Terrible Reviews: Welcome to Limetown

There’s this thing I’ve been looking for for a long time.

It’s something missing in contemporary media.

We have fantastic books, mind-blowing films, life-encompassing television shows, soul-consuming video games. The literature and stories are awesome. But one medium has fallen by the wayside: media for the ear.

Storytelling has become more and more visual as cameras and the ability to broadcast have become accessible for any berk with a smartphone and internet access. And that’s a good thing, awesome even. But for years before the television came around, it was stories for the ear that captivated audiences; stories where only the actors’ voices, soundtrack, and sound effects told the story. It’s hard to believe that we could be so captivated these days. But that’s what I’ve been waiting for.

Podcasts are taking us back in that direction — just look at the success of Serial to see that. And I loved Serial. But, at its heart, Serial was a detached look into a cold case twenty years gone; an examination of facts and places and names and events, kept at a journalist’s clinical distance.

But I wanted something that went one step further. Something that would tell a story that would suck me in, a story where I could care about the characters, where there was a lingering behind-the-scenes mystery, where there’s that unease and tension that can only be crafted by a master storyteller.

Well, it’s here.

I discovered Limetown yesterday while my wife and I were looking for something to listen to on the drive out to Grandma’s house. Today, I listened to the second episode.

And I am hurting. HURTING. For the next episode.

From their website, Limetown Stories:

Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again.

In this seven-part podcast, American Public Radio host Lia Haddock asks the question once more, “What happened to the people of Limetown?”

The show begins in that clinical sense that Serial and This American Life use, but by the end of the first and carrying on over into the second episode, the show takes a hard left and the story comes to life. I won’t be sharing spoilers here, because you really owe it to yourself to go and have a listen. But this is that thing I’ve been looking for.

It’s masterfully crafted. It’s believably voiced. It’s beautifully soundtracked. It’s science fiction, thriller, suspense, human interest, all in one. And it has its hooks in me something fierce. It’s like This American Life meets Welcome to Night ValeSerial meets The X-Files. Your local nightly news broadcast meets Fringe. If you like science fiction, if you like the unexplained and the inexplicable, you’ll love this. If you enjoy the fiction I post up here, Limetown is right up your alley.

There are only two episodes out so far, with another five slated for the coming months, and they cannot get here soon enough.

If you are listening to podcasts, you need to be listening to Limetown. Seriously. Go get it.

9 thoughts on “Terrible Reviews: Welcome to Limetown

  1. I listened to the first two episodes one right after the other. Not only am I intensely amused by the accuracy with which they’ve captured the STYLE of the reporting on NPR, I am also frozen to my core by some of the things I’ve heard. The last “scene” of Episode 2 is one of the most disturbing things I have ever listened to; it was like having someone gradually pull the rug out from under me, all through the episode, and then suddenly they YANKED it all the way out. The overall effect is one of having an X-Files episode or a Stephen King short story suddenly erupt into an episode of This American Life — it was incredibly unsettling, and I have to say I want more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Completely agree with your assessments — it’s compelling stuff! They are behind schedule with their next episode, and it’s killing me waiting around for it!


  2. You may a compelling argument that could actually propel my luddite soul into finding out exactly what a podcast actually is! Is it radio on the internet? Is it disembodied television? What is that mysterious pod cast into the ethersphere? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This particular podcast is very much like an old-school radio play. Just as Orson Welles’ WAR OF THE WORLDS grabbed hold of people by believably disguising itself as a real news story breaking into regular programming, so does LIMETOWN take on the guise of a piece of public-radio investigative journalism. (Some of the acting requires a greater suspension of disbelief, but as long as you can still pretend it’s all real it’s a harrowing experience.)

      Podcasts are indeed a sort of radio on the Internet; the vast majority are just people sitting around a (real or metaphorical) table, discussing stuff — movies or TV shows or current affairs or the Internet itself — but horror/fantasy series like LIMETOWN or WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE are a throwback to the old days when you listened to plays on the radio and had to exercise your visual imagination to get the rest of the story.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s very much like an old timey radio play, including the very stage voices. It has the same problem I often have with amateur theatre productions. The actors are all very obviously carefully projecting their voices and reading their lines as they speak.

    I want to get sucked in, but no one is belivable, their voices are all so obviously reading and tense. Maybe fir the next series they’ll get better actors?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, it’s a common problem I have noticed across these fictional podcasts. The actors do all seem pretty “stiff”. It’s got to be a byproduct of the medium: if your voice is the *only* thing you have to tell the story, then you end up working extra hard to sell it … which runs counter to a believable performance. I’ve yet to find a story-driven podcast where the voices don’t fall into this trap. Limetown, though, has been one of the better ones in this regard. (IMHO.)


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