Dissecting Dragons
Episode 345: Once More with Feeling - The Successes and Failures of Musical Episodes in Genre TV Shows

Episode 345: Once More with Feeling - The Successes and Failures of Musical Episodes in Genre TV Shows

September 30, 2022

The dragons are once again delighted to welcome Hamish Steele, author of popular comics/ graphic novels Deadendia and Pantheon, and creator of hit Netflix series Deadend: Paranormal Park, to the show. (And with some exciting news too!) This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at that peculiar but appealing phenomenon in long running TV shows - the musical episode. As a long time lover of musicals and a creator of just such a musical episode, Hamish is ideally situated to wade in on the discussion. Tracing the 'lineage' of the trend from cult classics like 'Fame' (1980) through a few very dicey attempts in the 80s and early 90s, before the sub-genre was cemented by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this dissection looks at why a musical episode might be appealing, why it can make or break a show with your audience, and why sometimes it doesn't work. Under the microscope this week: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Deadend: Paranormal Park, Ally McBeal, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic. 

Episode 344: Enough to Make a Cat Laugh - Tracing the Origins of Puss in Boots

Episode 344: Enough to Make a Cat Laugh - Tracing the Origins of Puss in Boots

September 23, 2022

This week the dragons bring you another episode in their 'fairy tales in focus' series. Puss in Boots is incredibly popular, especially with children, and unlike many fairy tales, it contains no real moral. So just where did this story originate and what do its characters symbolise? The Perrault version is by far the best known, but even he struggled to paste a 'lesson' onto the story, so in what ways did he misunderstand the subversive nature of the story? Find out as Jules and Madeleine trace the tale's origins back to Italy and from there across Europe, Asia and Africa. On the slab this week: Pixar's Puss in Boots, A Tale of Two Castles - Gail Carson Levine and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling cynic

Episode 343: Exiles, OutCasts and Outsiders - Solitary Villains and Isolated Heroes

Episode 343: Exiles, OutCasts and Outsiders - Solitary Villains and Isolated Heroes

September 16, 2022

The base setting for the human species is sociability to some degree. Even the most misanthropic or introverted of us are not meant to be completely cut off from all other people. In narrative terms, however, isolation can be a great way to test your character. It can also provide interesting back story or provide a setting or frame for a survival story. So what sort of tests can you set for your MC? How can you use isolation to explore characterisation or setting? Find out in this week's episode. Under the microscope this week: Castaway, The Martian, The Clan of the Cave Bear and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic 

Episode 342: Distant Fathers 2D Beefcakes and Tortured Villains - Sexist Tropes Against Men in Speculative Fiction

Episode 342: Distant Fathers 2D Beefcakes and Tortured Villains - Sexist Tropes Against Men in Speculative Fiction

September 9, 2022

Regular listeners of the podcast will be quite well versed in the dragons opinions on sexist tropes against women, however there are certainly tropes which are sexist against men too, which they haven't covered in quite as much detail. This week the dragons take a look at some of these tropes as well as discussing the insidious growing trend of punishing male characters for their biological sex in speculative fiction. From fathers always being distant to male villains always being sex offenders, here are the tropes Jules and Madeleine think could do with being retired.

On the slab this week: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mrs Doubtfire, Leon and many more

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 341: True Beauty is Found Within - Tracing the Origins of Beauty & the Beast

Episode 341: True Beauty is Found Within - Tracing the Origins of Beauty & the Beast

September 2, 2022

The dragons return this week with another 'fairy tales in focus' episode. Beauty and the Beast is one of the most beloved fairy tales of all time - quite an achievement when the story as we now know it, the most popular iteration, is a mere two hundred and sixty years old! While many of the themes and motifs can be found in earlier folk tales and myths, the current version is incredibly young by fairy tale standards and is probably partially inspired by historical events at the court of the French king, Henry II. Jules and Madeleine trace it's journey and permutations from myth to history to folk tale and beyond. On the slab this week - Heart's Blood - Juliet Marillier, Disney's Beauty & the Beast, Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte, Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 340: There is none so capable as Anne - Why we should celebrate gentle characters

Episode 340: There is none so capable as Anne - Why we should celebrate gentle characters

August 26, 2022

Characters who are more extroverted and more obviously dynamic are generally easier to shape a story around. However, stories featuring gentler, more introverted characters can be very rewarding to both write and read too. In fact, many beloved, favourite characters across genres fall into this category. So what's the problem? Well, unless you get a screenwriter who understands how to portray these characters in film, often gentler characters get butchered during adaptation. But there are good reasons for keeping the characters as they are and excellent reasons for including gentler characters in your work. This week the dragons dive into why and how to write and include quieter characters. Under the microscope this week: Persuasion - Jane Austen, The Lord of the Rings, I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 339: You Can’t Take the Sky From Me - Weird Westerns and Why We love Them

Episode 339: You Can’t Take the Sky From Me - Weird Westerns and Why We love Them

August 19, 2022

The dragons are always happy to consider requests and this episode is a response to one such request. Weird Western is an odd genre in many ways, being a mixture of the western sub-genre of general or saga style historical fiction with 'weird' elements. These may include dark fantasy, sci-fi, horror, paranormal or even romance. And yet despite being a complete hotch podge, Weird Western is very definitely its own genre and is growing in popularity. So this week Jules and Madeleine take a look at what goes into one, the common archetypes and tropes and a peek at their favourite examples. On the slab this week: Firefly, Cowboy Bee-bop, Stephen King's The Dark Tower and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 338: There are Wolves in the Woods - What Folklore Can Teach Us About Storytelling

Episode 338: There are Wolves in the Woods - What Folklore Can Teach Us About Storytelling

August 12, 2022

This week the dragons are delighted to welcome Lorraine Wilson back to the show. Lorraine is the author of This is our Undoing and the recently released folkloric mystery/ family suspense The Way the Light Bends. The latter is an exceptional example of this week's discussion which makes Lorraine the perfect person to join the episode. 

Anyone who has paid any attention at all will have noticed that Jules and Madeleine are enthusiastic about folklore. But what actually defines a folk tale as opposed to a fairy tale or a myth? What are the basic structural tenets of a folk tale and how can writers tap in to them for storytelling purposes? Why is it an advantage to do so? Find out in this week's episode.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Episode 337: Relatable or Debateable - Avoiding Mediocre Main Characters in Speculative Fiction.

Episode 337: Relatable or Debateable - Avoiding Mediocre Main Characters in Speculative Fiction.

August 5, 2022

We've all read them; books with great setting, promising story, engaging prose...and a damp squib for a main character. Sometimes this is because the author has been pushed into supplying what industry representatives think readers want in a main  character and sometimes it's just that the author has failed to listen to their own story, perhaps missing that a secondary character is both more engaging and has a better story to tell. This week the dragons look at what makes a MC engaging and what you should avoid doing when you create a character. On the slab this week: Deep Space Nine, Stranger Things, A Court of Silver Fire and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic.

Episode 336: The Lesser of Two Evils - Creating Moral Dilemmas in Speculative Fiction

Episode 336: The Lesser of Two Evils - Creating Moral Dilemmas in Speculative Fiction

July 29, 2022

There are many ways to create tension and suspense in fiction. One popular device is to give your main character a moral dilemma - a difficult choice which challenges their personal beliefs, morality or even their own view of themselves. However, this is one of those things that's really easy to do wrong, leaving your readers unsatisfied. This week Jules and Madeleine take a look at what defines a moral dilemma in speculative fiction and how it differs from impossible choices, as well as how to set it up so it will land with your audience. Under the microscope this week - Firefly, Deep Space Nine, The Next Generation and many more.

 

Title music: Ecstasy by Smiling Cynic

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App