Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc.
Ben’s Audio Drama Pick: Harley Quinn and the Joker: Sound Mind – This Spotify-produced audio series revamps the iconic psychiatrist-turned-supervillain’s origin story, with an absolutely killer voice cast that kept me so invested that I finished all seven episodes in just one sitting. Christina Ricci stars as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, a bright and talented young doctor working at Arkham Asylum who, unlike her “superiors” (Stephen Root and Fred Melamed), actually gives a damn about the facility’s residents. Despite her obvious skill and dedication, Quinzel finds herself usually treated like a novice by the other doctors. That is until she volunteers to help a particularly difficult patient with an insidious cackle (Billy Magnussen), a man who will change her life forever. Oh, and she also catches the eye of a billionaire playboy (Justin Hartley) who may have a secret or two of his own. Many of the supporting characters are great too, particularly Andre Royo as Arnold Wesker/Ventriloquist, Mary Holland as Margaret Pye/Magpie, and Elias Koteas as Harleen’s father. All in all, it’s an engaging story – even if you know where it’s eventually headed – that adds a little more nuance to the eponymous, eventual antiheroine than her original origin story.
Lauren’s Book Pick: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – With a second book being released in The Roots of Chaos series just days ago, I finally had that final push of motivation needed to pick this brick up off my ever so dusty with neglect to-read pile. Turns out book 2 is actually a prequel, so my rush to do the prep work for it feels a bit all for naught, but I’m still glad I finally got to this fantasy epic that has been oft recommended by many a friend. Set in a world where a legendary draconic evil threatens to return should ever the lineage of queens holding it back falter, Priory does what any good new fantasy world does by creating an extensive list of locations and historical figures of stories past within an ever evolving and far-too-malleable-for-my-smooth-brain mythology. If you too could use some help keeping track of things, here are my memory tricks: “East is for beast, the land of dragon riders; West is for breast, the potential sapphic love story,” and “Lasia – the land of secret warrior lasses. Inys – this sexual tension is the best, inyst? Yscalin – Y am I here, take me back to the sapphics. Seiiki – go west and seikki out the sapphics.” Can you tell which storyline I cared about the most? All joking aside, the worldbuilding is great, but in the end what really hooked me were the characters, making my only real complaint that I wanted more of them. Even after 800+ pages I still felt like we barely skimmed the surface for some of these badass women as they discovered who they are within and apart from the roles they’re destined to play, especially our dragon rider Tané (seriously, give all of Niclays’ pages to either her or Queen Sabran – I’d give her whole kingdom just to be intimate with the emotional and psychological turmoil she experiences thanks to multiple upheavals of self and self worth in such a short amount of time), as the story rushes through the final miles of its marathon. Honestly that’s why I’m so devastated there’s no plan for a sequel in the near future, and though we’re still more likely to get one in The Roots of Chaos series before George R.R. Martin finishes the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, it cannot come soon enough.
Ben’s Video Game Warning: I Saw Black Clouds – I Saw Black Clouds is an interactive drama that fails twofold: in an interactive sense because most of your decisions seem to have extremely little impact on the story (if any), and as a drama because the acting throughout is horrendous. Not only that, but the story itself takes something somewhat potentially intriguing – a grieving woman uncovers a possibly supernatural element that may have been involved in her friend’s suicide – and utterly botches it, falling flat each and every time it tries to scare or affect its audience. My friend (who watched as I played) and I were often guffawing at the unintentional humor and overall terrible design of I Saw Black Clouds. For example, the game arbitrarily measures “acceptance” and “denial” depending on your choices, but we somehow ended up with over 70% of both of those. It has an equally nonsensical measurement method of your relationships too: once I left a character behind in a life or death situation (as my friend and I had decided early on to make the worst choices possible every time) and her relationship status stayed the exact same; yet in another instance that same relationship dropped significantly when we chose not to look at her in a social setting. Overall, I suggest avoiding I Saw Black Clouds unless you need a laugh and can find it for free.
So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!
And while you’re here, be sure to check some of the site’s other recent content:
- A “The Greatest Thing About” episode on last year’s The Black Phone.
- A Middle of the Row: The Podcast episode flashing back to 2011’s Fright Night.
- Zac’s review of the film Return to Seoul.