This fortnight, uninspired by recent releases, Nick and Alastair delve into the old days to each bring a recommendation to the pod-table. Alastair volunteers for popular child-slaughter movie Battle Royale, while Nick signs up to contemplative spy comic Zero.

But first, Nick’s gone even further into the misty past by reading a load of David Lapham’s classic indie crime comic series Stray Bullets, while Alastair’s making one token effort to stay topical with season 2 of Amazon’s Hanna adaptation.

And then they finally get onto the Battle Royale (13:52) island, with discussion of its trashy grindy gore, before trying to work out if they fully understood the ending. (So yeah, maybe some mild spoilers for this quite old film.)

Lastly, they go deep under with Zero (29:36), by Ales Kot and various artists (Michael Walsh, Tradd Moore, Mateus Santolouco, Morgan Jeske and Will Tempest, to be specific). And after the giddy bloodsport of Battle Royale, Kot’s here to make them wonder: is violence… bad, actually? 

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Dark is not an easy show to follow. It doesn’t go out of its way to be deliberately confusing, like some shows, but the scope and complexity of its plot makes it a challenge to watch. The story spans the period 1888 to 2053 and involves many generations of characters in the small German town of Winden. A story covering so much time and so many characters would already be hard to follow, but Dark is a time travel story and approaches its plot in a non-linear way.

Dark is essentially a mystery show. The question at its heart is: “what is the strange thing that is happening in this small town?” The show’s three series slowly expose the answer. It’s not the first show to be based around a “what’s going on?” mystery – other examples that spring to mind are Lost and Twin Peaks – but what makes Dark exceptional in this sub-genre is that there is an explanation.

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This fortnight, after a few weeks of teasing, Nick and Alastair make a full-on journey into the Dark, with the third and final season of Netflix’s epic German timetravel saga, followed by new comics-based action movie The Old Guard.

But before that, Alastair’s stuck to the foreign-language Netflix scifi theme with Russian robot scifi show Better Than Us, while Nick switches over to evil human creatures in HBO’s Succession.

And then, at last, it’s time to turn off the lights and keep it Dark (13:28), with an opening summary chat containing only a few broad season 1-2 spoilers, before they drop the full spoilers warning at 27:09 and wade all the way into ending details. Only some of this podcast is about our heroes checking with each other that they actually understood the show.

Lastly, as a palette cleanser, Nick and Alastair watch The Old Guard (43:15), once a comic they covered way back in 2017, and now a zippy action movie starring Charlize Theron.

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This fortnight, Nick and Alastair watch new Spike Lee movie Da 5 Bloods, then read the opening issues of madcap comic series The Ludocrats. Despite their best efforts, there isn’t much connection there – which is apt enough for the chaotic nature of the latter.

Before all that though, it’s time for some popular musical streaming service fun with the Hamilton film on Disney Plus, and the equally culturally significant Eurovision movie on Netflix.

Then for their first big item, Nick and Alastair dig into Da 5 Bloods (14:21), taking in both the movies about Vietnam and the ones by Spike Lee, and relatively few spoilers for once.

Finally, they’ve read the opening two issues of The Ludocrats (32:11), the new absurdist action comedy by Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol, Jeff Stokely and co, and… well, it’s a hard one to describe in words, which might be a problem for this medium.

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This fortnight, Nick and Alastair tackle the growth industry of TV series based on popular movies, with the new Snowpiercer show and the second season of What We Do In The Shadows.

But first, they touch on the recent Warren Ellis news, before Alastair talks up the latest Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London novel False Value, and Nick ecstatically reviews the new Harley Quinn animated series.

And then they launch into covering the first five episodes of Snowpiercer (12:37), complete with chat about how it compares to the cult movie (surprisingly Alastair’s seen it while Nick hasn’t), the American TV drive to turn everything into a cop show and a few implied spoilers for the fourth and fifth episodes.

Lastly, Nick and Alastair catch all the way up on What We Do In The Shadows (24:49), with talk of all their favourite characters, heavy admiration for Matt Berry and, surprisingly, the fact they’ve both seen the original film.

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This fortnight, Nick and Alastair take off with Space Force, then venture into the forest of Family Tree.

But first, Nick’s gone back and read the original classic run on The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, while Alastair’s spent time watching plays like Frankenstein, Coriolanus and A Streetcar Named Desire on the National Theatre YouTube channel.

After all that, Space Force (12:30) waits for them in the stars (on Netflix). Can a new show from the lead writer and star of The Office US live up to that starry pedigree?

And then another big name – podcast favourite comic writer Jeff Lemire and artist Phil Hester bring us Family Tree (29:14), their new plant-horror book from Image Comics.

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This fortnight, Nick and Alastair meet a pair of action heroes who are both having their hearts melted by cute kids in Star Wars: The Mandalorian and Extraction. If only they’d planned this thematic cohesion.

But first, the introductory lockdown culture update section takes in Alastair’s latest Mission Impossible update and review of the new Altered Carbon season, plus Nick finally watching Westworld season 3.

And then, way after America thanks to Disney Plus’s annoying British release schedule, they finally head out on the plain with The Mandalorian (10:40), and for once they’ve even held back on the spoilers.

Lastly, they go way old school with new Netflix one-man-army action orgy Extraction (24:15), in which Chris Hemsworth murders hundreds, but still gets emotional about a child.

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This fortnight, Nick and Alastair take a break from their dystopian-level Netflix immersion to watch Devs on iPlayer and read new crime comic Friday!

But first, Nick’s finally checked out this year’s DC Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths, while Alastair’s… back on Netflix again to watch Ghost In The Shell: SAC_2045.

And then they dive into Devs (15:27), the thoughtful tech-thriller written and written by Alex Garland, with a few spoilers scattered throughout. Although they somehow manage not to ruin the ending.

Lastly, our heroes read Friday (34:40) by Ed Brubaker, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente, one of the few new comics making it to readers at the moment. This, of course, is because it’s only available directly from the Panel Syndicate website as a pay-what-you-want download.

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Whole lotta Netflix this episode, as Nick and Alastair catch up on Warren Ellis-written vampire video game adaptation Castlevania and viral smash hit big cat/murder documentary Tiger King.

But first, Alastair’s taken Nick up on one of his recommendations by going back and reading the Doom Patrol run by Grant Morrison, while Nick’s returning to an old review topic with Red Dwarf: The Promised Land.

With that done, it’s time for our heroes to march off into the night and confront whatever waits within: season 3 of Castlevania (13:07). How has the show developed since they last covered it back in season 1? And beware, there are broad plot spoilers for the ending of season 2.

Lastly, in a belated and hopeless bid to get on trend, Nick and Alastair watch Tiger King (26:48) and ask: whodunnit? And when will he finally get round to dunning it?

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Back to the normal fortnightly schedule, albeit with a new dual review format, Nick and Alastair continue their hiatus catch-up with the final season of The Good Place, then catch back up to reality with new movie The Platform.

But first, Nick’s caught up on former podcast subject Curse Words, the funtasy comic by Charles Soule and Ryan Brown, while Alastair’s embarked on a rigorous lockdown entertainment programme of Mission Impossible movies and Ken Burns documentaries.

And then it’s time for one final trip to The Good Place (14:51), as the clever-stupid afterlife sitcom concludes. Since the finale went out a couple of months ago, our heroes let the spoilers hang loose on this one. You have been warned.

And finally, a grimmer abstract vision with Netflix’s grisly horror-scifi-thriller movie The Platform (35:58), a film which may or may not contain political metaphor. And a review which also contains a few spoilers, by the way. (Including hard ending details from about 46:18.)

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