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Season Four


Episode 35 - Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928)
Subtitle: Concurrent Crises: It's the Latest Trend!
Abby calls Daniel: Rule Britannia
Daniel calls Abby
: God Bless America
Casting: A boring Terrence Malick film. Cast Holliday Granger as Lady Chatterley again, Tom Hardy (or Robert Carlyle) as Mellors, and one of the Hemsworth brothers as Sir Clifford Chatterley.
Advice:  Good writers occasionally write a bad book. Compare their works and see what works in better stuff and what doesn't work here. You should also give authors multiple chances, because their skills and interests evolve over time.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode
: Surprisingly gory and action-packed considering who wrote it. A lot of the text is about knitting.
Show Notes: Our first episode labelled 'Explicit'; updated season--we'll do one long season from February to December, guaranteeing at least one episode per month, but possibly two on our normal fortnightly schedule.


Episode 36 - A Tale of Two Cities  (1859)
Subtitle: Confused at the Blood Orgy
Abby calls Daniel: Liquorice Allsort

Daniel calls Abby: Salt water taffy
Casting: A Peter Bogdanovich and Polly Platt hyper-realist 1970s adaptation with Cybill Shepherd as Lucie, Kurt Russell as Darnay, and Jeff Bridges as Carton.
Advice: All authors fetishize or comment on the past, so pay attention to when a text is set versus when it was actually written.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: A text with a single footprint in the sand.

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Episode 37 - Robinson Crusoe (1719)
Subtitle: Disgusted at the Blood Orgy
Abby calls Daniel: Toad of Toad Hall
Daniel calls Abby
: Bugs Bunny (or the WB frog)
Casting: A Robert Eggers psychological horror (like his The Witch or The Lighthouse) with Daniel Dafoe as Robinson Crusoe.
Advice:  Look up Biblical references you come across. People used to know their Bible verses really well and a lot of modern readers have lost that, so they're not getting the references now, which can still shed thematic light.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: A lot of post-apocalyptic literature is written by male, pale, and stale authors. The post-apocalyptic author we'll be covering next is none of those things.


Episode 38 - Parable of the Sower  (1993)
Subtitle: Resigned at the Blood Orgy
Abby calls Daniel
: Cornish pasty
Daniel calls Abby: The Vermonster
Casting: An early Quentin Tarantino film, with Kiki Palmer as Lauren, Zendaya as Zahra, Tom Holland as Harry, Denzel Washington as Taylor Bankole, Samuel L Jackson as Dad, and Rosie Perez and Cory.
Advice: Pay attention to dream sequences. They're tacky, but it's an author or director working overtime to tell you what themes are important or where the plot is going to go.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: Our audience pick: we're doing The Picture of Dorian Gray!

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Episode 39 - The Picture of Dorian Gray  (1891)
Subtitle: Bantz for Bantz's Sake
Abby calls Daniel
: Bobs Your Uncle
Daniel calls Abby: Lickety Split
Casting: Anthony Minghella film starring either a young Jude Law, or giving Ben Barnes another go as Dorian in a better film. Colin Firth as Lord Harry again, and Ben Wishaw as Basil.
Advice: Without relying too much on biography, sometimes learning something about the author's personal life can help colour a reading of their works.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: Of all the possible books we could have chosen, this one is the best.
Show Notes: This is our first audience pick text.


Episode 40 - Candide  (1759)
Subtitle: The Half-Arsed Episode
Abby calls Daniel
: Spend a Penny
Daniel calls Abby: I'll be in the John
Casting: A Taika Waititi film, with Taika as Pangloss, Scarlett Johansson as Cunegonde, Matt Berry in multiple roles, and Daniel Radcliffe as Candide.
Advice: Pare down the plot to is basic building blocks and see what modern versions have the same story. Why do we keep coming back to these same plots? How do newer ones improve or update the formula?
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: I can't give a you a clue until I've finished making this shirt.


Episode 41a - The Odyssey, Part One  (circa 800 BC)
Subtitle: A Fibber-tarian Manifesto
Abby calls Daniel
: The People's Princess
Daniel calls Abby: Melania Trump (changed to Jackie O)
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: Part Two of The Odyssey.

Episode 41b - The Odyssey, Part Two  (circa 800 BC)
Subtitle: Bullsh*t! The Musical
Abby calls Daniel: The Magic Roundabout
Daniel calls Abby: Sesame Street
Casting: A David Lean realist epic, highlighting Odysseus as a liar (no actual monsters and magic, despite what Odysseus says in voice-over). Omar Sharif as Odysseus, Charlotte Rampling as Penelope, Peter O'Toole as Zeus, and Julie Christie as Circe.
Advice: Remember that ancient epics don't have the same purpose or structure as our modern idea of narrative, so they often feel different, go on long tangents, have lots of repetition, etc. 
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: Rather than having the gods show up in cameo appearances, we want to spice it up and have Satan appear as a surprise guest star. We can't give you the ambrosia of the gods, but we can promise something pretty close.

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Episode 42 - The Monk  (1796)
Subtitle: Dungeons and Drag Queens
Abby calls Daniel: Toby Jug
Daniel calls Abby: Totem Pole/Mount Rushmore
Casting: A 1980s or 90s David Fincher psycho-sexual Corporate Gothic adaptation starring Michael Douglas.
Advice: Just because a text is a 'classic', it doesn't automatically mean that it's more virtuous or even well-written. Every time period had trashy, sexy blockbusters. Things aren't more virtuous or worthy just because they're older.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: I keep going back to The Odyssey-I would like another big epic ,but with a different pantheon.

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Episode 43 - The Epic of Gilgamesh  (circa 1800 BC)
Subtitle: Render onto me your cubits
Abby calls Daniel: Spice Girl
Daniel calls Abby: N*Sync
Casting: A manic Guy Ritchie fantasy with Jason Statham as Gilgamesh, Tom Hardy as Enkidu, and Ray Winstone as Humbaba.
Advice: If you're reading something from a time period you're unfamiliar with, don't just read the footnotes in a good critical edition--also read the introduction (it serves the same function as Daniel's 'background' segment). And if you don't want to be spoiled on the plot, go back and read the intro after you've read the narrative.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: I just keep going back to The Odyssey. Our next text, like The Odyssey, is technically a sequel that's more famous than the text from which it's spun off. AND it's about a dude traveling a long way on the water.

Episode 44 - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  (1884)
Subtitle: No grandmas were slapped in the making of this episode
Abby calls Daniel: Chim Chiminey
Daniel calls Abby: Jimmy Crack Corn or Smokestack Lightning
Casting: Terry Gilliam surreal film from his Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas period, starring young Ryan Gosling as Huck, young Macauley Culkin as Tom, Richard Pryor as Jim, Stephen Root as King and Steve Buscemi as Duke.
Advice: If you're reading a text that deals with a marginalised group (the Black experience in America in this text, for example), find critics actually from that group who write about your particular text.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: I hope I have time to record the next episode, as I'm working too jobs at the moment: I'm a senior bank clerk and maybe, sometimes, a house painter.

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Episode 45 - The Trial  (1925)
Subtitle: You don't have what it takes to be a Daddy this Leather
Abby calls Daniel: Aluminium Bin
Daniel calls Abby: Aluminun Trash Can/incomprehensible ranting about 'poubelle'
Casting: Either a F.W. Murnau or Fritz Lang German Expressionist film with Leslie Howard as Joseph K.
Advice: One of the hardest things to do is divorce what you don't like personally from what's a bad book. Practice separating your own tastes from the writing quality.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: It's Halloween season, the time when we do scary stories. And there's no scarier location than the suburbs. Unless it's Disneyland.

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Episode 46 - The Stepford Wives  (1972)
Subtitle: Ain't No Rule Says a Woman Can't Play Basketball
Abby calls Daniel: Watford Gap Services
Daniel calls Abby: Mason Dixon/Cumberland Gap/The Continental Divide
Casting: Directed by feminist horror director Ana Lily Amirpour, with Emma Stone as Joanna, Scarlett Johansson as Charmaine, and Natasha Lyonne as Bobbie.
Advice: Even bad film adaptations of a text can be useful: what does the film get wrong? This can help you clarify what's central to the text for you.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: For our proper Halloween episode, we'll be doing our first anthology episode: a series of short stories by a master of horror.

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Episode 47a - Poe Anthology, Part One (1830s-1840s)
Subtitle: Just cuz there's a crack in something doesn't make it a bum
Abby calls Daniel: English Sweating Sickness
Daniel calls Abby: The French Disease/Havana Syndrome
Show Notes: Our first anthology episode. Abby and Daniel do their yearly Halloween costumes: Abby dresses as Lady Chatterley's uterus (sea anemone) and Daniel dresses as the King and Duke's cameleopard from Huckleberry Finn (totally naked, covered in rainbow body paint). 


Episode 47b - Poe Anthology, Part Two (1830s-1840s)
Subtitle: Disturbingly rhomboid, if you catch my drift
Abby calls Daniel: All the silent letters in Leicestershire
Daniel calls Abby: All the extra consonants 
: A Guillermo del Toro anthology TV show (like his Cabinet of Curiosities), but every episode/Poe story casts the same two actors: Nicholas Hoult and Tom Waits.
Advice: Analyse the narration, especially if it's first- or second-person narration (because that has a lot to say about unreliability, power, and the gaze).
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: We're doing a Shakespeare text--and this might be the first time in a Shakespeare recap that both Daniel and Abby will be able to put on accents.


Episode 48 - Macbeth (1606)
Subtitle: The Bane of All Donals
Abby calls Daniel: Tatty scones
Daniel calls Abby: Hash Broon 
: 1970s violent, hyper-masculine, nothing-left-to-lose Sam Peckinpah film, done in the negative spaces of the play (showing all the scenes that Shakespeare doesn't). Sean Connery as Macbeth and Julie Andrews as Lady Macbeth.
Advice: If you don't get a chance to read a text before class, there is no reason why you can't read a 5-minute Wikipedia summary (especially if the text is famous). It's better than nothing: you'll at least know the basic plot, characters, and themes, which will assist you in understanding your teacher when they analyse the specifics. If you put absolutely no effort into your preparation, then class is just going to be a waste of both your time, and the teacher's.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: As we enter winter, our next text has an important scene featuring a classic winter recreational activity.


Episode 49 - Ethan Frome (1911)
Subtitle: Picklegate 1887
Abby calls Daniel: Me Old Mucker
Daniel calls Abby: Old Buddy Old Pal
: A Martin Scorsese quiet epic, starring Ben Affleck (the world's most exhausted handsome New Englander) as Ethan.
Advice: Pay attention to the colours associated with different characters. That's an easy close reading.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: For our (anti-)Christmas special and 50th episode, Abby would like to cover another epic. And if Daniel doesn't like it, who cares? She'll make another Daniel! From her rib!

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Episode 50 - Paradise Lost (1667)
Subtitle: That's no normal sleep-aid toad!
Abby calls Daniel: Over-egging the pudding
Daniel calls Abby: Over-nogging the eggnog.
Casting: A more coldly psychological crime/con/heist film by David Fincher, with Colin Farrell as Satan.
Advice: No advice--I'm done teaching for the term.

Clue(s) to the Next Episode: In our first Patreon book group, we read Sarah Waters's Fingersmith, in which one of the characters was repeatedly referred to as 'a pearl'. In our S5 opener, another character is also referred to as 'a pearl'.

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