Phenomena: Geek Confidential, A Podcast Discussing All Things Geeky
In today’s entertainment environment where any bottom-of-the-barrel, half-forgotten superhero can get at least six episodes on Netflix, the word “geek” has gotten a bit watered down. These are not the same people who risked the demise of their pocket-protectors if their stash of comic books were ever discovered by a gang of bellicose bullies. The people who now identify as “geeks” think they can simply don a pair of bulky, 3D-style glasses, go see the newest Avengers movie every couple years and just become part of the scene. No, a brave many people have risked the elasticity of their underpants for the right to be called geeks, and those are the kind of true fans that can be found on the podcast Geek Confidential.
The show is hosted by Luke Kerr at Geek Confidential and also features commentators Melodie Aikels, Dan Pearce and Mo Walker and focuses on all things geeks hold dear. The site is an offshoot of the sites Daytime Confidential and Pop Confidential, which both target niche audiences.
However, the show is not nearly as exclusive as the introduction of this article makes the geek scene sound. A clear example is in the “Best & Worst of 2017” episode when Walker brings up his grievance with The Flash and the show’s decision to make Savitar (Barry Allen) the villain of season 3. This is a paradigm for the philosophy of the entire show. Walker simply explains it as a “waste of time” before getting into the deeper reason for his disappointment which is interwoven with the original lore of the comics. Rather than just assume the listener’s knowledge of the comics, Walker takes the time to explain how the comics differed from the show and is able to better inform the listener’s opinion. He explains how the writers of The Flash decided to irrevocably change the dynamic of the character of Savitar and his gripes with the show for doing so.
The format of the “Best & Worst of 2017” shows (split into two parts) are definitely best for first time listeners as each personality delivers quick hits on very specific topics and characters. Rather than listening to the whole crew dissect one particular scene from The Punisher, the listener gets a sense of each person’s leanings and tastes by hearing what he or she enjoyed most (or least) for the year. The other benefit of the Best & Worst episode is that if you have not seen the latest Marvel movie or are not caught up with the newest season on Netflix, the topic quickly changes to another person and his or her pick for the best of a category.
Frankly, sometimes it is even better if you haven’t seen the show or movie the group is discussing because it builds excitement and interest in the project; or at least far more than any two-minute trailer can generate. When Walker named Alfred from Gotham as his favorite sidekick of 2017 and went on to explain the dynamic of Alfred and Bruce Wayne’s relationship, it made me wonder why the hell I still have not watched the movie yet.
Besides the general inclusivity, the program also has an air of casualness as some members are clearly calling in (which is at times detrimental to the audio) and a category mix up in the “Best & Worst of 2017” show that resulted in the episode being split into two parts. Pearce said “next year we’re going to get our shit together.” Well, let’s certainly hope not.
That proclivity for occasional error only adds to the likability of the contributors and the overall inclusivity of the show. These are not the “holier-than-thou” geeks that hold the lack of some painfully specific Star Trek reference over your head if you do not know it. It is certainly lighthearted in the beginning of the “Best & Worst of 2017” episode when they begin with the category of Biggest Frack-Ups of 2017. From the character development of Daenerys Targaryen and Littlefinger on Game of Thrones to the wedding of Oliver and Felicity on Arrow, they discuss the major missteps in this year’s most popular plotlines.
Episode 52, “Black Lightning Gets Lit; Wayward Sisters’ Backdoor Pilot” continues the attitude of not assuming knowledge of subject matter as Kerr explains the plot of Black Lightning. If they had simply dove right in, I would have skipped ahead to the next subject, but they bring in the listener from the ground floor so they can build into a deeper discussion. They then move forward to the introduction of the original Black Lightning comics, which only Walker has read. He gives us a fairly comprehensive background of the character from his stand alone comics to his tenure as Secretary of Education under Lex Luthor in the Batman comics.
We get the opinion of both Walker, who has long been familiar with the character, and Aikels, who is as new to the series as anybody else who just watched the premiere on CW. The fact that everyone expresses approval of the pilot is somewhat concerning — can they be critical when necessary? However, what is reassuring is that each one of them is able to analytically break down specifically why they liked it (and are sometimes at odds with the opinions of the viewing public or other reviews) which is crucial to critics – which I guess they technically are.
As you listen to more of the show, it is obvious that they are capable of criticism but that they choose to do so with a deft hand. Rather than denouncing the episode as a whole or even one theme of it, each member is able to specifically pinpoint what it is he or she had a problem with. For example, many viewers took to Twitter and expressed issues with Black Lightning’s costume. And rather than just say “I didn’t like it,” Aikels points out the proclivity across TV and movies to simply put heroes in black leather spandex. Rather than simply saying “I didn’t like it,” Aikels provides a valid criticism of the show falling in line with trends, and also the entire genre for pigeonholing itself.
As midseason begins on TV and online, there is no better time to begin listening to Geek Confidential to stay informed on current releases. New episodes are released sporadically, but tend to fall in line with TV seasons and large releases and equate to roughly three per month.