The Enthusiasm List for October 2022

Happy October! It’s a new month and that means it’s time to update the Enthusiasm List. All the things in pop culture that have me excited over the next 31 days. October is a weird month because there’s a lot of horror and various spooktaculars and I don’t like to be too scared and also I don’t really enjoy Halloween. So don’t look for a lot of seasonally appropriate events this time out. But there are two Batman-adjacent projects that don’t involve actual Batman. That’s what we’re working with this month.

Let’s get to the list!

October Podcast Events – As much as I love podcasts, they’re always hard to cover on the Enthusiasm List because they don’t so much tell you what’s coming up. Probably I’ll continue to enjoy Comedy Bang! Bang! this month, but that’s all the information I have. But October is an exception because there are certain traditions that must be upheld. Doughboys has their annual Octdoughberfest theme month where they focus on a really specific type of chain restaurant. Past years have included increasingly strained names like Jockdoughberfest (restaurants connected to sports or athletes), Octdoughberblessed (chains with a religious affiliations), and, well, Dogdoughbarkfest (a month-long grillebration of hot dogs and pet docs). This time, it’s an entire month of pirate-themed restaurants, Yarrrrrrdoughberchest. It’s a real reach and also I can only think of Long John Silver’s, so I don’t know what this is going to be, but I’m here.  Meanwhile, bad movie podcast The Flop House will spend Shocktoberfest focusing on horror movies. And honestly, they do a lot of those during the rest of the year but October has special theme music and a new rating system. On the video game podcast Get Played, each of the hosts has to play a game specifically chosen to torment them for UGHtober. Finally, over at The Adventure Zone (the show where some brothers play role-playing games with their dad), they’re introducing a new game system and campaign, GMed by Justin McElroy for the first time. Justin generally makes the most interesting character choices as a player, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does when he’s in charge. Podcasts: They’re good!

October 4

Gotham City: Year One (DC Comics) – A story about Gotham City set two generations before Bruce Wayne was born? Sold! I need no further details!  But there, in fact, are further details! Current best DC guy Tom King and all-time great Phil Hester are the creative team and it focuses on Slam Bradley, a P.I. character who precedes Batman and even Superman. (Even though sometimes he’s presented as a middle aged guy in the present and is sometimes an early 20th Century guy and DC continuity is just grabass now is what I’m saying.) It’s a six-issue miniseries, Hester’s art looks incredible and King has been crushing it lately. I’m on board.

October 7

Werewolf by Night (Disney+) – Not every Marvel character warrants a movie or a TV show. It’s not just that Jack Russell (I am not making that up) never totally clicked. I mean, it’s not like there’s an influential Werewolf by Night that Marvel keeps in print. But more to the point, a werewolf is tough as a continuing character because he only gets to do something once a month. Give him a series and it’s a lot of “Too bad this dangerous situation didn’t come up eleven days ago!” But as a one-shot special that’s apparently a tribute to classic monster movies, yeah, you’ve got something there. Gael Garcia Bernal stars and going from Pedro Almodovar to Werewolf by Night is a wild career. Fan-favorite monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone is involved, and it’s the directorial debut of composer Michael Giacchino. Honestly? Looks pretty good.

Amsterdam (in theaters) – Right off, I’m going to say this is a qualified recommendation and if I could have found even one moderately appealing movie that was scheduled to come to theaters near me, I’d have gone with that instead. Yes, I know Black Adam is coming out. It’s not going to be good. Here’s the thing, and please indulge me for a moment. This is directed by David O. Russell, who is not a good guy. Not bad in the way that you assume when you hear that, at least to the best of my knowledge.  He’s a shitty guy who abuses his actors and you hear horror stories about him being just an awful person but he’s not actually assaulting anybody so by 2022 standards, it’s kind of a push.

So not the worst but not somebody I necessarily want to support. And you can talk about separating the art from the artist but nobody actually does that. You have a limit – there’s something that a writer or director or actor or whoever could do that would make you not enjoy their stuff anymore. So when you’re separating the art from the artist, it really just doesn’t cross the line you set up. And what that comes down to is Russell being an a-hole doesn’t dissuade me from seeing his movies and I have to live with knowing that about myself.  (It is possible that he’s done worse things that I just haven’t heard about. Don’t come for my neck if it turns out he’s an actual criminal.) A bigger issue is that often his movies aren’t very good. Sometimes they are. It’s inconsistent. But I saw the trailer, I thought “This looks fun”, then I saw his name and allowed myself the possibility that it will actually be bad and it’s still the movie that’s most interesting to me this month. I feel like I’m letting Tom Cruise down with my lack of passion for the movies.

October 10

Avenue 5 (HBO) – I really liked the first season of Veep creator Armando Iannucci’s sci-fi comedy, which aired pre-pandemic. I’ve seen a lot of fair-to-bad review and there’s a contingent that really seems to hate it, but it made me laugh and I like the cast and nobody’s going to harsh my mellow. But here’s the thing. This is a show about a luxury space liner that goes off course and every attempt to correct it make their return to Earth ever more unlikely. So if you have a show where failures of leadership and a contingent of selfish people who consistently put their own self-interest over the group endanger the lives of everybody, well, in 2022 that’s a show about COVID. It will be interesting to see if Season Two ignores the obvious metaphors they’ve already set up or embrace this opportunity to really make a statement.

October 19

Documentary Now! (IFC, AMC+) – Bill Hader and Fred Armisen’s spoof documentary series returns after a long break. (A lot of shows had a long break. There’s been some stuff going on.) This show is a true pleasure whether or not you know the documentaries they’re referencing but, man, if you know them, it’s a whole other level. This season they’re covering, among others, My Octopus Teacher, When We were Kings, and most delightful to me, Werner Herzog’s Burden of Dreams (written by John Mulaney!). It’s constantly shocking to see who they can get to be on this absurd show and it reaches brilliance more often than you expect. It’s one of my top shows and I really didn’t think it was going to come back. Cherish it, you fools.

October 21

Gotham Knights (Consoles and probably PC? Who am I, Gamestop?) – Oh man, a new Batman video game! It’s been seven years since Arkham Knight! I’m so excited for this game in which…. Batman is dead and you play as Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing, and Red Hood. Yeah, I mean, why would I want to play as my favorite character of all time? What’s fun about, you know, Batman? So that’s an issue. I mean, I have misgivings. It’s made by the studio that did Arkham Origins, the forgotten stepchild of the Arkham franchise. And there’s no Batman. (Which is a bit of a thing right now. There’s a show coming to the CW next year, also called Gotham Knights that’s set after Batman’s death and I guess it’s a teen drama where one of the characters is Harvey Dent? The trailer is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.) But everything that’s out so far looks really fun. I love the way Batman controls in the Arkham series and the four characters all look like interesting variations on his style – Nightwing is more acrobatic, Red Hood is more aggressive. The formula of the series is solid – Origins is the worst of the four and that one is still enjoyable. And at this point, I’m psyched about a game that’s even Batman-adjacent.

I’m not an insider or even somebody who understands business. I’m just a guy. But Warner Bros. is in upheaval right now with the Discovery sale and possible securities violations and even when they weren’t cancelling completed projects, the media presence of the DC characters has been inconsistent and sometimes disastrous. I think it’s only going to get worse and every six months we’re going to hear that DC has finally found their version of Marvel’s Kevin Feige and they’ll lose their jobs after announcing a couple of projects to a lukewarm reception. And so, this may be the last big triple-A Batman game we get for a while as DC tries to decide whether to unify or diversify and then half-ass both approaches simultaneously. Any current Batman thing that doesn’t make me sigh heavily like Dan McCoy or Kif from Futurama is something that I have to treasure.

October 28

Wendell & Wild (Netflix) – Stop motion auteur Henry Selick is back with his first film since 2009’s Coraline. Unsurprisingly, it looks gorgeous and the story about a pair of demon brothers comes from Selick and co-star Jordan Peele.  Yeah, that’s right, you know who’s voicing the leads? Key & Peele, that’s who! That’s awesome on its own but Selick is a genius and always worth watching. I say this as a man who has never seen The Nightmare Before Christmas, because I found the people who were really into it when it came out to be just completely obnoxious. It’s been thirty years and I will go to my grave without seeing it. But I’m watching this immediately.

That’s all I’ve got – what are you into this month? Make your case in the comments!

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One Comment

  1. Now what do we know about the latest Futurama return? I know little other than it is coming out at some point.

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