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Archive for January, 2019

A Listener Reviews: The Bright Sessions

To read the review in its original format, click the “Read More” link. Otherwise, enjoy this updated style!

The Bright Sessions

Episodes:  56 full episodes, plus minisodes

 Length: Generally around 20-40 minutes

I’ve listened to… The whole thing!

The Premise: A psychologist provides services to people with special abilities, helping them manage their unique skills in healthy ways. However, it soon becomes clear that there is something important in Dr. Bright’s past, something her patients may be able to help her with.

My Review: I kind of credit The Bright Sessions (and Ars Paradoxica) for leading me into the wonderful world of audiodrama. They weren’t the first of the genre I had listened to, but they showed me that I could expect so much more than what I had been getting from some I listened to originally. So, Dr. Bright and all of her friends have a very special place in my podcast-listenin’ heart.

What first really caught my attention was the incorporation of therapy into sessions. I’m a psychologist, and I am used to really, REALLY bad depictions of therapy in various media. The Bright Sessions had some missteps, but for a lot of it, finally depicted therapy in a rather reasonable way. I mean, you have to add in the fantasy element, but for one of a very few times, I heard the therapist actually talk like a therapist. There are major ethical issues that come up later, but they are at least addressed, even if there aren’t maybe the consequences that would follow in the real world.

The characters are what make this podcast what it is. Each one is so distinct, with different strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and personalities. In addition, each person has their good and bad sides. They are multidimensional and flawed in ways that serve to deepen the story. There were times you knew a character was making a mistake, knew it would cause problems, but also understood precisely why they would choose to act in such a way. Its strength truly is in its ability to make realistic characters in such a fantastic scenario.

With such a relatively large cast, and with episodes focusing primarily on one perspective at a time, I think the podcast is notable in its ability to make each episode interesting in its own right. Yes, there were times I really wanted them to switch back to another character so I could hear the conclusion or next step of their arc, but by the end of the episode, I was wishing we didn’t have to leave the new piece of the puzzle. Each episode added something more and kept me waiting for the next episode.

In the end, I felt the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but with the promise of something else coming in this universe, I suspect this was just the pause before another exciting adventure.  The ending wrapped most everything up fairly well, but it did not seem to answer some of the larger questions that had been looming in the final season. And so while satisfactory, it still felt incomplete or insufficient for the larger story arcs that had been developing. I am hopeful that this “end” is more of the end of a chapter, rather than the end of a story. You can be certain that, should the creators venture again into this universe, I will be eagerly listening on day one.

Find them here: The Bright Sessions

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A Listener Reviews: Rabbits

Happy National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day, apparently. I feel like a legitimate answer to some cats’ questions could be Rabbits, so let’s go there.

Rabbits

Episodes: 10 in Season 1. Season 2 was recently announced. Season 1 felt like a pretty complete story, so I hope that another season does not serve to detract from what they created.

Length: Generally around 45-60 minutes

How I Found It: Recommended from a Reddit Thread. (Creators also made Tanis, the Black Tapes, and The Last Movie)

I’ve listened to… All of Season 1.

The Premise: A woman’s friend goes missing in mysterious circumstances, and she sets out to find out what happened. As is typical in such stories, the truth draws her into a very complicated world. She discovers an ancient game, like an ARG (as they repeat over and over), with dire consequences for the players.

The Good: Interesting puzzles and clues. I like the conspiracy feel of it. The story unfolds at a pretty decent pace, and the plot is intriguing.

The Bad:  The writing is….poor. Dialogue tends to be rather stiff and formulaic. The narrator is engaging at first, but then appears to try to hard to earn her nerd cred, ending up feeling forced. The concept of a podcast to help find her friend also begins to feel flimsy as it is not structured like the plea of someone trying to find their friend, but more like a documentary. And if I hear, “but more on that later…” again…..

My Rating:  I’ll get to it when I get to it.
Season 1 was entertaining and a reasonable thing to listen to, but I mainly listened to see how they would wrap up the story. It was enjoyable, and I liked some of the final twists. While I’m curious about Season 2, it’s not going to be something I rush to listen to, and I may just wait for some initial reviews.

You should listen if…you like puzzles and conspiracy theories, and don’t mind a bit of a repetitive style.


Want to know what this is? Why I’m doing it? What my arbitrary rating system means? Read this post here for all the not-so-juicy details.


A Listener Reviews: The Truth

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Here’s a podcast about…well…a lot of things. Most of them completely unrelated!

The Truth

Episodes: Hard to count because of repetition in postings. A lot.

Length: Generally around 10-15 minutes, with exceptions.

How I Found It: Advertised from another podcast I listen to.

I’ve listened to… Again, precise counting is tough because of repeats. But around 20-30 episodes.

The Premise: Anthology style podcast with different stories and techniques in each episode. Some are funny, others sad, some horror and daily life thrown in. They really run the gamut. Plus, the creators often play around with interesting ideas (like improv, different editing techniques, and different styles of recording) that they explain in the podcast. So it can have a unique behind the scenes feel while also sparking some creative ideas and approaches.

The Good:  Lots of variety. When they are good, they are excellent! It pulls from a lot of different events and reasons for creating the story, so there is a ton of variety. There are some really creative, unexpected pieces that they have created. It’s like an audio anthology from all different perspectives. I’ve always loved short stories, and this seems to scratch that itch in podcast form.

The Bad: Some episodes just aren’t good. Most are solid, a few are great, and then there are one or two that just won’t suit you. It’s bound to happen. Also, they tend to reupload episodes (at least in the app I use), so I sometimes download one and start it up, only to realize I heard it previously. With as extensive as their collection is, it can be hard to tell until you’re in it.

My Rating: Always up-to-date/I’ll get to it when I get to it.
This one doesn’t fit so well, because it is my go to when I need something short to listen to. So, I’m never up-to-date, but it is a solid standby any time I want a change of pace.  I like that it is always a bit different as that sparks my own creativity. Plus, even if I don’t’ like an episode, it’s not going to last too long!

You should listen if…you are looking for some variety and need a quick listen.


Want to know what this is? Why I’m doing it? What my arbitrary rating system means? Read this post here for all the not-so-juicy details.


A Listener Reviews: Ars Paradoxica

Happy Earth’s Rotation Day! Here’s a science-y podcast. Because why not. 

Ars Paradoxica

Episodes: 36 for the whole story.

Length:Generally around 30-45 minutes

How I Found It: Found it on a Reddit list of suggested podcasts. I tried finding the list, but no luck. A friend also recommended this on the same day.

How I Found It: Found it on a Reddit list of suggested podcasts. I tried finding thelist, but no luck. A friend also recommended this on the same day.

I’ve listened to…every episode I could get my ears on.

The Premise: Sally is a scientist from 2XXX thrown back in time due to a strange accident. She lands right in the middle of WW2 and works to help the US government with the war effort using her knowledge and the one working Timepiece. But, as would be expected, meddling with time travel has its own repercussions. Also, as she cannot return to her home time (only back towards the original event in the past), she struggles with how to integrate herself into the world. 

The Good: Great voice acting, solid writing, and really memorable characters. I still feel for Anthony Partridge. The story covers a lot of ground, and each season seems to present new conundrums to be resolved. They sidestep some of the time travel complications, but in a way that makes it more complicated. Also, really strong representation of women and minorities throughout, which made me want to get out there and kick butt on a few occasions. In the end, I really liked the way they wrapped it all up. I was not sure how they’d write themselves out of the corner, but they did it well.

The Bad:  Okay, they kind of get a little lazy with the time travel issue dodging, but I think they make up for it in their treatment of the issues. There are one or two really dragging episodes in the mix, but they are certainly overwhelmed by the good.

My Rating: Top of the Queue.
A really strong podcast and one of my favorites. I was so sad to hear they were ending,but felt they did their story line justice. Always better to end when it needs to end than drag it out forever.

You should listen if…you’d like hearing a strong, female scientist with a penchant for cursing stumble through life in the 1940s and beyond while navigating the practical, ethical, and moral issues surrounding being the inventor of time travel.


Want to know what this is? Why I’m doing it? What my arbitrary rating system means? Read this post here for all the not-so-juicy details.

PS- If there are any weird formatting issues here, let me know. I accidentally switched a new editor view that was not particularly kind to my text-only style posts. 


A Listener Reviews: Darkest Night

Happy New Year! Here’s a random podcast!

Darkest Night

Episodes: Third Season just ended, bringing total episodes to 30. Unclear if there will be a season 4.

Length: Generally around 20-30 minutes

How I Found It: Honestly, I don’t remember. I remember reading about it somewhere as this dark, gruesome podcast. And so I tuned in.

I’ve listened to… All 30 episodes.

The Premise: Darkest Night is about a woman working in a laboratory that can extract memories of death from the deceased. The thing is, a lot of the memories they find are very disturbing and unusual. Is it just a problem with the technique twisting memories? Or is something else going on?

The Good: If you are looking for real horror for a grown up crowd, this has it. Their first two seasons hit on some more taboo topics, but it’s not the sort of thing that is going to traumatize you, either. Using binaural recording is great and makes things feel more realistic. I’ve jumped once or twice because I thought the footsteps were actually behind me. Definitely one best served by headphones and a dark room. The characters are fine, but not incredibly deep. They serve to move the plot along and provide a good base for the story, but I listen more for the unique stories rather than recurring characters.

The Bad: Season three has not been as strong, and it really did seem to kind of unravel a bit towards the end. I was not as impressed or intrigued as I have been in the past. I also think it lost some of the luster when they started focusing more on the corporate espionage pieces rather than the more “monster-of-the-week” format (midway through season 2, for me). I found myself wanting to skip over those frame pieces and get to the memories. Also, some of the ideas get…well…a little silly. Which is fine, normally. But they continue to treat it so seriously that it feels a bit off. A little more of a hat tip to the absurdity would be nice. Finally, the reliance on gore in some episodes feels amateur. But they make up for it with great psychological horror in others.

My Rating:  Always up-to-date.
Definitely worth a listen as it is a good horror podcast that is truly horror. It’s above average, but can fall flat in some episodes. The inconsistency is frustrating, but the good episodes more than make up for it.

You should listen if…you need something to make you feel uneasy when you’re sitting at home on a dark and stormy night.


Want to know what this is? Why I’m doing it? What my arbitrary rating system means? Read this post here for all the not-so-juicy details.