Let me tell you about a podcast that changed the medium forever. What could be arguably held as the most immediately successful podcast since episodic audio via the internet became a thing. That show was called Serial.
With its fresh format mimicking TV magazine shows and indie documentaries, its subject matter, a true story of an accused and convicted murderer and the possibility of his actual innocence, Serial took the podcast world by storm.
Now let me tell you about a show that blatantly steals that format, replaces the subject matter with a story about an investigative journalist focusing on the paranormal, and captures the listening public’s attention in a way that hadn’t happened since Serial itself. That show is The Black Tapes Podcast.
True to it’s spiritual predecessor, The Black Tapes is a very highly produced and well written show. Season one is over now, and the entire run is available everywhere. When it was being published I never saw an episode go out late. The voice talent is very natural sounding for the most part. There was one moment where someone pronounced Nirvana “Nir-VAN-uh” when referencing the band, which took me out of the story for just a minute. That was early on, easily forgivable, and in my assumption due to the voice actor most likely being Canadian. Aside from that one admittedly minor and amusing hiccup I couldn’t find fault as the show went on. The acting sounds professional, and the talent truly commit to their characters making them eerily believable.
The horror factor for The Black Tapes comes in a very X-Files-ish way. With the main story arc playing through every episode there is a through-line that is easily followed, but there are also “Monster of the Week” episodes that restart the narrative from a different viewpoint. I won’t give away the end of season one except to say that the obvious conclusion of the various stories being connected is pursued and season two is all but announced. If there is no season two, this entire project falls flat no matter how good its setup was. That being said, the setup is exquisite and you should listen to it and hope for a future payoff.
I wish I could give this show a perfect 10. The fact that it does lean so heavily on the format of Serial takes away a fraction of a point, as obviously smart an idea as it was. The show does have its scary moments, but it’s less of a Horror factor and more of an underlying creepiness at work here. There isn’t “something for everyone”, but if you’re the one out of ten that isn’t at least marginally entertained by this show, go back to your 5 A.M. Farm report. These are the reasons I couldn’t give it a perfect 10, but I wanted to.
Audio Quality\Production: 10
5’th Element: Horror: 9
Final Score: 9.4
Head to The Black Tapes Podcast Website for episodes and interaction