Welcome To The Party Pal: The Mind-Bending Film & Television Podcast You Didn't Know You Needed!
Episode 112: The Last of Us
This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal celebrates The Last of Us, the post-apocalyptic television series created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann for HBO. Based on the 2013 video game developed by Naughty Dog, the series is set in 2023, twenty years into a pandemic, caused by a mass fungal infection which forces its hosts to transform into zombie-like creatures. The series follows Joel (Pedro Pascal), a smuggler tasked with escorting the teenage Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a post-apocalyptic United States. In this episode hosts Michael Shields and Ryan O'Connell dissect the nine riveting episodes of the first season of The Last of Us while discussing the employment of video games as IP for television and film. They expound upon the phenomenon the show blossomed into (the most watched show in the history of HBO Max!), the triumphant year actor Pedro Pascal is immersed in, the 'Chekhov's Lie' that concluded the season, how special obtaining a book of jokes would be in a post apocalyptic world, and so much more.
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Episode 120: Winning Time34:59This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal celebrates Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, the sports drama television series created by Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht for HBO, based on the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman. The first season, comprising 10 episodes, chronicles the 1980s Showtime era of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team featuring notable NBA stars Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It features an ensemble cast led by John C. Reilly, Jason Clarke, Jason Segel, Gaby Hoffmann, Rob Morgan, and Adrien Brody. In this episode hosts Michael Shields and Justin Wells laud the extraordinary cast, the massive (often disjointed) scope of the series, and the fascinating stylistic choices present in the series, while bemoaning how the series was unceremoniously cut short after two season.
Episode 119: Oppenheimer37:59This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal celebrates Oppenheimer, the epic biographical thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, the film chronicles the career of American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. The story predominantly focuses on Oppenheimer's studies, his direction of the Manhattan Project during World War II, and his eventual fall from grace due to his 1954 security hearing. The film stars Cillian Murphy as the title character, Emily Blunt as his wife, "Kitty," Matt Damon as head of the Manhattan Project Leslie Groves, Robert Downey Jr. as U.S. Atomic Energy Commission member Lewis Strauss, and Florence Pugh as Communist Party USA member Jean Tatlock. The ensemble supporting cast includes Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, and Kenneth Branagh. Listen is as hosts Michael Shields and River Jordan marvel over the genius of Christopher Nolan, tip their hat (a hybrid of a porkpie crown with a somewhat Western brim) to Ruth De Jong's brilliant production design and Ludwig Göransson's gripping score, and show their undying love to the great state of New Mexico!
Episode 118: Barbie43:16This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal celebrates Barbie, the fantasy comedy film directed by Greta Gerwig from a screenplay she wrote with Noah Baumbach. Based on the Barbie fashion dolls by Mattel, it is the first live-action Barbie film after numerous computer-animated films and specials. The film stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken on a journey of self-discovery following an existential crisis. It features a supporting cast that includes America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, and Will Ferrell. In this episode hosts Michael Shields and Ryan O'Connell explore the surprisingly weighty themes present in Barbie while marvelling about the stunning production design present in the film. They discuss the phenomenon the film grew into, the tremendously gifted cast, Greta Gerwig's future following this gargantuan success, and so much more.
Episode 117: The Bear, Season 251:47This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal tips its hat to the second season of The Bear, the comedy-drama series created by Christopher Storer. The first season premiered on Hulu in 2022 and starred Jeremy Allen White as a young, award-winning chef who returns to his hometown, Chicago, to manage the chaotic kitchen at his deceased brother's sandwich shop. The supporting cast includes Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri, Lionel Boyce, Abby Elliott, and Matty Matheson. The second season recently concluded and this episode attempts to explain why it is one of the best things you are going to see on television all year long.River Jordan, the featured co-host of this episode, is the author of four southern gothic novels and three spiritual memoirs. For fifteen years River hosted Clearstory Radio from Nashville where she interviewed award-winning best-selling authors. She is currently at work completing A Muddy Grace, a new novel set during the Great Depression in the deep south. River has returned to her saltwater roots and currently lives on the coast of North Carolina.
Episode 116: Succession, Season 444:33This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal dives deeply into Succession, the celebrated television series created by Jesse Armstrong that aired on HBO from June 3, 2018, to May 28, 2023, for four seasons and 39 episodes. In Succession, the head of one of the world's largest media and entertainment conglomerates decides to retire whilst each of his four grown children follows a personal agenda that doesn't always sync with those of their siblings, or of their father. The series starred Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, and Alan Ruck. This episode hones in on the inarguably successful final season and concluding episode to the Roy family saga, cementing the black comedy/drama's reputation as one of the finest series in television history.
Episode 115: Perry Mason, Season 231:36This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal celebrates the second season of HBO Max's Perry Mason, a compelling series which portrays the origin story of the famed criminal defense lawyer (played by Matthew Rhys). The series was created by Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald for HBO and it is based on the character of the same name by Erle Stanley Gardner. The series also stars Juliet Rylance as Della Street, Chris Chalk as Paul Drake, Justin Kirk as Hamilton Burger, and Shea Whigham as Pete Strickland. Season Two finds Perry in the throes of the Los Angeles legal system during the height of the Great Depression. Months after the Dodson trial that comprised the captivating first season shook the city, Perry is readjusting to life as a civil attorney when a high-profile murder case brings him back into the fold. In this episode hosts MIchael Shields and River Jordan expound upon how the story told in HBO's Perry Mason is the unflinching story of America's soul. They explore the knotty, fascinating case at the center of the second season while contemplating what might come next for the series. Ultimately, they celebrate what is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable seasons of television to be released in 2023.
Episode 114: Jury Duty36:45This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal celebrates the American mockumentary television series created by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, and starring Ronald Gladden, Jury Duty. The series chronicles the inner workings of a jury trial through the eyes of juror Ronald Gladden, a solar contractor from San Diego, who is unaware that his jury duty summons was not official, and that everyone in the courtroom aside from him is an actor. Everything that happens, inside and outside the courtroom, is planned. In this episode hosts Michael Shields and River Jordan explore the unique premise of the show and the complicated ethical concerns that arise from it. They discuss the dynamic, eclectic cast assembled for the Jury Duty, the meticulous level of production and calculation required to make the series work, and most importantly, the "hero" at the center of everything that is the reason the first season was such a tremendous success.
Episode 113: Daisy Jones & The Six36:43This episode of Welcome To The Party Pal delves into Daisy Jones & The Six, the musical drama television miniseries developed by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, based on the 2019 novel of the same name by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Set in the Los Angeles music scene of the late 1970s, the series charts the rise and fall of the fictional titular rock band through a documentary style series of interviews with the members and footage of concerts and recording sessions, complete with vocals by series leads Riley Keough (as Daisy) and Sam Claflin (as Billy, founder of The Six). Throughout the episode hosts Michael Shields and Ryan O'Connell discuss the music that acted as the backbone of the season while expounding upon the success and failures of Daisy's adaptation to television. They tip their hat to the deeply affecting finale, profess their love for Daisy Jones & The Six's drummer, explore the possibility of a second season, and much, much more.