I decided to make a post of podcast reviews. Obviously I have a lot of time to listen to them while running and it’s been hard to find ones I like. I figured I’d give some reviews here for others to both find out about some they haven’t heard of and to know if they’re worth listening to. I will likely just add to this list as I go through more and more of them instead of making new posts. Some are educational, most are entertaining. Some have a set number of episodes and others have been going for years. I’ll put a rating at the end of the review 1-5. 5 is the best. If there isn’t a review yet, check back in a month or so, I’ll get around to them eventually.
My first serial series I listened to is The Message by GE Theater. Yes the company GE made podcasts. They probably never will again since they’re broke which is too bad. It’s nice to not have commercial breaks. I love this one. I don’t want to give too much away but there is a message that scientists discovered and needs to be deciphered. My wife loved this one as well.
Life After (Lif-e.af/ter)
This is a second series from GE. Without giving too much away, someone isn’t handling the death of a loved one very well and is constantly listening to the voice recordings of said loved one when suddenly the recordings talk back. I love this one also, as did my wife. For me the first episode was slightly annoying hearing the same voice recordings over and over and over but I got used to it and once the voice talks back, it’s not annoying anymore. This is one that you’ll want to keep listening to even when the run is done and you can’t wait until tomorrows run to listen to the next episode.
The Lovecraft Investigations
This is made by BBC4 so again not many commercials although I wonder if they don’t add or take away commercials over time on podcast downloads. It’s based on books by H.P. Lovecraft who I’d honestly never heard of before these podcasts. They have made 3 seasons so far based on 3 books and they are related so definitely listen to season 1: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward first and season 2: The Whisperer in Darkness second and season 3: The Shadow Over Innsmouth third.
I love all 3 seasons immensely. They portray these as being a real life podcast which I love. It took me I think 3 episodes to realize that this was all made up (once I realized they were based on Lovecraft books) since the podcast wasn’t called The Lovecraft Investigations originally. They grouped them together after the second season I believe. Anyway the characters are perfectly descriptive of what’s going on in a way that seems natural to what they would be doing and saying that other podcasts don’t do near as well as this one. In fact there are times in movies where we all say “why are you going that way instead of this way” while being chased by a killer, etc. The characters themselves see how stupid some of the things they are about to do are but explain it in ways that are satisfying. There also aren’t many characters which is important in audio plays. It’s annoying that some writers think it’s OK to have 20 characters with similar sounding voices that are near impossible to keep track of. Things get a little crazier and weirder as the seasons go on but the last season I just had to listen to them all within a week. I ran extra that week.
So what are they about? It all starts with Dexter Ward disappearing from a locked room in a mental institute. It’s somewhat X-files like in feel. You’ll probably notice I have a type of podcast that I enjoy. I don’t want to ruin things. Just listen to a few episodes and you’ll be hooked right away I’m sure.
By BBC4. Just to show that I don’t like all podcasts, I’ll throw this one in now. This one sucked. It’s extremely obvious what the series will be about in the first episode so there’s no worry about spoilers. It’s so obvious what will happen, who the “bad guy” is, etc that I almost quit after the first episode. I didn’t because everything from BBC4 I had listened to up to that point was so good and I was hopeful. Basically, kids start going missing just as a kid that disappeared years ago shows up having not aged a day. It’s obvious that there’s a boogeyman stealing the kids through an online game. It’s like the writers just took bad plots from random TV shows and put them together. The only “good” thing is that the series gives really good lessons on how to be a horrible parent and a horrible person. I hated ever character in this series. By the end I just wished they all would die although I knew exactly how it would end before the end of the first episode.
The Other Stories
This is a long running series that I didn’t really enjoy. I’m too lazy to even look up who makes it. There are over 100 episodes I believe so clearly some people like it. They are kind of twilight zone stories but not as good. Well that’s maybe not fair. There were a couple that were really good but then you’d listen to 5 or 6 that were basically the exact same story that wasn’t even good the first time. In the end I just wasn’t willing it give it that much time for an occasional good creepy story so I stopped listening to them. You may not want to listen to this one while running in the woods at night. Perhaps someone has done a review where they list which ones are good and which to avoid?
The Black Tapes
Ok. So I’m torn on this series as whether to recommend it or not. I’ll just start with saying the last season is a HUGE letdown and if I had known what I know now, I maybe wouldn’t of started listening to begin with. There are 3 seasons with the last one in 2018. Don’t be fooled by the third season saying it was released in 2020. They re-released them and changed the last episode from “finale” to “mid-season finale”. Supposedly they were going to add 6 episodes because they basically pissed off every single listener with the crap ending. And it was crap. It’s not one of those “people just didn’t get what they were supposed to” kind of things. They just made up random plot lines out of nowhere, changed the history of what happened in past episodes, etc.
So this one is very much like X-files. I’m pretty much convinced that was on purpose. It’s about a reporter that is investigating a paranormal skeptic Dr. Richard Strand and his black tapes that have unexplained phenomenon on them. The first season is very much like X-files in that every episode is basically meant to stand on it’s own, but there is also a general overall story line. I think that’s the reason I kept listening. The lack of answers and any sort of closure to the stories was annoying and I almost stopped the series but I still had 5 miles left on my run and nothing else to listen to. Then episode 4 came. CREEPY! And awesome. That kept me interested enough to finish the season and listen to season 2 as well. Season 3 seemed like it would be good but it just got more and more complex and confusing. Like I said earlier, they just basically made stuff up to suit their needs. Then all of a sudden in the last episode things happen that had absolutely no foreshadowing at all, and it was stupid. Think of where X-files went but in a bad way. If you really want to know, just google it and you will find lots of pissed off reviews that will give you the ending.
So in the end I’d recommend stopping after episode 4. Maybe even just listen to episode 4. Again, don’t listen to it while running at night by yourself like I did. I’m kind of used to listening to creepy stuff at night but still.
Ratings: overall: 2, season 1: 4, episode 4 of season 1: 5
The Deep Vault
This podcast was made by Dead Signals the same people that made Archive 81 which I’ll talk about later. This is a short concise show about the ending of the world. The characters end up in a bunker underground and things get interesting. I definitely recommend it. It’s not the best thing I’ve heard but it’s short enough and interesting enough for most to enjoy.
By Qcode. I plan on listening to most of what Qcode makes based off this podcast and another I’ve listened to already. You might think this is about ghosts but it’s not. I don’t even know how I found out about this one, it’s almost like it just showed up in my computer. I don’t want to give too much away but it’s about a tape that has a war recording on it, and has some “interesting” qualities as well. This podcast is good. They warn you right up front that it’s a mature and intense podcast. It starts out in a way where you kind of wonder why they have all these trigger warnings at the beginning but man does it turn dark within a few episodes. Like really dark, and intense. Maybe don’t be running on a busy road while listening as you might not be as aware of your surroundings as you normally would be while listening to podcasts. I don’t suspect there will be a second season.
You may have heard of this one as Facebook made it into a show. I found this out after I had already listened to it. I watched part of the first episode and it appears it follows the podcast almost completely. I looked into it actually and I’m pretty sure the writers of this podcast were only doing it to get a foot in the door of video broadcasting. They sold the rights to the show for only $10,000 but they required that they be hired as the producers/writers for $50,000 each plus other stuff I’m sure. I would’ve bought the rights for $10,000 and easily sold it for a movie for much much more. It’s a really good story! There are 2 seasons and likely won’t be any more since they don’t control it anymore. Don’t fret though because I loved how they ended it and I wouldn’t want a third season.
There is a town called Limetown that we find out very quickly was a city designed as an experiment in itself. People were invited to live and work there by a famous person and a scientist. Presumably something bad went down in that someone called 911 from the town but once the authorities got there, armed guards wouldn’t let them in and once they were let in, everyone was gone without a trace. It’s really good. Again, they don’t have too many characters. I don’t want to spoil any of it so that’s all the review I’ll give. There is a book that was released between season 1 and 2 that is supposed to give some back story of a couple main characters. After reading many reviews that said they wished they hadn’t read the book, I decided not to. Basically, the consensus seemed to be that it distracted from the story instead of adding to it. It’s up to you what you want to do with that but I would suggest that if you do read it, to read it between season 1 and 2 as that was the intent.
By Gimlet. I don’t remember much about this one. I know it’s about a woman that starts a job at an AI company and things aren’t quite right. It’s short at least. I know I didn’t outright hate it but I definitely didn’t think it was great or I’d still have it. If I remember correctly there were like a million commercials and that really annoyed me. I know something about it annoyed me anyway. Maybe the ending was a let down or something. Great review right?
Rating: 3 I’m guessing
Another Gimlet. One of the first podcasts I listened to. I loved it. I say loved because they no longer make them. I was pretty bummed out. In 2020 they really changed format and not in a good way. They got all serious because they thought they had to with everything that was going on. Really guys, you felt the need to depress people with depressing boring stories when people are already depressed? In the end, one of the hosts and a producer apparently weren’t as on board with unions as everyone thought they should be and cancel culture cancelled a great show and now they are all out of a job. It had almost 200 episodes and I listened to them all. This show made Gimlet Media in the same way that Nightmare of Elm Street made New Line Cinema. They wouldn’t exist without them.
Anyway, It’s a podcast about technology and the internet. But it’s so much more too. Lots of stories about people, current (now old) events, with the internet as the starting point. Lots of internet mysteries solved, hacking scams, just all around good stories with interesting hosts. I will really miss it.
Judge John Hodgman
This podcast is in the Comedy genre. In it John Hodgman acts as a judge to settle disputes between friends, family, etc. The topics are pretty mundane but so are the usual arguments people have. He does a pretty good job of making it enjoyable to listen to but for me it’s just too slow. I stopped after 8 episodes over different seasons.
This is a pretty good podcast. The premise is a woman that has had a voice in her head that’s directed her life since the age of 4 and then suddenly the voice is gone. Things start spiraling pretty quickly. It got good again towards the end of the season. I don’t know if there will be another season or not. While there is room for more episodes, it totally stands on it’s own with the ending it has. It very much seemed like a movie to me while listening to it. I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll leave it there. I’d recommend it.
Science of Ultra
This is absolutely the best podcast about ultrarunning if you want to learn something and not just be entertained. It’s hosted by a Physiologist that is also an ultrarunner. The early stuff is all great with tons of information all based on research. To hear the researchers themselves is great and he does a great job interviewing them to get the answers needed to make the research findings useful to ultrarunners. The last couple years weren’t as informative. The episodes with the trainers were pretty boring, repetitive, and not that useful. He also gets more political the last few years as well. Most recently it’s been back to more useful information again. No commercial which is great. Give him some money if you enjoy them like I have.
Children Of The Stones
Another BBC podcast. The accents are a little bit harder to understand at times than the other stuff I’ve listened to from the BBC. Probably not an issue if I didn’t listen to them at 2X speed. It’s set up as a girls science podcast for the most part. It goes back and forth from “real life” to her recorded podcast. Her dad gets a job to examine these stones in this rural town and so they have to move there. The townspeople all act very happy…too happy. I enjoyed this quite a bit. At times things were confusing because there were too many different people talking and lots of stuff happening at once. This would be an awesome movie or mini-series where you could get the visual effects they try to describe in the podcast. In fact, it was a mini-series in the 70’s but I wouldn’t watch it even if I could find it since the effects would be atrocious in the 70’s.
I’m really torn on this one on how to rate it. There are currently 3 seasons with some extra episodes thrown in throughout as well. Some of the extra ones are great and some are just interviews that drag on forever. All 3 seasons are related but also very different. The first season is about a guy who gets a job digitizing old tapes out in the woods in what I believe is an old asylum. It’s really good. Somewhat predictable but also just enough surprises. It’s set up that it’s found footage kind of deal. The creators and their family do most of the voices. The second season takes place after the first as far as time goes. Beyond that, it is very different and very weird. You keep thinking it will somehow tie back to the first season but it doesn’t for the most part. I was fairly disappointed with the second season. The third season was again very different from the first 2. It was very good though. It ties to the second season several times which is the only reason I’d recommend listening to that season. Very much a science fiction / magic kind of podcast. It’s now on Netflix but I don’t plan to watch it.
So this is a podcast that tries to be impartial and give answers to different controversies and topics. They do a pretty good job it seems. The nice thing is that they post their citations on how they got their information. I have to say that they do get things somethings wrong though. There are a couple topics that I know a great deal more than they do and they did a mediocre job at best. It wasn’t that they were totally wrong, it’s that they failed to ask the right questions in the first place. They fail to ask the researchers and scientists what questions about the topic they should be asking and just go whichever way they want to. I certainly learn things from this podcast but I wouldn’t consider any of the answers they give to be the final truth. They themselves know they don’t have all the answers. Listen skeptically, but because of the citations, you can be assured they are trying to get to the truth at least.
The Adam and Dr. Drew Show
It’s kind of like the old Love Line show they did on the radio when I was in college. There are much less callers now though and it’s more a discussion of recent events. It’s informative at times, and usually entertaining. Lots of commercials. If you liked Love Line, Adam Corolla, or Dr. Drew, you’ll like the podcast. Probably best to just start listening to the current show. I don’t see how you could ever catch up on the old episodes.
This is a pretty fun podcast I’d put in the Sci-Fi / Mystery category but I laughed quite a bit as well. Ronstadt is a 911 operator but he is only allowed to answer the calls that are about strange and weird things. It goes from there in interesting ways. I’m looking forward to more seasons of this one for sure.
This is a BBC podcast with the same commercials over and over again. That was annoying but more so because the story itself was quite interesting and the commercials were so distracting from the story. It’s a one season story which I always enjoy as they can’t ruin it with a crappy second season. It’s set in the future with a woman who’s job is to listen to audio files of the past and determine if they should be kept or destroyed. I won’t tell much more since it will spoil things. Overall, I liked it but it’s not perfect either.
This podcast is about grifters surprise surprise. Each episode is a stand alone show so some are better than others. They aren’t making them anymore so I think there are only around 10 of them.
This is also a podcast with stand alone episodes. It’s in the horror genre but they aren’t that scary or creepy. Some are good and some are kinda boring. I guess the closest thing I can compare it to is Twilight Zone episodes, creepy in an interesting ways.
In Our Time
You’re Dead To Me
Ten Junk Miles
How Did This Get Made?
Sean Carroll’s Mindscape
The Dr. Drew Podcast
The Ultra Stories Podcast
There are more I’ve listened to in the past that I didn’t like but I can’t remember the names and I erased them years ago. I guess you just might have to suffer through them as well.