Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Review: Wormwood

Wormwood is a mystery/horror/supernatural serial (in the line of Twin Peaks) set in the small town of Wormwood. The premise is best summed up by their description:

"When a strange vision of murder sends him to a small town to investigate, Dr. Xander Crowe discovers that Wormwood is no ordinary town. Secrets lurk within every resident, from the innkeeper to the town librarian to the waitress at the diner. The seemingly idyllic surface of the town hides a mystery unlike anything he’s ever experienced. Navigating through this tiny, isolated town in the foothills of Northern California, Crowe finds himself drawn into a web of dark conspiracy, strange romance, and arcane mysticism. And now, as Crowe begins to unravel the mystery at the heart of Wormwood, he finds that his very presence there may not be a coincidence at all…"

I've had this series on my ipod for a while now but hadn't started listening until recently - partly because I was listening to other things, and partly because I prefer to listen to multiple episodes at once (otherwise I can lose the thread!) Anyway I listened to the first 9 episodes in under 24 hours - it really sucks you in.

The writing is good, with some great characters (especially Xander Crowe), and a good amount of comedy to lighten the rather dark sections (and some parts are very creepy!) I did have a little trouble following some sections, partly because there are a lot of characters (I recommend having a look at Wormwood characters), but also because there are many plot lines. The sound is also a little variable, but hopefully this will be sorted out in future. Anyway I'd definitely recommend this - they're putting out an episode each week and are planning on a 24 episode series, with three series planned. Very ambitious, but hopefully they can pull it off!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Any Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans out there? Well, BBC Radio 4 will be producing a brand new radio drama of another of Douglas Adams' books - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. It's got a great cast and is being produced by the same team who did the recent Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy dramas. The first episode starts at 6.30 BST (5.30 GMT) on Wednesday 3rd October 2007, but all episodes will be available to listen to on the website, for a week after airing. After that I'm sure it'll make it's way onto CD.

I'm sure it'll be amazing - enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Experimental audio from the UK

Britain has, for a number of years, been leading the way in professional audio drama, mainly through the support of the BBC which commissions many hours of radio drama and readings each week. However with podcasting opening up the field, things are developing in the UK (see this article in the Guardian newspaper). and the BBC are starting to think about more experimental forms of audio drama. Radio 4 is making a feature film to be shown in UK cinemas in 2008 before being broadcast in digital radio. The film involves audio and visuals, however it is the audio that is the dominant method of story telling.

One great blog I've come across is the audiodrama blog (nearly the same name as this blog!). It's run by a guy with BBC connections and dedicated to 'creative' audio (particularly short, experimental work). There's even a possibility of winning a BBC commission!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Review: Indiana Jones and the Well of Life

Indiana Jones and the Well of Life is a production of Pendant Audio and (surprisingly!) involves Indiana Jones' search for the well of life. The drama follows a similar structure to the films and lasts about 2 hours in total, which is a nice length for listening to the whole thing.

The production quality is excellent, with great acting and sound effects (and even a Sean Connery impersonator!). The writing is also very good - I have to say that I thought it was impossible to write good action sequences for audio before this, however, although there are some bits where I wasn't sure what was happening or who was involved, mostly it all worked well. The writer certainly knows how to write for audio! Good fun and definitely recommended!

Doctor Who audio dramas

Well, I was going to leave this post till later, but I've noticed that BBC R7 are starting rebroadcasting the McGann Big Finish audio dramas. They're starting with the episode 'Shada' (10-12 Sep), which was originally written by Douglas Adams for Tom Baker's doctor, but the filming was never finished. This is followed by 'Storm Warning' (13-14 Sep), the first episode with Charley. Big Finish do a lot of very good Dr Who (and other sci-fi) audio dramas, starring a lot of the original actors (including Dr's 5-8) which you can buy from their website, however they're not cheap. Last year BBC R7 broadcast a number of their audios, and are hopefully doing so again this year, so keep an eye on their website (the audios are available for 1 week after broadcast).

There are also many fan produced audios available for podcast. The Sonic Society had a number of Dr Who audios in their summer season - the Westlake Films Fineline production of Madhouse was particularly well done with a good story and sound effects. They have many other productions (Dr Who and other) on their website to download for free which I'll definitely be checking out, and even some video films which look interesting! Other sources for fan-produced Dr Who audios on the web are Darker Projects, Dream Realm Enterprises and Doctor Who Audio Dramas and BTR Productions

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Parsec Award Winners

Well, the winners have been announced from the 2007 Parsec Awards. In the audio drama categories the winners were Prometheus Radio Theatre - the Arbiter Chronicles (long form) and The Radio Adventures of Dr Floyd (short form). All the winners and entries can be seen at the Parsec Awards website.

Congratulations to all the great entries and especially to the winners!