Monday, February 17, 2020

I, Podius

I was really excited to see that John Hodgman was doing a podcast, called I, Podius, an episode-by-episode discussion of the 1976 British television series I, Claudius. I have blogged about my admiration for that series a few times.

Hodgman has a way of referencing semi-obscure culture that I'm interested in. I was disappointed that I missed Hodgman's riff on Ayn Rand, which was on stage right during the time I was working on my play DARK MARKET, which is about the influence of Ayn Rand on the fiscal policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

A play I put aside once the election of Trump made that scenario seem quaint and tame by comparison.

In theory John Hodgman doing a podcast on I, Claudius is great. In practice... not so much.

I don't know how much planning went into the approach of the series, but the first episode seemed to be organized around the idea that Hodgman would be the one focused on I Claudius, while his co-host Elliott Calin, who had not seen the series prior to recording the podcast, would provide commentary focusing on post-I Claudius culture, from Star Wars - released in 1977 - on. I guess in order to make it accessible to the under-40 demographic who make up the bulk of podcast listeners.

This is a mistake. The people who are likely to listen to this series are likely to already be familiar with I, Claudius and don't appreciate the excessive number of asides about things not related to I, Claudius.

I also have issues with the editing, or rather lack of editing of the first episode. There was a moment where they were discussing a scene and they couldn't remember the name of one of the actors (Cheryl Johnson) nor her character's name (Octavia) and they don't even bother to look it up. Why? Instead of including their chatter about not knowing the actor/character they could have edited that part out, and included them saying the character and actor names.

This seems to be a feature of podcasts in general - this refusal to edit anything and let the audience hear plenty of chatter or failed attempts at humor amongst worthwhile content. It was something I noticed about another podcast I blogged about, the Embrace the Void Pod.

All these podcast dudes seem to think their audience wants hear every error or random pointless comment made in the course of producing something worth listening to. Or at any rate, they don't care enough to take out all the verbal excelsior.

Maybe that's why my attempt at podcasting for NYCPlaywrights failed to find an audience - I used to edit the hell out of each episode, including limiting my own voice to the bare minimum. But since many people say they listen to podcasts during their commutes, maybe it's more important to fill up time than to focus on the quality of what is being said.

In any case, I will keep listening since there isn't a lot of new I, Claudius-related content out there and I have hope that they will stop trying to be clever and relevant and focus more on the actual television series I, Claudius.