perfecting her deeply sardonic drawl.

Captain America/Black Widow

While all of the Avengers will be well represented as costume choices, Captain America and Black Widow starred in the most recent chapter of the Marvel saga and the general public is ruled by a short attention span. So I foresee your parties boasting lots of redheads prowling around in cat suits and tons of patriotic heroes in varying degrees of authenticity from molded plastic muscles to jeans and an American flag tee shirt. And for the couple who is way too cool for that level of enthusiasm, Steve and Natasha as undercover mall hipsters in the Apple store are the epitome of laziness and obscurity.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 


Mark my words Turtles are going to be big this year with all of those poor little kids whose parents let them believe in Michael Bay’s distorted vision of our heroes in a half shell. And with 90’s kids all grown up and appalled to see what has been done to our beloved culture icons who will bdress as the classic Turtles to spit in the face of a new regime. But most of all with college girls looking for a tutu based group costume…because there isn’t a single classic cartoon that hasn’t been ruined by sorority girls in tutus.

American Horror Story: Freakshow

Twisty the Clown

AHS is a completely different show every season but what remains the same is how it serves up mind blowing nightmares with such style. This season’s atmospheric and deteriorating 1950’s creeptacular carnival is rife with characters that would make great Halloween costumes. Jessica Lange is impeccable as the fabulous, aged German cabaret singer, the costume would be worth it to wear the furs alone. Jimmy Darling the Lobster Boy and his mother the Bearded Lady would both make excellent costume options, and the two headed twins would be a fun and eye catching look for a couple of girls who don’t mind being joined at the hip all night. But I think we’re going to see the most of Twisty the murderous clown. We’ve been afraid of clowns for a while now as a society and Ryan Murphy has found a way to interject new life into the trope with Twisty’s terrifying mask of human flesh. This costume is guaranteed to reduce most children to a quivering mess, and  isn’t that what Halloween is really all about?
– Amelia Steinmetz

PopFilter Podcast Episode 168


This week, the friends have the most important draft of all time: what six powers would you take if everything was on the table? That’s right, the friends all become super friends and take the time to blow everyone’s dick off by becoming the most powerful, amazing and super nerdy nerds on the planet. As with all drafts, come for the friends, stay for the yelling and hurtful name calling.

Email us to get your opinion on the show:

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP


Review us on iTunes!


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Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge

Round Three

A to Z





See the bracket!


Today’ combatants are both part of the elite eight, but for very different reasons. Both 30 minute comedies, their formats are enormously different. A to Z is more of a standard sitcom with a familiar format. And by the third episode, its settling comfortably into its formula. You have your main characters, Andrew and Zelda, having a misunderstanding but coming back together for the third act, the two foils rounding out the story, and a B-plot centering around Andrew’s boss. The boss character is probably the best thing on the show, but the writers aren’t really sure what to do with her. This week had her spying on her employees using software that monitors their email. Her best moments come in the form of interactions she has with her assistant or meetings with the staff. The cohesiveness of the episode can’t support giving her an entire narrative to run through. The two the side and the main story don’t belong in the same show.

Then there is Transparent. There’s been a whole new era of the 30-minute comedy ushered in by Louis CK’s Louie. These shows are nothing like typical sitcoms. Far from light-hearted romps intended to let an audience escape from the heaviness of their own lives, they highlight human failure. These shows are all about a character’s ineptitude at leading a normal life. They embody the comic spirit’s bottom line: life is kind of shitty and then you die; that’s the joke. The true embodiment of the comic spirit is The Joker.

If you find my synopsis grim, stick with shows like A to Z. However if you want a little more from your viewing experience, Transparent is the better show. There are no B-plots, no formula and no resets to normal by the end of the episode. This week the transgendered father unable to come out to his son, there’s an abortion, a failed drug-induced threesome, and a failed marriage. I kind of surprise myself stacking up the plot points like that. How can a show effectively deal with that much drama? The fact is that these kinds of comedies do drama better than dramas. There is one fundamental difference, Transparent conveys how awkward people are. The oldest daughter, played by Amy Landecker has a scene where she is anxiously writhing around the kitchen about to tell her husband she is in love with another woman. It was astounding. It is the clear winner this week and moves on to the final four.


-Stephanie Brady


The Superhero Hour Hour 10/17/14


The Walking Dead is back! Mike and Ryan discuss whether or not the season premiere shows any sign of the series fixing their problems, and then giggle about explosions and fire. They also discuss the new episodes of Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.

The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge

Round One






The Bracket!!!

I never saw it coming.


First, Marry Me happened. It’s a sitcom about a couple who can’t quite get their proposal right. If I were a betting man, it would have had my money on it to make it until at least the third round. It’s because I believe in the talent of stars Carey Wilson, Ken Marino and creator David Caspe. All three have proven themselves to be home run hitters and Marry Me is no exception. It’s genuinely, exceptionally funny. Wilson is amazing. She can do some fearless physical comedy and has an incredibly instinct for how to get the most out of her lines. Ken Marino is a great team player and seems to be enhanced by and thrive off the energy and talent surrounding him. Marry Me has some great people behind it.


The only real problem I have is with one of the supporting players. They made an odd choice casting Sarah Wright (a.k.a Jerry from Park’s and Recreation’s daughter) as Wilson’s best friend. She does okay with the lines she’s given, but I don’t quite understand how she fits into this world. At the top of the episode, Wilson goes on a incredible rant about how Marino hasn’t proposed yet where she calls her best friend a hipster who is probably going to die a spinster. With a description like that I pictured the neighbor from Selfie, not supermodel Sarah Wright. This implies a lack of awareness about what this character’s role should be. But if you’ve ever seen Capse and Wilson’s other vehicle, Happy Endings, you’d understand why I have complete faith in this show to figure it out. Happy Endings was an incredible ensemble piece; that can’t happen unless a show figures out how to use the entire casts’ strengths. You only have to look at Marino’s mother to understand Caspe’s ability to give a bit character one of the funniest moments on the show (when she’s in the car singing along to Pink’s Fuckin Perfect after overhearing Wilson call her a bitch, it just about killed me.) This show is a must see.


Then it happened: Jane the Virgin came bounding out of the red corner with such lightness of foot and energy it totally bowled me over. I don’t know what’s going on over there at the CW, but they have gone from cheesedick young-adult drama to some of the most compelling tevelvision of the fall. It’s a network Cinderella story!


Jane the Virgin was great. Great in a way I did not expect, and great in a way I did not know was possible. It’s almost hard to review. It took all these telenovela themes and insane plot twists and presented them earnestly, without overacting, and without the absurd edits that don’t give big moments time to land. The plot is like an control-tower radar screen busy with air-traffic, but not overly convoluted because the trajectory of each plot-point easy to follow. The strength of this show isn’t even in its plot, but in its characters. The plot just gives the characters agency. Each week, the viewers will tune in for Jane and co. and not because there is a bunch of crazy crap going on. The characters are ordinary people put in extraordinary situations, the former being something that soap operas typically fail to develop.


These two shows are clearly heavy weights. This round, which comes as a surprise to everyone, including me, is going to the underdog: Jane the Virgin. Marry Me moves on to a regular spot on my TV schedule while Jane the Virgin moves on to the second round.

-Stephanie Rose


PopFilter Versus Ex Machina


The journey to educate Jason on comic books continues! This week the friends tackle Brian K. Vaughan’s superhero deconstruction/post-911 story Ex Machina. Is that an accurate description of the comic? You decide! Will the friends keep reading K Vaughan after this? You find out! How many times will Ryan and Mike try to make Jason feel bad when they know more about comics because he lived a “life” during childhood? So many times!


Email us to get your opinion on the show:

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP


Review us on iTunes!


Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


Want to record your own podcast? Check out Phantom48 for all of your electronic and recording needs!

The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge

Round 2






Follow the bracket here!!!

Just as I start to realize that this tournament is setting television writing back decades, and giving no shows their proper due, it dawns on me why this tournament might actually work. The vast majority of new fall shows are stamped with a big red “suck,” only to be forgotten as soon as the networks will allow us to. It’s almost a habit at this point. We’re supposed to check our baggage at the door, and review each new piece of media with an open mind, but we’ve been conditioned to equate “new fall show” with “shitty,” and sometimes forget to take a second look. The bracket has allowed/forced me to do something I would have never done otherwise, watch the second episodes of Survivor’s Remorse and Gracepoint, and I have to say that I kind of enjoyed myself, something that isn’t said very often when it comes to pilots.

Well…”enjoyed myself” might be a little strong when talking about Gracepoint, yet another show about a dead kid (hey, at least there’s no fat, bearded, ginger sidekicks). Although the first episode definitely had its rough, lingering moments, the second episode allowed the plot to take over a little bit, and things are starting to move. The list of suspects has started to grow, and although there’s a good chance that none of them are the killer, at the very least they’re all weirdos, and it’s hard to not want to find out just how weird they are. It’s the binge-iest of binge shows, which I should have realized right after the pilot. Although more and more members of the PF staff are speaking out against binging, Gracepoint doesn’t really apply. If you binge Breaking Bad, you’re not really appreciating each episode as its own unique thing, and it’s just too much information for one brain to handle. You’ll lose some awesomeness. Gracepoint, however, is no Breaking Bad. The episodes do not seem to reward viewers with self-contained themes and tones. It’s just a long ass story, and thrives on you needing to see the next episode. Gracepoint isn’t awful, but if you’d rather wait for a Netflix-fueled sick day, as opposed to going week-to-week, more power to you. If you decide to that, though, please be warned: this show stars David Tennant.

I’ve never seen Doctor Who. Maybe he was good on that show. Maybe he’s good in almost everything he does, but the writers just decided to fuck him by creating one of the most hackneyed characters on TV. It doesn’t matter. Through two episodes, he has tanked this show so hard that Survivor’s Remorse could be half as good as it is, and still move on to Round 3. Tennant feels like he got lost on his way to some cheesedick Miami Vice ripoff, wound up on the Gracepoint set, and just decided to stay. This show would be fine if Breaking Bad-alum was the sole detective on the case, or if it decided not every show needs a god damn antihero. Attention networks: you don’t need more drama in a show about a murdered child. That should provide so much drama, in fact, that it deems boring, prickish, antiheroes completely unnecessary.

Survivor’s Remorse has become my favorite Cinderella story of the bracket so far (sorry A to Z). What started as a decent, if not amateurish, pilot has grown into a pretty compelling ensemble dramedy. It isn’t really that funny, but since it’s 30 minutes long, we’ll go with dramedy. Within the first five minutes of the second episode, the mother of the main character, young NBA star Cam Calloway, has told a reporter that she used to whoop her kids, and then we predictably, but rewardingly, go from there.

In two episodes, creator Mike O’Malley (that same one) has already removed all Entourage comparisons, and even if Survivor’s Remorse never hits the dizzying mediocrity of that show in its heyday, it still offers something that Entourage never cared about: compelling characters. Welcome to the Elite 8, Survivor’s Remorse.

– Ryan Haley




Kerri Battles the AFI’s Top 100 — #80: The Apartment

The Apartment is categorized as a romantic comedy, a genre of which I’m notoriously judgemental. Still, I was excited to watch anything with a young Jack Lemmon and a young Shirley MacLaine. With Fred MacMurray following those names, I was pretty sure I was in for a goofy 60s rom-com with pratfalls and missed-by-moments-connections intended to leave me rolling in the aisles in stitches! I was woefully unprepared for anything I was about to watch.

Finding this as a sudden plot twist is the only thing that might have surprised me more.

The Apartment begins with a voiceover from C.C. “Buddy Boy” Baxter  (Lemmon) as he explains his job at an insurance company, his talent for remembering facts and figures, and the particular commodity he has that will really get him ahead — his cozy apartment that four philandering executives at his company find perfect for their not-so-secret trysts with not their wives. When he’s called up to Mr. Sheldrake’s office, the Head of Personnel, Baxter is certain his promotion is imminent. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Baxter can have his promotion all right — just so long as he leaves his key and his address on Sheldrake’s desk for that evening. Sheldrake even throws in two tickets to The Music Man to sweeten the deal. Baxter agrees and, ignoring any immoral aspects of the trade, asks the pretty elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (MacLaine) to join him at the theater. She tells him she already has a date with an old boyfriend, but she expects it to end quickly, so she agrees to meet him at the theater just before curtain. However, Fran’s date — **GASP** SHELDRAKE!!!  — has other ideas. In their usual back booth in a seedy Chinese restaurant, Sheldrake tells Fran that he intends to leave his wife, she believes him, and they head back to Baxter’s apartment to rekindle their romance. Because of course they do. As Fran and Sheldrake’s affair escalates, Baxter gets his promotion and a spine. At the company Christmas Eve drunken orgy party, he intends to ask Fran on another date. Instead, through a wacky turn of events involving Sheldrake’s nosy secretary/scorned ex-mistress and a broken compact mirror Fran left behind in the apartment, that plan basically gets shot to hell. Baxter winds up drunk at a bar while Fran cries to Sheldrake in his apartment over being just another in a long line of pieces on the side. Fran gives Sheldrake a personal and thoughtful Christmas gift. Sheldrake gives Fran a Benjamin and tells her to buy herself something nice because he’s got to get home to his wife and kids. Fran watches Sheldrake leave, then takes Baxter’s prescription for sleeping pills. All of it. Baxter stumbles home just in time to save Fran’s life, with the help of his neighbor, Dr. Dreyfuss. Sheldrake tells Baxter over the phone to keep it quiet. Upon doctor’s orders, Fran remains in Baxter’s apartment to recuperate, play cards, and fall in love. Upon his return to the office, Baxter plans to tell Sheldrake he’s prepared to take Fran off his hands because, well, he loves her. Unfortunately, Sheldrake is prepared to tell Baxter precisely the same thing. Since Secretary/Ex-Mistress told Mrs. Sheldrake the same things she told Fran, he’s been living at the athletic club.  But, of course, now that he sort of has to, Sheldrake is prepared to make it official with Fran. He just needs a new copy of Baxter’s key because, in light of Fran’s “accident,” he threw the last one out the window of the commuter train and he certainly can’t take her to the Y. Baxter calmly tells Sheldrake he can have a key — the key back to the executive wash room. Baxter quits on the spot, but not before telling Sheldrake he can’t take any women back to his apartment again, but especially not Fran. That evening, New Year’s Eve, as Sheldrake and Fran sit in their usual booth in the Chinese restaurant, he tells her of Baxter’s surprising resignation and the reasons why. As the lights dim for midnight, Fran realizes where she needs to be and runs to the apartment, where Baxter declares his love for her immediately. Fran smiles and tells him to shut up and deal a hand of Gin Rummy.

I can’t unsee Fred MacMurray playing a slimy, cheating louse. Kindly 60s sitcom widowers will never look the same.

There may be quite a bit in the above paragraph that could be construed as cliche, but there’s a reason why that paragraph is so fucking long. The Apartment takes a well-worn premise that could easily come across as hackneyed and spins it into a subtly detailed yarn of gold. The above paragraph is just the stunted synopsis of what happens between Fran and Baxter and even every one of those details is important for just a basic understanding of the story because this isn’t just a simple boy-meets-girl light-hearted romp. There’s humor, of course, but there’s also a layer of grit and soot sprinkled on top that isn’t often a part of your average rom-com formula. Baxter and Fran’s destination is ultimately the same as, say, Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, but those generic couples always seem to take the well-traveled road . Nothing about Baxter and Fran’s journey is predictable.  And theirs isn’t the only love story The Apartment tells, either. You have Dr. and Mrs. Dreyfuss, who have no secrets, or Baxter’s landlady and her reluctant West Highland Terrier. You have My Favorite Martian and his fling with the Marilyn Wannabe. You have the drunken wife of a jockey jailed in Cuba for doping race horses with whom Baxter shares his wallowing. Most of the secondary characters in The Apartment offer the audience a glimpse into their own unique relationships and each is just as intriguing and well drawn as that of our main characters.

Not him, too! Sweet Jesus, my naive, Nick-at-Nite-raised brain cannot handle this.

If I tried, I could find some mean, cheap shots to take at The Apartment. I could mock some characters as stereotypical or convenient. I could comment on the dated views of women and sex. I could do that, but I won’t because it would be forced and disingenuous. In hindsight, those points of view could be argued, but the film simply doesn’t read that way while watching it. Instead, the characters are enthralling, amusing, and accessible. For the first time in too long, I’m with the AFI on this one. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve done this before, but I actually strongly recommend The Apartment to everyone except ignorant assholes who poo-poo anything and everything black and white. Those people don’t deserve this joy anyway.  — KSmith

PopFilter Podcast 167


Filterinos, do you remember when a bunch of new stuff came out and the PopFilter friends didn’t talk about it? Wasn’t that weird? Well…they DID talk about it and now you’re finally going to hear what they think about BoJack Horseman, Alt J’s “This Is All Yours”, Night Moves, Captain America: Winter Soldier and so much other shit! You thought they forgot about you? Never. They call you their “babies”, which would be really sweet if they didn’t use such a tremendously creepy collective voice.

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The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge

Round One






See all the bracket action at


Today’s match up has Showtime’s The Affair pitted against ABC’s new sitcom Cristela. That sentence has all the information you need to determine the winner. End of article? No! Keep reading.


Showtime has given the world some great television, such as the first two seasons of Weeds and Dexter. Showtime has also given the world some abysmally terrible television, such as the remaining seasons of Dexter and Weeds. What we know for sure is that Showtime is good at getting a conceptual show off the ground. What’s high concept about The Affair isn’t the premise, it’s about two people who cheat on their spouses. Rather, the conceptually interesting thing about it is how the pilot deals with the truth of the world its building. The story is framed by an investigation that has the two affairees, The Wire alum Dominic West and Ruth Wilson, in an interrogation room being questioned. Their statements are a literal he-said, she-said account of their relationship. The truth of either version is not up for debate; this is all about how Noah and Alison express cognitive dissonance. Their stories reflect what they want to believe about what happened in order to not be totally responsible for it. I was very impressed by the way the lead actors pulled off the two different characters they play: the Noah and Alison of his story and the Noah and Alison of hers. The choices the actors make highlight the way people cast themselves as well-meaning, innocent bystanders of circumstances beyond their control in the stories they tell about their lives. This is an amazing debut and I can’t wait for the second episode.


Cristela is the kind of sitcom pilot that TV writers who want to sell their show should study. Its easily digestible, introduces its characters subtly but with an understanding of what their roles are, and takes on enough plot to set up a world while not feel crammed into 22 minutes. The star of the show, Cristela Alonzo, is likeable enough to make her cheesy lines work. The biggest flaw comes in the form of Gabriel Iglesias, a comedian whose stand-up I really enjoy. He is there because he is the only recognizable name on the show but the writers don’t know what to do with him. So what do they do? They force him in with awkward results. His character has a crush on Cristela, but she adamantly rejects him making his persistent advances creepy. They need to figure out how to make him work or axe him. Still, I’m rooting for this show to become a hit and for America to make Cristela Alonzo a star. But it is no match for The Affair. The Affair is incredible.


Looks like Transparent finally has some real competition.


-Stephanie Rose



The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge











If you’ve already listened to the second episode of The Superhero Hour Hour, PopFilter’s new podcast that focuses strictly on comic book TV, you know that The Flash (pun about speed) right into me and Mike’s collective heart. Could it be that TV has finally figured out how to a superhero show, as opposed to just a superhero-adjacent show? This is why my heart sank when, about 20 minutes into Kingdom, I thought to myself that this show might be good. And it is pretty good. They’re both pretty good, showing a lot of promise with a lot of flaws. I’m going to have to nitpick here.


Although both episodes are too busy for their own good (as pilots are wont to be), all of the balls The Flash is juggling seem to serve the same purpose: let’s get this fuckin’ world built, and this fuckin’ origin over with, so we can get on with our fuckin’ lives. Maybe an ideal world would give us a season long Flash origin, where we could slow play everything that goes into turning a geek into a super hero, but that seems like it would be asking for a lot, even from The CW. Instead, the pilot makes it so that the second episode is ready for its first freak-of-the-week adventure, while planting seeds about the origin that can bloom in future episodes. Again, not ideal, but as good as could be expected.


I’d say about 75 percent of Kingdom also gets the “origin” story right. We’re thrown into the middle of a family that has drama coming out of their cauliflowered ears. Between ex-MMA fighter Alvey and his failing gym, his rising star son, his piece-of-shit son, his friend that was just released from prison, and his girlfriend, who used to be with his friend that was just released in prison, Kingdom has enough family drama to watch in between the staging of fights. Unfortunately, this just isn’t enough for Kingdom, and it really buries an otherwise promising pilot. Not content to just focus on the people that run this gym, the episode is bookended by two cholos so stereotypical that Speedy Gonzalez would have to smack his head. Towards the end of the episode, we get a scene with Alvey’s piece-of-shit son handing money to a whore WHO IS ALSO HIS MOTHER for seemingly no narrative reason. Alvey’s ex-wife could have been a character introduced at any point in the show’s run, but they felt it had to be crammed in here.


Not to beat a dead horse, but one of the more helpful things that Kingdom can do is figure out what network it wants to be on. If it’s HBO, which it seems to think, then slow it down, and show us the small, more meaningful drama inside of this family. If it wants to be on FX, which is cool too, then the mother/whore shit is fine, but it needs to take itself more seriously. The Flash knows it’s on The CW and that – I never thought I’d say this – is a large part of why it’s moving on.


– Ryan Haley




The 2014 PopFilter New Fall TV Challenge









You don’t have to squint too hard to see all of the things that Selfie and A to Z have in common, aside from being new one-camera sitcoms. Both shows feature two likeable leads (of varying degrees). Both rely on the comedic and romantic chemistry between the two. And both shows found it necessary to include a gimmicky premise that hangs over the show as much as the situations deem necessary. This is round 2, so you should probably have this information by now, but Selfie is My Fair Lady for the social media age, and A to Z dedicates each episode to a different facet of a blossoming relationship, all in alphabetical order…for some reason. The nice thing about gimmicks is that they give you an instant elevator pitch, so people, presumably standing in elevators, can say “Did you see that My Fair Lady show last night?” to the uninterested people around them. The reason that gimmicks scare me is because they make me think that the show, or the showrunners, are afraid that they don’t have a strong enough voice to carry the show without one. Sometimes a show’s voice is so strong that it’s able to bail out of its initial gimmick. Happy Endings started off as a show about how a group of friends deals with two members of the group breaking up, but David Caspe and Co. were able to bust through that by episode three or four. Two episodes in, it really seems like these two shows have already painted themselves into a corner that only a lot of awkwardness can get them out of.


One of the main things that separates the two is how each show goes to its gimmick well. Selfie can be a bit of a mess story-telling wise, and blindly grasps for its premise whenever its plot finds itself too far off course. Karen Gillan is great, John Cho is good, the chemistry is building, and each episode has had a scene or two of snappy dialogue that gives us an idea of what the show could become. But the premise has already become more of a hindrance than a plot-barfing gold mine. On the other hand, the beginning of each episode of A to Z brings us narrator PopFilter Hall of Famer Katey Sagal, who quickly explains the premise and the letter that the episode is brought to you by. Once or twice per episode she’ll pop in again and say “See? That’s the letter I was talking about.” Other than that, the rest of the show is left to explore its story and express its voice. It’s not perfect yet, and the show still has some cleaning to do (ANOTHER FAT, BEARDED, GINGER BEST FRIEND?!? COME ON!!!), but A to Z is able to out adorbs Selfie and move on to round 3.

– Ryan Haley





PopFilter Versus Video Game Characters




I know you’re probably reading this at home in your underwear, thinking, “I sure do love how the PopFilter Podcast is multi-formatted…but I want a new format! I love Mixtape and Countdown and Draft and Proper, but why can’t there be more?!” And for you, I have mixed feelings. You obviously love our show, which is nice, but you’re a bit ungrateful, which hurts. But here you go crybaby, a brand new format!


In our first release of Bracketology, we’ll be pitting the board-approved top 17 video game characters against each other. We’ll fight, and yell and cajole and needle to get our picks to the end of the bracket. But…

There can only be one.



Email us to get your opinion on the show:

Or call and leave a voicemail: 1-562 DRDJ POP


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The Superhero Hour Hour 10/10/14


In the second episode of the hit new PopFilter Podcast, Mike and Ryan focus on the series premiere of the CW’s The Flash, along with quick hits on Agents of SHIELD, Gotham, and Arrow.

Popfilter’s 2014 Fall TV Challenge

Round 3






Check out all the action at

I’ve been looking forward to this match up since reviewing each of these pilots. These have been two of the best quality shows of the new fall season. So far, the shows we have compared have been unequally matched, with one show easily blowing the other out of contention. How to Get Away with Murder and Transparent, in my thinking, were worthy adversaries. Key term: were.

After watching the second episode of How to Get Away with Murder, I soon lost faith that this would be a good match up. The pilot debuted strong and I was ready to move full-steam ahead. But somewhere between the pilot and the second episode the story lost the steam it did such a seamless job of creating. The first episode interspersed scenes from beginning of the story (the present) with flash-forwards of a murder taking place 2 ½ months in the future. The second episode did the same thing but it was clunky, poorly intertwined and confusing. This show got formulaic way too fast. The second episode barely moves the plot along and is thematically no different than the first. Viola Davis is a powerhouse as Professor Annalise Keating, but even that can’t save it from the attempt to make the second episode a carbon copy of the pilot, a method that only serves to degrade its quality.

Unlike its adversary, the second episode of Transparent picks up the baton handed off by the first episode and progresses forward. The subtle differences between the way Jeffrey Tambor portrays Mort and they way he does Maura suggest that the things we assume about gender are not just biological, but performative. Judith Light (ANGELA!*) walks a fine line between real person and stereotype, which is a fun platform to watch when it’s done right. There isn’t even enough space to mention all the interesting developments going on with the adult children or how well they are flowering into their characters. This show is about a family figuring out who they are together and independently and its doing a remarkable job of showing us how they get there.

It’s almost frustrating. We here at Popfilter would prefer a little healthy competition to get our readership interested in our pseudosport, the Fall TV Challenge. Unfortunately for us, Transparent is in a different league than the other shows in the bracket. Its the Yankees and the Patriots combined. But there are 12 more shows we still haven’t seen, and it’s entirely possible that we have a late in the fall season sleeper hit. I hope.

-Stephanie Rose




* If you were born after 1990, she’s a character from Who’s the Boss with Tony Danza, you fetus.


This Will Destroy You

Another Language


Hello Filterinos, and welcome to another edition of #musicreview. As you may or may not know, This Will Destroy You, the instrumental Texan post-rock band released a new album called Another Language. The band has decidedly come out against being called “post-rock” for this record, preferring to use their own portmanteau of “doomgaze”, combining doom metal with the oft polarizing shoegaze. Going into the album, that’s about all you need to know.

The shoegazing lady hipster.


The first thing that will strike you about Another Language is the incredible ability that this instrumental band has to make completely satisfying song structures while eschewing typical patterns laid out by the last eighty years of popular music. Even perennially forward-thinking musicians like Arcade Fire, The Refused and Sigur Ros seem to have more reverence for the structure of days gone by. Add to that the fact that this band uses tones, effects and dynamics to move you instead of lyrics and this feat only becomes that much more impressive. From the first track (“New Topia”), this is a mission the band seems to be all too ready and capable of taking on.

Yes…these dudes…


While TWDY is often sited as being one of the greatest applicators of dynamics in current music, this album does it so artfully that you almost don’t realize it’s happening. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of shocking jumps in decibels over the course of this record, but there are an increasingly high number of times where they shift gears in a way that is less jarring and more pleasing. This shows the growth of a band that is able to do so much with relatively little. This is like a minimalist film maker showing you breath-taking scenes of nature while relating it back to the plot. It is gorgeous art with highs, lows and most importantly, substance.

Or maybe it’s just fucking bullshit, right?


The most impressive trick TWDY is able to pull off on this album is building tension. The band known for these structures and dynamic shifts (which are on full display here) is also showing an incredibly focused ability to make you feel. It would seem as though the “doom” shift in their self-imposed genre is paying incredible dividends to make a shockingly cohesive album. I have not talked to any members of This Will Destroy You, but I have already come up with a narrative thread that brings the whole record together. I am not going to share it because the beauty of this album is that you will come up with your own. It feels so thoroughly connected throughout that it sounds like a score to a film that has not been released. The theatrics and passion that are on display are beyond reproach.

Or maybe the movie HAS already been released…


Truly, this is a phenomenal album and one of the absolute best of the year. To say anything else is to ignore the musical and melodic abilities of this band. Though this album is not without art and fart, it is laden with rich, beautiful melodies that make these enigmatic and crazy ideas accessible in a way that a more pretentious band may not have considered. The kicker? This is as natural to the band as breathing. This is what they do and this is what they will continue to do. Though it is unfair to expect everything This Will Destroy You will do will be remarkable, they have yet to disappoint. If you can find a way to clear an hour of your day and just sit with an incredible piece of art, take Another Language for a spin. You won’t be sorry you did.


Oh, and so far as the fancy pants record title goes: yes they use music instead of words to convey their ideas and no, even given that, I do not think it’s a lame name for a record.


With Love,

Jason R. Noble