Reviewers Wanted

In an effort to expand readership, Audio Drama Reviews has opened up their doors to other critics of the art form. We are looking for a few writers/reviewers to add to the arsenal. If you are fan of audio drama, full-cast productions, audiobooks, or any story told without required visuals, send an e-mail over to Michael@AudioDramaReviews.com. Use the subject: “ADR Employment – GENRE OF INTEREST” (See below).

We are looking for 3-6 reviewers in the following genres (two for each one is the goal, but one per genre is also good):

Comedies
Horror
Anthologies

Please note, for the time being, these are volunteer positions. I’d love to be able to pay people per word right out of the gate, but it’s just not feasible for me right now.

The body of the e-mail should contain your credentials. A cover letter. Don’t worry if your new to reviewing anything artistic. Once the e-mail is sent, I’ll reply back with some follow-up questions. The sooner you answer these, the sooner you can be added to the reviewer’s roster. These questions are to help me place you inside your ideal position.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Thank you.

–Michael Bergonzi

The Death of Captain America (Patreon Exclusive Review Preview)

 

The aftermath story of Marvel’s Civil War is a story which holds no punches, but those punches are rather soft. Unlike its predecessor, “The Death of Captain America” doesn’t have the luxury of falling back on other heroes and villains in the Marvel universe, when things get a bit dull. This is primarily a Captain America tale, or rather, the repercussions of his death to everyone who both knew him and knew of him.

There are a plethora of characters in this story, not as grand as Marvel’s Civil War, but enough to keep it mildly interesting. The political undercurrent which kept the story afloat barely gets by with simple tropes. The main cast includes Agent 13, Bucky Barnes, the Falcon and many others on both sides of the compass of good and evil, including those in the morally grey area.

Want to know the rest of my thoughts? Become a supporter on patreon and get this review along with an ebook of never-ending reviews, if you donate $3 every month. Exclusive reviews like this one are easily obtained at the $1 level. $2 gets you the audio review for this and future stories.

Go to Patreon.com/ADR to learn more and sign up.

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

Edict Zero FIS: Season One

Part sci-fi, part cop drama–Edict Zero FIS excels in both engaging storytelling and tremendous acting. The one downside is that the medium level details are lost in translation. There were many times where you don’t know what’s going on, but on a micro and macro level, you understand everything you need to know. Perhaps a better word would be the specifics of the information.

The plot revolves around a team of federal operatives who are tasked with solving the mystery of who the illustrious Mr. Cook is and the reason behind him blowing up a building on New Years Eve. From there things get complicated.

The sci-fi may be prevalent in the technology and SFX of the show, but at its heart this is a cop drama. Albeit with less of an episodic-feel, where one episode equals one crime. There’s an overarching plot, which seems simple, but the more that’s uncovered, the more intriguing it gets.

The characters are great. Each one had a distinct voice, both on paper and the microphone. By far the most interesting reoccurring one is Agent Garrett, who has all the trappings of a sociopathic character, but is a federal agent. My favorite character in the first season, who disappears after his usefulness to the agents is fulfilled, is Socrates. Creator of the show, Jack Kincaid gives a performance that is mind blowing. The best I’ve heard in a long time when it comes to audio drama podcasts.

Around episode five of the nine episode first season is where the season reaches it’s peak. There’s so much going on, it demands a second listen as you’re bound to miss something minor. However, you can follow the story just fine without going through it again. Needless to say, this on my re-listen list and that’s an honor not many audio dramas have received.

4.5/5 stars

The Bootleggers: Episode One

Produced by Pocket Radio Theater and set in my hometown of Rochester, NY–this period piece about life in the upstate New York city during prohibition mixes the old time radio aspect of the time with modern audio drama sensibilities. Complete with music which reflects the period is only icing on the cake.

The writing is good and the sound effects even better. The immersion factor is seemless and you’re never thrown out of the story even for a little bit. A problem a lot of newer shows have with their production values.

The plot of this episode deals with two bootleggers who run into trouble with the feds. After a scene which explains a change in management for the two men, the bootleggers go about their daily lives, complete with name-dropping actual places inside Rochester, NY. As a native of the city, it made me smile. After the stage is set and we get to know the main characters a bit more, the episode ends.

There’s not much to say about this other than there are new episodes released on the 15th of each month and it’s a serial. The first episode is not self-contained, but there many things about it which hook you. I started listening to the next episode immediately after. If you’re a fan of the 20s and 30s, this audio drama is for you.

You can listen to the first eight or nine episodes on iTunes or by visiting their site at PocketRadioTheater.org.

4.5/5 Stars

Powder Burns Episode 4: Fifteen Thousand Friends

This episode starts off what with can only be called a flashback. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but the scene feels out of place when compared to the rest of the episode’s story–which is in present day. By the end, you still aren’t sure why it was included.

Moving on to the meat and potatoes of the story, episode four could basically be called 3.5 as it has very little to do with the previous plotline of Emmett trying to capture Monte Hogue. We’re introducted to another character, a man from the US Army. Seeing as this is a western, you know he’s going to be trouble. You arent’t sure in what capicity, but the moment he’s on screen you know he’s plotting something.

Once again, John Wesley Ship and the rest of the cast bring their A-game and the appearance of Robert Vaughn (Napoleon Solo from the original The Man from U.N.C.L.E series) makes the episode stand out a bit more than usual. This is the weakest of the episodes in terms of the overall story arc, but still a good episode taken on its own.

4/5 Stars

Powder Burns Episode 3: Weep for Me

Episode three of this audio drama western takes us once again deeper into the backstory of the characters. This episode is very much a set-up for episode four. Or at the very least a moment of rest which ends on a cliffhangar.

This episode is under twenty minutes, but it feels more like ten. The pacing is fast and the tension ratchets up with every spoken word. Without this increase, this episode would feel like a sequel, rather than a scene. If memory serves correctly, this episode was just one long scene, but it’s not something you’re thinking about when listening. In fact I just thought of it as I was writing this review. So points for that. Hopefully my memory is still functioning properly.

As for the plot of this episode, there really is none aside from what was set up in episode two. Emmett is once again on the lookout for outlaw Monty Hogue. The real conflict comes from the clash of personalities of the Emmett and his deputy. The ramp up in tension in that one scene is exhilarating.

The episode’s conclusion is a cliffhangar. A confusing one at that. For the first time, we get a glimpse of what it’s like to view the world when blind. It may be the logline for the show, but the execution feels like a badly shot action sequence. The one’s with all close up shots and shaky camera work. Episode four was also released last month and will be reviewed next week. Until then I give you with a rating.

4/5 Stars

HUNT the TRUTH: Season One

Halo is a universe near and dear to many people, including my own. Some will blindly like anything with the “Halo” name attached to it, others will hate it out of principle. HUNT the TRUTH takes the popularity of NPR’s Serial form and uses the fictionalized world of the Halo video games to increase sales of the next game in the series–Halo 5: Guardians.

It seems the writers were so focused on creating a bridge from Halo 4 to Halo 5 that the result feels more like solely a marketing department decision. The only thing unique about this story is that it explains why the Master Chief is being hunted by Spartan Locke and his team. Everything else, even the slightest fan will know to be canon. The whole atrocities of the Spartan II program are nothing new. Yes, in-world, only a select few characters know the truth about the second phase of the Spartan program, but to compose a whole story based on that concept alone is foolish. Add in the fact they undermine themselves near the end with a cheap thrill ride by practically retconning the story they’ve told so far. The ending is basically a lie you’re expected to swallow. While it goes down nice and easy, there’s a strange after taste which makes you question the decisions of the writers.

It’s a shame that the second attempt at a Halo audio drama falls short of its precursor. The Halo 3: ODST story told via collectible audio logs was the first and a true audio drama. NPR’s Serial is a good show, but as many have said it isn’t audio drama. It’s the equivalent of creative non-fiction. HUNT the TRUTH takes some of the same notes as Serial, but ultimately fails as both a marketing ploy and an audible drama in general.

3.5/5 Stars

It’s About Time: The Heist

The time traveling comedic duo had amazing first episode. There was genuine laughter every few minutes and the story was great. Episode two takes the concept of time travel and turns it on its head. Paradoxes in particular are a focal point of this episode, without being overtly obvious about it. If you know about science fiction, then you’ll know about the butterfly effect: the theory that one little change in the past will have a ripple effect on the present. The classic example is a man steps on a butterfly and suddenly the dinosaurs are still alive in the present day.

The comedy is great once again, and the story is bit more complex. The subplot with the professor felt odd and the scenes focusing on him too short. It begged the question why this was included in the first place. Hopefully the answer will become clear by the end of the first season.

The plot focus of this episode is the two newbie time travelers hatch a get-rich-quick scheme, which involves robbing Blackbeard. The ending is where the butterfly effect comes in isn’t exactly world-shattering like most time travel stories, but that’s what made it a WTF moment. A good WTF moment.

I suspect good things from the rest of the season.

4.5/5 Stars

Powder Burns Episode 2: Father Abraham

At first listen, this might feel like a filler episode, but in truth it blends a “reaction” scene with some great character development. Getting to know a character through any sort of plot is a higher form of storytelling and something that can easily turn into something which feels obvious. The dreaded “author’s hand” writing motif.

Powder Burns episode two manages to slip in bits of dialogue about the protagonist’s history that it feels natural. Much like episode one where there was a sense of depth in each line of dialogue–whether it was about the setting, character, or plot–episode two has fewer of those moments, but their quality exceeds that of the pilot.

The plot for this episode revolves around a mentally challenged boy who shot a bank teller, and now Emmett Burns has to decide what to do when the town wants the boy’s life for his crime. That’s the setup. Right from the start, the tension keeps ramping up until you get to the climax where it all comes together in a nice neat bow.

Most of this episode is self-contained, save for the last minute or so before the credits where it gives a glimpse of what episode 3 might be about. We’re Alive redefined the zombie story for me and Powder Burns is doing the same thing with the western genre. Hats off to them.

4.5/5 Stars