This Week in Podcasts is a weekly roundup of mini-reviews of all of the podcasts I’ve listened to in a week. If you see any podcasts that you feel are missing from my list, there’s a good chance I haven’t listened to the show yet! You can see my current list of podcast subscriptions here. Feel free to give me recommendations–as well as any feedback or discussion!–in the comments below or on twitter.
This week, I wrote on Podcamp, an upcoming audio drama production bootcamp-meets-NaNoWriMo over a long weekend (applications open now!). I wrote a review for the lovely small town sci-fi audio drama Violet Beach, and got very excited for some upcoming Whisperforge productions.
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“Season 3, Episode 8: Putting the Funn in Funerals”
This shockingly emotional season of Wooden Overcoats ended with a shockingly emotional finale. This season has explored new depths in its characters while not feeling emotionally indulgent or manipulative, but “Putting the Funn in Funerals” took this to a new level. The hour-long finale still had moments of the humor so woven into the fabric of the show, but it also dealt with genuine tragedy in a subtle, quiet, intimate way I didn’t expect from an otherwise over-the-top podcast. The tearjerking ending didn’t rely on melodrama but, instead, a mix of grief and hope, of pain and love. Accompanied by a gorgeous score by James Whittle, the end of this episode is one that will stay with listeners for years to come.
“Invasion of the Sea”
With each new episode, Tides surprises me more and more. Initially, it felt like a lovely single-narrator audio drama with some fun writing, but as it continues, it keeps adding features that impress. “Invasion of the Sea” had the writing and performances listeners have come to expect from Tides, but its editing was some of the best in recent memory. This episode will be one I point to when explaining the Love and Fear of Silence and Dialogue Authenticity Podcast Problems. The cadence in the dialogue was so realistic; the two leads (played with wonderful chemistry by Julia Schifini and James Oliva) were allowed to speak over each other, cut each other off, and have the kind of rhythmic rapport these characters should have.
The End of Time and Other Bothers
“E1: The End”
Actual play podcasts are still on the rise, and the team behind Alba Salix has given us the next one I foresee being a breakout star in the genre. The End of Time and Other Bothers takes tonal inspiration from the spectacular Join the Party in its inclusivity, focus on story, and lush sound design. It’s the perfect mix of jokes, character, and plot; its also the perfect mix of out-of-game banter and in-game immersion.
I’ve sun the praises of Wonderful! often, but it’s an easy show to take for granted when it’s not at its very best. This episode was for the most part a standard, innocuous hug of an episode, but its titular moment was hilarious. In the episode, host Rachel McElroy mispronounces the word “teetotaler” as (pronounced “tee-tow’tl-er”) “tito taylor,” and her co-host and husband, Griffin McElroy, responded with uproarious laughter and declarations of love for her. It’s a joke that on any other show could have skewed so unkind, so condescneding, but on Wonderful! came from a place of actual delight and admiration. It’s a show that firmly roots itself in the assertion that jokes needn’t be cruel to be hilarious–something most nonfiction conversational podcasts (and people in general) could learn from.
This week’s pitfall isn’t a single episode, but a surprising setback I heard in several different podcasts this week. Anymore, hearing a huge difference between actors’ mics in an audio drama seems a problem of the past. It’s rare that I’m taken out of a scene because all of the actors sound like they’re in different places. I’ve often pointed to the lack of this problem when trying to explain how much audio dramas have evolved recently. This week, though, a few different shows had actors with drastically different mic quality, ambient noise, and reverb. This seems like more of a fluke than a pattern–it seems like several audio dramas had actors who weren’t in their usual spaces this week–but it reminding me of one of my first posts here: the Too Many Mics Podcast Problem.
This Week’s Ratings
- We Fix Space Junk, “S01E04 – An Unstable Utopia”: B-
- Heretic, “Episode Nine”: B
- Han and Matt Know It All, “#65: Han and Matt Step It Up”: C+
- Potterless, “Ep. 39 – Goblet of Fire Ch. 2-4 w/ Mischa Stanton”: B
- My Brother, My Brother and Me, “MBMBaM 401: Max Cooljazz”: C
- Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, “107. It’s Quiet Time”: C
- Making Obama, “Obama BONUS: The Decision”: B
- The Penumbra, “2.18: Juno Steel and the Time Gone By (Part 2)”: C
- Join the Party, “24. Bachelorette Party IV”: B
- Love and Luck, “Episode 32: Helen”: B
- Violet Beach, “10 – Skeleton Outline”: B-
- 99% Invisible, “302- Lessons from Las Vegas”: B-
- What’s the Frequency?, “7. A Big One and a Little One”: B
- Join the Party, “Afterparty: Bachelorette Party IV”: B
- ars PARADOXICA, “33: Home”: B-
- Spirits, “Episode 72: Tolkien Mythology (with Emma Sherr-Ziarko)”: B
- Fall of the House of Sunshine, “Season 2, Episode 2: The Furry Wives of Windsor”: C+
- Tides, “Invasion of the Sea”: B+
- Wonderful!, “Tito Taylor”: B+
- Song Exploder, “Kimbra – Top of the World”: B
- Wooden Overcoats, “Season 3, Episode 8: Putting the Funn in Funerals”: A-
- The Adventure Zone, “Amnesty – Episode 6”: B-
- Pop Culture Happy Hour, “Antiwues Roadshow and What’s Making Us Happy”: C+
- Invisibilia, “The Callout”: B-
- RedWing, “Episode 10: The Final Countdown”: C
- The End of Time and Other Bothers, “E1: The End”: B+
- Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services, “Case Six: Trust”: B
- 2298, “ENTRY SIXTEEN / CHOICES”: B
These weekly roundups are some of my favorite to write, but they’re also some of the most exhausting posts to write. Keeping up with all these podcasts is time consuming! These posts are brought to you with deep thanks to my Patreon supporters. Becoming a supporter will get you access to my planning blog, customized podcast playlists, and the ability to request reviews for podcasts you love. Find out more here!