(All these are available in your standard open internet podcast feed.)
Downstream (Relay). This fortnightly podcast is a kind of replacement for the old TV Talk Machine. The host of that defunct podcast, Jason Snell, is joined by TV industry analyst Julia Alexander to talk about the streaming business. This isn’t really about reviewing new shows, except in passing, but an aid in keeping the big picture of what is happening in the TV industry in your head, and helps you decide where to direct your money. Netflix is the Apple of this market: years ahead of its rivals, but you can feel the rumble of the big beasts of the shrinking cable industry in the background. Cord cutters beware of what is coming. As far as Netflix, though, the fact that they seem to have stumbled on a methodology for producing content means that I’m not very interested in anything they do. Listening to this show helped me articulate why.
Dragonmount: The Wheel of Time Podcast (The Incomparable). I find this interesting, if a little bewildering at times. Three deep fans of the Robert Jordan books do a recap/discussion of each episode of Amazon’s Wheel of Time. I’m really enjoying this show and I already feel a bit sad that because it’s on Amazon Prime and Amazon are shit at curation (years behind Netflix in the power of their algorithm), hardly anybody is watching this in comparison to giant hits like Stranger Things etc. Anyway, I like Wheel of Time a lot, and so do these presenters. What this show really needs is a fourth panelist, someone who hasn’t read the books and doesn’t already know the story and/or isn’t going to obsess on the changes made for TV presentation.
Monocle on Culture (Monocle). I’ve only listened to one episode of this show (about Christmas ghost stories), but I thought it was well made and listenable. I’ve no idea about any of the other Monocle shows, but this one comes in at a tight and bright 30 minutes and reviews a bunch of cultural stuff. Looking back through the episodes (House of Gucci, Dune, James Bond, gallery shows etc), this is all a bit Radio 4 for my tastes, but might suit you.
Something About the Beatles. Older readers will know that I subscribe to too many Beatles podcasts, but this is not one of them. It’s one of the bigger ones, hosted by Robert Rodriguez, with a floating rota of guests. It’s not to my tastes – listeners to AKOM and One Sweet Dream will know what I mean if I say it’s a bit too jean jackety. On the other hand, this show, because it’s one of the bigger ones, secured a long interview with Peter Jackson, who reveals that he is a proper fan and podcast listener, and is happy to talk about the esoterica that the mainstream media would scratch their heads over if he brought it up in a 10-minute promotional interview.
A Day in the Life (URN). Not a podcast, but a broadcast on University Radio Nottingham by my younger daughter. It’s Beatle-related (hence the title, which too many podcasts already have) in that she’s working her way across the Sgt Pepper album cover and producing an episode on each of the featured characters. It’s a great premise, and it’s really interesting to get a deep dive into the life and career of Mae West, and then the following week a similar deep dive into Lenny Bruce. She has never done anything like this before, and she had about 10 minutes training and gets almost zero technical help, but (I know I’m biased) she’s doing a good job and getting better all the time. There have been some technical disasters (like the week where the playout system kept playing music that drowned out her speaking voice), but if you’re not her dad you might not find the odd technical gremlin quite as traumatic. Anyway, I’ve been trying to get hold of a recording of her shows, but at the moment you have to listen live. It’s 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, through the URN web site. She’s on holiday at the moment, but will be back in the new year with a show about whoever it is standing next to Fred Astaire.
Things on BBC Sounds
Ordeal by Innocence – I like to listen to some of the classic crime dramas on BBC Sounds, including all the Marples and the Poirots, but also the standalones like Ordeal by Innocence. In terms of the latter, it’s great to hear a dramatisation of this that doesn’t have Miss Marple parachuted in to solve the crime, like the TV version does. You’ll also find the Wimseys and various other nostalgic crime capers, all good fun.
The Omen – the BBC’s science fiction offerings remain unlistenable, but they do a good line in supernatural and horror. Not my favourite genre (I like a good ghost story, mind), but because there wasn’t a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy equivalent for horror, they don’t tend to mess it up as much. Scroll down in the BBC Sounds Drama feed to Horror and Supernatural and you’ll find readings of the likes of The Omen, stories by MR James, Susan Hill, Algernon Blackwood etc. They’re not all brilliant, but enough of them are. I do like the fact that the BBC’s sound archives seem to have survived better than their TV archives. Take up less space, I suppose, and easier to digitise.