Jan 12, 2017

Podcast Portal: Top Shelf - Disney Animation Studios Library

Welcome to Podcast Portal: a spontaneous column that will highlight podcasts of all genres that are lesser known or new shows that are worth giving a listen. With the medium continuing to grow, it is hard to acknowledge all of them. However, I am going to try and find as many noteworthy titles as possible to share and hopefully expand your mind to the greatest growing medium out there. If you have any podcast that you feel is worth adding to the Podcast Portal, please make sure to inform me whether through the comments or through an e-mail (information in sidebar). 

SHOW: Top Shelf - Disney Animation Studios Library
HOSTS: Jeff Bell, T.C. De Witt
NETWORK: Ghost-Hat Media
EPISODE BEING DISCUSSED: "#01. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1939)"

Few movie studios have as favorable of a reputation as Walt Disney Studios. It would be difficult to argue this when they have several theme parks, countless billions in merchandise, and masterpieces that reshaped our understanding of cinema. With the recent release of Moana, it doesn't seem like they will necessarily be going anywhere. If they did however, there would still be an amazing catalog of work to pull from and discuss in detail. Not only do most of their early films feature great stories, but they are ingrained into the culture in some significant way.

For those looking for a podcast that will explore the lengthy history, then Top Shelf has a new show just for you. Disney Animation Studios Library promises to look at all 55 major animated releases. It's a lofty but manageable goal that is likely to produce some intriguing results. Considering that this features members of the Top Shelf staff that have looked extensively at the A.F.I. Top 100 movies and various movie franchises, their expertise is likely to bring a nice mix of witty commentary and interesting factoids about the films in question. With no better place to start, they begin with the first ever animated movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1939.
The film itself was a cultural landmark that deserves every ounce of praise that it has received. Yet there's plenty to question about it from a story and aesthetic standpoint. The hosts spend plenty of time wondering how the animators were able to create the ripple effects of the water as well as how Snow White relates to the darker children's fables of which Disney would pull from for the rest of their existence. There's a lot to unpack, and the hosts do an excellent job of mixing facts with opinions. By the end, one has a solid understanding of the film's cultural relevance as well as why they decided to do the show. It may be difficult to understand why when they hit the few duds along the way, but for now it's a trip through Disney's first golden era.
Speaking as the network Ghost-Hat Media is largely rebooting after a period of quietness, this is a welcomed sign of what's to come (an Academy Award show is reportedly coming soon). They usually provide great content that explores pop culture's rich history and brings to life what it means to be passionate and dedicated. Their Disney series is going to be a beast unto itself, providing hour long dissections on movies that define our culture, even if they're not as watched or discussed as much these days. The hosts even encourage an open conversation with fans, suggesting at the end of the episode to post their personal opinions on their Facebook page. Considering how beloved some films are, things could get pretty interesting real fast.
There's no telling how the show will evolve over the course of its proposed 55 weekly episodes. Maybe there will be more segments or audience interaction. Maybe there will be bigger clues into what makes these films special. Whatever the case may be, it's a show with plenty of promise so early in its run. Considering that the hosts already express hesitance to some dated racial depictions, the episodes should become interesting when the reverence collides with criticism. Otherwise, there's plenty of interesting topics to come. Next week is Pinocchio, later The Little Mermaid, eventually Frozen. Yep. They have plenty of fun work ahead of them, so get on board while it's young and have some fun.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5
WORTH A SECOND GO?: If you're a fan of Disney animated movies, then there's plenty of reason to at least pop in when a film you love comes up. Still, it's worth checking out when the obscure or even mediocre ones will be discussed. Disney is rarely dull.

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