From Now – Podcast review


Scene One: Int. Living Room - Day

                      DISTANT SOUND OF A SMALL SPEAKER.

ROB:                  I wonder if the producers of this
                      show bothered to Google this.
                      "do. clones. have. the. same. DNA."

                      KEY BEING HIT WITH GUSTO.

ROB:                  Ah. Here we are. "Clones contain
                      identical sets of genetic
                      material in the nucleus—the
                      compartment that contains the
                      chromosomes—of every cell in
                      their bodies. Thus, cells from
                      two clones have the same DNA
                      and the same genes in their
                      nuclei." I don't suppose,
                      then, that they bothered to
                      check anything about relativistic
                      effects, or the current state
                      of the space programme,
                      or any part of the rich
                      history of science fiction
                      or space opera.

And that, dear reader, is the tale of a missed opportunity so large you can probably see it from space. The production team behind From Now, the new fiction podcast from QCode, have clearly got a budget. They’ve got Richard Madden, Brian Cox, Lance Reddick, and several other named actors. And it’s audio, so they can create magic with just the voices and some good sound effects. And yet, what they’ve created is bilge that is so bad it’s on the same level as Charles Chilton’s Journey into Space, the unlistenable BBC radio drama from the 1950s that inexplicably keeps being repeated on Radio 4 Extra.

I can only assume they spent so much money getting Brian Cox that they couldn’t afford a decent writer.

See, what you should do if you want to make a good science fiction radio drama is just adapt something already written. How much are the radio rights for something like Ringworld, or The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet? One can only assume it’s eye-wateringly expensive, leaving the producers no choice other than to toss some sciency-sounding fridge magnet words onto the nearest whiteboard and go with that.

The sound of a huge cheering crowd as a space ship launches to explore (hand waving) some distant planet. Apparently nobody expects this exploration to take very long at all. (Perhaps the writer meant to check how long interstellar travel might take and forgot.)

Sounds of consternation as the ship disappears. But then it reappears 35 years later. And the “youngest member of the crew” (as we keep being told) seems to be the only survivor. And he’s the same age as when he left. BUT WE KNOW HE’S NOT A CLONE BECAUSE WE CHECKED HIS DNA.

(Also, perhaps writer intended to look up relativistic effects and time dilation, so that perhaps just one Earth scientist might say, “Hasn’t aged, you say? And…?”)

Anyway, the future media are all over it, “If you’ve just joined us, here’s another exposition dump…”, so that’s okay.

Perhaps the worst bit is when Brian Cox (who plays the survivor’s now much older twin) remembers “how Scottish” he used to sound, only then there’s a flash back to their childhood and both boys have English accents.

Perhaps this isn’t about the mysterious ship at all, and it’s a weird science fiction show about a Mysteriously Changing Accent.

Anyway, it’s terrible.

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