I know I said before that I wish audio dramas would use more serious voice over narration in their story telling, but there are better ways of expositing, than an info dump. The whole spiel about the garbage service of New York City being the new prohibition was interesting, but wasn’t really relevant to the story. I know there are going to be some people who need an explanation as to why having two guys threaten to take a stop from Carmine, but they already established that without an info dump. I bought into the fact that it was a big deal, I didn’t need the whole story.
I will agree that some plot points need to have proper setup, but I just couldn’t figure out why the whole lecture about collecting garbage being the new prohibition was important to the story being told. I love alternative history as much as the next guy, but it just added fat that needed to be trimmed off. There seems to be a pattern in regards to how the story advances. We only get one advance per episode, which is fine in a (I assume) ongoing series, but when you add in all the exposition/voice over there isn’t much substance.
The production value is top notch, as always, but the episode barely had any meat on the bone. It was mostly just fat.
That being said, episodes 4 and 5 are the best in the season, so don’t think it only goes downhill from here. In fact, it does the exact opposite. But, more on that when the time comes. 😉
Starting off the second episode with a long expository voice over isn’t the best way to start an episode. It was interesting, but border-lined on being a simple info dump. The first episode never crossed that line into the boring info dump. It came close, but it never crossed. That, and it didn’t start the episode with a monologue. I know in the review of the first episode, I said that I wished there were more serious examples of voice over narration. The first episode blew me out of the water. However, the second episode walked the carefully constructed line that episode one created. There wasn’t that much new and exciting. The production value, again, really amped up the experience for me. But that can only do so much. And with a mafia story, there can always be room for increasing the interest.
The main point this episode makes, in terms of the plot, is that two guys threaten two of Carmine’s workers. Other than that scene, the rest of the episode is just exposition and an occasional, somewhat funny, joke/wisecrack. Using the lyric: “reunited and it feels so good” as a joke, in my mind, is kind of cliche. I use that song as the butt of many of my jokes, so that’s probably why I think it is overused. To someone else, however, it may be original. The joke also seemed forced, but that’s probably because of it being a potential cliche.
The first episode of Scott Spaulding’s “This Thing of Ours” is a great mixture of first person viewpoint, production value and what can be accomplished in an audio drama. The story plays out like one being told in the first person point of view. Normally, in film and radio, it’s often a cheap trick to give away exposition and often times is not received well by audiences. This, however, is an exception.
My favorite kind of stories to read and write are first person viewpoints. So far, this show sets my bar way above other audio drama that use voice over narration. I say this, because they are often used as a comedic element of the story. “This Thing of Ours” just proves that you can treat this story technique seriously. I honestly wish there were more voice overs that didn’t put a joke in just to poke fun at the fact that it’s a voice over.
When Carmine Santorelli is describing Joey “8 ball” Scarfidi he just flat out explained how he got his nickname and the story continued. Most of the time a sequence like that would detach a reader from the story; The dreaded info dump, if you will. Maybe this is just a perk of audio dramas, but I didn’t get derailed at all. It could have been the acting, the amazing production value or the script that made it work. All of these basic elements of any audio drama have to work together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been turned off, because of a sound effect or audio filter.
I never really have much to say about the acting component, because usually the actors do a great job at their performances. “This Thing of Ours” is no different. The production was phenomenal and rivaled that of “The Leviathan Chronicles.”
When I first listened to the second season of the Kingery I thought there was no way the writers could top off the explosive ending of the first season. I was wrong. The writer’s were fulfilling promises made way back in episode three of the second season that I completely glossed over the first listen. The deaths of various Kingery employees was still a mystery, even though we had evidence of who it was right from the first three episodes. I either didn’t want to believe it or the writers did a fine job of masking that fact and treating it like a red herring, rather than an actual clue. To accomplish both at the same time is quite remarkable.
However, and this goes more into season three and four of the show, I feel that since the second season the finales have been less satisfying. Season three’s ending was half character-driven and half huge action set piece. They blended them quite well, but it kept me from saying to myself: “that was a GREAT ending.” Season four’s ending seemed to tack on the SOL body swapping at the very end just for a huge plot twist. But, introducing a promise that late in the season feels more like bad foreshadowing. The biggest question I have for that season’s ending is “why?”
Going back to the second season, the performances were all top notch. I really enjoyed the scenes with Fix and Tommy. Their chemistry was great and that scene in season 2, episode 7 blew my mind and I said “yeah!” out loud, when Fix got what was coming to him.
I’ll say this once, I DO NOT tolerate hateful, vulgar comments on my blog. You will get NO WARNING and I will blacklist your IP on site. I’m not going to waste time giving people second chances. Anyone’s first comment must be approved by me, before it goes public. Don’t bother submitting them, hoping your “voice” will be heard, because it won’t be.
You’re just giving me hits on my blog. You are clearly desperate for attention, so this post will act as your drug. After this, I WILL NOT be posting anything else on this subject and will ban your IP from the site, as I have mentioned in the above paragraph.
The first season of the Kingery, like the seasons after it, doesn’t hook you in until the halfway point. the phrase: “In late out early” could be used here to get through the introductions of the setting and characters. However, the awesome and snappy dialogue more than makes up for it. One of my favorite lines of the first episode is, “Do you know who I am?,” which is said by the shows lead character – Tommy Arkell (played by Pete Milan). That line and the way it’s delivered just sent chills down my spine.
Speaking of lead characters, I really think that each season has it’s own protagonist or lead character. For the first season it is not Tommy, in my opinion. I believe the main character for the first season is Hooks, simply because a protagonist usually has to change and grow. This can either be done emotionally or physically. It seems like the characters who already worked at the Kingery didn’t really grow, except at the very end.
The concept of body swapping, while not original in most art forms, is really cool and at the same time confusing. Obviously, being a non-visual medium, the Kingery has to rely on the performance of it’s actors and the dialogue of the writers in order to convey that information. And I think the Kingery does a good job, considering the limitations.
I could go on about the Kingery as a whole and the philosophy of some of the technology that is incorporated into the storyline.
This seminar short won two pendy’s in the seminar category over at pendant productions. And, it goes with saying, it deserves the award. I haven’t laughed so hard in a seminar short since the “Detective Mac” storyline. A lot of shorts this past year have been kind of dark and sometimes depressing to listen to; Bed 667 from Seminar 37 is a prime example. It was nice to relax a bit with this nice little villain origin story. Even though the concept may sound cliche, the closest thing in recent memory that comes close to being categorized as an origin story for a villain is Dr. Horrible. Other than that movie, I can’t think of any more examples of a villain origin story where the hero isn’t the main focus.
In this story the hero of Hugeopolis, Uberdude, plays secondary to The Burrower. Frank uses the same trump card twice to get Uberdude off his back. Frank is one of those characters that you love to hate. Sterling Archer from the FX television series, Archer, is a recent character in popular culture where you laugh at the jokes, but you have to admit the character himself is kind of a jerk.
I feel a need to mention the actor who played Frank, Jack Calk, as I was the one to cast him in that role – back when I was still directing Seminar. When Jack won the pendy for best actor/actress in a seminar short (This exact one), I felt a sense of pride… or maybe that was my ego showing? Probably the latter.
The second episode does a Casino Royale to Quantum of Solace transition with the first episode. One episode starts where another one ends. The story is less complex than the previous episode and the production value took a serious hit. I’m not sure if there was a different mixer for this episode, but there were a lot of inconsistencies with the left and right channels and background noise for a few actors that really took me out of the story.
The inconstancies are most noticeable during the scene where Tamlynn is interrogating the staff of the house and the scene before it. At least two characters switched channels frequently and, like the background noise, took me out of the story.
The mystery is solved with hardly any clues or foreshadowing and its effect is a luke warm ending. I’m starting to get a feeling that you can’t foreshadow in a non-visual medium. At least not like you can in prose.
I won’t tell you who did it, but the mystery at the start is not the one that is solved at the end. And, for that, I have to give the writers points for making it complex enough and still having it fulfill the promise made at the beginning.
In this episode we learn more about Jim Nolan’s Boston by going to a diner, Jim’s favorite diner to be exact. This is a stand alone case, but delves more into Jim’s character and the Boston portrayed in this detective serial. The drama exceeds the mystery when compared to the first episode. It’s not that the mystery is bad, but once again we are left with two choices for culprits and how Jim finds out has little to do with the evidence collected. In fact, it’s revealed in a character incriminating line of dialogue. A little more complexity would be nice, but seeing as this is a non visual medium I can only guess at how hard it is to have a complex mystery like you would find in a novel or short story.
If Mike Murphy went the other way with the whodunit aspect of the episode, then the mystery wouldn’t feel natural. The reveal of the episode falls into the category of “it’s so obvious no one would suspect it.” At the same time the opposite is true, for almost all mystery stories, which I believe keeps the reader turning pages (or in this case, the listener to keep on listening). The individual wants to know if they’re right, not be given the answer. At least, that’s my philosophy on mystery stories.
All in all this episode really sold me on Jim Nolan.
Probably all my subscribers know about the kickstarter campaign for Pendant Production’s Dixie mini-comic, but for those who may not be, the link is below.
Let’s help make this a reality!
Campaign against the Nazis here