Welcome to “Should I Listen To This?”, where we deep-dive into a podcast to find out what it’s about, what works, what doesn’t, and whether or not you need to make the all-important decision to hit subscribe and add it to your rotation.
Know a podcast you’d like us to consider? Send an e-mail and we’ll add it to the audio pile.
Podcast: Alice Isn’t Dead
Network: Nightvale Presents
What Is it?: An audio drama about an unnamed truck driver who is narrating the search for her wife who, as the title suggests, is not dead. Or is at least not thought to be dead. It’s complicated. And mysterious.
Who’s The Host?: Because this is a scripted program, there is no host. The entire podcast is narrated by an unnamed woman played by Jasika Nicole. Fun Fact: She played Astrid on Fringe, amongst other things.
What’s A Normal Episode Like?: Basically, the unnamed woman is usually driving her truck with a specific destination in mind. She rambles for a bit about… well… a lot of things. Life. Love. Weird stuff. Regardless, the language vacillates between being gorgeous and grim, sometimes doing both at once. Then something creepy usually intervenes and takes our narrator into danger, potentially into the path of The Thistle Man, the story’s antagonist right out of a Stephen King novel.
Who Is It For?: If you enjoy audiobooks, especially thriller, horror, or mystery audio books, this is right up your alley. If you said this was based on a book, we’d believe you. On a larger scale, it’s for people who enjoy scary stories and have an appreciation for storytelling that challenges your imagination.
As part of a bigger discussion, Alice Isn’t Dead is coming to us at the precipice of an emerging artform. Well, a re-emerging artform. The radio play was long thought dead, or at least sent away to the far corners of the pop culture world never to be appreciate again. But the podcast medium has given audio drama new life. Welcome to Night Vale, Limetown, The Black Tapes, and The Truth have all set the tone for a slew of new audio dramas to find a growing audience of podcast listeners looking for a new experience. Or, you know, an old experience reborn. Alice Isn’t Dead is part of the second wave, hoping to bank on the goodwill born from those previously released podcasts and grow the audience further.
Finally, it’s a great show for plot obsessives. There’s a subreddit, of course, and people have already started trying to piece together the narrator’s locations and travel in order to fuel theories.
Who Is It Not For?: People who want to treat this like a non-fiction podcast and put it on in the background while they fold laundry or do the dishes. Listening to Alice Isn’t Dead requires you to pay attention like you would American Horror Story or Fargo. If you’re not focused, you might miss a key detail that’s going to come back into play later. Or you might just miss a good one-liner. Either way, it kinda defeats the purpose to treat this like you would an interview or news podcast.
How Many Episodes Are There?: So far, there have been six episodes. They’re released every other Tuesday from now through July 12, which means we can expect to get four more for a total of 10. Whether or not this is season one or a complete story remains to be seen, though considering the episodes are titled as parts of a chapter, and everything so far has been chapter one, it leads us to believe this is only the beginning.
Can I Jump Right In?: It wouldn’t make sense not to start at the beginning. It’s like jumping into a TV mystery in episode six or starting a mystery movie 45 minutes in. If you’re gonna listen, you gotta start at the beginning.
What’s Not Great?: As mentioned, this is a podcast that requires attention and patience, two things many podcast listeners don’t have. Some might find the first few episodes to be a slow burn as the story behind the show doesn’t quite come into focus for a while.
How Are The Live Episodes?: There haven’t been any and probably won’t be, for obvious reasons.
Gimme Some Great Episodes to Get Started:
Part 1, Chapter 1: Omelet – Because, duh, it’s the first episode. If you’re going to get started, it should be here. It just so happens that the plot, which could be its very own horror short story, is perfect at introducing the characters and plot while also disturbing the hell out of you.
Part 1, Chapter 4: The Factory by the Sea – This one is our favorite episode to date. Incidentally, it’s a bit of a standalone episode. It exists in the overall story, but it feels very contained. It also feels very creepy.
So, Should I Listen To This?: It depends. If you’re looking for something to listen to on long car rides or in a moment where you’d like some entertainment and can spare your attention, then have at it. If you’re just looking for podcasts to throw on in the background or while you run, it might not be for you. Especially since the idea of running alone while listening to this story just sounds way too creepy…