It's a simple statement of fact at this point that we've never had more television shows to choose from, but there's a corollary to that: we've never had more podcasts about television shows to choose from. From single episode dissections and themed discussions to oddball commentary and behind the scenes explanations, more and more people are talking about what we watch, and the many reasons why.
What began as the province of fans, flowing over in a whirl of shared discovery from online communities, is increasingly moving back up the production chain. There are several successful podcasts about popular series hosted by former cast members, including Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa's Talking Sopranos and Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey's Office Ladies. The next step? Putting a program's creator behind the microphone.
Entourage cast Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly and Kevin Dillon with creator Doug Ellin (second from right) in 2015.Credit:Mike Coppola/Getty
"I was definitely done with the show, but these guys are still my boys," says Doug Ellin, the creator of Entourage, the HBO Hollywood comedy-drama that proved to be a defining series for the term 'bro' when it aired between 2004 and 2011. "I look at Entourage now and I feel like a person who wasn't even involved because it's been so many years. I remember the things that happened, but it's all a distance. It's fun to talk about it now."
Prompted by a pitch from cast member Kevin Connolly, Ellin and another of Entourage's signature stars, Kevin Dillon, host Victory the Podcast, a weekly journey through an episode of the show that's currently charting the second season after launching in June. The discussion is like the show's dialogue: predicated on male camaraderie, full of friendly digs, and culturally illustrative for the Los Angeles dude.
"This is not an attempt to monetise the past," Ellin says. "I always wanted to do a talk show but never pursued it, so I thought this would be fun and I thought it would help me get some skills in the field. Thankfully it's working and our audience is growing."
Stoked with movie industry egotism and a side order of salaciousness, Entourage hung with ascendant movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his trusted sidekicks, childhood friends Eric (Connolly) and "Turtle" (Jerry Ferrara), as well as Vincent's older half-brother, Johnny (Dillon). The cherry on top for the satire was Jeremy Piven's splenetic agent, Ari Gold, whose vein-popping meltdowns often stole the show.
The West Wing Weekly podcast recently completed its episode-by-episode dissection of the intricate political drama.
Most television creators are focused on their next show, not the previous one, but for Ellin Victory is a continuation of the deep friendship he formed with most of the show's stars (don't expect Piven to appear). Sitting in a studio to talk with Dillon and Connolly, the podcast's producer, is just a continuation of their group texts and nights out together.
"I can't get these guys to lock down to have a conversation about any of this, so I just try to come prepared and then we start riffing," Ellin says. "Fortunately it's working, and that's like what happened originally behind the scenes on the show. Back then I'd spend so much time writing things, but I could have just put the camera on them and let things happen."
The 52-year-old Ellin, who earnt three Emmy Award nominations for Entourage, wasn't previously a consumer of podcasts, but notes that they are ubiquitous in Los Angeles as a branding tool. Everyone from real estate agents and dentists to his divorce lawyer (Ellin's been married twice) have one.
Coming from television, where production costs are prohibitive, Ellin appreciated the ease of starting a podcast, and he believes Victory is timed to connect to a new generation – on lockdown – discovering Entourage. His friend's teenage children are now asking him about the show and its many celebrity cameos, and while he has no interest in reviving the series (the 2015 spin-off movie Ellin wrote and directed was savaged) he sees a path to relevance.
"Watching it now I think, 'Woo, I wouldn't write that today'. That said, the show was of its time and was a realistic portrayal of my experiences in Hollywood," Ellin says. "But I want to go further than Entourage. We'll definitely talk about it, but we want to have more guests from outside the show. I want the podcast to be an hour where you hang out with friends."
HIT SHOWS HAVE A SECOND LIFE IN PODCASTS
BUFFERING THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: Musician Jenny Owens Young and writer Kristin Russo are near the end of season five in their breakdown of Vampire the Vampire Slayer. The pair are devotees, but also bring cultural analysis to bear on a show that ended in 2003.
GAME OF OWNS: Game of Thrones might have concluded, but this podcast for superfans continues. Whether bringing in contributors to the fantasy hit or commentating on either a complete re-watch of the eight seasons or the source books, it satisfies obsessives.
SEINCAST: The show about nothing sure has generated a lot of episodes. Hosted by a pair of diehard fans, this in-depth podcast has run through all 180 episodes of Seinfeld, complete with their personal memories and behind the scenes minutiae.
THE TALKING DEAD: Zombie apocalypse drama The Walking Dead launched dozens of imitators and this detailed podcast, which has accumulated nearly 500 episodes dedicated to the soon to conclude show and related works.
THE WEST WING WEEKLY: Starting in 2016, Aaron Sorkin's White House drama was dissected by actor Joshua Malina (who played Will Bailey for four seasons) and podcaster Hrishikesh Hirway. Nearly everyone connected with the series has guested, including Sorkin.
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