Hadron Gospel Hour: A Love Letter of Sorts

Comedy podcasts are no rarity in the audio drama community, and this is helped along in no small part by the multitude of improvisation shows that pop up the second you search comedy on your average podcast listening app. During my time in high school, when I was listening to ILLUSIONOID and on the fence about the level of devotion necessary to get invested in The Thrilling Adventure Hour, one show that I was always at the beck and call of no matter what mood I was in was Hadron Gospel Hour, a long-form science fiction comedy made by two long time friends.

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Hadron Gospel Hour: A Love Letter of Sorts

By Podcake

Comedy podcasts are no rarity in the audio drama community, and this is helped along in no small part by the multitude of improvisation shows that pop up the second you search comedy on your average podcast listening app. During my time in high school, when I was listening to ILLUSIONOID and on the fence about the level of devotion necessary to get invested in The Thrilling Adventure Hour, one show that I was always at the beck and call of no matter what mood I was in was Hadron Gospel Hour, a long-form science fiction comedy made by two long time friends.

Richard Wentworth and Michael McQuilken star as the main characters in a multidimensional love letter to Douglas Adam’s inspired sci-fi romps, where our heroes travel from place to place trying to fix a fractured universe. The opening narration will gladly inform you about how the effects of a science experiment gone wrong ripped a hole through space and time, and provides the groundwork for a number of weird things to happen to weird people.

The central plot does follow a grieving Dr. Oppenheimer wallowing in his failures and trying to piece together his shattered wife whose existence was scattered over multiple dimensions, upon his failure to study the “Hadron Effect” the show credits its name to.

When rational IT worker Michael Wilkinson gets dragged into Oppenheimer’s plan purely by accident is where the show properly begins and does a decent job of setting the central tone of random chance conflicting with personal interest. This is where the buddy-cop aspect comes along and makes up the primary comedic dynamic, ensuring that as long as these two are around, there is plenty of comedy to spare in between the bouts of tragedy.

Hadron Gospel Hour is one of the most creative story-driven podcasts to have come out in 2014: A scripted series, but still not short of the sort of wit and charm that an especially interesting DnD session may have. There’s a variety of locations, great narrative pacing, and a number of characters and gags that add to the chaotic nature of a fractured setting.

Hadron Gospel Hour may be all fun and games but it has an excellent underlying theme of sticking to your guns in even the toughest of scenarios, and finding the best qualities in the strangest of people. It’s a story about compromise and unlikely encounters, forgiving yourself for your mistakes while also pursuing a life of self improvement. Hadron Gospel is never pointlessly cruel to its heroes and always finds a way to make the most bizarre of problems joyous and comedic.

And yet, Hadron Gospel Hour isn’t just a science fiction show: it’s every possible kind of science fiction show. There are bizarre creatures and races, super computers and supernatural powers, and hilarious body horror. There’s an episode entirely about troubling romantic relationships, with a twist so excellent I won’t spoil it, and a battle of the bands plot in what I think is one of the best episodes ever put out in any fiction audio drama in general.

Hadron Gospel has very long episodes (for a scripted podcast), some pushing past an hour, but they really do ensure each and every second isn’t wasted. The amount of creativity on display could only be possible by two friends with ambition and a shared devotion to their craft, to make the best possible piece each and every time.

Weird for the sake of weird is something I’ve had my fair share of ever since pursuing this hobby, but not many other audio dramas have also charmed me like this show has. The character writing, it’s ability to be equal parts episodic and story driven, the miniature arcs that are satisfying and never drag on… t makes for an experience you can sink your teeth into and still laugh about.

It’s definitely the kind of experience that’s highly unique, and I think that’s due to the solid chemistry of the creators and can be easy to get wrapped up in once you get acquainted with its likeable cast. It’s still in something of a niche category even given its quality, but how much it has to offer has made it my immediate go-to for recommendations in comedy podcasts.

When the show makes its joyous return for what will likely be a series finale, I not only look forward to how this all wraps up but what new adventures Wentworth and McQuilken might have in store in different dimensions.


Angel of Vine Review

Let’s start out by saying that The Angel of Vine is one of the best audio dramas out there. Produced by Vox Populi, it has accrued 651 iTunes reviews worldwide, with a 4.8 average star rating at the time of this article’s writing. So it’s fair to say it’s popular, as well as high quality.

The Angel of Vine Review

By Matthew William

Let’s start out by saying that The Angel of Vine is one of the best audio dramas out there. Produced by Vox Populi, it has accrued 651 iTunes reviews worldwide, with a 4.8 average star rating at the time of this article’s writing. So it’s fair to say it’s popular, as well as high quality.

The first thing you’ll notice is the all-star cast (especially by audio drama standards), with Joe Manganiello in the lead as Hank Briggs, Camilla Luddington, Oliver Vaquer, (who also wrote the show and plays the NPR-style journalist host) Misha Collins, Mike Colter, Alfred Molina, Khary Payton, Alan Tudyk, and Constance Zimmer. Veteran voice actors Travis Willingham, Matthew Mercer, and Nolan North round out the cast.

For those of you who haven’t heard it yet, here’s the official synopsis:

The Angel of Vine is a noir tale told in true crime style. The “podcaster,” a journalist named Oscar Simons (Oliver Vaquer), is fascinated by cold cases. One of the most infamous is “The Angel of Vine,” a gruesome murder in 1950s Hollywood. Young aspiring actress Marlene Marie Evans was found in a parking lot, her body mutilated and posed, with evidence either nonexistent or destroyed when she was discovered by a stampede of curious onlookers.

The police gave up with no leads, and the case would never be closed… or would it? Ex-cop and private detective Hank Briggs (Joe Manganiello) may have solved the case, but he never told a soul. It’s up to Oscar to search through Hank’s mountain of tapes and clues from more than 60 years ago to uncover the killer.

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With near perfect production values, acting, and story, there is very little to complain about. It seems they have achieved a new gold standard for audio drama production. I could wax lyrical about how great the show is, and I feel like most reviews have been doing just that. But, I do still have a few nits to pick.

Now, the dialogue is mostly good. I can see how some people call it stiff, but that’s sort of the point. 1950’s noir is sort of stiff. But the dialogue didn’t pop the way it does in, say, Double Indemnity, and I was never surprised or felt as if I was listening in on a conversation. It felt as if I was listening to the main character uncovering the plot points and nothing more.

For example, in the first six minutes of Episode One, when the daughter describes going to the house where her estranged grandfather had been living, she suddenly starts describing the old car in the driveway in graphic detail for some reason:

“Old car. Not a classic car. An 83 Cutlass Ciera. Hadn’t been maintained in years. A fender was rusted. Cobwebs around the hubcaps. The felt from the interior ceiling was sagging.”

This might play into the “film noir” style they’re trying to affect, but it felt too much like a school report to me. “I’m describing the setting here! Aren’t you immersed?”

The character development also could’ve used a bit of work, as the main character Hank Briggs, is a little too one dimensional.

I get that it’s a noir, but characters, especially lead characters, need to be more nuanced: he’s into poetry (which feels a little shoehorned into his character), we’re told multiple times that he has a great sense of humor, and he had scenes with his daughter where he shows a tender side.

But overall I just couldn’t shake the feeling that it was directed with the words, “Okay, you’re a 1950’s Brooklyn tough guy, fugettabout it!” in pretty much every scene.

At the end of the day, maybe it was for the best, because when he’s confronted with the gruesome climax, he is truly shaken and that’s what shakes us. We hear him crack, so what he sees must be really bad. So, from that point of view, I really can’t fault the choice.

But the good far outweighs the bad.

Oliver Vaquer had the unenviable task of making something that sounds both conversational and journalistic, set in the modern day and in mid-century LA. In the end, I feel like I took a tour through old-school Hollywood. That’s a hard trick to pull off.

The writing does a skillful job of using the audio drama format, with the conceit that the main character was always carrying a recording device with him. And the descriptions of the crime scenes will send chills down your spine (no pun intended). I’ve even heard it said from multiple people that it took them awhile to realize they weren’t listening a true crime podcast.

The acting is one of the key things responsible for that. Vaquer as the journalist is very believable, and the genuine performance convinces you this is a real cold case investigation. Alan Tudyk is incredible in his role as Samuel Tensch. I didn’t feel like he was an actor at all, rather a living breathing character. And Alfred Molina has acting superpowers. His character, Leonard Shaw, is so over the top awful, but he delivers the lines so perfectly that when he later starts talking about his health problems, you somehow start feeling sympathy for the guy. My goodness.

That said, I wish there was a better female part. The players are largely male, and the story could have really used a femme fatale type. There are a lot of women in the cast, Constnace Zimmer and Camilla Luddington are given 2nd and 3rd billing, respectively, as a mother and daughter pair, but they aren’t given much to do. (I can’t even really remember anything the mother says or does, besides constantly sounding a bit tired.)

And how fantastic is that theme song? I mean, seriously, I could write a whole article on that. A modern take of a 1946 song “Angel Eyes” that really sets the mood and makes you feel like you are in old-school LA.

There are ads tucked into the show, as most podcasts do, but one particular Johnnie Walker ad blew my mind. Not long after a Johnnie Walker Blue Label ad, the characters in the show sit down for a drink of Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

“I think it’s the perfect way to mark the moment,” the character Beth Turner says, somehow quoting the slogan perfectly.

Production isn’t really my area, so I don’t have an insider’s perspective, but to my ears, it’s more or less perfect. The sound effects were immersive and never pulled me out of the story. They do an amazing job at making the old sound old and the new sound new.

This is definitely a show I would recommend, without hesitation. It is excellent in almost every area, but I had one major issue with it, which unfortunately pertains to the ending. So…

MAJOR SPOILERS from here on out: (I mean, if you haven’t listened to it already, what are you doing? Go and download it immediately.)

First off, the story endings feels flat and unsatisfying.

We go through this whole investigation to try and figure out who killed the Angel of Vine, and in the climax we finally learn that it was Samuel Tensch – the man who was paying Hank Briggs to investigate the crime.

Then we get the explanation as to why he committed the grisly murder and it was because… he was crazy!

And that’s pretty much it.

The thing about a mystery is, when it’s finally solved, you are supposed to go: “Ahhhh, of course, I should’ve seen that coming. All the pieces fit together now” not: “Oh, uh… okay, I guess.

As soon as I heard the last episode, where we learned Samuel Tensch was the killer, I went back and re-listened to the previous episodes, to see if I missed anything – any bit of foreshadowing, or clues, or any hints that this character is maybe hiding something.

But nope. There’s not really anything.

There’s a brief mention of a mysterious fire, where his mother figured died, and we later find out he killed her and he caused the fire to dispose of her body. But there are no motivations, no clues, no nothing. We just find out he was disturbed and used his victims blood to make paintings.

Um, okay.

I know real life serial killers and murderers don’t always have a satisfying motive, and the pieces don’t always fit together into a nice coherent narrative. This could be the show paying homage to such unsatisfying endings in other popular true crime serials, but we expect our stories to be better than that. Especially mysteries.

Despite all this, the Angel of Vine remains a can’t-miss podcast. I just wish the writing was a little stronger. But they left the story open to interpretation: either the killer is still at large… or Hank killed him. We’re probably going to be getting more seasons to find the answers.

And that’s definitely a good thing.

Now ‘scuse me while I pop open this bottle of unbranded, not-paid-to-advertise bottle of whiskey, the perfect way to mark the moment of finishing off a review.

♫ Oh, where is my Angel Eyes?

Excuse me while I disappeeeeear…♫


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The Stories We Tell

The podcast ‘The Stories We Tell’ launches with a double-shot of the first two episodes next Tuesday (23rd April 2019), so to celebrate I got together with Paul Sating and Natalie Aked, creator of ‘Horrible Writing’ and ‘A Breviloquent Challenge’ respectively.

The Stories We Tell

by Dōhai

Back in October 2018 the Horrible Writing Writers Support Group on Facebook launched a fun monthly 500 word flash fiction event. The Founder of the group, Paul Sating, was so inspired by the event, he developed the idea into a podcast that features the best of these short stories.

The podcast ‘The Stories We Tell’ launches with a double-shot of the first two episodes next Tuesday (23rd April 2019), so to celebrate I got together with Paul Sating and Natalie Aked, creator of ‘Horrible Writing’ and ‘A Breviloquent Challenge’ respectively.

To tell the story of this podcast we first need to go back to July 2017, when veteran podcaster Paul Sating (Subject: Found, Who Killed Julie, and Diary of a Madman among others) launched Horrible Writing, a podcast with the aim of bringing ‘empowerment through candor’ to authors from all paths across the globe. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly two years since the show launched, as I have been here listening since inception.

I asked Paul to give us a brief outline of the Horrible Writing show and its premise.

“I love listening to other writer’s take on the craft, but I couldn’t find a podcast featuring the affective side of writing. I need a pep talk from time to time, as many writers do, since this is such a solitary venture. But no one was doing it, that I found. I also believe that too many writers don’t open the closet and show our guests all the mistakes. That’s harmful to newer writers. They see a polished work and think, “I can’t ever do that.” So I did what I always do. If someone isn’t doing it, or willing to do it, I will.

I started the Horrible Writing podcast to document my journey, publicly, from know-nothing to published author. I wanted to serve that dual purpose of showing people the emotional journey alongside the reality that no one knows everything about ‘how’ to get published, and that’s it’s a constant exploration of learning.

Yesterday, I recorded the 83rd episode of the show and I realized there is so much I still have to learn. So, so much. And that’s okay.

By opening up to the public, with full candor, I believe–and the emails and reviews I receive can verify–other writers find it helpful and don’t feel so alone, so we all rise together.”

If you haven’t checked it out yet, and you have even a passing interest in writing, then this show should be on your playlist. You can find it here.

The Horrible Writing Writers Support Group launched on Facebook last August (2018) and has exploded with members from all walks of writing life, all of whom share support and resources to ‘raise all ships’ in the true spirit that this powerhouse was born.

One of the founder members of the team is administrator Natalie Aked, a blogger and short story writer. She has published a few books on Yuan Dynasty Mongolian food. In her own words:

“Mostly, I am a storyteller. I enjoy bringing the world to people in snippets of tales.”

Natalie introduced ‘A Breviloquent Challenge’ the monthly 500 word flash fiction event to the group so that they could have a bit of fun and flex those writing muscles. I asked her about her thoughts about introducing this challenge:

“I suggested the ABC to Paul because many of our newer writers were struggling with common problems. I hoped that flash fiction might help – writing is the only solution to writing problems in my book. I also hoped it would foster a solidarity within the group; and, maybe, start a conversation.

I think that the ABC is a positive force in the group. Not everyone participates, but those who do gain feedback and those who participate regularly are seeing improvements in their writing.”

Within a month of ABC being launched on the support group Paul and Natalie were in talks about a podcast.

“In late November/early December 2018, Paul broached the idea of the podcast. He admitted that he had been thinking about a podcast of stories and he hoped the ABC would be the venue to find those stories. I loved the idea!”

From initial idea to release has only taken a few short months. With (at time of writing) three episodes in the can I asked both Natalie and Paul if there had been any major hurdles, or even a few bumps in the road:

“Well, I have the easy job. I am responsible for the written stuff. Which basically means I set the challenges and the writers take it from there. Once the end date comes, I have a team of four judges who are AMAZING. They read and rank the stories. I collect the data and give it to Paul. Really, his job requires the most effort and he’s awesome at what he does. It’s been such an easy process thanks to everyone involved.” -Nat

“It’s been very smooth. Natalie is a champ. She was on-board with the idea from the very beginning. In fact, when I pitched it to her, we immediately started ironing out how it would work and what some of the potential tripping points were (things such as how we would keep it manageable for both of us and set the right expectations for everyone else. This was, honestly, one of the easiest joint efforts I’ve ever undertaken, credit to Natalie!” – Paul

One of the things I’ve noticed as a member of the group is the camaraderie: normally social media posts have a ‘look at me’ feel to them, but here they’re all about helping one another, has this bled over into creating the podcast?

“One of the most epic things about this whole process has been the community. Horrible Writing Writers Support Group has always been a nurturing environment, but when we added ABC I was blown away with the immediate response. Not only do the writers who participated read the other stories but they give constructive feedback. It’s also common to see comments from members who didn’t enter a story that month. It’s an awesome resource for the writers.

Now that we have linked the writing challenge to the podcast, we are seeing that community support again. Some of our writers are hesitant to read their stories. They may not have the equipment and time or they may feel that they can’t do the story justice. But the community just keeps giving.

This project has definitely cemented the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ sentiment in my mind. The group has shown such support to one another.” – Nat

“This show truly is a community effort. It would be easy for people to post their story and move on, but that’s not what happens. In this wonderfully positive collective, what you see instead is the community reading each other’s work, providing encouragement and constructive criticism; and the narrators echo that.

I sent out a single initial call and was inundated with responses from narrators who want to be involved. We don’t have enough stories for the next five episodes to give to them, there are so many! Their eagerness to help is matched by ‘how’ they invest in someone else’s story. The narrators read other writer’s stories as if they are their own. This is truly a horribly wonderful community!” – Paul

I for one am looking forward to listening to the podcast and I wish it all the success. Being a part of it has not only helped me as a writer with technical aspects, but the community helps alleviate that impostor syndrome. Any final words from you both before I let you go?

“I’m super passionate about this project. I can’t wait to hear what listeners think of the podcast and read what our writers will come up with next. It would be great to see the participation grow. If there are writers out there reading this, come join us, please.” – Nat

“I’d really encourage people to give this show a listen. It’s a beautiful project because it is the manifestation of my Horrible Writing ideology, that we all rise together, that each and every one of us have stories to tell and we ‘can’ find an audience for those stories. Already, we have nearly 50 stories from dozens of authors to share with the world, and that’s only going to grow as we move forward. If someone is looking for fresh fiction from a variety of writers around the world, there is no other place to go than The Stories We Tell. It is a show for all voices, and all listeners.” – Paul

The podcast launches next Tuesday (23rd April 2019) and I hope you will join us here at Podern Times in celebrating the world of indie writing with the Horrible Writing Writers Support Group on Facebook and The Stories We Tell.


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Edict Zero Episode 3

The plot kicks into motion in this episode, with Briggs being rescued from his brief captivity in the sewers; Wakeman being suspiciously helpful about it, and a concrete confirmation that there is indeed a group conspiring (either directly or indirectly) against our protagonists…

The Deep Dive Into…

Edict Zero – FIS

By Lex Scott

Welcome to part three of my deep dive into Edict Zero. If you’re new here make sure you check out my previous episode reviews right here (pt1) and here (pt2), before joining me for the rest of my journey.

And of course, spoilers ahead

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Episode 3, Dead Canaries

The plot kicks into motion in this episode, with Briggs being rescued from his brief captivity in the sewers; Wakeman being suspiciously helpful about it, and a concrete confirmation that there is indeed a group conspiring (either directly or indirectly) against our protagonists.

Now this was a good episode, in that it definitely advanced the plot and gave us new information, but it also succeeded in highlighting what I’ve discovered is my main underlying issue with this series so far: The episodes are far too long, especially given how little actually happens in each one. It’s been three episodes so far and we’ve elapsed significantly less than 48 hours in this series of events.

That’s more than three hours worth of solid, jam packed story time, covering only two days. Now, you might be thinking that a lot has happened in that time but let’s recap. A bomb went off, agents were assigned to investigate it and evidence was reviewed. Suspects and witnesses were interviewed, more evidence was collected and presented, and our protagonists were assigned to the case. Then one of our protagonists was incapacitated and promptly rescued.

That’s it.

That is the entirety of the plot that has been covered in these three plus hours.

Now I don’t want to be giving out praise to TV procedurals, but that’s the kind of story they can (and do on a weekly basis) cover in a measly 35 minutes, with time left over to gossip about office scandals and hookups.

‘But Lex,’ I hear you saying through the magic of modern day spyware, ‘there’s been so much more covered! Important stuff, like character development, motivation, interpersonal relationships, all that vital good stuff that makes compelling human drama!’ And to that I say, everything I know about our characters I learned in about five minutes of “screen” time. Total.

I know Kircher is idealistic, moral, and honest. She genuinely cares about her job, her coworkers, and helping people. She’s also criminally underserved by her employer and unfortunate gender politics.

I know Garret is a widower, very unexpressive of his emotions (though the show would like me to believe he lacks them completely), and makes a very real and genuine effort to understand people and their motivations, but lacks the personal experience necessary to do so on anything more than a purely academic level.

I know Briggs was once in a relationship with Kircher, likely throws himself into his work to avoid confronting his personal and emotional issues directly, and tends to work alone and resents being anything less than self sufficient.

So much of the character and world building on display here is so gingerly holding my hand and carefully walking me through everything that it’s all but hammering me over the head. The show, and of course the writer, director etc, don’t trust me to follow along with it all.

They say show don’t tell, and Edict Zero has that down. They absolutely show me how everything fits together and works, and they show me how everyone relates through their interactions and genuinely good performances. But it also tells me all of that too.

The scene where the random drunk finds the briefcase floating in an alley (gravity bomb) was excessive. I don’t need to know that he’s late on rent and laid off from work, I don’t need to know that his wife is cooking and he’s ungrateful because he wants to go out drinking…

Side note: If your wife is generous and cares enough to cook for you don’t berate her, that’s just shitty.

…I just need to know that he’s drunk, it’s new years eve still, and he found a floating briefcase that he intends to pawn. It’s simple, it’s maybe a minute, and it’s far more engaging.

I should say though that there was one very satisfying moment, where Garrett’s brother-in-law confronts him and Kircher actually calls him out on it! It was a very typical moment between two characters where one says something confrontational and entirely unprofessional that just wouldn’t fly in a real workplace, that usually goes uncommented on by other characters. But in this instance Agent Kircher takes notice, and actively dresses down the man and defends her colleague.

It didn’t go as far as I personally might have liked, but it’s giving me hope that the writer will actually treat her character with a more deft hand than I previously thought.

Look don’t get me wrong: I like this show. It impressed the hell out of me the very first time I turned it on, and from a technical standpoint it’s goddamn genius. Each new episode I turn on I’m engaged with the plot and I genuinely want to know what happens, not to mention the director getting very good performances out of the actors (and of course the actors giving those very good performances).

But wanting to know what’s next isn’t always enough for me, I know that most recently from Wolf 359. The show started pretty strong with a fun irreverent vibe but now I’m half way through and I’ve been on the verge of giving up for a while now.

Now you should know that I’m obsessive when it comes to story: I have to finish them or it eats away at me. But in this day and age if something isn’t keeping me invested with good execution I have the option to just look up the plot online. I want new exciting shows to immerse myself in and get obsessed with, but you’ve got to be more engaging than simply reading the wikipedia page for your show or I’m not going to finish.

I like this show. I want to enjoy this show. I desperately hope it’s not losing its lustre for me so quickly.

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Theories and Predictions:

Socrates is actually an agent of Edict One (can’t remember if I suggested this previously) but somehow had multiple peoples consciousnesses transplanted into his brain. He’s clearly got more than one, and it would explain the word salad verbal diarrhea thing he’s got going on.

Side Note: Also I forgot to mention the reveal of his invisibility ring, another artifact briefly mentioned previously, and shown to have failed him in his moment of need. Clearly these Paradox Artifacts are then fallible, so they run of tech as opposed to a kind of magic.

A bit of a fringe theory, but what if Edict Zero is actually a computer simulation. We know that the trip from earth took a huge amount of time, and that most were in cryosleep. What if the reality they’re experiencing is actually generated for them while they sleep? I still firmly believe(/possibly proven) that edict one is actively conducting experiments on the gen-pop, so this isn’t that far removed from what we know.

What do you think of my theories? What do you think of my criticisms: are they genuine but harsh, or the bitter ravings of an amateurish failure? Let me know in the comments below, let me know your own theories, or better yet let me know if you are listening along with me in this deep dive. Just please no spoilers for upcoming episodes, as I will absolutely be reading your comments.

And of course, go download episode 4 right here, and join me next time as I continue my deep dive into Edict Zero – FIS.


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Days of My Life Podcast

The name Aidan Wheller may seem familiar to some of you if you’ve been around the indie podcast scene for the last year or so: he made his debut in the podcasting world when he started reviewing shows in March of 2018 on YouTube. Well now he has his own podcast and not only did we get to preview the first episode, we got an interview as well.

Days of My Life Podcast

by Dōhai

The name Aidan Wheller may seem familiar to some of you if you’ve been around the indie podcast scene for the last year or so: he made his debut in the podcasting world when he started reviewing shows in March of 2018 on YouTube. In the space of five months he reviewed around 60 podcasts, including some of his personal favorites: The Big Loop, Dark Net Diaries, Dark Saga: Aethuran, Duggan Hill, Superstition, Lonesome Pine, Dream State.

Come summer however he stopped producing his podcast reviews in favour of producing a show of his own: he changed the channel name, removed all the reviews, and began plowing his time into his new project, the Days of My Life Podcast.

So when Aidan reached out to me with a sneak peek behind the curtain of his upcoming show, what could I say?

Within ten minutes of listening to his heart warming first episode I was on the phone setting up an interview.

Q. So what led to the scrapping of the review portion of your YT channel? Was it simply to make room for the podcast, or was there something else?

“The idea for Days of my Life came to me in a moment, and by the end of an hour I had mapped out twelve episodes in my head. I started recording the following week, and as it started to go well I decided I had to stop doing reviews. For one thing I thought to myself “I can’t do reviews and put my own show out.” I needed some distance from being a reviewer.”

He added:

“I still listen to loads of podcasts and audio drama but for now I’m just a fan… cheering them all on from the sidelines.”

Q. Is there a possibility that the review portion of your journey will return, or do you think it was ultimately just a stepping stone in your evolution?

“Maybe in some way it could. But as of now I have no plans to do any. (I still have all the reviews if anybody wants them), but to be honest I have ideas for another podcast after I get done with days of my life. I had another moment where a fully formed story popped into my head, this one is all fiction though, so a great amount of work will be needed to make it come alive. The thing I like about the idea of the show is that it does not limit me, for now I have twelve episodes, but I can see there being many more.”

Q. Would a continuation of DomL be just your own experiences, or would you consider doing “defining moments” of other people’s lives.

“I think that other people’s lives have probably been covered well enough. I thought about doing some shows about my heroes, idols… but I quickly ran into the copyright barrier! It’s impossible to really focus in on a person of fame without breaking copyrights! It took me a long long time to get the short clips that I use for reference in Days of my Life.”

A few weeks ago Aidan put up Episode 0, which is now available wherever you get your podcast fix. This heartwarming personal reflection on his deceased mother is entitled ‘Things I Wish My Mum Knew’ and it’s just that: a list of things that have happened since his mother passed away, that presumably is a reflection of the things they shared whilst she was still alive. It’s a simple premise, and with its monologue backed by somber piano music it is put together incredibly well, creating an ambience that makes me reflect on my own life, familial relationships, and the finite time we have together.

Now full disclosure here, I’m not really a fan of autobiographical works, even those of my idols, so obviously I came into this filled with trepidation. Something I’m happy to say, this podcast well and truly smashed. Perhaps it’s because Aidan is just your average guy on the street, not some Hollywood heartthrob or sporting hero that we hold in high esteem, that this story shines for me. Maybe the reason this story is so heartwarming is because it truly shows that all lives matter.

Episode 1 is entitled ‘Home Base’ and runs for just over half an hour.

In this episode Aidan takes us back to August 1997 when he was a wee lad of 16, when the times, as Bob Dylan so aptly wrote, they were a changing, and a young Aidan was having the time of his life. But this was all about to change, for this date was a major turning point in life, not just for Aidan personally, but for Billions of people around the globe.

As far as the content of this first episode goes, I’m going to leave it there. I have no intention of spoiling this story for you. Suffice it for me to say that this episode is not only well written and produced, it also humbles me how candid and self-effacing one human being can be about their own problems, flaws, and limitations. For me that’s worth the price of admission alone.

Q. I assume that the following episodes will be of life changing moments that are as candid and as self-effacing, so with that in mind, how hard was it for you to not only think on these matters, but to actually break them down, and lay them out for the world to see, and how cathartic was the process?

“Yes they all are very heart-on-sleeve, I would not be able to do any other way. In some ways it has been cathartic to go back to these times, maybe even a bit like therapy for me, but because its all my own life I own it 100% there’s no fiction or worry about how things might end, its reflective and honest and when it’s all done I will be proud to know that’s out there and not just in the backseat of my mind.”

“Not all of the episodes are linked to moments in everybody else’s life, 4 or 5 of them are, some of the dates everybody will know. some of the days are about moments in time and events from my own life story, all true but with some little changes to protect people close to me.”

Q. What do you hope your audience, (and yourself) will take away from this endeavor? Here you are talking about the moment you decided to stop using drugs and become more supportive of your dying mother? Does your mother, and other family members feature in other episodes?

“Yes my family feature more in other episodes, and yes my mother’s death and the time I spent looking after comes back, but I did not just stop getting waisted. The other shows focus in on the human condition of loss and living with grief, but also finding new things, and new ways to run away or transform into something else. I was only 16 in the episode Homebase, as I write this I am now 37, so plenty of time for more missadventures.”

“As for what people might get from it…. It’s just me saying hello to the world, and sharing my story, I guess I want people to like it, maybe relate to it.. I don’t think it will appeal to everyone, and not chasing anything… of course I want as many people to listen to as possible but honestly it sounds cheesy but it’s true, if just a few people listen to it and relate to it that’s fine with me.”

Q. So how are you feeling now that your first show is about to launch?

“I guess I feel a bit insecure. I’m not a pro and I am learning my craft as I go. I have one little mic and a shitty old laptop, so when I listen back to my shows I think, “it’s not as good as the shows I love” but then I think ‘Hell’ the whole thing came from one little thought, it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as it’s good enough for me that’ll do!”

I know how that feels, my first ever attempt is almost ¾’s broadcast, and even though I’ve had lots of praise, I still feel queasy when an episode is released, and I am poised to run through it all again so that I can reassess and learn all there is about my writing.

“The last thing I would say is that the show does not follow a solid timeline, so sometimes I might overlap or go backwards then forwards, I kinda like that it’s a bit blurry and rough.”

I wish you all the best with your show Aidan, I’m looking forward to listening to more days of your life in the near future.

If you wish to catch this show, then you can do so wherever you listen to your regular playlist, and episode one ‘HomeBase’ dropped on April 3rd 2019.


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The 12:37 Review

The 12:37

By Lex Scott

I’m going to be upfront with you right here: The 12:37 is not the best show. It hasn’t got the absolute best acting or directing. The dialogue suffers greatly (and given it’s an audio drama, it’s almost entirely dialogue) and the actors struggle mightily to reach the levels of emotion that many of the scenes require.

The 12:37 is an interesting show. It’s also not aimed anywhere near me. And you know what? All those things I just listed: they can be improved. In fact from the first episode to the second they do improve. Drastically.

The notes I made for this review start out pretty harsh: “Nora and Wheeler never manage to get on the same level of performance. Each feels distinctly like they were recorded separately, and the director never bothered to direct their performances to match. They effectively aren’t in the same scene”.

But I had to immediately revise those notes upon starting the second episode. The actors and director do a much better job matching performances, and all the scenes from that point actually feel consistent. It’s that fact that makes me comfortable being as critical as I am in this review; I know for a fact that any technical issues (writing, acting, directing) can and will be improved upon as the series continues and the cast and crew get more experienced.

Our charming lead is Nora, a young (I assume) scientist (likely a chemist) who finds herself in a rush accidentally boarding the wrong train. A time travelling train. She’s told that “shouldn’t be possible”, but we’re privy to certain conversations that indicate that it probably wasn’t an accident. She’s a fine character, though troublingly unphased by her predicament (I have a feeling that might be one of those performance issues I mentioned so that’s all I’ll say about that), and a decent voice to be our touchstone.

The next character we meet is Wheeler, and he serves as our gateway into the world of the time travelling train. He always feels slightly off, but not I think in the way he’s supposed to. He always responds to most of Nora’s lines with this little laugh that never quite manages to be the appropriate reaction to her words. Again, a writing/performance issue that I’m certain will be improved upon with time and experience.

The cast slowly expands out from these two at an excellent pace, introducing characters at exactly the right point in the narrative, but I’ll leave those for you to discover.

This show isn’t the best, but it is absolutely worth your time. One of the best things about podcasting to me is the incredibly low barrier for entry: You don’t need a Blue Yeti, you don’t need to be a professional. Most importantly you don’t need anyone else’s permission to tell your story. I will never dump on someone for being inexperienced, and I will always support someone putting in the work to get something made and putting it out into the world:

You made a thing! Congratulations! That is so much more than about 99% of everyone who ever talks about “well this is how I’d do it if I made it.”

So go and give this show a listen, there are three episodes out so far and they only continue to get better with each one.

Miscellaneous observations:

  • Massive chunks of dead air throughout the episodes is a pretty big issue, to the point where I actually thought the episodes had ended. I think they’re meant to be scene transitions, but they don’t play like it.
  • Explaining what kind of bullet you shot someone with doesn’t make you sound tough, it just sounds dumb.
  • I really really didn’t need a scene where she gets a dictaphone, or really any in universe reason for her to be narrating her life. We managed fine for the majority of two episodes, it’s just unnecessary. (I have thoughts on the prevalence of “found footage” in modern audio drama, but that article is still a long way from ready…)
  • The sound design is wonderfully subtle and understated.
  • The 1237pod.com site damn near crashed my browser, and I have no idea why.

Theory:

I’ve come to enjoy closing out an article with a wild theory about what’s going on so here’s one for The 12:37

(SPOILERS!!)

The staff of the train are on a mission to seed and distribute pharmaceuticals throughout the past in order to disrupt medical patent history, and make medicine better, more available, and more affordable in their future, and that’s why Beyond Pharmaceuticals is after them.


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SCP ARCHIVES

SCP-078 is a darkened stairwell located on an undisclosed college campus that contains two very disturbing anomalies. The fact that the stairwell itself appears to be endless is disconcerting enough, but the anomalies contained within are enough to scare even the bravest of souls.

SCP ARCHIVES

by Dōhai

Secure. Contain. Protect.

Episode 1. Released Tuesday 19th March 2019.

SCP-078 is a darkened stairwell located on an undisclosed college campus that contains two very disturbing anomalies. The fact that the stairwell itself appears to be endless is disconcerting enough, but the anomalies contained within are enough to scare even the bravest of souls.

Episode 1 of SCP Archives brings this scary tale brings to life and it’s just one of the thousands (and I do mean thousands) of files found on scp-wiki.net that form the basis of the show.

Given the material, it probably comes as no shock to you that the people bringing this cornucopia of strange and obscure phenomena are the fine people at Bloody Disgusting Podcast Network, who have teamed up with Jon Grillz (Small Town Horror, Creepy) and Pacific S. Obadiah (Lake Clarity, Aftershocks, Enoch Saga).

Having listened without headpones (where the hell are they?) I just had to wake Pacific, (who says he “wasn’t asleep” but the drool on his keyboard says different) and ask him a few questions. Don’t worry, I gave him some time to get a coffee.

Who’s initial idea was it to bring these documents to life, and on what basis have you chosen files to use?

Jon’s actually! He reached out sometime around last summer and mentioned his idea, and I was on board, but at the time I was working on two other shows, so I kinda put the idea on the back burner, until I saw some stray comment on r/Audiodrama (A reddit board for audio dramas) asking about an SCP podcast. I messaged Jon, and we got to work.

Right now, we’re just going down the list of most popular stories of all time on http://www.scp-wiki.com. Only rule is the story must have at least one addendum (like an interview, field notes, tests, etc). Popular stories without addendums are going on our Patreon for now!

How many stories have you chosen to cover for a first season, or are you planning to continue indefinitely? If so, how many stories have you got in the can/ in various stages of production?

Technically our first season is 29 episodes – Which brings us to October 1. Though we don’t really have any plans of stopping when we hit that. Those episodes have all been recorded, and the first 10 are in various stages of post production. I think once we hit 20 episodes, I’ll start working on new episodes past October 1. I have some pretty fun plans for October!

How much artistic licence are you planning to use in regards these files? I notice the stairwell story stays pretty tight to the wiki file, but I can see the potential to take it further in the form of the “Data Expunged” Document 087-IV which could give it a whole new lease of life.

That’s one of the really cool things about working on a story that’s in the creative commons, we’re free to adapt and remix however we want! For this first “season” we want to stay pretty true to the wiki, a lot of our artistic license comes in the sound design and music. Though, Jon and I have definitely talked about doing some original content, whether that be an all new SCP, or expansion on previous lore, that’s still under wraps- For now. We have a few little experiments you’ll see within our first season, and if they work out well, even more in the future!

Do any of the team plan on writing their own SCP stories, either for the show or the SCP wiki? More importantly (my lips are sealed if they need to be) will there be an underlying story that will slowly reveal itself?

None of us have ever written SCPs, but I’ve been reading the wiki since I was pretty young! While there won’t be a very overt overarching story in the first season, it’s important to know that our “Narrator” is a character in this world, and he has his own reasons for doing what he does, his own approaches to things, and while a lot of these entries will be things that have been secured, he exists in the present and is still working.

Well if that’s not a little cryptic nugget that will stir a little excitement then I don’t know what is. A huge thanks to Pacific, who’s now run off to one of his finals so the only thing left to do is wish him and the rest of the crew the best of luck with this new show (and his exams)!

You can check out the show on your usual applications, or at any of the show links above. Enjoy!


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The History of Radio Drama 2

At the end of the 19th century, Marconi had been granted a patent for his wireless telecommunication system. Progress on his system was quite slow to start, with only a little amateur and commercial broadcasting taking it up. But with America joining World War One however, these stations were ordered to shut down or were taken over by the government. In fact for the duration of the Great War it was illegal for any US citizen to own a radio transmitter.

In my last post, I discussed the original audio drama system, and huge hit, the Théâtrophone. Bringing live shows and opera into the homes of people, for a small additional fee, via the telephone system… (sound familiar?)

At the end of the 19th century, Marconi had been granted a patent for his wireless telecommunication system. Progress on his system was quite slow to start, with only a little amateur and commercial broadcasting taking it up. But with America joining World War One however, these stations were ordered to shut down or were taken over by the government. In fact for the duration of the Great War it was illegal for any US citizen to own a radio transmitter.

Large government investment accelerated its development and production for military communications in the field to great effect.

Immediately after the war and the lifting of restrictions, the US saw a rise in amateur broadcasting and listening, mainly in peer to peer circles talking about the advances in radio transmission such as the all new thermionic vacuum tube, the invention of which in 1904 revolutionised radio, television, telecommunications, and computing.

Within two years, radio sets, or ‘Radio Telephones’ as they were known then, were commonplace, and commercial radio broadcasting quickly became the preferred choice for news and entertainment. This left the Théâtrophone floundering on the riverbank of entertainment, and obsolete within a decade.

recording a radio play​​

Commonly given the title of first ever English speaking audio drama, was a program called ‘A Rural Line in Education’. This small sketch was aired in 1921, on Newsradio 1020 KDKA from Pittsburgh.

The sketch featured the sound effects of a phone ringing, and a brief conversation between two farmers occasionally interrupted by a switchboard operator.

According to radio historian Bill Jaker, the station didn’t want them to use the telephone sound effects, because they thought it would ‘defraud the audience into thinking they were listening to a phone call, and not a radio program’.

Soon after KYW, another Westinghouse Electric Corporation station, this time in Chicago, broadcast a season of opera. The Chicago Tribune boasted ‘50,000 listen to opera, transmitted over 1,500 miles’.

Ed Wynn ‘The Perfect Fool’​​

In February of 1922, the company playing the musical comedy ‘Tangerine’ on Broadway, headed out to the Westinghouse’s Newark radio station, WJZ, and test broadcast to ‘1 million listeners across America’.

A week later WJZ broadcast Ed Wynn’s Broadway show ‘The Perfect Fool’ in its entirety, across America. Radio stations all over stopped broadcasting their own shows to help boost the signal if the weather was bad.

Radio entertainment had sparked the people’s imagination, and soon radio stations were broadcasting operas, musicals, and plays right across the globe, as we will discover in the next post.

This brand new medium was not without its naysayers however. Talk of ‘destroying theatre’, and vaudeville managers creating contracts that forbade actors from taking part in radio programs, gives us a glimpse into how the wireless telephone was shaking the foundations of the arts.


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Edict Zero Episode 2

By Lex ScottWelcome to part two of my deep dive into the masterclass in audio drama that is Edict Zero. If you’re new here make sure you check out my episode 1 review right here, before joining me for the rest of my journey.

The Deep Dive Into…

Edict Zero – FIS

By Lex Scott

Welcome to part two of my deep dive into the masterclass in audio drama that is Edict Zero. If you’re new here make sure you check out my episode 1 review right here, before joining me for the rest of my journey.

And of course, spoilers ahead!

Episode 2, 2415 Part 2

3 seconds. In all my studies and my own experience in content creation, 3 seconds is all the time you’ve got to hook your audience in the online space. This of course is not true of all content: watching a movie you’ve usually got a few minutes to grab your audience’s attention, and just a few fewer for television. But online content: web series, social media videos… podcasts? You’ve got precious little time to really get to the point before your audience decides to move on to a more immediate gratification.

This is what was going through my mind in the opening moments of Episode 2. Now granted, as I’ve said before this show is quite a few years older at this point and it’s possible a lot of this information hadn’t really been gathered at that point. But still the scene setting in this show is excruciating from a modern viewpoint. They spend so much time setting the scene that I honestly believe if you decided to recut this show you would potentially lose about ten minutes of run time (probably an exaggeration but I really needed to get that off my chest).

I think the most maddening aspect of the scene setting is that most of it isn’t just establishing location through background noise like traffic etc to go along with any “new location” voice announcement. Most of it is actually world building and lede burying, BUT it all ends up being superfluous because they give us the same exact info in actual dialogue during the scenes being set up! It makes me feel like the show believes it really needs to hold my hand and lead me through it’s oh so labyrinthine and difficult plot, which makes me think either it doesn’t respect me enough to be able to follow along, or thinks it’s much much smarter and more elaborate than it is.

It all comes across really as clumsy exposition, compounded further by more clumsy foreshadowing and exposition. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of hiding info dumps in radio broadcasts that our characters are listening to in scene, that slowly fade out as the scene in actual starts to play out, is genius. But the problem is simply that too much time is taken with it all being repeated anyway, when each episode is already bordering on an indulgent run time.

Much like I’ve spent so much time on this one gripe I have with an admittedly high quality and objectively good show.

Side note I’m always genuinely torn when reviewing something; between being a creator and knowing what an achievement it is to just make something (especially independently) and thus shouting down excess criticism, and picking everything apart down to its tiniest components and being very critical indeed. I am really riding the line with this series, but it might be because I’m both reviewing it for work and also dissecting it to better understand what I want in my work.

 

Anyway, episode two is definitely a part two. Everything going on is just wrapping up previously established plot points aimed at putting everyone where they need to be before the action really gets going. We get some great world building in Kircher’s interactions with her AI butler Jasper (sassy or bitchy? Let me know in the comments) and her cars built in AI slash some kind of phone/ PDA system? It’s a fun taste of the futuristic tech that’s just helpful enough to not castrate our investigators in this mystery, and just broken enough to be entertaining.

 

Side note I don’t know what it is specifically but a lot of this whole show just feels really nineties to me. I don’t know if it’s the dialogue or the music or what but so much of it reminds of nineties storytelling and aesthetics.

 

Our trio of main characters (Kircher, Briggs, and Garrett) are thrust together in a mini task force operating independently within the main task force (ed: task-ception!) in a manner that makes Kircher suspicious of it’s ease, and the others exasperated at having to work with each other. Once they’ve each debriefed the others they set out to do some boots-on-the-ground investigating.

Briggs follows up on the homeless angle, given Garrett is “terrible” at interacting with anyone but the hard done by in particular would not put up with him, Kircher follows up on an asylum lead to learn hard info about Cooke and Socrates, and Garrett lets us all learn more about the Paradox Artifacts and in the process introduces us to one of the most teeth gritting characters that are unfortunately seemingly emblematic of this series.

I don’t know Jack Kincaid, and I’m not readily familiar with any of his other work, but he seems to have leaned far too heavily on a kind of excessive pomposity for a lot of his characters. I suspect this has a lot to do with his voice acting: a quick and dirty trick for voice acting is to put on an exaggerated accent as a kind of shortcut to character creation, and his characters all seem to share a similar upper class pastiche that lends itself to verbosity and pompousness. I don’t know if this is still true, or even if it will hold true in the near future of this series, but for now that’s what i’ve seen.

Oh and Mister Cooke returns (totally called in my last review) and reveals that Captain Socrates’ beloved pan was actually gifted to him by Cooke. So I guess I’ve got one more reason to dislike that arrogant eyeless churl.

 

Conclusions/ Predictions

All in all, though I do have one or two specific complaints that come primarily from my own instincts as a writer and thus are entirely subjective to my personal style of doing things, I am enjoying this show. I’m looking forward to finding out how they rescue Briggs, which from the preview will be the main focus of episode two, and I’m genuinely interested in these Paradox Artifacts. Now I lean more towards the fantastical than the realistic, so that could be why, but I really think the show will benefit from leaning more into the outlandish aspects that have been hinted at so far.

 

Side note if I don’t get a scene on a boat with those weird sea monsters they mentioned I’m going to be very upset.

 

A solid episode overall, very functional in what it needs to do. That might sound like a backhanded compliment, but I think not enough people are willing to make functional. All too often people eschew necessity for spectacle and neglect to put in the work, so I respect this episode all the more for it.

I’m working on a theory for the Paradox Artifacts, though admittedly I’ve still got very little info to go on. So far we know they exist. No matter what, that briefcase bomb does exist, and it has a voice activated trigger. We can surmise that some kind of personal teleporter also exists, thus it is likely if two exist there are others that exist as well.

We also have been told that Edict One, the people who developed on the spaceships in the (as yet unspecified length of) time that passed on the trip from earth, keep themselves separate from society and also somewhat prohibit laboratories (and thus probably scientific advancement to some degree?). We can surmise that they have developed technologically as well as socially. We’ve also been told that two other ships “disappeared” on the journey.

So my theory is that Edict One didn’t wake everyone up immediately, instead seeding the planet with these artifacts first so as to facilitate part of the experiment they are so clearly running on human society. Not invasive tests or anything, but sociological observations on how they’re developing as a people. They also probably terraformed the planet at least a little bit. Either way they’ve definitely got their own sixth continent they’ve set themselves up on.

What do you think of my theory? Leave a comment and tell me know your own theories, or better yet let me know if you are listening along with me in this deep dive. Just please no spoilers for upcoming episodes, as I will absolutely be reading your comments.

 

And of course, go download episode 3 right here, and join me next time as I continue my deep dive into Edict Zero – FIS.