Got home from an 11-hour shift at work and my five-year-old promptly punched me in the balls, if you’re wondering how my day went.
Based on the recommendations of a couple of you in the last thread where I talked about audiobooks, I’ve listened to the first six episodes of the first season of Welcome to Night Vale. I’ve also downloaded several other things and haven’t gotten around to them yet, so there will be more on this later.
This will be one of those reviews that is entirely negative and then ends with “…but I’m still listening,” by the way, so brace yourself.
So. Yeah. Welcome to Night Vale is a roughly 25-minute, twice-monthly podcast that just released their 96th episode today, so they’ve been around a while. I’ve listened to their first six, so it’s entirely possible that in the intervening nearly four years they’ve gotten better at the things I’m complaining about. The premise is actually pretty cool: the idea is that it’s a news broadcast on community radio in a town that is constantly beset with weird, supernatural/alien/Lovecraftian happenings. There’s a musical interlude each episode (introduced, oddly, with “and now, the weather”) by what seems to be entirely indie artists that I’ve never heard of and is generally pretty uniformly satisfying. Look up “Jerusalem” by Dan Bern on the iTunes store if you’re curious.
Here’s the problem: at least early on, Welcome to Night Vale feels like it was written by a talented high school student. It is– and I hope this makes sense to some of you, and I’m going to try and write it as clearly as I can– not good, but it is close to good in a very specific way that means that it might actually be more tolerable if it were simply bad. In other words, there’s potential all over this thing, only right now it’s too damn clever for its own good. The authors think that long sentences and repetition of long phrases are really really funny, for example, only they’re not– in fact, they’re really predictable. I was able to anticipate a whole lot of lines in the first few episodes word-for-word despite never having heard them before, for example. Overwrought descriptions are also a common, massively overused trope.
Sounds bad, right? But I listened to the first five episodes over the last couple of days, and then on the way home instead of listening to something else I downloaded number six. I may jump ahead a couple of years tomorrow– there’s not an overarching narrative that I’ve noticed yet, so I doubt I’m missing anything really– and see if they’ve learned from experience at all. After that, we’ll move on to something else. We’ll see how it goes.