Audio Drama Reviews: Three Years 100 Reviews (Epub)

Audio Drama Reviews was founded on the principle of helping small audio drama companies get the word out about their audio fiction works. Rather than simply promote them, founder Michael L. Bergonzi took a different route. Reviews. Three years and one hundred reviews later, this ebook was released, collecting every review published on the site. Includes: We’re Alive Seasons One and Two Seven Audio Dramas from Pendant Productions Mistborn: The Final Empire (A Graphic Audio Production), written by Brandon Sanderson Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, produced by Dirk Maggs The first two seasons of Our Fair City, The Leviathan Chronicles Season Two, Podcast Novel – 7th Son: Descent from J.C. Hutchins And much, much more!

Archer and Armstrong 1-4

Pendant Production’s audio drama adaptation of Valiant Comics’ series, Archer and Armstrong is both for the fans and a wild ride in general for everyone else. The four episode arc titled “The Michelangelo Code” is filled with humorous gags such as ninja nuns and a secret order of nazis with a ridiculous name. If you’re getting a Dixie Stenberg vibe, you’re not alone.

If you’re fan of the comic, you’ll no doubt enjoy this. If you have no idea who Archer and Armstrong are, you’re at a slight disadvantage. It’s like watching Avengers: Age of Ultron and not seeing the phase two films leading up to it. You’ll understand the main plot, but almost half of the characters will be unknown. Even more so if you haven’t read or know about the source material. Archer and Armstrong lies somewhere in between the DC Extended Universe and the Marvel Cinematic one, but much closer to Marvel in terms of tone.

The creativity and attention to detail in the production and sound scape alone were incredible. The moments where Archer is explaining the fighting style he’s about to use on someone were pure gold and felt right out of a comic book. Its execution played out like the first fight scene in the 2008 Sherlock Holmes film, starring Robert Downey Jr., making the listener go wow that was fun and cool. Something which is lacking in entertainment these days.

4.5/5 Stars

Archer and Armstrong is available for purchase on Amazon/Audible and iTunes.

Darth Plagueis

Taking place before the events of the Star Wars prequels, “Darth Plagueis” is a political drama about the story of Hugo Demask’s and his apprentice, Darth Sidious’ rise to power.

While not part of the new canon, established by “Star Wars Episode VII,” it does have a few problems with pacing. At times the politics can get boring, but unlike the prequels it’s not sloppily mashed together with kid-friendly moments that don’t make sense given the galactic scale conflict. In a way, “Darth Plagueis” is almost what the prequels could’ve been, as the politics are given much more detail and aren’t constrained by the length of a movie.

The story itself mostly focuses on Sidious and his rise to the position of Supreme Chancellor. Aside from the opening chapters, the title character of Darth Plagueis (Hugo Demask) barely has any point-of-view scenes. Sidious steals the show in both the story and the narrator’s portrayal of him.

By far the best part was the soundscape. Little things like blaster and lightsaber sounds make this more than an audiobook and fully immerses you in a galaxy far, far away.

Trying not to compare this with the prequels is hard, because the story takes place before the events of The Phantom Menace, but it does drag on in–mostly due to the political scenes where very little happens. On the plus side, it does explain a lot of the backstory behind the Phantom Menance’s convulted plot.

Overall, the story is much better than the prequels, but with dozens of Star Wars novels out in the world, with more coming on a regular basis, there are certainly better ones available for purchase. However, if you’re one of the people who liked the concept of the prequels, but hated the execution, this might be a good alternative. At the very least it gives you some insight into the world George Lucas had in his head, but didn’t get explained on the screen.

4/5 Stars

Bioshock: A Radio Drama Part 2

The second part and finale of the Bioshock backstory, which leads up to the actual game itself, is everything you expect and more, given the first act’s conclusion. The death of Frank Fontaine and the corporate takeover of Fontaine Futuristics by Andrew Ryan is the catalyst of the beginning of the end for the Rapture dream. A newcomer by the name of Atlas certainly doesn’t help, but the fact that Ryan sent in Rapture’s police force to shut down Fontaine Futuristics doesn’t help the man’s claim of free enterprise Laissez Faire Capitalism.

Rather than focusing on an ensemble cast like the majority of part 1, part two dives deep into Bill McDonagh’s character arc. Out of all the characters, he is the most normal in terms of his trajectory. He starts and ends the story the same man morally, but his attitude towards Rapture and Ryan has degraded like the city itself. It’s a shame his story is told primarily through audio logs found in the game, as in this adaptation of the book “Bioshock: Rapture,” Bill acts as the everyman for the listener–and the actor certainly does a good job of getting that across.

Everyone else in Rapture either stays the same or becomes an even worse version of themselves at the beginning. For example, Dr. Suchong takes science too far and dies in a similar way to Frankenstein’s monster killing the famous doctor in Marie Shelly’s gothic novel. Tenenbaum has a transitive arc, going from former nazi scientist experimenting on children to genuinely caring for them and horrified at herself at how she could do something so horrible.

Part two is more of the same. There’s a genuine amount of service to the fans, especially during the end credits–which act to foreshadow the events of the first game.

4.5/5 Stars

Hunt the Truth Season Two

After the first season, hope of a good audio drama of the Halo franchise seemed like a dream, especially since this was simply a continuation of the same show. I will admit that the second season starts off much stronger and answers many of the questions I had back in the finale of season one. After the first few episodes, however, things follow the same downward spiral as they did the first time around.

The pacing is all over the place and the setting and characters change every episode, making it hard to root for anyone, even the protagonist. We’re supposed to feel sorry for her, but all I felt was boredom whenever she told the listener why they should give a damn about her moral dilemma. To some extent I could sympathize, but not to the extent the writers probably wanted to achieve.

Another thing which boggled my mind was the tie-in with Halo video games. Having the Master Chief disappear in the middle of the story had no impact on it whatsoever. In fact, why was it even included? The only reason I can think of is they wanted to connect it to Halo 5: Guardians on a story-driven level, but what they got was more of the same from season one–a marketing ploy, rather than a story.

Overall, Hunt the Truth season two is more of the same. If you liked the first season, you’ll like this even more as it adds something slightly different, just not different enough from its predecessor to warrant a grand slam rating.

4/5 Stars

King Falls AM (Episodes 1-5)

King Falls AM is a podcast audio drama masquerading as a radio station for a made up town where nothing is as it seems. What makes this show interesting isn’t so much the story, but its format. The first couple episodes don’t seem to link together in any meaningful way, but when episode three roles around things started getting twice as good. The witty banter between the two co-hosts and their guests is one of many examples of what makes King Falls AM a great listen.

The show is very much the audio drama equivalent of cinematic formalism where form is king and content is second. That’s not to say the story isn’t good, but it plays more of a secondary role to the production as a whole.

You don’t really get a sense of the setting and scope of the project until episode five, when a plot thread is tied up from two episodes prior. Rather than answering the question with another question, the creators use horror in a comedic way to essentially tell the audience: “yeah, we know it doesn’t make sense, but it sure as hell’s entertaining.” Some people might have issues with that, others not so much.

Needless to say I’ll be continue to listen to this series with increasing interest as each episode slowly peels back the layers of complexity that creators have set up. Whether or not there’s an endgame remains to be seen, but I’d be lying if I said this isn’t an entertaining ride.

5/5 Stars