Tag Archives: C

The Orphans | 2016 | Zachary Fortais-Gomm

​Not much to say about this one.

Seven episodes of 16 to 24 minutes each, except the 37min finale.

This is very well made. What I wish more audio theater sounded like. But, the story just didn’t do it for me. Not badly written, probably, just not my thing. Yet, so well made, it’s hard to rate it badly.

Conundrum.

So, here’s what I’ll do… I’ll give it a C+, won’t keep a copy for myself, but I’m probably gonna share this one with my family. They might enjoy it more than I did.

The Orphans is a Sci-Fi Audio Drama series focusing on the survivors of a crashed space ship. They have no memory, and no way out. As the group is slowly being hunted, they must work to understand their mysterious arrival on this planet.

The Byron Chronicles | 2005 to 2015 | Eric Busby

I finally got around to listening this. I decided that Halloween month was a good excuse to do so. Especially since it’s coming to an end.

This is an audio comic book.
That’s the short version.

It kinda breaks my heart to post the rest of my thoughts. I know Eric Busby is a respected name in modern audio theater. And I’ve been meaning for a long time to listen through this and was ready to love it.
But, I don’t love it.

There’s no denying it’s a cool universe/mythos. (Though, it owes a lot to Doctor Who and Underworld and doesn’t bother to hide it very well.) The sound design is good enough most of the time to take me into that world. The music is a great touch (when usually I’d complain about so much music) and the effects usually get the job done, though many are obviously from free sound effects libraries. But, they’re mixed well so I don’t think about it much. It’s an experience that’s more immersive and atmospheric than most stuff out there.

Much of the casting is disappointing. Strictly amateur hour. Most of the acting is pretty unremarkable – sometimes just bad – but David Ault is at his most dull here. I’ve heard him in a few things and he’s just kinda boring. I often wonder if he’s the only English accent for hire in American low budget audio theater. What he does is reciting lines but not really performing. And that’s even more true in this show than usual. I think it’s supposed to be the character’s flat affect? But that’s not what it sounds like to me.

The character of Byron doesn’t interest me much, either. The writer gives him plenty of dialogue but it’s written rather blandly. Not really any depth or nuance. Though, most of everyone’s dialogue is pretty color-by-numbers and predictable. That doesn’t give him or anyone else much to work with. But, I think the character is written inconsistently. For instance, how much time he spends explaining himself to other characters. Yet so much of the rest of the time, he’s written as someone who wouldn’t bother explaining himself to people. Since these are his chronicles that he himself is writing, the information could have been given to us that way – in the form of narration – and it would be more consistent with the character, I think. (To be clear, descriptive narration is used quite a bit and I applaud that but expository narration is used much less.)
Oh yeah, and Byron seems genuinely unlikable. And that makes me disinterested. He’s not a cool antihero or even intriguingly dark – he’s just kind of an ass hole. His smart-ass demeanor is probably supposed to come across as wit. But, as someone says in 2.10, “Your melancholic enigma routine doesn’t work on me!”
Yeah, me neither.

Even with all that said, though, there’s still a lot to like. It does a lot well. I’ve pretty much listed everything bad about it above. The dislike I felt toward the central character and the actor playing him just can’t be ignored, no matter how much else is done well. But I certainly didn’t hate it. I give it a C- just to barely tip the rating to the negative half of the scale. It was a mostly satisfying way to spend my Halloween month listening but once was enough.

Episodes 1.01-4.04
Episodes 4.05-5.10

Imagine if the world as you know it… was nothing more than an illusion. What if creatures like elves, dragons, vampire, zombies and werewolves walk amongst you every day… But you never see them. This is the world I walk in. I am called Byron and these are my chronicles.

Moby Dick | 2010 | Stef Penney, Kate McCall

Two 50ish minute parts.

I can’t take these actors seriously. A bit cartoonish. And most of them aren’t very good at the more archaic English. It’s precise, not natural.

But, everything else works – I’m totally wrapped up in the story. Though, I feel the second part has a bit too much narration, speeches, soliloquy, etc.. The first part was so much fun with all the details describing life on a whaling boat. The writing is great all around, though obviously that’s the source material

I give it a C+ because it did much more right than wrong and I enjoyed it. I am keeping a copy of it but only because I want to listen to the first half again sometime.

Moby Dick
.
.
from Wikipedia
.
In October 2010, BBC Radio 4‘s Classic Serial broadcast a new two-part adaptation of the novel by Stef Penney, produced and directed by Kate McAll with specially composed music by Stuart Gordon and starring Garrick Hagon as Ahab, Trevor Whiteas the narrating Ishmael, PJ Brennan as the young Ishmael of the story, Richard Laing as Starbuck and Sani Muliaumaseali’i as Queequeg.

Transmissions from Colony One | 2013, ongoing | John W. Richter & Dustin Weiskopf

– – – FOLLOWUP – – –
I listened to season three and gave it an enthusiastic B+.

My in my headphones posts are usually short – I post opinions, not reviews – but this will be shorter than it probably deserves as the app I always use to take notes for stuff I listen to lost a couple days worth of notes.

I listened to this a couple times, paired with various activities and attention levels. I wanted to be sure – I heard potential but, the first time through, I didn’t hear the potential fully realized. And I’d listened to some of season one several months ago. When I saw season two was complete, I started over from the beginning.

I’ve watched countless hours of NASA missions and they succeed in making this production realistic. The procedures, details, even all the acronyms caught my attention and really started sucking me in. But, the effect didn’t last.

For me, it just didn’t work overall. I was lost with all the characters so I didn’t care about them and the story never really grabbed me. I should have loved this – it’s solid sci-fi. The setting, concept, plot, presentation, science, speculative science, crew-centered, alien world, etc. – it sounds like I’m describing one of my favorite sci-fi shows/movies/novels but it didn’t work for me overall. But all the ingredients are there so, if you’re reading this, I say give it a try, you may love it.

The last two episodes of the second season were gripping and well written.
That husband and wife scene in 210 was very moving for me. And the dialogue a bit later – “I don’t know what I was thinking. That wasn’t me.” with the reply “It is now.” That’s great writing.

Anyway, 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. When season three is complete, I’m positive I’ll listen to it and maybe even start from season one again but I’m not keeping an archived copy – a podcatcher subscription is good enough for this one.

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.

Transmissions From Colony One chronicles the on-board recordings of MECTI-1 as the international crew of sixteen (eight men, eight women) conduct their mission…

Hayward Sanitarium | 2012 | Matthew Baucco and Richard Johnson

From my notes…

I kinda liked this. But only kinda. I think I need to listen to it again sometime.

I really like how they record dialogue. Natural – doesn’t sound like someone speaking into a microphone. I wish more people did it this way. The dialogue and acting itself is a mixed bag.
I love the sound production all around – natural and immersive. So natural, in fact, that I kept forgetting to judge it – it just all blends so well.

The story… isn’t bad? I didn’t enjoy it but I think it’s more an issue of my taste than the storyteller. As I think it over, I think the characters aren’t developed enough to make me care about what happens to them.

Ep10 20:00 to 23:50
SERIOUSLY?? WTF?
They surely knew this was a risky scene and it was mainly annoying to me and therefore ended the entire series on an unpleasant note.
Speaking of the ending, I would have certainly listened to more episodes if they’d made them. I don’t hesitate when someone says “Don’t bother – they got cancelled after one season and didn’t resolve anything.” Some of my favorite TV shows were cancelled after one season. And the same applies here – I’m not bothered. But, I would have kept listening and quite possibly would have come to like it more.

Anyway, I liked it more than I didn’t like it. The atmospheric sounds design would be great to listen to again during Halloween season, so I give it a tentative C+ and will listen to it again in October.

Hayward Sanitarium

There are some areas of the human mind, and indeed of the world we live in, that were never meant for investigation. There are always those who delve into the darker worlds of knowledge, and many pay with their sanity for their interest. Some of these unfortunates are taken in by the Hayward Foundation, an organization that studies paranormal experiences and their effects on humanity. It is cases such as these that are sent to a restored mansion in a small coastal town in Maine, a center for the care and study of the insane. Since the 1920s this place has been known as the Hayward Sanitarium.

Hayward Sanitarium was produced by Last Minute Productions at LodeStone Media in Bloomington, Indiana. The series aired on National Public Radio twice and remains in syndication on community radio stations nationwide. Now considered a cult classic, the series broke new ground in audio theater production as one of the first digitally recorded and edited shows. Much of the series was recorded on location with live performances. The fear you hear may be very near.

Aftermath | 2012 | Yap Audio | Matthew McLean & Robert Cudmore

I gave the first season a solid meh.
No crimes against the medium but just underwhelming. Though, I did keep listening and plan to listen to season two, as well. I do love post-apocalyptic stories.

I didn’t take many notes while I listened to this – mainly just the following…
I find Julie Hoverson’s voice annoying. She’d make a good audio book reader – she’s got a storyteller voice – but in audio theater productions she just always sounds like she’s trying too hard.

That’s it. I give this a C- because it does more right than wrong but I’m not keeping it. But, again, I plan to listen to further episodes. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

…UPDATE…

I listened to season two and I’m just going to paste my notes…

I think the dialogue is a bit better. Or maybe I just like it better. The story is certainly picking up. There is such a thing as too many plot twists, though.

The sound design is pretty seamless and natural – I kept forgetting to judge it because it just worked.

I still don’t like Julie Hoverson. Thankfully, there’s less of her in this season.

I didn’t know this wasn’t an ongoing series. I did really enjoy the end. Or rather, epilogue.

I stand by my C- and doubt I’ll ever listen to it again.

Aftermath

Welcome to 2016. For the past five years the world has become an increasingly unstable place. The threat of war between China and the USA had loomed heavily over the rest of the world. Britain, now a small, insignificant and bankrupt nation, initially, as always, had sided with the USA. But relations quickly broke down beyond repair between the two nations, leaving the UK an isolated and unimportant outcast in world diplomacy.

Faced with two gigantic, power hungry enemies on either side, things go from bad to worse in the UK when an attack on the country’s power and communications leaves its citizens without electricity, television, phone or internet. After nearly a fortnight, and with nothing more than speculation available about who carried out the attack and why, looting and riots spread throughout towns and cities like wildfire.

Rumours of an emergency radio broadcast promising help, information, food and water in the centre of every city sees millions of people on the move as they try to head for safety, hoping that the crisis may be at an end.

In reality, nothing can be further from the truth. In a car park, half way up Falkland Hill in Fife, a group of people who fled from the riot stricken towns below watch out over the river Forth in horror as Edinburgh is blitzed by a missile attack from the sky. The lucky ones are killed by the blasts, but anyone else close enough is subjected to the chemicals unleashed by the explosions. A devastating chemical attack turns ordinary people into bloodthirsty savages, and Scotland as we know it, changes forever.

And now… this is the Aftermath.

The Walking Dead Untold | 2015 | The Walking Creativity

Only two episodes so far and I listened to both.

Eh, it’s not horrible. I can’t judge it purely as audio theater since the episodes are posted to YouTube and the minimal video does contain info like chapter names and what day it is, etc.. I honestly don’t know how much visual info I missed because I listened as I worked and once caught a glimpse of “Sarah – Day Four” on the screen at one point so I don’t know many others there were or if it would have contributed to keeping up with the story. But, I didn’t find it confusing.

Anyway, the story and characters are fine, the production is a bit better than usual fan-made stuff. All I can really say having only heard two episodes is that it’s ok. No crimes against the medium committed.

I’ll give it a C- in that it does more right than wrong but I just wasn’t grabbed from the very beginning. And I’m subscribed to hear future installments.

The Walking Dead Untold

Orbit One Zero | 1961 | BBC

It was pretty darned good sci fi. Dated, sure, but way above most of the stuff I’ve heard from this era. Transmissions from space reminded me of Contact, found buried items of alien origin reminded me of 2001 A Space Odyssey, so yeah, good imaginative science fiction. And it committed no crimes as far as production, cast, writing, etc.. And I love the 6 half-hour episode length so they could tell the story nice and slow. Though, a little too slow in spots. But it’s a good length to put my headphones in and get some real housework done.

I won’t keep it but I give it a C+.

http://archive.org/details/Orbit1Zero

A King’s Speech | 2009 | BBC

Meh. It’s hard to listen to it and not compare it to the film, which I love.
This play deals with the hours leading up to the big speech, so, a much smaller story than the film.
Btw, apparently this radio play was made while the movie was being made and came out first. I couldn’t find what the source material was.

I give it a biased C because it did everything just fine but I couldn’t hear it without hearing Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. And I’m not keeping it.

A King’s Speech
By Mark Burgess.

The action of A King’s Speech takes place on Coronation Day, 12th May 1937, and deals with King George VI’s preparations for his evening BBC Radio broadcast to the Nation – a terrifying prospect for perhaps the most notable Briton to have suffered from a stammer.

Evening Shadows

I spent a couple days listening to this entire anthology series. The style and quality were so different between the 26 episodes, I took notes to be sure I didn’t broad brush.

In the best episodes, I really saw this (erm, heard this) as an audio Tales from the Darkside sort of show. Surreal, dreamlike, filled with cult appeal. The not-so-best episodes were the story monologue character performances with music and ambient sound effects, which weren’t actually bad but, I enjoyed the full cast episodes more. That’s probably personal taste. I think it’s safe to assume that this show was produced on practically no budget (it aired on a college radio station) and that probably explains why half or so of the episodes weren’t full cast affairs.

But nearly all of it was certainly worth listening to – there were a (very) few duds. Sure, the stories were kinda “easy mode” most of the time but still intelligent and well written – playful, often with rhyme, cadence, and tempo. This is a great show for people who love creative writing. And a great use of the audio theater medium with surprisingly good sound design – again, considering the budget.

I enjoyed it thoroughly but once was enough – I’m only keeping three… Appetite, Epic Times, and Necropolis. And, when Halloween comes around, I’ll maybe revisit the whole series again. I don’t need them all handy on demand in my personal collection but most of them would surely hold up to another listen, especially in a darker season.

So, I give this series a C+ in that it has more good than bad so surely doesn’t deserve a D but the quality isn’t consistent enough to merit a full B. And out of 26, I’m keeping the 3 listed above because I know I’ll want to hear those more than a few times more.

Evening Shadows
The sun cut by your presence at its setting, the black ghost that expands before you.