Tag Archives: B

Wormwood | 2007-2010 | Habit Forming Films, David Accampo & Jeremy Rogers

It’s taken me a couple months to listen to this entire saga. 53 episodes, if I counted correctly. I didn’t listen to any of the Postmortems or the spoken text Five Fingers of Glory stories, nor did I read any of the published materials. Perhaps I do the entire creation a disservice, but I’m an audio theater guy. At least, that’s what I show up for. Something enveloping to listen to while I work.

This show is very uneven. I’ve been thinking of all the reasons why it turned out that way, but, I’m not gonna bother writing out my theories. It’s enough to say I found it uneven. Sometimes it’s a great show, sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes it strikes me as campy in that it has several positive elements but laughably bad production, other times it sounds very well made but it’s wasted on a pointless script and what I assume is bad directing.
And I must admit I kinda zoned out during the last season. So, I’m gonna grade on a curve here…

There is so much worth hearing when everything works that I think it is arguably worth listening to the whole thing. Mainly for the characters of Crowe and Sparrow and Arthur Russell’s performance of the former.
So, I’m gonna give this uneven production my first uneven score and give it a B- but have no intention to ever listen to it again. I strongly considered giving it a C+ to tip just barely into the positive half of the rating scale, but it just deserves better than that. And, again, I suspect that the final season was better than I noticed, since as I said, I’d kinda lost interest.

I am pasting my full notes I took below, after the link. If you want to know more of what I thought as I listened, I encourage you to read them. But, the bottom line is what I’ve posted above.

Wormwood – A Serialized Mystery

Doctor Xander Crowe was a formidable psychologist until a terrible tragedy sent him spiraling down the dark pathways of the occult. Now, a strange vision leads Doctor Crowe to the hidden town of Wormwood, where shadows lurk in every corner and evil stains the souls of the inhabitants. Welcome to Wormwood.

And, here’s all the notes I took while listening…

A whopping 24 episodes of 20-30 minutes each in the first season. Season 2 has 23 eps that average 30 each.

Note – There’s a lot of blog posts on this feed. And teasers, trailers, behind the scenes stuff.
I took this show, as I’ve taken all shows I’ve posted about here, at face value only. Only the episodes themselves. The show on its own two feet, as it were. I’m not saying that’s fair, just saying that’s how I do audio theater. I’m a stay at home dad, I work most of the day, I have my headphones in, I listen to a lot of stuff. I’m not saying I never go to the site or read about the show – I’m just saying what matters to me is the show itself.

To say this is an uneven production is understatement.
Some great dialogue, then camp film dialogue. Compelling story, then utter plot confusion (at least on my end). Horrible sound design, then very good placement of music. A great character, but dialogue recording so bad that it’s distracting.

It’s definitely low budget. But not even that excuses things like hollow log, recorded-in-a-bathroom voices with chirping birds or playing children to let you know this is an outdoor scene.(!?)

But, I’m continually eager to hear more. I wouldn’t say I’m forgiving it’s massive flaws – more like there’s enough good stuff that I’m willing to stick around to see if they get the problems fixed.
Doctor Xander Crowe is a brilliantly written character, flawlessly performed by Arthur Russell. Seriously, one of the best performances I’ve ever heard and anytime a scene has him, I’m prepared to give this show an A++.

After finishing season one, my judgment could be summarized as saying it’s junk food. It’s easy to just keep listening – it’s fairly addictive (Habit Forming?), even if the flaws are obvious. Maybe an audio cult classic? I have daily been eager to hear more and I don’t always feel that way as I listen through a long-form show. And I’m excited as I begin season two.

It seems they used different dialogue recording techniques for season two as the actors sound MUCH better.

As of ep5 of s2, I’m underwhelmed by this season. I was prepared to give s1 at least a B-, but this is mostly D material now. The story just isn’t grabbing me. And Dr. Crowe has become a minor character. At production values this low, if you don’t got character and you don’t got story, you got nothing.

After ep10, I still feel this way. I’d bail if I weren’t already invested. I’ve been putting off this show for a couple years so I want to at least finish it.
Or maybe it’s just me? Maybe the novelty wore off or something?

As of episode 15, there’s been enough Crowe and Sparrow that I’m not exactly dragging myself through the last couple episodes.

Heading into the last couple episodes of s2, I do feel I’m dragging myself through and not excited about s3. And I’m think that lately, even when Crowe gets a scene, it’s not as well written. Perhaps it’s unfair to think “no Crowe, no show” but I do find myself much less interested in the other characters, to varying degrees.

I am enjoying the season 3 Wormwood Portraits episodes more than I enjoyed much of season 2.

I’m very confused and disappointed by the dual casting choice in The Lover’s Tale.

The Portraits episodes make me more interested in the characters… Perhaps if one were to start with these, the first two seasons would be richer.

Transmissions from Colony One – Season 3 | 2015 | John W. Richter

I previously listened to seasons one and two and summarized my opinion of them as follows…

I give it a solid C. It does most everything right that it set out to do but I just didn’t care for it.

This third season is very different from the first two. First of all, the episodes are longer. Season one episodes averaged 9 minutes, most season two episodes are between 12 and 14 minutes but season three’s ten episodes are at least 23 minutes and go up to 40 minutes.

I took ALOT of notes/thoughts/jots on this show, so I’ll just paste them below rather than wordsmith a full writeup and, therefore, the following will be a bit disjointed.

….

OK, that EVA scene in the first episode (starts about 8:45) is horrifying and chilling. Well acted, perfectly written – even the music and sound design. Just wow.

….

This show got really good all of a sudden? Maybe it’s the longer episode running times – a more detailed story can be told. On the other hand, it’s not the story, per se, that’s got me hooked. It’s mainly the character interactions that kept me listening five episodes – half the season – in a single sitting. (Well, standing and working, but you know what I mean.)

….

I still can’t imagine listening to this at a pace of less than a half hour every couple/few weeks.
Though, in all fairness, I’m not listening to any currently produced fictional podcast as they are released. I’m still catching up on all the great stuff released over the years that I was absent from modern audio theater. Therefore, I have the luxury of (and have therefore formed an addiction to) only binge listening entire shows.

….

They need to abandon the found footage gimmick. It’s becoming unbelievable how much is caught on microphones. Or they should at least explain it better. But, once they add music, I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just started doing natural audio. Other than they’re kinda stick with the gimmick now. (Though, there is the rare breaks from it, like in episode ten in the command assignments scene.)

….

It was episode six that I gave in and decided I probably love this. And want to start over again with season one when I finish.
Though, in eps seven and eight, I started to feel like certain inevitabilities were being artificially drawn out. Stretching credulity isn’t necessarily a crime, but, they’re kinda overdoing it. Plenty of drama, yes, but maybe at the expense of logic just to ensure the episodes hit their full running time and that they’d have a full ten episodes. Or maybe they had too many scenes they wanted to fit in at the cost of sensible storytelling.
As you can probably tell, it’s difficult to comment on this and remain spoiler-free.

….

As of episode nine, I’ve noticed a pattern…
I have these chilling moments when I’m blown away and swearing this is a truly great show. But, then there’s other times I’m in disbelief at certain story and character choices or even just bored, asking myself what I ever saw in this show. And episode nine has some criminally credulity-stretching moments. Yet, I’m loving this episode. And how. I’m not even sure how I’ll rate this.

….

So, there it is.
I’m gonna err on the side of enthusiasm and give this third season a B+ and I really want to listen to all three seasons again.

Transmissions from Colony One

Transmissions From Colony One is a radio drama set in the near-future of 2057. Twenty years prior, United States President Richard Thorpe (R-CO) announced the start of a “New Dawn,” a global attitude shift toward widespread space exploration. Technological advents such as fusion energy, worldwide high-speed railway systems, and internet speeds faster than ever envisioned laid the groundwork for an economic explosion, but it lacked a platform on which to occur. Thorpe gave the world an outlet for its immense wealth, asking people across the world to simply look up for humanity’s future.

In the twenty years since, the world has changed drastically. MECTI (Mars Exploration, Colonization and Terraformation Initiative) was established with the goal of starting a permanent human presence on Mars. This meant using fusion-propelled rocketry, the construction of a massive space elevator to make transportation from the surface of Earth to low orbit more cost and energy-efficient, and the creation of a mammoth space station that would dwarf today’s International Space Station. All of these things needed to be done in order for MECTI to work. Now, twenty years after the birth of MECTI, the first crew, MECTI-1, is about to land on the surface of Mars, in the flat expansive region of Amazonis Planitia. This will be the first manned mission to the surface of Mars, and the first of thousands of MECTI manned missions to the Red Planet.

Doctor Who – Eighth Doctor Adventures – Season One | 2007 | Big Finish/BBC

These are so well made. The recording techniques, overall sound design, acting, etc. are great and natural. And the writing is really good.

But, it didn’t really hold me spellbound or anything. I enjoyed it, but once was enough. I’m giving it a B- and not keeping a copy on hand for future listens. And that’s not to say it doesn’t deserve repeat listenings – it certainly does. I think I’d rather listen to more Doctor Who than listen to this again. So, I’m going to move on to season two. If I feel more strongly about it – negatively or positively – I’ll make another post or add to this one.

Doctor Who – Eighth Doctor Adventures

‘Recently, on TV, we saw how the Paul McGann Doctor died – now it’s time to find out how he lived.’ Steven Moffat

The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) is an enthusiastic figure who explores the universe for the sheer love of it: though always ready to tackle problems when they arise, he relies on brilliant improvisation rather than elaborate plans.

He is passionate, direct, sympathetic and emotionally accessible, yet this is balanced by occasional feelings of self-doubt and weariness of his endless battles against evil.

In this series of full-cast audiobooks, many broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra, he is accompanied on his travels by the feisty and fabulous Lucie Miller, played by Sheridan Smith, Tamsin Drew (Niky Wardley) and, most recently, Molly O’Sullivan, played by Ruth Bradley.

Claybourne | 1998 | Andrew Dubber & Belinda Todd

I’m not sure what to make of this one. But I kept listening. And listening. The dishwasher has been broke, so I’ve been listening to this while I wash dishes by hand. I’d only downloaded the first 20 of 96 6-ish minute episodes and listened to them all in one go, so I’d say I’m hooked. Yet, I don’t exactly love it. Yet I kept listening.

Everything is fine. Better than fine. The design, acting, production – all very natural. Nearly perfect. A very model of how I wish all presentations sounded. The writing is solid, the story is… Well, again, not great or anything. But, oddly addictive. Among the several genres this could be categorized under, it’s a soap opera in its execution. Perhaps because of the time limitation – with only a very few minutes, they gotta keep you coming back. So, it’s got that potato chips thing going on – one doesn’t satisfy so you keep munching. Especially since there’s no clear stopping point. Chapters, seasons, whatever. The story just keeps going so I was in a “just one more” mode. Twenty episodes the first time I listened, thirty the next, thirty more next time.

Should anyone read this, it is important that I bring up the ending. It kinda has none. The story falls off a cliff after 96 episodes because the show was cancelled. That doesn’t bother me too much. I’m a fan of a several shows – audio and visual – that got cancelled before they could finish. Firefly, Freaks & Geeks, Carnivale, etc.. I still love what exists of them. But I know some people won’t bother if they can’t have full closure, so I’m mentioning it.

Anyway, bottom line – I just don’t love it, yet I can’t stop listening to it and I wish I had more. So, I’m giving it a B- but not keeping it.

Claybourne
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Part thriller, part scifi, part soap opera, part comedy, Claybourne was perhaps the most sonically ambitious radio drama production ever to hit New Zealand’s airwaves. 

Produced by Andrew Dubber & Belinda Todd in 1998, it gained something of a cult following, won a radio award for best dramatic production, and later became the most popular spoken word programme on MP3.com. It was also the first podcast radio drama series online. 

SYNOPSIS
Thompson is an American holidaying in New Zealand after his breakup nearly led to a breakdown. 

He receives a message from his employers, multinational communication giant Koestler Industries, that there’s a ‘problem’ at their satellite station up in the far north of the country, and that since he’s over there anyway, he should check it out. 

The problem is… ‘problem’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. 

Campfire Radio Theater | John Ballantine | 2012, ongoing

The production quality really is top notch. I can’t say enough about it. It just sounds great. I wish all audio productions sounded this good.

The intro guy is a bit much. I realize he’s trying to set a mood for the episode but he’s overboard and clichéd. (And, for cryin’ out loud, if you’re gonna use that voice, pronounce all four syllables nice and slow: “com-fort-a-ble”!)

I listened to all thirteen currently available stories and in all, it succeeds in what it sets out to do. These are mystery thrillers first, horror stories second. And the stories are of a pretty consistent quality level – no greats but no utter wastes either. If I were to choose a high point episode it would probably be Demon Eyes or The Philadelphia Xperiment. (The lower point was definitely RIP.) Again, the sound design and production are consistently great. Really keeps you in the story – immersive, atmospheric. The acting ranges from good enough to great and the dialogue is usually very good.

All combined, I give the series a solid B and maybe I’ll add it to the Halloween media collection but I have no plans to listen to it again more than once in a year. It’s just not my preferred genre for repeated listening. Though, this is an ongoing series and I’ll surely listen to future episodes.

Campfire Radio Theater

Welcome friend… Have a seat by the fire… Make yourself comfortable.

Creating audio plays for the iPod generation, Campfire Radio Theater is an anthology of surreal horror tales fully dramatized with actors, music and immersive sound effects recorded in digital stereo… That bump in the night is always more frightening in stereo.

And That’s the Truth

Yes, Edith Ann. Yes, Lily Tomlin. Yes, 1971.

This was possibly my first exposure to any kind of audio theater, aside from the story records/tapes I had as a kid. I don’t know how old I was (surely no older than ten) when I was repeatedly playing my mom’s 8-track of this but so much of it has stayed in my mind over 30 years later. I had to revisit it. I remember that, as a child, I started paying more attention to the Edith Ann segments on The Electric Company (uh, or was it Sesame Street?) and wasn’t entertained by them yet I loved this. And I still know nothing of those bits other than they were made for kids.
This album is not made for kids.
But, she nails what it is to be a kid, think like a kid, talk like a kid. I didn’t realize it so profoundly at the time, of course – she was a peer, more or less. Now, I hear many jokes I don’t recall, presumably because I didn’t know it was funny to be that way. Sure, it’s basically a live stand up comedy string of one liners but the writing is great. I’m not much for comedy but I don’t know that there’s much in the way of uproariously funny moments anyway. This is Edith Ann, a kinda darkly imaginative child learning to be philosophical. It’s just well written, funny enough, and even a little poignant at times. This is all about the great character and performance. With added subtle sound effects that work really well. It’s the sound of audience laughter that annoys. But, meh, it counts as audio theater – albeit live audio theater which is something I usually turn my nose up at.

I give it a B on its own merits, rather than compare it to most of what I prefer to listen to. And, I’ll probably keep a copy. I want to try to get Wesley to listen to it, too.

I found it downloadable with a write-up on it here…

http://eggcityradio.com/2010/lily-tomlin/

The Lost Elevator

I actually liked a comedy.
This 20ish minute play was coming across like an audio Pixar Short in my head. Fun little story, seamless sound design, snappy dialogue that doesn’t waste a word, very good use of the medium all around.
The only complaint I have is it had a couple too many characters. I give it a B- and am adding it to my keepers folder.

Episode: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RadioDramaRevival/~5/_FlAz_7HqHk/191028518-radiodramarevival-episode-404-inside-the-lost-elevator.mp3

Claustrophobics beware! This week we play Northern Lights Radio Theater’s production of “The Lost Elevator,” – set in 1930′s New York, an express elevator suddenly becomes inexplicably stuck between floors in the high rise Robinson Building. Inside the car, an assortment of people are left stranded and each reacts to the situation differently. Written by Percival Wilde and produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. We also welcome our latest contributor, David Rheinstrom, with his review of “The Hadron Gospel Hour.” Download Radio Drama Revival Episode 404 The post Episode 404 – Stuck in the “Lost Elevator” appeared first on Radio Drama Revival.

Custard’s Last Stand – The Icebox Radio Podcast

I really liked this one. I’ve been looking for more straightforward drama – ordinary people, ordinary stories. I love my sci fi but I also want real.
I think this is my first listen to anything from Ice Box Radio Theater and I’m impressed. It isn’t perfect (especially that one scene) but a very good story, acting, production, etc.. And it really hits home with me, since we went through a lot, emotionally, when we lost our beloved Moogle kitty – the guy who wrote this has obviously lived it.

Episode: http://traffic.libsyn.com/iceboxradio/IBRT_S06E03_Custard.mp3

On a family comes to grips with how tenuous their lives really are when a simple decision regarding the beloved family cat threatens to topple everything. Starring Jeff Adams, Alea Mackintosh and introducing Autumn Silvers.