There are three main issues I have with the podcast:
1. It plays looped music and looped sound effects under the narration.
This doesn’t work. I believe, instead, that it is universally just a bad idea. I’ve said it many times in the past, and One Eighteen Migration use of music and effects doesn’t dissuade me of my belief. My empirical studies of audio stories have shown that they are not improved by playing music underneath them. Instead, a music or sound effect wallpaper comes off as if the creators are either not confident in the writing, the narrator, or both. Audio dramas are audio dramas, audiobooks are audiobooks – to split the difference comes off as a half-hearted attempt to do both. Adding music and effects just doesn’t work. The story must be completely adapted to be audio drama, or just remain audiobook. One Eighteen Migration is neither. Music can manipulate mood in film, or in audio drama, or set a scene for an audiobook story, but it cannot underscore a story and get the same effect as it does in a film or in an audio drama. But, it isn’t just neutral either, it contributes to a general noise making the narrator harder to hear in noisy listening conditions (like practically everywhere you take an ipod). Generally though, I think it just illustrates a temptation too common – to improve the work by adding to it. You can’t airbrush a story’s imperfections by painting them with a thick layer of music or adding in looped sound effects.
2. There is too much swearing.
I love swearing, I swear with great pleasure. But, swearing doesn’t work in scripted introductions or in a journal. When you script-in swearing, when it comes off casually, like it’s just another word, it lessens the effect of the naughtiness (defeating the point). Also, the narrator, Jonas, is supposed to be a college professor. I spent 16 years hanging out with college and university professors. Many do swear, but they sure don’t sound like Jonas. They tend to reserve their swearing for direct quotations and for when they spill a coffee on a pile of essays.
3. The story is too slow.
Greenly, South Dakota, its residents and such might have a great story to tell, but I’m not gonna be able to stick around for it. Even the shortest episode, the twenty-two minute opening show, felt very long-winded. It’s told first person past tense. But, the action is told entirely without dialogue. There is no back and forth, just reportage, diary style. Which of course also kills the suspense – which was already killed by being told in past tense (we can’t be worried about whether the hero is going to die if we are constantly reminded he’s telling us what happened today). Perhaps a journal entry style isn’t the best way to tell a zombie apocalypse story.
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Posted by Jesse Willis