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This Week's Show

Dre, Patrick, and special guest E.J. Fischer talk Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Did J.J. Abrams do Star Wars nerds right, and was Rey a Mary Sue?



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E.J. Fischer is an accomplished Science Fiction author and taught Science Fiction writing at the University of Iowa. Could we have found a better guest to talk Star Wars? Well yes, like Mark Hamill for instance, but still E.J. is a top tier guest.

Check out E.J's website, a must read!

You can read E.J's amazing novella "The New Mother" for free! It's a fantastic read that's gotten a lot of praise, but as E.J. points out, it could always use more.

E.J. did an awesome two part podcast with me about "The New Mother", check it out! Part one here and Part two here.

Fun humor piece from E.J. about the Abrams' model to handling a franchise (It's homages plus twists). It may relate to Star Wars...

I apologize to J.J. Abrams for speculating that he might have been behind the "no spoilers" logic toy companies were using to omit Rey from their sets. J.J. has come out and said he thinks it's a dumb idea. Good job J.J.!

I had partially speculated on this due to the "Khan 'surprising' reveal" in Star Trek. Of course, J.J. has said he regrets that too. So there you go.

We have a discussion about enjoying the Force Awakens based on growing up being a Star Wars fan or not. We can all agree there didn't need to be another Death Star.

We use a few metaphors on this show. E.J. starts it off comparing Star Wars movies to being curated art galleries and George Lucas, and J.J. Abrams are the curators. We also extend the comparison to Quentin Tarantino.

Patrick adds his own metaphor using the Blues and B.B. King. These were artists following patterns others had already used, but added their own spin. Music, in general, follows this.

We talk about how "The Force Awakens" was a great experiment to end the debate - "Can you make a mainstream blockbuster film that stars women and minorities."

We discuss Max Landis' calling Rey a "Mary Sue." (He discusses it a lot on his YouTube channel here.) We also debate the issue in general with tropes and how it leads to poor film analysis. Somehow we bring it back to the "advanced stats" debates in sports!

The Cracked Podcast's recent episode discusses the exact issue of people using tropes to quickly label characters and ignore deeper analysis.

We talk about how J.J. Abrams does "simple things" with characters in the new Star Wars that other directors had problems with. Exhibit A)

We briefly discuss Anita Sarkeesian's point that Finn's turn feels slightly odd as he's conflicted on killing and then picking up a lightsaber and killing stormtroopers a few scenes later.

We get into an interesting debate about if the prequels should have made more money than they did.

E.J. has some great takes on "what's allowed" in movies. Namely, if you can get away with it, it's fine. There aren't hard fast rules. He also makes a note that things in some movies may not be problems as much as characteristics of the specific movie/show. For example, everyone in Aaron Sorkin projects is super witty, much like everyone in musicals can sing.

I propose an alternative ending to "The Force Awakens" that leaves both E.J. and Patrick speechless! Tune in!

The ending has made one of the best Twitter accounts out there:

If someone ever finds me, I'll have so many stories to tell. Like that time I stared at the ocean for 20 years. OK, I only have one story.

— Very Lonely Luke (@VeryLonelyLuke) January 11, 2016

Speaking of awesome parody Twitter Star Wars accounts:

dear diary the stupid ewoks are visiting again it's torture we have had to sing "yub nub" three times I never asked to be part of this tribe

— Emo Kylo Ren (@KyloR3n) December 30, 2015

The author of Emo Kylo Ren is Alexandra Petri (petridishes), who makes me jealous as a creator.

A lesson Patrick learned in business school is - "A mediocre idea executed great is better than a great idea executed poorly."

We discuss Belated Media, who has made some excellent videos on how the prequels could have been good movies.

I compare George Lucas to many of the subpar owners of the NBA. There's a big problem when you have a billionaire that no one can say no to.

J.J. Abrams is good at "boxing up nostalgia", case in point: Super 8.

We discuss how various science fiction movies influence the look of cinema. E.J. brings up Forbidden Planet, 2001: A Space Oddessy, Star Wars, the Matrix, and Gravity.

I bring my metaphor to the table! Context matters a great deal, for example, eating a five-star meal off of paper plates diminishes your enjoyment. The Force Awakens being steeped in nostalgia helped a ton for people who grew up watching Star Wars.

Shout Outs

I shout out Oscar Isaac, who I wish had been in the Star Wars movies when I was a kid.

E.J. shouts out Alex Garland for being the top of the Science Fiction game, edging out Christopher Nolan!

I shout out 4-8 Productions for their amazing Final Fantasy 7 walkthroughs. If this means anything to you, you'll understand why I'm impressed: you can defeat Ruby Weapon with five unleveled materia with a mid 70s character!

Patrick shouts of "The Expanse" on Scyfy, which is how science fiction politics should be done. It's based on the books by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who write under the name James S. A. Corey.

The Phoenix Suns battled the Indiana Pacers for three quarters, but were blown away in the fourth on their way to a loss. The Phoenix Suns had to deal with a number of injuries to their backcourt on...

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Suns notes: Markieff Morris relished getting back a major role; Lorenzo Brown steps in well when needed at the point.


The Suns, missing four players, gave Indiana a three-quarter battle before fading in the fourth quarter.


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