It’s Monday. Time for Power Rankings.
And this week, an extra dose of exclamation marks!
10. (NO CHANGE) Stuff You Should Know
Episode Ranked: Are You My Mother?: How Animal Imprinting Works
I’ve begun approaching this show like an eating challenge. I imagine myself as a sort of Kobayashi, except instead of eating as many hot dogs as I can I try to see how long I can listen to this show before I completely tune out. I made it to minute nineteen of this episode before I gave and and marked it as listened to.
For context, I was listening to this episode while I was doing a menial but necessary task at work. It’s literally mindless. That means that I would rather be alone with my own thoughts rather than have to listen to this podcast.
And this is their job! This is what these guys do for their life. I don’t understand.
I’m not bitter. I’m not angry. I just want to know: why do you all like this show?
9. (-7) Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
Episode Ranked: Mindy Kaling
I wish I’d done the Power Rankings for the week of 6/8 so I could have covered the Kim Kardashian episode because it probably would have been at least a little bit interesting. I don’t know because I don’t want to waste any more time on this show than is absolutely necessary for writing this feature which, besides the shows that perpetually reside at the bottom, I generally enjoy.
This week I figured out why WWDTM is so grating: the artifice. Host Peter Sagal’s jokes are predictable and unfunny but that’s fine. It’s inoffensive in and of itself. But it doesn’t end there. He delivers his still-birth of comedy and suddenly the panel erupts into guffaws like he’s the Second Coming of Richard Pryor or something. Never go full guffaw when a polite chuckle would suffice. That’s like, etiquette 101.
8. (+1) TED Radio Hour
Episode Ranked: Shifting Time
[Paraphrase of an actual conversation]
Host: Why are humans so bad at predicting what they’ll be like in ten years?
Guest: Well, isn’t it funny – but humans can’t actually see into the future!
Host: Wait – you mean people can predict future events based on past events?
Guest: No – it’s almost as if they ALL experience time as a linear phenomena!
7. (Re-Entry) Radiolab
Episode Ranked: Eye in the Sky
I actually really liked this episode while it was focused on the story. But sweet mother of jump cuts they really need to lay off the overlapping speech effect. I know the guys at RL kind of pioneered the technique but we don’t need every segment to be dialectical ping pong.
6. (+2) Freakonomics
Episode Ranked: Make Me a Match
I am not a smart man but I knew where this was going way before Dubner and guest arrived at their actual conclusion. You see this groundbreaking method for connecting people to kidneys has been around in boardgaming circles for quite a while, and was probably used among different hobbyists before that. It’s called a math trade.
Everyone makes a list of games they want and games they have to trade. Then you run it through a script and it makes connections with people and games that are rarely one-to-one trades and is usually a convoluted string that ends up with me getting something cool in exchange for something crappy I had lying around.
Why we haven’t been applying this to body parts before now is befuddling.
5. (-2) Fresh Air
Episode Ranked: Best of – Judd Apatow, Inside Out Reviewed, Comedian Kumail Nanjiani
Boy was that a weird interview with Najiani or was it just me? The interviewer plays a clip of Nanjiani’s standup and says “remember when you said that?” and he has to scramble to do the interviewers job of coming up with an actual question. The interview was good despite the strangeness of the conversation, not because of any deftness by the interviewer.
4. (NO CHANGE) The Moth
Episode Ranked: The Moth Radio Hour – Pizza, Polar Bears, and Rock Stars
Sled dogs! Polar bears! Acts of deity-defiance expressed through melted cheese and cured meats!
This episode had everything.
3. (+2) This American Life
Episode Ranked: #323 – The Super
My love for Alex Blumberg is well documented by cheesy crisps that second segment pissed me off. Get your shaggy-dog stories out of here, Blumberg!
2. (NEW!) Lore
Episode Ranked: The Castle
I really like Lore, but I like it best when there’s supernatural ambiguity afoot. This was a good episode but wow, all the dead children were a real bummer.
1. (NO CHANGE) Mystery Show
Episode Ranked: Case #5 Source Code
Gimlet are on fire.
Last week’s episode of Startup was an emotional payoff for a rocky second season.
Reply All left me in shambles with #28 Shipped to Timbuktu.
Case #3 of Mystery Show was one of the best podcast episodes I’ve ever heard. Though this episode doesn’t quite reach those heights it is still so much fun. There’s no emotional-wrecking ball by way of a one-off conversation with a Jake Gyllenhall fan club president as I’ve come to expect from Kine’s conversations with assorted tertiary characters. But I laughed out loud several times and was delighted and charmed by the conclusion.
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