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.
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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.”