This fortnight, Nick and Alastair return to big-name supercinema with The Suicide Squad, before reminding themselves of the inside world with Biohackers season 2.

In fact, there’s an uncanny amount of new cinema in this episode, as Nick’s talking about surreal French fashion-murder film Deerskin, while Alastair’s seen Edgar Wright’s rockumentary The Sparks Brothers.

Then, at last, The Suicide Squad (9:04) arrives to show us the fun, happy, almost uplifting side of murder. Surprisingly few spoilers in this one.

And in a short flashback to the pandemic world, Nick and Alastair return to the bizarre world of Biohackers (21:49) to see if the second season can live up to the first.

Meanwhile, Nick’s next comics Kickstarter launched the actual same day as this podcast – it’s FairyFare with his Little Deaths of Watson Tower collaborator Rosie Alexander, the story of the fairies finally joining the gig economy. Click on through to check it out.

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This fortnight, Nick and Alastair fully enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe at last, covering the omni-franchise’s latest movie Black Widow and TV show Loki.

But first, Nick’s briefly defected to the other superhero universe with Legends of Tomorrow, while Alastair’s turned to booze with Another Round (plus an update on his attempts to finally see Fast 9).

And at long last, they hit the bold new territory of a new non-Netflix movie with Black Widow (13:01), including scattered spoilers about the fates of a couple of characters and the post-credits scene.

Whereas in the subsequent review of Loki season 1 (33:00), Nick and Alastair go ahead and spoil everything from beginning to end, just like they do at parties.

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From one extreme to another this fortnight, as Nick and Alastair chill out with new Pixar movie Luca, then freak out into a numb depression thanks to Inside by Bo Burnham.

But first, Nick’s read classic horror-action comic Hellboy by Mike Mignola, while Alastair’s making do with new Roman drama series Domina, because Covid wouldn’t let him see Fast 9.

And finally, they head on their Italian holiday with Luca (13:10), only to immediately disagree over whether this is standard Pixar fare or a particularly delightful entry.

However, they can definitely agree the last year was a bummer, and that Bo Burnham captured that glum vibe with his hit musical comedy special Inside (25:13).

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On an episode of the Moderate Fantasy Violence podcast, I described Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible films as “the little franchise that could,” alluding to the streak in the British character that always roots for the underdog. Yes, Mission: Impossible lacks the sun eclipsing profile of Disney mega-franchises such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars, however, this little franchise stars, arguably, the world’s highest profile movie star and grosses millions of dollars with every release. If it is an underdog, it’s a very popular and successful one.

What’s surprising about the Mission: Impossible franchise is its staying power. This year the franchise will turn 25. In that time, both Batman and James Bond descended into self-parody and needed dark and gritty reboots to regain their appeal, two trilogies of Star Wars films divided fan opinion, superhero films rose to their dominant position and Lord of the Rings had its moment. Despite all this, Mission: Impossible soldiers on, remaining popular but not reaching the culture defining heights of the mega-franchises.

Throughout my entire cinema going life I have been a fan of the Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible films. At every stage of my life, a new installment reliably pops up to offer up something that reflects my mood at the time. The films also chart how the world has changed, from Cold War hangovers, to the war on terror, to our current age of global paranoia.

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This fortnight, Nick and Alastair take  a walking tour of the local streaming services with Netflix’s Sweet Tooth and Amazon’s Solos.

But first, they’ve stretched their reach all the way to Disney+’s Loki and Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 game.

And then it’s time to begin the real business with Sweet Tooth (13:05) as they ask exactly what kind of dystopia this is and whether that’s okay.

Last of all, it’s Solos (30:08), a show which begs all kind of questions about exactly what Amazon think of their own talking products.

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This fortnight, a classic combination of creatives with The Nevers, a new TV show created (though no longer run) by Joss Whedon, and Army of the Dead, the latest movie directed by Zack Snyder.

But first, Nick’s watching Lucifer again, but in a more topical way, while Alastair’s enjoying new punk rock sitcom We Are Lady Parts.

And then it’s finally time to travel back to Victorian times with The Nevers (10:28), discussing its many plot elements, some extreme comparisons to X-Men and, for once, not too many spoilers.

Last of all, they’ve seen Army of the Dead (28:30) – has it been long enough since Nick’s last Walking Dead episode to finally give zombies a chance?

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Now that lockdown is ending and we’re taking our first tentative steps outside again, I have decided to write a tribute to Tom Coley’s list of the new music he discovered during lockdown. My list celebrates the songs that have been my soundtrack to the pandemic and have captured this strange time we’re living through.

Most of these tunes were released in the last year and a bit, some weren’t, but they’re all tunes I discovered during lockdown that helped me get through the last 15 months or so. Now, without further ado, the list:

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Relentless robots and never-ending Netflix this fortnight, as Nick and Alastair do Love, Death & Robots season 2, followed by The Mitchells Vs The Machines.

But first, Alastair’s still in the Netflix scifi ballpark with Oxygen, while Nick’s way off the reservation with new crime graphic novel Friend of the Devil by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.

Their main course, though, is the next helping of Love, Death & Robots (9:35), including general chat about the new run and your hosts running down their top 3 episodes from it.

Finally, after rave reviews from all quarters, Nick and Alastair sit down to discover the happier side of androids with The Mitchells Vs The Machines (26:31).

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In the final instalment of this series, I’m revisiting an album that I bought on the strength of a mobile phone advert. It might not sound like the most auspicious start, but man, I’m glad I did.

Back in 2001, Vodafone used a song called Bohemian Like You in a TV commercial. I’d never heard of the band, but with its catchy hook, swaggeringly irreverent lyrics and retro, Rolling Stones-esque sound, I liked it enough to buy the single. The B-side boded well (an interesting re-working of AC/DC’s Hells Bells with added trumpets), but even so, I’d have assumed that the album would be par for the course circa 2001: the familiar single release along with one or two other decent tracks, and a whole load of forgettable filler. How wrong I was.

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This week I’m taking a fresh look at Green Day’s American Idiot, an album that many would consider a modern classic. I’m familiar with the big single releases, but don’t recall ever consciously listening to the album all the way through. Will it live up to its status?

I wish I could say I was cool enough to have spent my teenage years listening to Green Day. But, being too young to have caught their mid-90’s heyday, I only really knew them via their hits. Through the prism of singing along to Basket Case at parties, basically. This’ll probably make Green Day fans want to slap me, but I suppose I considered them a fun, quasi-novelty, tongue-in-cheek band – although more reflective hits like Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) hinted at greater depth. Whilst they always had a subversive edge with songs like She, I certainly wouldn’t have expected anything like a protest song from them.

So as a comeback album, American Idiot was unexpected. A ‘punk rock opera’ by a band whose heyday was ten years prior, and had already released a Greatest Hits? Whose last album (2000’s Warning) had failed to make an impact? The term ‘concept album’ was even thrown ominously around. On paper, it kind of sounds like it would be rubbish, or at best, an indulgent late-career project of appeal to hardcore fans only.

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