Now that "Gene and Roger," the new podcast by Brian Raftery for The Ringer (Spotify), has aired its eighth and final episode, I want to acquaint you with the entire series. It is a superb tribute to the legacy of my late husband, Roger Ebert, and his longtime colleague and friend, Gene Siskel, who created a television show that has yet to be equaled in its influence, insight and entertaining analyses of cinema. It was a pleasure participating in the podcast, and I know for certain that both Roger and Gene would give Brian their trademark "Two Thumbs Up!" Here's a full list describing all the episodes, complete with links to their articles on The Ringer and where you can tune in for each on Spotify...
Episode One, "I Must Destroy Him," premiered on July 20th and featured yours truly, Marlene Iglitzen (wife of Gene), filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, "Sneak Previews" creator Thea Flaum, "Siskel & Ebert" producer Nancy De Los Santos, and "Pardon the Interruption" creator Erik Rydholm. This episode serves as an enticing introduction to the eight-part series, in which Raftery explains "how two megastar movie critics created media as we know it."
Episode Two, "Is the Room Big Enough for Both These Guys?", also premiered on July 20th and added "Siskel & Ebert" producer Ray Solley, "Siskel & Ebert" producer Jim Murphy, journalist Dave Price and film critic Carrie Rickey to its roster of interview subjects. This episode delves into Roger and Gene's respective paths toward film criticism, and their passion for such cinematic classics as "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Saturday Night Fever."
Episode Three, "The Thumbs," premiered on July 27th and welcomed filmmakers Ramin Bahrani and Justin Lin as well as "Siskel & Ebert" associate producer Carie Lovstad, film critic Alonso Duralde and television critic Tom Shales. This episode insightfully dissects Roger's and Gene's Midwestern approach to criticism and how they were able to deliver top-drawer analysis in a way that was accessible and engaging to a national mainstream audience.
Episode Four, "Top Guns," premiered on August 3rd, and includes even more new voices: film producer Jesse Beaton and Buena Vista Television executive Jamie Bennett. In this episode, Raftery explores the enormous influence of Roger and Gene's reviews, particularly their championing of smaller pictures that otherwise could have easily slipped through the cracks, notably "My Dinner with Andre," which attributed its success at the box office to the duo of critics.
Episode Five, "Attack of the Clones," premiered on August 10th, and surveys the various imitators who attempted to replicate the formula of "Siskel & Ebert" while lacking the duo's inimitable chemistry and ability to connect with viewers. It also details how Roger and Gene responded to the criticism of their show from other colleagues by pointing out how their analyses go far beyond the simple vote of "thumbs up" or "thumbs down."
Episode Six, "The Human Condition," premiered on August 17th, and provides illuminating evidence of how Roger's and Gene's criticism had a transformative impact on the Academy's flawed and problematic voting system for the Oscars. Their championing of such films as "Hoop Dreams," "Do the Right Thing," "Roger & Me" and "One False Move" (whose director, Carl Franklin, and producer, Jesse Beaton, contribute their thoughts) is also covered in detail, along with Roger's advocacy for what became the NC-17 rating.
Episode Seven, "The Realities of Time," premiered on August 23rd, and follows the final years of Roger's and Gene's partnership prior to Gene passing on February 20th, 1999, after a battle with a brain tumor. We hear moving excerpts from the reviews he participated in with Roger while phoning in from his hospital bed, where he delighted in the lame parody of him and his "Siskel & Ebert" sparring partner in 1998's overhyped summer blockbuster, "Godzilla."
Episode Eight, "Something Wonderful is Coming To An End," premiered on August 25th, and chronicles how Roger kept his beloved television show alive for another decade after his partner's death. Richard Roeper offers his insights into what made his particular chemistry with Roger special and why he felt ideas pitched to him by the network of how to the keep the show relevant in the era of the internet (upon which Roger became a leading voice) wouldn't have fit the spirit of what the previous duo had created. The episode is a moving tribute to the extraordinary appeal of "Siskel & Ebert," which has continued to endure long after Roger's passing from cancer on April 4th, 2013.
So I invite you to listen to all eight episodes of the "Gene and Roger" podcast at The Ringer. Also be sure to check out our special edition of "Siskel & Ebert" Thumbnails, as well as our reprint of Donald Liebenson's 1995 article for The Los Angeles Times about the twentieth anniversary of "Siskel & Ebert." Below you will find an embedded video of a "Short History of Siskel & Ebert on Television." And please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment here to tell me what you think about the podcast.