Homecoming, Hidden Brain, In Our Time.
In one of the very first episodes of the Podcast Review Show, Richard and Matt spoke about the dearth of good audio drama, and that podcasting was a great opportunity for someone with the storytelling sensibilities of a Tarantino or a Wheatley to raise the form to a new level. Hopes were raised when Peter Strickland made a foray into Radio 4 drama, but all in all, the landscape remained unchanged – with the noble exception of The Truth. Now here is Homecoming. It’s relatively small in scope, despite being a conspiracy theory story, but here, finally, is what can be brought to the table in terms of script, direction, and, above all else, acting. Catherine Keener, David Schwimmer and Oscar Isaac show that radio drama doesn’t have to feel like tired old luvvies standing around a mike on a rainy wednesday, with poor foley and dialogue constructed from cardboard tropes and a bit of tired narrative string. That it is possible to create characters that feel real, in scenarios that resonate with tension and possibilities. Everybody else – take note.
The Hidden Brain is made by NPR, which means that it is well researched and put together. It has an affable presenter in Shankar Vedantam. One of the episodes under review by Richard and Matt tells the story of the SS St Louis – a timely reminder that America’s history of immigration is, to say the least, complicated.
In Our Time, despite it’s home on radio, is the podcast to which all serious podcasts must bow their heads. Week after week since 1998, Melvyn Bragg has coralled three pre-eminent experts on a given subject in the fields of Science, History, Culture, Philosophy and Religion. At the time of recording the Review show, In Our Time was broadcasting its 750th show – each of which are available to download and which amounts to an audio library lovingly curated by a singular man. Here at the International Radio company, we believe that BBC radio should be awarded World Heritage status, to save it from the inevitable encroachment of the ‘free’ market. But we would say that.
Listen to episode 14: https://soundcloud.com/internationalradiocompany/podcast-review-show-ep-14