Audio Drama Sunday: The Black Tapes Season 1

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The Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from the creators of Pacific Northwest Stories, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both. Do you believe?

The Black Tapes is all I’ve listened to this week. It’s consumed my commutes, it’s taken over my gaming time, I can’t stop listening to it. I finished up season 1 on Friday and I’m on the first episode of season 2 now.

What’s keeping me hooked is the style and the consistency with how the story is told. It sounds exactly like a documentary podcast and sometimes I find myself forgetting that it’s fiction. The cast does a great job selling the authenticity of the story.

So let’s talk about that story. It starts with Alex Reagan, the host, going on a ghost hunt. While she’s talking to ghost hunters and paranormal researchers, the name Richard Strand keeps coming up. Strand turns out to be a skeptic in the field and has an institute that’s sole purpose is to disprove proof of the paranormal. There is a million-dollar prize offered for those who can provide unrefutable proof of the paranormal. Alex set’s out to interview him and in his office, he has a set of black VHS tapes. These are videos of paranormal occurrences that can’t be proven false yet because the technology isn’t there to do so. Sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me…

The show focuses on Alex and Strand revisiting the Black Tapes and talking to people who were involved in them. The first few episodes lead you to believe that this is going to be the format of the show. But as Alex reveals more Black Tapes content the more connected they all seem.

What makes this show work for me is the opposites that are Alex Reagan and Dr. Strand. Alex is the journalist with an open mind and although she says she doesn’t believe in the paranormal it seems very clear that she wants to believe. Strand on the other hand, is a full-blown skeptic. Everything can be disproven with science and logic. Every time Alex brings up a piece of evidence that seems like it’s irrefutable, Strand is there to knock it down.  The show wouldn’t be as interesting without that dynamic. It would be like countless other horror shows and movies. It leaves me waiting for evidence so compelling that not even Strand can disprove it.

I’m glad I’m listening to the show after it’s finished so I don’t have to wait between episodes. Especially between season 1 and 2. Season 1 doesn’t end with wrapping any of the plot points up. In fact, there’s even more questions raised. It’s not a satisfying finale but luckily I can just press play on the next episode.

I’m a bit worried though. I’ve heard from friends that the podcast ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. The Black Tapes released it’s final episode on November 7th, 2017, it’s not coming back. But that worry is offset with just how well this story is told so I’ll take a disappointing ending to be able to listen to 2 more seasons of this.

 

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Audio Drama Sunday: My Week Has Been Full of Horror

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This week I’ve been listening to way more podcasts. I go through these phases where I only want to listen to music on my commute and other times I only want to listen to podcasts. This week’s been a podcast week. I’ve also gotten a promotion at work and now have to do a bit of traveling. It’s not a lot, maybe 20-30 minutes a day, but enough to get through another story of No Sleep or halfway through another show.

My tastes for the past few years have been skewed towards horror. I’ve loved watching B-horror movies since college and I’ve recently gotten into reading horror novels and playing horror games. This time of the year is one of my favorites for entertainment. Horror movies are coming out, haunted houses start to open, and Halloween decorations are out in force. In fact, yesterday, my wife and I saw a horror triple feature at our local Drive-In Theater.

The No Sleep Podcast

I listened to one and a half episodes this week. I finished up Season 4 Episode 14 and started into the Season 4 Halloween episode.

My favorite stories this week:

The following are links to the original Reddit posts as some stories are part of the paid season pass for the audio version. This season’s Halloween episode is one of my least favorites. There are still some good stories but, halfway through, I’m not enjoying it as much as past Halloween Episodes. Who knows? It might change my mind with the last few stories. I’ve listened to less No Sleep than usual because…

The Black Tapes

The Black Tapes is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.

The Black Tapes was recommended to me on Tuesday and it’s all I’ve listened to since. This show is in the style of documentary podcasts and it does a really, really good job sticking to that format convincingly. If I didn’t know any better, I’d be convinced it was a non-fiction podcast. The cast does an excellent job selling that this is all real.

So what’s it about? Alex Regan is starting a new podcast where she tries to filter peoples experiences and stories through their occupation. The first episode is about ghost hunters and she goes on a ghost hunt with them. Afterward, she gets in contact with Dr. Richard Strand, a paranormal debunker. They meet and he explains how some of the most convincing evidence of ghosts and the paranormal are all fake. The title of the podcast comes from a collection of tapes Strand has in his office. They’re in black cases and these are the ones that Strand claims he doesn’t have the technology right now to prove that they aren’t real. The show becomes Alex and Strand digging deeper into the Blak Tapes and following up with the people in them about their experiences.

This week I got to episode 5. I have a feeling next week I’ll be done with season 1. I don’t think I’ll be writing about any other podcast next week. I’m beyond hooked on this one!

Podcast Sunday: Still Not Sleeping and Breaking Stories

 

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I’m switching up the title of this feature today because this past week I listened to very few audio dramas. I’ve been meaning to listen to the new episode of Vast Horizon as well as continue listening to Calling Darkness but I’ve been on a No Sleep kick this week.

The No Sleep Podcast

I go through listening phases with No Sleep. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without listening to a single episode and sometimes it’s all I listen too. For quite a while now No Sleep has been my go-to Trove podcast. Most listening occurs during my gaming time, it’s getting bad some dungeons and areas remind me of certain stories I was listening to at the time of completing them. But No Sleep hasn’t made it into my car in a long time. This week it’s all I wanted to listen to. I’ve gone through another 3 episodes in season 4 this week.

My favorite story this week was The Lucienne Twins written by Leonard Petracci. The story is about a Kindergarten teacher who has a strange encounter with a set of twins. After one of the twins dies in a tragic accident the surviving twin exhibits strange behavior.  The link is to the original Reddit post and this story is part of the full episode of S4S10.

By the way, this is the first time I’ve been to The No Sleep Podcasts website to look for episodes. I didn’t realize a majority of the episodes have illustrations from Lukasz Godlewski. Which is worth a look if you’re into horror illustrations.

Story Break

This is the other podcast I’ve been listening to this week. I heard about it from an ad at the end of the Mission to Zyxx Season finale. Story break is another Maximum Fun podcast that features Freddie Wong, Matt Arnold, and Will Campos writing a movie based off ridiculous ideas in an hour each week. It seems that in Season 2 the show changed formats a little bit and they are now writing a whole movie scene by scene each week. I’ve listened to the first 2 episodes of season 1. The first episode they attempted to come up with an idea for a Legend of Zelda adaptation. The second episode was a full feature Star Wars film for Jar Jar Binks.

What I like about this show is the incite they give into creating a story. From the beginning, there is just an idea and by the end of the episode, there’s a whole movie taking shape. This has been one of the shows I’ve been listening to on my commute. It’s different than what I’ve been listening to for the last few months but sometimes a change is nice.

Audio Drama Sunday: Mission To Zyxx Season 3

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It’s developer appreciation week during Blaugust. I’ve taken this to include all kinds of content creators and not just video game developers. So I would like to start this post by talking about how much I appreciate the Crew at Mission to Zyxx.

It’s hard to describe what this show has meant to me over the years. I first discovered it late one night while playing Elite Dangerous. I was bored of listening to whatever I was listening to and went hunting around for a sci-fi show. I knew nothing about it when I clicked on the podcast, but the idea of an improvised sitcom piqued my interest. That night I must have listened to half of season 1 before realizing how late it was. The next day I told my friends about it. From then on, we haven’t stopped quoting the show and discussing it every week after a new episode drops.

These guys are incredibly talented and funny. The production that goes into each episode is something I haven’t come across in another show. They’ve created a universe which I love to visit every week and characters that I want to spend time with. I look forward to every new episode when the show’s in season and I miss it terribly when it’s in the offseason. It’s a show I’ll listen to over and over and never get bored of. And it’s a show I’ll always recommend to anyone looking for a new podcast.

This week was the final episode od Mission to Zyxx’s Season 3 run. This has been my favorite season so far. Season 1 will always hold a special place in my heart but I felt this season the show really hit its stride. The orchestral scores played by FAME’s Macedonian Symphony Orchestra have added a lot to the production value. The music was always good but with the full orchestra, it sounds even better.

This season has featured some of my favorite episodes in the series.

This season added a new character AJ2884 a C.L.I.N.T, think stormtrooper, who joins the crew to become a Zeema Knight with Pleck. As much as I liked Beano from season 2, AJ is such a better character. By the end of the season, I can’t imagine another episode without him, he’s become an integral part of the crew. I like him so much I even bought the shirt!

After a slight delay in the release of the finale, I can say that it was well worth the wait. The episode was over an hour long. It was action-packed, funny, and wrapped up the season very well. I enjoyed the return of Beano and a few other characters from previous episodes and seasons. Plus, I enjoyed all the callbacks to earlier episodes as well.

So thank you guys for all of the hard work and time you put into the show. I’m eagerly awaiting season 4!

Audio Drama Sunday: Space, demons, and a little bit of magic.

 

 

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Photo by Thomas Le on Unsplash

I’m trying out a new feature. I’ve been getting into audio dramas and audio fiction a lot over the last few months. I wanted a place to put my thoughts down on the things I’m listening to each week instead of making them separate posts like I had previously tried with Vast Horizon: Adrift. Plus, it’d be nice to have a guaranteed something to post on Sunday for Blaugust. So without further ado welcome to our new Audio Drama Sunday feature.

 

Vast Horizon: Adrift

S1 E6 – Bear and Bees

Faced with the reality of Poe’s death, Dr. Nolira Eck must now face her own struggle to survive. Without power and alone, she sets off to find a way to recharge her limbs, and attempts to stop herself from descending into darkness.

After last weeks emotional roller coaster of an episode, Vast Horizon returns with more action-packed audio scenes. We got a lot of back story on Norlira this week. At the same time, I was also left with more questions about her past. The last 10 minutes of this episode are absolutely amazing. Norlira finds herself at the bottom of a shaft badly injured. The acting and the sounds made this scene so immersive and heart wrenching all at the same time. I look forward to the next installment.

 

Calling Darkness

What happens when six women accidentally summon a Demon from the bowels of hell?

The first season of this show has already ended but I just discovered it this week. It’s a comedy horror podcast and it lives up to that. It’s funny and dark and has some fantastic voice acting and writing. In a lot of ways it reminds me of a CW show but in a good way, a bit of drama, a little spooky, and it’s played on some horror tropes in a new way. I knew after the first episode I was in to listen through the rest of the season. And was double sold after hearing David Cummings, of the No Sleep Podcast, is the executive producer of the show.

Mission To Zyxx

Ah, the reason why Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week. This week the crew took a break to put the finishing touches on season three’s finally. I can’t believe we are already at the end of the season. This week we got a season 2 mailbag episode where the crew answered questions from listeners. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this to be that fun of a listens but I happily proven wrong. I was a short episode, only 22 minutes, but I wish it were longer. All the questions were answered in character and were just as funny as a normal episode. There’s a few more of these for Maximum Fun supporters, I may have to sign up for that because I want to hear more of that!

The No Sleep Podcast

This is my go-to podcast when I play Trove. I’m working my way through season4 and I’m up to episode 9. I’m glad that the intro has changed this season. The intro for season 3 included a sound clip of someone screaming and after a while, that was getting annoying. The quality of the stories is still amazing. I bought a season pass up until the end of season 5 and will gladly buy the next 3 season passes when I’ve listened thoroughly up to that point. I’ll need to keep a list of some of my favorite stories I come across in a given week if I’m going to continue with this little feature.