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.

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