Serial Meets Moonlighting – Arden Podcast

It seems each and every #audiodramasunday there’s a new podcast dropping about an unsolved murder where the killer is discovered and brought to justice within ten or twelve episodes. These types of shows – audio drama crime shows – are riding on the huge success of “true crime” podcasts such as Serial and S-Town and many others that continue to grow in popularity. And then there’s the Arden Podcast . . .

Serial Meets Moonlighting: The Arden Podcast

By Alex C. Telander

It seems each and every #audiodramasunday there’s a new podcast dropping about an unsolved murder where the killer is discovered and brought to justice within ten or twelve episodes. These types of shows – audio drama crime shows – are riding on the huge success of “true crime” podcasts such as Serial and S-Town and many others that continue to grow in popularity. And then there’s the Arden Podcast . . .

It began as an idea in 2016 when Todd Vanderwerff (Vox, A. V. Club) pitched his writing partner, Christopher Dole (National Theater Institute), with the tagline: “Serial meets Moonlighting.” Dole was immediately on board, and the two then brought in comedy writer Sara Ghaleb (Ruby LA House Team The Burbs), who apparently isn’t familiar with Moonlighting, but was just as excited. The result is a show that is in some ways like other crime dramas, and in many others completely unique and compelling.

The story is set within the glitz and riches of Hollywood stardom.

Ten years ago the renowned actor Julie Capsom ran her car off the road on a rainy night in Northern California, far from the safe and familiar environs of Los Angeles. No sign of her was ever found, she appears to have disappeared into thin air, while a headless corpse of an unknown man was found in the trunk of her car.

Now two unexpected people have decided to solve the case and explain it to the world on the podcast Arden.

There is Bea Casely, a reporter who knows how to follow the rules, but also knows some rules need to be bent every once in a while to get what you need. Brenda Bentley is a former police officer and now turned private detective, who has seen it all and very much wants to find out what exactly happened to Julie Capsom. The two, while not necessarily actual friends, are certainly acquaintances, and very competitive, but ultimately are willing to put their prejudices and feelings aside to work with each other towards this common goal.

Arden podcast is extremely well produced with limited but key sound effects, music that goes well with the dialog and moves the story along. The two main characters – Bea (performed by Michelle Agresti) and Brenda (performed by Tracey Sayed) – have a rapport and dynamic that is unique and special, and at the same time like any well-performing duo. The delivery of the lines, the acting, and the way they feed off each other is hilarious and makes the listener stop whatever they’re doing just to focus. Along with the rest of the cast, every actor is strong and compelling, so there is never a dull moment.

And to “cap(som)” it all off, Wheyface Industries – “the good people” – who owns the radio station and a good chunk of Hollywood, cuts in with some very interesting advertisements in each episode, such as an ad for Wheyface Industries itself [Arden Wheyface Industries Sound File], or the Wheyface Industries Dehydrated Drinks for Adults [Arden Dehydrated Drinks Sound File], or the new dating app Wheydate [Arden Wheydate Sound File].

In the style of the Amelia Project, A Very Fatal Murder, and The After Disaster Broadcast, Arden Podcast is an enthralling murder mystery that has ample humor and a dynamic cast that will leave you wanting more at the end of every episode. Do yourself a favor and download and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Review: Who Killed Julie?

It seems the world and his dog loves true crime dramas if the glut of shows on your podcatcher is anything to go by. Take the soon to be released third season of Serial, Sword and Scale, recently released Dr. Death, or… well the list could go on.

It seems the world and his dog loves true crime dramas if the glut of shows on your podcatcher is anything to go by. Take the soon to be released third season of Serial, Sword and Scale, recently released Dr. Death, or… well the list could go on.

Who Killed Julie?

Who Killed Julie? follows in the footsteps of many of these shows, in the form of an investigative journal that slowly unfolds week by week. The main difference here, this isn’t a true crime story, but a work of fiction from writer/ creator Paul Sating.

Paul’s first foray into this genre releases this Sunday (September 23rd), and I would argue has been a rather successful venture on several fronts.

Firstly it’s nice to see a writer tackling something new. Rather than sticking to the ‘tried and tested’, rather than staying within the parameters where he’s comfortable, he seems to push himself into unfamiliar territory with every new project.

Those that are accustomed to his work will know he’s worked all over the spectrum. Satirical comedy, (Atheist Apocalypse), horror, (Diary Of A Madman), and out this Thanksgiving, 12 Deaths of Christmas. Lore, (Subject: Found), dystopian futurism, and LGBT+ love stories to name but a few. Hell, I even have a poem of his in my inbox that I will be publishing next week!

I had the opportunity to ask him why his catalog feels so eclectic.

“I get bored easily, lol. Beyond that, I don’t want my writing to get stale.

“I’ve been dealing with a lot of horror. Diary of a Madman is a dark show. Who Killed Julie? Isn’t exactly a Sunday morning family program either. So I enjoy breaking away from those things from time to time. It keeps me growing and developing as a writer and it keeps me stimulated.

“I even have a new audio drama coming in 2019 that is totally different from everything else I’ve done. I’ve written 6 episodes thus far and it’s definitely a stretch for me. But it makes me excited when I work on it and it is forcing me to consider things I’ve never had to before, because of the story and target audience.

Secondly, Paul’s work just keeps getting better. Even though this story covers very adult themes (you have been warned) to include domestic abuse, murder, and prostitution, the story is both realistic and sensitively told.

Julie may not have been a “model citizen” (in even most liberal eyes) but she was, as the story shows, a very sensitive and caring person. To her children first and foremost, and to everyone (even her detractors) in the wider community.

“Julie has been living in my head since I worked in a military sexual assault response office. I understand the sensitivity of the topic. That experience opened my eyes to the dichotomy of sexual assault; who the friends and enemies of sexual assault survivors are. After the show runs, I’ll release my reason for writing Julie’s story, but she came to life from that experience.

“I thought I understood sexual assault, but that job showed me just how much I didn’t know. Julie is an amalgamation of the survivors I had the honor of serving. Her story is a real story; it’s something that no one should have to live, but far too many do. And I felt it was time to tell it.

Third, and most importantly, the story lends itself as a platform in which real social issues are put into the spotlight rather than swept under the carpet. It shows the very real fear of admitting to being abused for fear of becoming shamed or shunned. It boldly holds up a mirror to society, and shows us how ugly we really can be. As Emerald poignantly reminds us, “This is the story of us!” Add to this fact that the show aims to raise money for Safe Place, Olympia, a 24 hour shelter for victims of domestic violence, for me, puts this show in the must listen category.

Safe Place, Olympia

The story starts slowly with episode 1. Maybe that’s because I’m used to hearing shorter episodes from Paul, but I found myself drifting off a little towards the end. Episode 2 however picks the pace right back up, and keeps you on the pulse throughout the rest of the entire seven episodes, with brilliantly written dialogue that slowly unfolds the story and it’s characters.

The cast, though small is superb. Ashley Litsey as Emerald Johnson, takes the lead perfectly, giving us a full range of emotion. Dealing with others character flaws professionally and with empathy, when alone she switches from angry, to heartfelt, and emotional, to downright sassy.

In support, Rhiannon McAfee plays a hard-faced, bad mouthed Rachel. Robin Siegerman takes to the role of Julie’s self-centred, uncaring mother Angela. John McClain the saddened, doting father, and Christopher Rocco portrays the ‘one true love’ Caleb wonderfully. All of them have nailed these characters perfectly.

One or two of the ‘phone call’ conversations are a little too distorted, something I can live with if it’s just a two minute call, but when a call lasts beyond five of minutes I find it becomes a distraction.

A couple of places, early on in the story, I also found distraction in a lack of background noise. Sure, that sounds a little odd, and possibly picky, but distracting nonetheless. You could probably get away with not noticing the ticking of a clock, or the occasional passing car under a short dialogue, but there are some weighty monologues throughout which you would feel background noise would become a distraction to. However for me, not having that white noise present made the conversations a little more oppressive. Not sure if this was the intention, but with a dark topic such as this I feel it’s not needed in this case.

As I stated earlier, Who Killed Julie? is NSFW. It uses adult language to describe adult themes. If you are at all worried about this, then I suggest you don’t listen. I will say however if you managed to get through the latest trailer, then you have already heard the most graphic part of this whole story, something that isn’t repeated again.

That being said, this story is a very important one. It’s a story I feel everyone needs to hear, and a conversation we all need to be a part of if we are to grow as individuals, and as a society. You can catch it’s release this Sunday (September 23rd), and every fortnight after that.


 

You can check out Who Killed Julie? and all of Paul’s other shows over on his website, or on your podcatcher of choice.

If you have a new podcast/ audio drama season coming up and would like us to take a listen, then feel free to drop us a line.


Podern Times is powered by coffee. Do you like what you see here, then please consider donating a cup of Joe for yours truly by clicking the Ko-Fi image below. Thanks!

Ko-Fi donation link