I sometimes feel I listen to too many tech and nerd related podcasts. Am I a nerd? I don’t know. I’m obsessive to a degree, but never with just one thing at a time. I have a certain amount of social ineptitude. On the other hand, I’m not obsessed with the narrow range of things that seem to occupy the attention of most nerds, and I’m most definitely not a gamer. I don’t really congregate with other nerds, and don’t feel part of any particular community. There are few people with whom I have long discussions about the things that interest me. Life is kind of lonely in that respect, so the hours I spend alone in the car with podcasts are good company.
The Incomparable Game Show is such an interesting project that I felt moved to write about it. I sometimes skip whole Incomparable episodes (usually if they’re about Star Wars), but I generally like the discussions, even if I’m not particularly interested in the topic. I can usually justify listening on the grounds that the discussions are frequently media-related, and it all helps with the subject knowledge and being down with the kids. Ha ha.
The Game Show is an experiment in formats. They’re trying out a few on a rotating schedule, and so far they’ve all been enjoyable and funny. Listeners familiar with panel shows on the radio such as Fighting Talk, Would I lie to You etc. will pick up quite quickly what’s happening.
The first in the series is Inconceivable!, which is nerd heaven: a quiz based on knowledge about TV shows, books, movies, games, and so on. I found this very entertaining. It’s so weird to hear a pop-culture based quiz. My favourite round was, “Opening Lines,” which simply involved identifying fantasy or science fiction novels from their first lines. Knowing the answer to a couple of these made me happy, and I just shouted, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” for the rest. There are also questions about items you might find in SF universes, and there was another about minor characters in individual Star Trek episodes. It sounds unpromising, maybe, but was extremely entertaining in the execution.
Counter Clockwise is based on the existing Clockwise podcast (which is a guaranteed-short technology ‘cast), but uses pop culture topics instead.
The most recent format to appear is Turns Out, which is surely based on Would I Lie to You, but in its first episode at least had a very funny (and apparently accidental) twist that had me cracking up in the car. There’s also a quickfire true-or-false round which is slightly different. You might say that there were some teething problems, but the fact that this is produced independently of a major broadcaster gives them the leeway to experiment, adjust, and evolve the formats as they go.
The genius of the podcast format is that it doesn’t have to conform to a schedule or stop for the news at the top of the hour. Episodes of Game Show vary between 39 and 53 minutes, which is the most uncommercial thing you can imagine.
I’ll also briefly mention You Must Remember This, Karina Longworth’s self-produced Hollywood History podcast, which I’ve been finding very enjoyable. At the moment, she’s spending several weeks discussing the activities of Golden Age movie stars during the second world war. This week it was Hope/Crosby, but we’ve also learned the fascinating stories of Hedy Lamarr, Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, and many more. It’s well produced, and it’s so great to have the luxury of spending time with a subject. Film History by now is a long way separate from the trends in Film Studies, but there is still a lot of relevance to movie stars and their power to fascinate. And the stories are great.