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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Sabrina Goes Mythos; The Doctor Goes Back to the Well

March 3rd, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

Recommended

Below Suspicion (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1949) Barrister Patrick Butler defends two women accused in two poisoning cases, but Dr. Fell suspects a Satanic link between them. Carr turns his plow to Dennis Wheatley furrows and reaps a bounty in a story that he keeps set in the twentieth century only by an effort of will. –KH

The Black Monday Murders, Vols 1-2 (Comics, Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker, 2016-2018) The exiled claimant to an occult banking empire returns, with bloody consequences. Bravura deep-lore conspiracy of money as demonic pact backs up a solid if familiar story. Coker’s moody, almost monochrome art exactly suits the intricate Gothic setting. With the series on hiatus, this may be all we get, but the arc completes (a bit hastily) across both volumes, even if we’re left wanting much much more. –KH

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season 4 (Television, US, Netflix, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, 2020) Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) vies semi-reluctantly for the throne of hell as a circus of bloodthirsty Green Man devotees menaces her family and coven. Jettisons the show’s high school angle and episodic format for a single suspense narrative. Nods to Lovecraft include a Deep One and invocation of eldritch terrors, with full-on Mythos set up for next season. (If there is one, Netflix being Netflix.)—RDL

Kid Galahad (Film, US, Michael Curtiz, 1937) His intemperate impulses held in check by his swell ex-chanteuse girlfriend (Bette Davis), a fight manager (Edward G. Robinson) grooms a forthright, cornfed heavyweight for the world title. Archetypal boxing picture features Davis pouring on the charm in an uncharacteristic sweetheart role. Curtiz’s control of rhythm and spatial relationships comes to the fore in the boxing sequences, an obvious reference point for Raging Bull.—RDL

Shattered Illusions: KGB Cold War Espionage in Canada (Nonfiction, Donald G. Mahar, 2017) Former CSIS agent uses unprecedented access to historical case files to reveal the amazing story of Soviet illegal-turned-double agent Yevgeny Brik, who was in turn betrayed to his masters by a turncoat officer of the RCMP Watcher Service. Most illuminating for its detailed portrayal of 1950s tradecraft, this account loses some of its zing when the author starts to write about himself in an affectedly neutral third person, as the story reaches 1992 and a surprising final twist. —RDL

Good

The Dead Man’s Knock (Fiction, John Dickson Carr, 1958) Near-deadly pranks at a small Southern college presage a murder in a locked room devised by Wilkie Collins. A later Dr. Fell mystery, and not an entirely triumphant one, it manages to create psychological tension (at some cost to character realism) rather than Carr’s regular fallback of Gothic tension. That said, I enjoyed the resulting Douglas Sirk melodrama as a change. –KH

Not Recommended

Doctor Who Season 12 (Television, UK, BBC, Chris Chibnall, 2020) The Master (Sacha Dawhan) returns yet again to confront The Doctor (Jodie Whitaker) with previously unrevealed secrets of her past. Unlike the first Whitaker series, this moves the spotlight from the companions to the Doctor, but but with writing this aggressively forgettable that’s scant consolation.—RDL

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