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Hall of Faces
104 minutes | Dec 24, 2019
Which is the Best Doctor Who Christmas Special?
For this holiday season, we decided to go off the beaten path just a little bit and talk about a genre of Christmas stories we enjoy more than anything else -- the nearly 15-year tradition of the Doctor Who Christmas special. From the beginning of the Russell T. Davies era to the end of Steven Moffat's, British television was treated with a big, bombastic, intensely Christmassy episode of the long-running British science-fiction program, and gosh we love them a lot. Much like the show itself, it's a grab bag of whimsical, strongly-plotted fun and absolutely silly nonsense that falls apart at the slightest thought. They're some of the show's best, most important episodes (just about every Doctor of the modern era has regenerated around Christmas) and some of their worst. With that in mind, Allison and Clint are joined by Allison's Debating Doctor Who podcast co-host Alasdair Wilkins for a special crossover episode! Here, we debate which one of the Doctor's yuletide adventures is the silliest, the funniest, the timey-wimeyest of them all. And, as a treat, the Doctor and companion in question can be grandfathered into the Hall of Faces for their services to the timeline. Which special reigns supreme -- the David Tennant-introducing The Christmas Invasion? The shark-infested A Christmas Carol? The Aliens-meets-Inception romp Last Christmas? One of the ones that barely has anything to do with Christmas? Christmas Christmas. Take a listen, and see you on Boxing Day! (NOTE: we're not counting Jodie Whittaker's specials since the Chibnall era has switched to New Year's Day for their holiday hijinks.) (Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Overcast for sponsoring this episode!)
118 minutes | Oct 31, 2019
Who's the Greatest Character on The West Wing?
Politics has never been perfect, politicians even less so. But for seven long years, NBC's seminal political drama The West Wing gave TV watchers an idealized version of the White House, an administration that trudged through the murky waters of political compromise with admirable conviction and the fast-talking wit that could only come from the pen of Aaron Sorkin. The West Wing was revolutionary in a number of ways, from presenting feature-quality production values and performances on network TV in the '90s to inspiring a generation of young people to get into politics. (And the show's patented walk-and-talks forever changed the visual vocabulary of TV dialogue.) Amid all of The West Wing's flaws -- Sorkin's recurring limitations/pet concerns as a screenwriter, the unevenness of the John Wells years -- the show remains firmly ensconced in the public consciousness. Sure, some of that is a lingering desire to return to the kind of principled, service-centric political leadership we imagine we once had but never really got. But so much of it is down to the show's incredible ensemble of characters, played to a tee by a rotating cast of industry-best performers: Martin Sheen's folksy-yet-godlike President Bartlet, Allison Janney's acerbic press secretary C.J. Cregg, Bradley Whitford's prickly Josh Lyman, and a host of others. On this episode of the podcast, Allison and Clint (alongside returning guest panelists Kate Kulzick of The Televerse and Caroline Siede of The AV Club) sift through the dossiers of the Bartlet administration's brightest stars and see which one deserves to be elected into our Hall of Faces. Is it Bartlet? CJ? Toby? Leo McGarry? Mrs. Landingham? If you don't listen to the pod and find out who we pick, then God, Jed, I don't even want to know you! (Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Overcast for sponsoring this episode!)
114 minutes | Oct 3, 2019
Who's the Greatest Character on Friends?
25 years ago, Friends (sorry, F*R*I*E*N*D*S) burst onto the scene to hold multicolored umbrellas and dance through the water fountain of our pop-culture consciousness, becoming one of the most indelible sitcoms of the '90s. The tale of six close friends trying to make it in New York City amid the flannel-draped tumult of the Giuliani years, Friends was the yin to Seinfeld's yang, the warm, fuzzy, uncomplicated romp we turned to when the rain started to fall. Like many things in the era, it hasn't aged well: where are the people of color? How can they afford such nice New York apartments? What's with all the 'no homo' stuff between Chandler and Joey? But even with these bugaboos, it's surprisingly easy to get back into the swing of the show, especially when Netflix makes it so addictively bingeable. Over ten seasons of high ratings and dozens of Emmy nods, the main cast of Friends -- Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer -- were catapulted to near-instant stardom, becoming one of the most beloved ensembles in television history. It almost seems impossible to pluck one of the Friends out of the group and put them on the pedestal of our Hall of Faces, but boy howdy we're going to try! Reigning champion Kate Kulzick (of The AV Club and The Televerse) and frequent guest/Spool staffer Caroline Siede join us as we "PIVOT!" from Friend to Friend to see which one passes muster and earns a spot in our pantheon of great TV characters. Could it be a more contentious battle? (Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Overcast for sponsoring this episode!)
93 minutes | Aug 26, 2019
Who's the Greatest Character on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?
During Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's seven-season run in syndication from 1993 to 1999, the spinoff was never particularly popular. It didn't look like a Trek show: instead of a clean, shiny starship filled with Starfleet's best and brightest, we followed a group of disparate souls struggling to overcome conflicts both personal and interpersonal on a ramshackle space station in the middle of nowhere. Where most Trek zoomed to a new planet each week, solved the problem, and moved on, Deep Space Nine was forced to stick around and do the hard work of rebuilding the occupied planet of Bajor, all while wormholes and interstellar dominions came knocking at their door. Showrunner Ira Steven Behr, along with other head writers like Ronald D. Moore (whose Battlestar Galactica reboot carries a lot of DS9's DNA, what with its focus on serialized storylines and a greater focus on religion than most sci-fi properties), found a way not just to make their show stand out from The Next Generation and Voyager, but to interrogate the very ideals of Gene Roddenberry's Trekkian utopia by showing a Starfleet filled with ethical quandaries and realistic philosophical struggle. And on top of it all, this long-form serialized storytelling gave way to one of the best, most robust ensembles in science fiction history. For this month's Hall of Faces, Clint and guest host Kate Kulzick (of The Televerse) are joined by Vulture's Angelica Jade Bastien and Improvised Star Trek's Sean Kelley to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the show's finale! Together, we dig through Deep Space Nine's extremely deep bench of characters and find the one that best represents the show's emotional complexity and philosophical ideals. Is it Sisko? Worf? Garak? Gul Dukat? Quark?! Take a listen and find out what the Prophets decide. (Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Overcast for sponsoring this episode!)
70 minutes | Jul 30, 2019
Who's the Greatest Character on SpongeBob Squarepants?
Are ye ready kids?! After a long hiatus, the Hall of Faces is back! This month, The Televerse's Kate Kulzick fills in for regular co-host Allison Shoemaker to talk about Stephen Hillenburg's iconic, long-running children's show, SpongeBob SquarePants! Twenty years ago this month in 1999, Hillenburg (a marine science educator turned animator) created SpongeBob and the world of Bikini Bottom, a delightfully absurd undersea community filled with squabbling neighbors, fast-food burger joints and retired aquatic superheroes. Even two decades later, the show has miraculously kept its mojo, presenting kids and adults alike with a particular brand of giddy weirdness that appeals to audiences of all ages. With that in mind, we're joined by The Takeout's Dominick Suzanne-Mayer and Paste Magazine's Jacob Oller to dive into the world of SpongeBob and figure out which character deserves a spot in our Hall of Faces. Is it the endlessly-optimistic SpongeBob himself? The greedy Mr. Krabs? The relatably cynical Squidward? Or the... well... Patrick? Grab a Krabby Patty, take a listen, and let us know which Bikini Bottom dweller you'd rank above everyone else! Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Overcast for sponsoring this episode!)
75 minutes | Apr 16, 2019
Who's the Greatest Character on The Sopranos?
Twenty years ago, a little mobster show by the name of The Sopranos premiered on HBO, and hit the pop culture zeitgeist harder than a plate of rigott' pie hurled at your face. David Chase's layered, presentational, deeply complex prestige drama didn't just help establish the network as the home of serialized, critically acclaimed dramas; its telling of the story of New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and the delicate balancing act he walks between his life of crime and the domestic travails of his family was a triumph of long-form storytelling, and helped cement TV as a medium to be taken seriously. On the surface, it was GoodFellas meets The Honeymooners; dig deeper, and you'll find volumes of intriguing remarks on American culture around the turn of the millennium, the precarious nature of masculinity, and man's impossible tug of war against its own worst instincts. (In concert, of course, with jokes about Big Mouth Billy Bass and mobsters complaining about poison ivy.) So much of The Sopranos' success can be laid on its absolutely stacked cast, which is what we're here to discuss: of Chase's carousel of incredible characters, which one deserves a spot in our vaunted hall of TV's greatest characters? Is it Gandolfini's iconic Tony Soprano? Edie Falco's tantalizingly conflicted matriarch Carmela? Nancy Marchand's scene-stealing villain Livia? Dr. Melfi? Paulie Walnuts? The show is an embarrassment of riches, which makes this one particularly difficult. However, Clint and Allison have some help in the form of perennial guest Kate Kulzick of The Televerse and noted Dudelander Noel Starbird to sort this one out among the families. Grab a glass of orange juice (not the full-pulp kind, the some-pulp kind) and take a listen! Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Cards Against Humanity for sponsoring this episode!)
34 minutes | Apr 1, 2019
Minisode: The Recurring Cast of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (feat. Danny Jolles)
As Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna's exuberant, complicated, hilarious rom-com-musical-psychological-comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend wraps up its four-season run on the CW, Allison and Clint decided to take some time in between main episodes to talk about the show's unsung (well, less sung, they all sing) recurring characters - from Michael Hyatt's sage Dr. Akopian to Rene Gube's divinely chill Father Brah. But we can't help but wonder if there's someone we're forgetting, someone who shouldn't be ignored... Oh! It's George, he of the delightful ad-libbed songs about getting coffee, one of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's most beloved supporting players. And lucky for us, the one and only Danny Jolles joins us later in the episode to talk about George's curious evolution, the origins of his breakout on the show, and more! Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Cards Against Humanity for sponsoring this episode!)
82 minutes | Mar 4, 2019
Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
Ten years ago, in March of 2009, a little show called Battlestar Galactica aired its final episode - a big, sprawling, controversial finale to the politically charged sci-fi drama that captured the imaginations of a post-9/11 America and helped legitimize science fiction television as legitimate prestige media. Developed by Ronald D. Moore as an update of the campy, short-lived 1978 space series, Galactica (which ran from 2003 to 2009 between a miniseries, four seasons and two direct-to-DVD movies) was never a huge ratings hit, but its combination of innovative space action and War on Terror allegories made it one of the most seminal and influential sci-fi shows of its era. But it's the characters who made the show really sing, and Allison and Clint are joined this month by The Televerse's Kate Kulzick and USA Today's Kelly Lawler to discuss which character from the gritty space opera deserves a spot in the Hall of Faces. Is it Edward James Olmos' stoic, taciturn William Adama? Mary McDonnell's pragmatic Laura Roslin? James Callis' duplicitous Gaius Baltar? Katee Sackhoff's admirably flawed Kara Thrace? Or someone else in the Colonial Fleet's stellar ensemble? Sit down with some ambrosia and hear out our arguments, as well as the best TV of February and what we're looking forward to in March. So say we all! Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Cards Against Humanity for sponsoring this episode!)
71 minutes | Feb 11, 2019
Who's the Greatest Character on 30 Rock?
Welcome to the Hall of Faces, The Spool's monthly TV podcast! A spinoff of the short-lived Consequence of Sound podcast TV Party, Hall of Faces sees hosts and TV critics Allison Shoemaker and Clint Worthington build up a pantheon of television's greatest characters, one show at a time. For our very first episode, Allison and Clint are joined by guests Kate Kulzick of The Televerse and Kris Vire, formerly of Time Out Chicago, to talk about Tina Fey's incredible NBC sitcom 30 Rock! Running from 2006 to 2013, 30 Rock offered up a witty, satirical spin on Fey's tenure as head writer of Saturday Night Live, quickly turning into one of TV comedy's most consistent and uproarious joke delivery systems. Warping the ins and outs of a sketch comedy show set in 30 Rockefeller Plaza into high-concept farce of the highest order, Fey and co. also managed to craft a cast of TV's most wonderful characters, from Fey's high-strung Liz Lemon, to Tracy Morgan's gut-bustingly bizarre star Tracy Jordan, to Alec Baldwin's hard-edged ultracapitalist Jack Donaghy. Which character makes the cut? Liz? Jack? Jenna Maroney? Kenneth Parcell? Tangiers, the super-gay lion? Take a listen and find out! Hall of Faces is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Lagunitas for sponsoring this episode!)
26 minutes | Jan 27, 2019
Introducing the Hall of Faces
With the impending launch of The Spool (formerly Alcohollywood), Spool editor-in-chief Clint Worthington and TV critic Allison Shoemaker offer a brief sendoff for listeners of their previous podcast TV Party, and a preview of the fun to come in their reboot/spinoff/continuation, Hall of Faces!
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