top of page
Episode 1 - Frankenstein (1818)
Subtitle: It's Alive!
Casting: Timothee Chalamet as Victor Frankenstein, Armie Hammer as the Monster
Advice: If you are nervous about reading classic literature, be patient with yourself. Give yourself a few chapters to get used to the language so you can get acclimatised.
Show notes: The original premise of the show was that Abby recapped the plot of a novel to Daniel, who just commented on it. This changes in episode two, and Daniel joins her in the recap.
Episode 2 - Othello (1603)
Subtitle: Mind Your Linen and Hold Your Liquor
Casting: The Rock as Othello, Michael J. Fox as Iago, Anne Hathaway as Desdemona (Daniel's casting was a one-man production with James Stewart from all stages in his career)
Advice: Watch a mainstream production of a Shakespearean play and then go back to the written text, to help give you context.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: The world's most famous Victorian novel to feature straight-up necrophilia (Abby's clue). We've had the Moor of Venice; prepare yourself for more moors (Daniel's clue).
Show Notes: The episode where Daniel takes equal part in the recap.
Episode 3 - Wuthering Heights (1847)
Subtitle: A 'Doggy-Dog' World
Casting: A brutal 1970s adaptation with Oliver Reed as Heathcliff and Faye Dunaway as Cathy
Advice: Don't make assumptions about literature from a specific time period. Every time period has multiple different genres and writing styles. Always give literature from a time period another chance.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: It's kinda Welsh (Daniel); it's set over the Christmas holiday period, there's a lot of violence and sexual temptation at Christmas, and there's a major film coming out about it soon (Abby).
Episode 4 - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th Century)
Subtitle: Welsh, Cornwellian, and Midlandserite
Casting: Donald Glover as Gawain, Angelina Jolie as the Lady, Tom Hardy or Javier Bardem as the Green Knight/the Lord
Advice: When dealing with texts in translation and you don't know which translation to pick, there are a lot of online discussions about which versions are best, or which do different things; this can help you pick the right translation for you.
Clue to the Next Episode: There are a lot of car crashes in it.
Show Notes: This is the first episode with a cold open and the first episode with a theme song connected to the text itself.
Episode 5 - The Great Gatsby (1925)
Subtitle: The secret is cocaine!
Casting: Keep the Baz Luhrmann version almost exactly as it is, but bump Elizabeth Debecki to the role of Daisy, and cast Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) as Jordon Baker
Advice: Sometimes a book's plot can get in the way of deeper analysis, so read a book more than once (especially if you hate a book--you might just have read it at the wrong time for you and can feel different later).
Clue to the Next Episode: The first novel we've done on the show from the eighteenth century; it also has two evil housekeepers.
Episode 6 - Pamela (1740)
Subtitle: Big in Slough
Abby calls Daniel: Limey
Casting: A campy '90s John Waters musical with Winona Ryder as Pamela, Nicolas Cage as Mr B., and Divine as Mrs. Jewkes
Advice: It's okay for you to hate a book; sometimes hating a book makes it easier for you to critique it. Use your hate analytically.
Clue to the Next Episode: This is our latest published text to date, our first text by a female author of colour, and it contains a recipe for banana jam.
Show Notes: This is the first time Abby introduces Daniel with a British nickname, although she drops this for several episodes.
Episode 7 - The God of Small Things (1997)
Subtitle: Plumbags of the World, Unite!
Casting: A primetime miniseries with Indira Varma as Ammu, Mindy Kaling in bad old age makeup as Aunt Baby, and Kal Penn as Uncle Chacko.
Advice: Sometimes texts with confusing structures are doing that deliberately. It's okay to feel confused. Don't try to fight it--let a text wash over you and just experience it until things become clearer.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: It's like Dalton Trumbo in a really big hat (Daniel). Somebody shares my first name and is a sexual monster whom we should all worship (Abby).
Episode 8 - The Crucible (1953)
Subtitle: Feat. D. Daniel Danforth the Fourth
Casting: Do a proper psycho-sexual horror film version, with Toni Colette as Elizabeth Proctor, John Lithgow as Governor Danforth, David Tennant as John Proctor, and Abby as Abigail Williams (with a lot of graphic sex scenes between her and David Tennant).
Advice: Plays mostly give you bare-bones dialogue and not much interiority. To help you figure out the tropes and characterisation more, direct your version of this play in your head. How should characters say a line, stand and move, be lit and costumed? What music do you want? How should the stage be set? Taking a more proactive role will lead to greater understanding.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: We're in our spooky Halloween season and are covering a classic horror story with a very goofy American side-kick (Abby). Give me scampi (from Whitby) with extra garlic (Daniel).
Episode 9 - Dracula (1897)
Subtitle: On the next instalment of 'The Incredible Polycule...'
Casting: Early '90s version with a bunch of action heroes who are ALSO song-and-dance men, to complicate the masculinity: Patrick Swayze as Quincey Morris, Hugh Jackman as Lord Arthur Holmwood, Antonio Banderas as Dr Seward, Ewan McGregor as Jonathan Harker, Alan Cumming as Van Helsing, Margot Robbie as Lucy Westenra, and Tessa Thompson as Mina Harker.
Advice: Practice reading texts through various lenses and see what different meanings or dynamics emerge: gender and sexuality, race, economics, queerness, nationality, class, the body and disability, surveillance, the form of the text, etc.
Clue to the Next Episode: The next text has a really great Steven spielberg adaptation but, to date, it's his only film that focuses on a female protagonist.
Show Notes: The episode that started the string of 'David Tennant' jokes.
Episode 10 - The Color Purple (1982)
Subtitle: Don't bring a slap to a tooth fight
Casting: Lupita N'yongo as Shug Avery, Daniel Kaluuya as Mr., and Gabrielle Union as Celie
Advice: When discussing uncomfortable material (like sex or violence), use clinical, professional language, and frame your analysis as something the text DOES. This put everything on the author and text, rather than on you.
Clue to the Next Episode: This is the oldest text we've done so far, and these people need therapy so badly that therapy was invented just for them.
Episode 11 - Oedipus (429 BC)
Subtitle: Pop-Eyed and Olive Oil
Abby calls Daniel: Bangers and Mash
Casting: A weird, alien, uncomfortable Von Trier production. Age up Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jocasta and age down Jake Gyllenhaal as Oedipus, or cast Jada Pinkett Smith as Jocasta and Jayden Smith as Oedipus. Bjork as the Chorus.
Advice: Whenever you're reading a text, pay attention to eyes and vision and power, pay attention because those are always connected. Look at who's looking at whom, what the audience is able to see
Clue (s) to the Next Episode: We're back in the Victorian era and this text ends on a semi-optimistic execution (Abby). Daniel had a brilliant clue but it got lost, when he slid it under Abby's door and it got lodged under the carpet (wink).
Episode 12 - Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)
Subtitle: How Now, Loud the Cow?
Abby calls Daniel: Tea and crumpets
Daniel calls Abby: Short stack
Casting: Set in the present day, in the early 2000s. Ridley Scott road movie. Timothy Oliphant or Killian Murphy as Alec, Rachel Weisz as Tess, the Fiennes Brothers as the Clare brothers.
Advice: Pay attention to the seasons in which things happen. That's an easy close reading.
Clue(s) to the Next Episode: Daniel will be wearing a nightcap and big long shirt. It's a Christmas classic, which possibly revolves around indigestion (a fragment of an underdone potato).
Show Notes: This is the first episode where the hosts have nationalistic nicknames for each other.
Episode 13 - A Christmas Carol (1843)
Subtitle: Ruining jokes past, present, and yet to come
Abby calls Daniel: Thrupenny ha'pence
Casting: A remake of My Dinner with Andre. Wallace Shawn as as Scrooge figure, Andre Gregory as Marley, Carey Elwes as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Mandy Patinkin as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Andre the Giant as the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Advice: You can't read everything; there are plenty of books that even people with PhDs haven't read. Anyone who makes fun of your for not haven't read something is a jerk.
Clue to the Next Episode: We'll come back to Season Two with Gulliver's Travels.
Show Notes: Our Christmas special, in which we exchange gifts based on the previous twelve episodes.
bottom of page