Tag Archives: D

Star Wars – In the Shadows | 2010 | Dany Pépin, Creative Audioscape Productions

Six fortyish-minute episodes.

The acting is mostly subpar. The dialogue recording is nothing special. And the characters come across as two dimensional – at least to me.
The many and various rip offs from the films are egregious. Like someone rewriting their favorite moments, quotes, character elements, etc..
And I was repeatedly annoyed by how many sound effects from the films were used but in the wrong places. Whirrs, chirps, beeps that I immediately identify with certain devices, machines, control panels and the like yet used for something else. The interrogation machine from the first film that Vader brings into Leia’s cell, for instance. It makes a very unique whirring sound never repeated in the series, as far as I recall, yet this production uses it several times, in several settings. That’s distracting. Sure, this sort of thing ensures an aural consistency with a well-known universe (that was presumably their intention, anyway) BUT that intention fails when even a casual fan like myself identifies all these sounds, yet is expected to not notice the reassignment of them.

Halfway through the third episode, I became certain that this story wasn’t gonna grab me.

All that being said, this is well made. The mixing, editing, and other sound design choices really work, aside from what I’ve said above. For instance, the barroom brawl broken up in episode four, the protagonists flying away toward the end of the first episode, the aerial battles in episode six. I’d like to hear more stuff by Dany Pépin. Maybe as director but not writer. Maybe as writer using his own ideas – not playing in someone else’s universe.

This production wasn’t torture but I had more than a few “does this show ever end?!” moments.
I’m giving it a D+ because it was mostly well made but the rest was pretty bad and have no intention of ever listening through it again.

BTW, I love promos for other shows tacked onto stuff I’m listening to. This has that, so, yay.

Star Wars: In The Shadows

Born and raised in a military family, Emma Wermis will slowly discover that the Empire is not what she always been taught it was. Her allegiance to the Empire will be tested and she will, during her adventures, uncover something about her family and a secret weapon kept hidden even within the Empire.

The Kraken Wakes | 1965 CBC & 1998 BBC

I tried both productions over the course of a few days. Didn’t much care for either.

The story is an end of the world via alien invasion as experienced by the news agencies that cover the events.
The sort of story I’d usually love. I bet I’d love the John Wyndham novel they’re based on. But, somehow it didn’t translate very well to audio, neither in 90 minute form (BBC) or 5-part miniseries (CBC).

I do have a huge complaint with the 1965 CBC version – the reporters are used to describe the visuals.
Awkward descriptive dialogue. The Original Sin of audio theater.

But neither of them held my attention. Maybe it was my fault.
So often, it felt like a long, slow description of the monster to be revealed at the end. Yeah, some things happened along the way but I wouldn’t say it ever raised the dramatic tension very far. I was hoping to be gripped.

The commentary on how the media and governmental powers that be might very well control flow of information as the world ended was not lost on me but it just wasn’t enough.

I give them both a D and am not keeping either one.

The Kraken Wakes | 1965 | CBC | Eric Cameron

At first, the fireballs seemed to be nothing more than a dazzling display of lights in the sky, plunging into the deepest oceans and disappearing without trace. But when ships started sinking inexplicably and the sea-lanes became impassable it seemed that the world was facing a threat of unprecedented proportions. Recorded at CBC Radio Vancouver.

The Kraken Wakes | 1998 | BBC | John Constable

Radio reporters Mike and Phyllis Watson are on a honeymoon cruise when they see strange red lights falling out of the sky and into the sea. In John Wyndham’s 1953 classic of alien invasion, Mike and Phyl report the progress of the ‘kraken-like’ sea monsters as they emerge from the depths and challenge mankind for supremacy of the Earth. The climax, when sea levels rise and devastating flooding hits the UK, is eerily topical.

John Wyndham (1903-1969) also wrote The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos and many short stories.

Starring Jonathan Cake and Sarah Todd. Dramatised by John Constable and directed by Susan Roberts.

Murder on Penelope Drive | 2010 | Curtis Mutter

Blah. I guess the writer’s heart was in the right place and it committed no crimes against the medium but it was just blah.

I therefore give it a D- and am not keeping a copy.

Can you unravel the mystery of Beth Karren’s death before Detective Miles Calvin?  With hidden clues and a twisted plot, only those with the sharpest of ears will succeed in solving the Murder on Penelope Drive!


Earthsearch – Mindwarp

This is a prequel to the Earthsearch series (which I loved) but made some 25 years after the originals. And I didn’t much care for it. I really wanted to like it – there’s some solid science fiction here. But, the production itself got in my way. It reminded me of when the modern sequel 3rd, 4th, and 5th series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came out. The style is so different it is hard to consider it part of the series. It was “Dirk-Maggs-ified“, if I may coin a term – to me, that means an overuse of music, distractingly modern sound effects (for a 21st century followup to a 70s classic), and clearly very little respect for what came before so there is no stylistic continuity. 

And that’s exactly how I felt about Mindwarp, which is a Big Finish production. I don’t have much experience with Big Finish productions but I’m in no hurry to hear more from them. What’s the opposite of a golden age? Well, that’s what we’re going through in audio theater now, I think. I doubt Dirk Maggs is to blame – I don’t know enough about the history involved, but this style does seem to be the common modern BBC style. Trying to make “audio movies” – adapting the movie aesthetic to an audio medium, rather than focusing in the inherent strengths of the medium itself. Like mainstream American movies in the 60s – trying to put stage productions on film, rather than develop true cinematic storytelling techniques as was happening in other places in the world.

But, don’t get me started on that.

The only caveat I’ll add is that I went in expecting a continuation (albeit a prequel) of the Earthsearch world and found myself in a totally different kind of production. Maybe the minds behind it felt they were entitled to such a huge departure since this was a prequel. But it was hard to judge it on its own merits. The story was OK, the acting was a bit better than OK – the music was the real problem. It was just so PRESENT. Always in my face, telling me how to feel about the scene. It felt like a TV sitcom laugh track queuing me when to think something was funny. And the way it swelled during halting, dramatic dialogue moments kept making me think the characters were going to burst into song.

Anyway, I give it an admittedly biased D in that it did much more wrong than right. I will not be keeping a copy – I think I’ve gotten all the juice I will ever get from it, no matter how many times I return to give it another squeeze.

Rapture Falls: Episode One: Part One: a fan made Bioshock radio play

I absolutely love Bioshock. I’ve finished all three games. I love the worlds, the stories. But I play the games on easy mode since I’m just there for the interactive fiction aspects.

So, I’ve been meaning to listen to this one for a while. Not that I had high hopes. Not having high hopes is usually a good thing – I always end up liking even the mediocre when I go in with low expectations. But, this production is pretty lackluster. The story was good enough but the actors barely got their lines out correctly, except for the lead, who I assume was the usual homemade audio theater actor/director/producer/editor/etc. and the sound effects were free sound effects library stuff. It’s apparently difficult to pull together an immersive, cohesive overall sound design when one starts there because I don’t think I’ve ever heard it work. And most of the sound effects used could have been made organically but stock effects were used instead and that comes across as lazy to me.
Anyway, the series didn’t continue past episode one. I might have enjoyed at least the story if the show had survived longer.

Episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EaiSzhEqnA

Rapture Falls: Episode One: Part One: a fan made Bioshock radio play www.radiofreerapture.net When Andrew Ryan, a wealthy 1940’s era industrialist becomes tired of government intervention, censorship and taxation he decides to escape the USA and found his own city. Called ‘Rapture’ and filled with the best and brightest mankind has to offer. Ryan hopes to establish a Objectivist paradise, where those who work hard would be rewarded and there would be no socialist parasites dragging everyone down. He built this city under the Atlantic ocean, and when it was finished he cut off all ties with the outside world. This is the story of how it all goes wrong. The story follows Johnathan Thompson, a far too idealistic reporter for the ‘Rapture Tribune’ as he attempts to expose the problems citizens in Rapture struggle with in the face of Andrew Ryan’s slow decent into dictatorship.