For the longest time I didn’t understand what a “podcast” was. Mainly it was that I didn’t (and still don’t) own an iPod, and from the name I assumed it was something that was iPod-specific, a radio program for iPods.
Eventually I realized–it’s just an audio file with a fancy name. Usually someone sitting around a mic, delivering whatever.
At that point, podcasts made sense. It’s just a fancy name.
Once that was cleared up, I started exploring the world of Doctor Who podcasts. Some are general programs, covering news, reviews, audience feedback, and the like.
And then I stumbled upon Radio Free Skaro. My first thought? Two Doctor Who fans with a phildickian twist. Yes, the title of their podcast made me think instantly of Dick’s posthumous novel, Radio Free Albemuth. (The REM song, “Radio Free Europe” occurred to me later as a possible source of the nicked name.) If there’s anything phildickian about Radio Free Skaro I’ve yet to hear it. But what I have heard, though? Two Canadian guys, sitting around, bullshitting about Doctor Who for half an hour. And I love listening in every week.
The two guys–Steven in Edmonton and Warren in Vancouver (because every episode starts out with them introducing themselves in that way)–are hilarious. They come across as two guys you’d hit the pub with. What makes their program a success is that there’s the back-and-forth interplay. It’s not one guy saying, “This is what I think about the latest episode.” Instead, with two hosts they’re like the Siskel-and-Ebert of Doctor Who podcasts–they take the latest episode and they argue about it. Sometimes both like it. Sometimes one prosecutes and the other defends. Sometimes I agree with Steven’s perspective–he was ambivalent about “The Family of Blood” for many of the same reasons I was. Sometimes I agree with Warren’s views–he had similar problems to Torchwood‘s “End of Days” as I did. The interplay keeps things lively, and it sounds like they’re having fun, and they’re always enjoyable to listen to.
Now that the third season is over, I wonder how they’ll keep themselves occupied. Earlier they did a retrospective series that looked at each of the earlier Doctors’ eras. I’m sure they’ll do a “season three in retrospect” episode looking at how it all held together. Beyond that? Well, they’re creative guys. Actually, an episode with their girlfriends as hosts would be interesting…
One of Radio Free Skaro’s recent episodes had a promo for another Who podcast, TARDISpod, and I was curious. It’s not as established–only nine episodes as of this writing–but the host, Jonathan, is clearly ambitious. The program format has recent episode commentaries, retro episode commentaries, guides to Ice Warrior or Dalek history, a Doctor Who news round-up, even a bit where he reads audience e-mail or plays audience feedback audios. Jonathan provides a lot of information, and I’m curious to see how his program develops.
Another I’ve sampled recently is the Tin Dog Podcast. If Warren and Steven ramble on for half an hour in Radio Free Skaro, and if Jonathan fills an hour in TARDISpod, Tin Dog (whose name I haven’t picked up yet, sorry) lasts about ten minutes. Fifteen max. He’s an interesting guy to listen to. He brings an Old School perspective to things. Also, he’ll talk to himself and throw out random asides. The episodes I’ve heard have been his reactions to the latest episodes.
Now that we’re entering the Doctor Who tween-seasons lull I hope these programs can find ways of staying fresh and relevant. And hopefully I’ll be writing about something other than Doctor Who for a while. Well, at least once I’ve watched “Last of the Time Lords.”