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"Princess Cruise Lines"

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This deleted scene from episode two of this season, "Business Ethics," is truly amazing. God bless the good people who make this wonderful program.

Thanks Kent

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Start the Week"

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First, a declaration: your Podthinker is not one of those insufferable American Anglophiles who bows to the BBC as the apotheosis of all that is cultured, refined and respectable. Alas, the Beeb has become little more than a delivery vehicle for Graham Norton and EastEnders, but if one looks hard, one still finds some genuine diamonds in the rough. This is a much easier task with BBC radio than BBC television; even if the latter's rapidly drying into Newton Minow's vast wasteland, the former still has In Our Time (reviewed previously by esteemed predecessor Ian Brill), possibly the best thing ever indented, so civilization is safe. (For now.) It's also got Start the Week [iTunes link], which is no slouch itself.

Though "Andrew Marr" is, regrettably, not as cool a name as "Melvyn Bragg", Marr does just as good a job of moderating conversations. Each week he hosts a discussion between a handful of luminaries about the issues of the day — or at least they're sometimes about some of the issues of the day. While the program's mandate likely includes a nod toward topicality, whether one will hear anything to do with current happenings on Start the Week seems like an even bet; it sounds like a news program, but it's really not. Rather than slanting toward what's breaking, the show's talk slants toward what's interesting; whether what's interesting is of relevance to contemporary goings-on sometimes matters and sometimes doesn't. In an unhealthily news-fixated world, that kind of lassiez faire attitude is awfully respectable. And its subject range makes In Our Time's one-at-a-time focus look militarily rigid.

But then, what are the conversations about? Nearly anything. No Start the Week listener would be surprised to hear, on any given episode, a neuroscientist, a theater director, a television presenter (which we American blokes call a "host") and a philosopher. Nor would he consider a group comprising a politician, an historian (which we American blokes call "a historian"), a novelist and a mathematician at all unusual. But the best part isn't the sociological experiment that is putting them all in the same room; the best part is that each one actually reads — or watches, or hears, or eats or other applicable present-tense verb of choice — all the others' current work and comes prepared to discuss it. While this sometimes results in bland politenesses all around, it more often than not sparks ridiculously interesting back-and-forth on a rich variety of subjects from several distinct perspectives. Often, one guest will point out an angle in another's work that they'd overlooked, and minds will be blown all around.

Some guests are duds — one hesitates to name names, but anyone who can endure Susan Jacoby's sour demeanor for more than thirty seconds at a stretch is officially a better man than this Podthinker — but most are emphatically not. The BBC has such pull that it can draw intellectual and commentariat superstars like Niall Ferguson, Andrew O'Hagan and Fareed Zakaria as well those less-often heard from, especially in the States, such as scum-that-is-humanity filmmaker Neil LaBute, Hong Kong's last English governor Chris Patten and controversial former British Home Secretary David Blunkett. But in sum: thoughtful, stimulating interdisciplinary conversation about a wide variety of subjects? Truly, this Podthinker can imagine no better way to kick off Monday morning. Bacon and eggs is as nothing next to Start the Week. Pour some PG Tips to drink while listening, though — the Brits may be watching.

Vital stats:
Format: group cultural discussion
Running since: unclear, but probably a long time
Duration: ~40m
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: only one episode at a time (or, "BBC-style")

[Podthinker Colin Marshall takes his PG Tips with soy milk, but then again, he lives in California. Get him at colinjmarshall at gmail, suggest podcasts for Podthoughts here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Jordan Jesse Go! Episode 79: The Borscht Belt with Mike Schmidt

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Jesse and Jordan are joined by comedian Mike Schmidt. They discuss supertrains, satsumas, borscht and much more. Plus: Ask Juanita!

ACTION ITEMS:
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Our theme music: "Love You" by The Free Design, courtesy of The Free Design and Light in the Attic Records

Graham Linehan, Creator of The IT Crowd and Co-Creator of Father Ted Interviewed on The Sound of Young America

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Bullseye

Graham Linehan an Irish comedy writer. His first major series, co-created with writing partner Arthur Mathews, was Father Ted, which is perhaps the single most iconic British sitcom of the 90s. He worked on hilarious shows like Big Train, Brass Eye and The Day Today, and recently created The IT Crowd. The IT Crowd, an office sitcom set in the IT support room of a faceless corporation, is currently running Tuesday nights on IFC.

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How Many Spidermans Fit in a Jamba Juice

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One of the most important moments in television history.

"Let's get a closer look at the Jamba Juice, before we starting sending in the Spidermen guys."

Paul Scheer & the Cast of 90210 on the Environment

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Podcast: The College Years: Dustin Diamond Day (repost)

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The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program or two from our salad days.

This week, an interview with one of America's favorite icons, Dustin Diamond. Jesse, Gene and Jordan talk with Screech about how he chooses work, his band and the Milwaukee Metal Fest as Gene tries to derail "Choo Choo!". Please note this is a repost.

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The NPR Dancers

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Interview: Casey Willis and Christian Danley, writers for Frisky Dingo.

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Casey Willis and Christian Danley are both writers for 70-30 Productions, an animation production house that has produced such classics as Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo. Their new spin-off series,"The Xtacles," premieres November 9th on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. Casey O'Brien got a chance to talk with the writers about their new show and their lack of qualifications for their jobs.

How did you both get started in the world of animation, and in particular, "Frisky Dingo?"

CW: Christian and I both attended the Atlanta College of Art. After I graduated, I was teaching English in Japan when Christian started working for 70-30. When I returned to the states, he greeted me at the airport with a Sealab t-shirt and a smile. I thought he had the coolest job on earth. A few months later I asked him if I could try out for an internship at 70-30. That internship eventually led to a full-time position.

CD: I was an improvisor at a local theatre here in Atlanta called Dad's Garage. Matt Thompson came and saw an improv show shortly after 70-30 Productions had finished the first couple episodes of Sealab 2021. He asked me to come in and help write on a script. That was about 7 years ago.

You have both worked on the show "Frisky Dingo" and are now moving onto the spin off, "The Xtacles." What is it about working and writing for an animated series, as opposed to a live action sitcom, that you find most appealing?


CW
: Because of our style of animation, we can make changes to the show very late in the process. I think that is a freedom you might not have on a live action sitcom, especially one filmed in front of a live studio audience.

CD
: Working on what we'd call a "real TV show," as opposed to our semi-fake one, would probably dictate a much larger crew. Our shop is small, there are only 8 of us who make this whole cartoon. That means we all have a hand in just about every aspect of the process. The illustrators and animators comment heavily on our scripts (they are always jerks), and we offer feedback on their drawings and animations (we are always supportive). I couldn't imagine we'd have that same luxury in a larger production company.

Why did you guys decide to do a spin off of "Frisky Dingo" and how is it going to be different?

CW
: Cartoon Network was interested in doing a Frisky Dingo spin-off and the Xtacles seemed like a natural choice. One of the biggest differences between Frisky Dingo and The Xtacles is the Xtacles will be taking off their helmets and you'll finally be able to see what they look like. One Xtacle did take his helmet off in Frisky Dingo but we only saw the back off his head before he was dismembered by Awesome-X.

CD
: Before Frisky Dingo we did Sealab. Almost every episode of Sealab ended with it blowing up, and the world re-setting. Frisky Dingo was heavily serialized where some jokes don't payoff for 3 or 4 episodes (if ever). Our goal is for The Xtacles to be something comfortably in-between.

This new breed of cartoons with adult content is still a relatively new phenomenon. What are some of your influences in writing for this program?


CW
: I like to watch The Soup and Best Week Ever and if the same joke is made on both programs I know it must be funny. Then, I steal those jokes and write them a third time because I have been told that the third time is a charm.

CD
: I love television, I have watched it my whole life. Also, technically we shouldn't be allowed to write for a living, as we have no training in it. So we write television for people who grew up watching television. The jaded, cynical, and smart assed jerks who think they know everything about television, not because they went to television school, but because they've studied it all their lives just by watching. This group of people is notoriously hard to please. (apparently... they're jerks)

The show is obviously not meant for children. Do you ever have trouble getting certain jokes on the show or is there an inherent understanding when it comes to programming on Adult Swim?

CW: In Frisky Dingo we really wanted Xander Crews to say "god dammit" without censoring it. We were told there had to be a full one second pause between the words "God" and "Dammit". On that day I learned a full second is the difference between righteousness and blasphemy.

CD
: Because we're on Cartoon Network there is always the potential that a kid could tune in. So they really go over our scripts with a fine tooth comb. We like to use any "offensive precedents" set by other shows as leverage to get our own offensive jokes on the air. This has varying degrees of success.

Go check out The Xtacles, which premieres on November 9th at Midnight on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.

Dan Savage, Creator of Savage Love and the Savage Love Podcast on The Sound of Young America

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Savage (L) and Jesse (R); Photo by Thomas Hayden

Dan Savage is a writer and editor based in Seattle. He pens the popular sex and advice column Savage Love, which runs in alternative newspapers around the country, and edits an alternative newspaper himself, The Stranger. He also hosts the audio version of his column, the Savage Love Podcast.

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