August 11th, 2009

Mad Men, w/guest Leonard Pierce

The AMC drama Mad Men will begin its third season within the coming week, and so it’s a pertinent time to turn our sights on this critically-acclaimed series. Mad Men focuses on the Sterling Cooper advertising agency, set against the backdrop of 1960s America, and creator Matt Weiner uses the show as a vehicle for social commentary on evolving social mores, gender roles, and the illusions of both personal identity and domestic relationships. Returning as my guest is freelance writer and pop-culture critic Leonard Pierce, who has written about film and television for numerous national publications, and also is a regular contributor to The Onion’s A/V club. (Information on Leonard’s projects can be found here.) WARNING: Numerous spoilers within! So if you haven’t yet seen the first two seasons of this show, be sure to watch before listening… [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in August 2009.]


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March 11th, 2009

The Depiction of Wealth in Popular Culture, w/guest Leonard Pierce

One of the many “taglines” of America is that it is the “Land of Opportunity” where anyone can succeed… and above all, get rich. How has this impacted the depiction of wealth (and the desire for wealth) here in the United States in contrast to other parts of globe? How has television served as a snapshot of American propserity in each particular era, from shows such as All in the Family to The Cosby Show and Friends? And how have economic issues been depicted in futuristic utopias (like Star Trek) as well as dystopias? Returning as my guest is freelance writer and pop-culture critic Leonard Pierce, who blogs about film for’s Screengrab and whose commentary can be found at his website, [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in March 2009.]


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November 20th, 2008

The Hollywood President, w/guest Leonard Pierce

It’s no surprise that the recent Oliver Stone film, W, has bombed at the box office — much like its ’90s pseudo-predecessor, Primary Colors. Regardless of how good the movie is (and W is mighty intriguing), the fact remains that the public has had a front-row seat to witness the debacle of the White House over the last eight years… so why would they want to relive the experience for an additional two hours?

In addition, why is it that our fictional Hollywood leaders, such as David Palmer of 24 and Jeb Bartlet of The West Wing, are often so much more appealing than their real-life counterparts? How has the public perception of the Commander-in-Chief been impacted by film and television throughout the years, and what have been some of the more notable attempts at depicting presidents throughout the years? We’ll look at everything from historical portrayals (John Adams, Nixon) to dark comedies (Dr. Strangelove) and bizarre farces (Wild in the Streets, Gabriel Over the White House).

Returning as my guest is pop-culture critic and freelance writer Leonard Pierce — Leonard is a contributor to’s ScreenGrab and the Onion’s A/V club, and you can find out more information on Leonard’s projects and thoughts at his blog. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in November 2008.]


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August 26th, 2008

The Continuing Evolution of the Graphic Novel in Film, w/guest Leonard Pierce

These certainly aren’t the superheroes our parents grew up watching. The critical and box-office smash The Dark Knight is Exhibit A of how superhero films are now free to aim squarely at adult audiences — further proof that their graphic-novel counterparts have cemented their place as a respected literary genre. Not to be outdone, the much-anticipated Watchmen film, based on Alan Moore’s landmark comic series of the 1980s, will hit screens next year… along with a slew of other movies based on iconic comic-book characters.

Interestingly enough, however, comics outside of America typically deal with a much wider range of stories than our mostly-crimefighting fare. Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical series Persepolis , about her experiences growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, achieved global acclaim, while in contrast, similarly-themed comics here in the States like American Splendor and Ghost World are largely considered underground press.

Returning as my guest is freelance writer and pop-culture critic Leonard Pierce, a contributor to’s ScreenGrab; information about Leonard’s writing and various projects can be found at his blog. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in September 2008.]


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Kevin Fullam is a writer and researcher, with extensive experience in fields ranging from sports analytics to politics and cinema.

In addition, he has hosted two long-running radio series on film and culture, and taught mass media at Loyola University.

Episodes of his two shows, Split Reel and Under Surveillance, are archived on the Radio page.