Podcast Picks

Podcast Pick: WITH A PENCIL


Look, I don’t mind leveling with you here: WITH A PENCIL: A SIX-EPISODE SERIES ABOUT THE JOHN WICK UNIVERSE only has one episode currently. That’s, admittedly, not a ton to go on for a pod that we’re anointing “Podcast of the Week,” but there are a few things you need to know before you (potentially correctly) assume we made a rushed decision:

  1. WITH A PENCIL: A SIX-EPISODE SERIES ABOUT THE JOHN WICK UNIVERSE is about John Wick, the man, myth, and legend portrayed by Keanu Reeves in JOHN WICK, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2, and, in a few weeks, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 — PARABELLUM. If you don’t like the John Wick franchise, I don’t really have a lot more for you. Stop reading this article. In fact, stop reading anything I’ve written on this site—it’s clearly not for you. The movie (and soon to be TV show) is a slick, intricately crafted action franchise about a retired assassin who initially was seeking justice for a killed puppy and is now on the run. And folks? This movie franchise fucks.
  2. WITH A PENCIL: A SIX-EPISODE SERIES ABOUT THE JOHN WICK UNIVERSE is hosted by Shea Serrano, writer for The Ringer, New York Times best selling author of BASKETBALL (AND OTHER THINGS) and THE RAP YEAR BOOK, Twitter Icon, and online Robin Hood. If you’ve been on Twitter for any amount of time, you’re likely familiar with Serrano, and you’ve even potentially checked out his clever, observational brand of writing. The curiosity and wit he displays in his writing is on full display with this podcast. Not a traditional host by any stretch, Serrano opens the first episode of WITH A PENCIL by admitting that while that title looks awesome in print (it does, gaze upon it), it’s not really a good name to say out loud (and it isn’t, really, try that now as well). Episode 1, which entirely focuses on the original 2014 film and features editor-in-chief of the Ringer, Sean Fennessy, and LAZOR WULF writer, Judnick Mayard, explores the movie’s best kills, which character should be the most embarrassed, and the best cameos—understand that Serrano’s hosting style is so coloquial that a discussion regarding actors in the movie rarely involves using those actors’ given names, and instead sees Ryan O’Reily (OZ, 30 ROCK) referred to as “Mayhem” (the character he plays in Allstate commercials) and Alfie Allen simply called “Theon Greyjoy” (of GAME OF THRONES). That kind of hosting style makes WITH A PENCIL less an analytical deep dive and more some friends shooting the shit about a great action movie, which is a vibe you can ride for 45 minutes easily.
  3. WITH A PENCIL: A SIX-EPISODE SERIES ABOUT THE JOHN WICK UNIVERSE has five more episodes coming, including formal discussions of both sequels, as well as discussions regarding who the best dog owners in film are, 30 tiny moments to dissect from the franchise, and a quick pass discussing the inaugural class for the action movie hero hall of fame.

So is it reckless to be anointing a show with only one singular episode as Podcast of the Week? Probably. But Shea Serrano? John Wick? A podcast devoted to fictional dog ownership? I think you can understand why it’s worth betting on and, at only six episodes, if you’re as hyped as I am for JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 — PARABELLUM, jump on the wave early.

CJ Simonson
CJ Simonson is Merry-Go-Round's Editor-in-Chief and representative for all things Arizona. The only thing he knows for certain is that "I Can Feel The Fire" by Ronnie Wood is the greatest closing credits song never used in a Wes Anderson movie. Get on that, Wes.

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