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Has Night Vale Jumped the Hooded Figure? - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
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Has Night Vale Jumped the Hooded Figure?
I finally caught up with my backlog of Night Vale podcasts in the early summer, and since July, I've gotten to listen to them on or just after the 1st and 15th of each month when the new ones drop.  I'm not certain, yet, but I am definitely feeling a change in direction that I'm not liking.

The early episodes had an endearing gee-whiz, Let's-Put-On-A-Show quality to them. It took months before The Buzz caught up with them, but the months since then have taken on increasing amounts of Brooklyn Hipster snobbery to them. No more invitations for story ideas or musical submissions; they're backlogged,they say, but you also sense a bit of a too-cool-for-school attitude going.  The opening segments are getting longer and more predictable (intro by one Joseph Fink or other riffing on who he is or isn't; announcements of upcoming shows which are always sold out or almost so; stuff in the store that's about to be gone forever; and Teh Beg for donations).

Fortunately, the +15 button on the phone gets you past most of that, but several recent episodes have messed with the formula that made this concept work for so long. Podcasting a live show, split over two "air" dates, was an okay change, but splitting it where they did and then cliffhanging it for over two weeks? Not fun.  And then there's this week's, breaking format to do "Monologues." I only got through the first so far, but if this is going to be the face of the series (which may actually be faceless and may or may not secretly live in my phone), I'm not sure I want to play on with it.

Has there been a significant new character introduced this year? Have the running gags (from the mortality rate of station interns to the utter annoyonality of retired Mayor Winchell) just run?  Is there anything resembling the Strexcorp arc of the mostly second season to tie all the narration together?

Oh, screw it, readers. I'm frustrated, just because I. Miss. CARLOS! It's not fair, locking him into a plot conceit and keeping him from the love of his life (even if his phone always has bars and the batteries never run down).  We may hear about him, but we get no descriptions of his perfect hair!

I should end these remarks with something truly profound. A play on the word "podcast," perhaps. A connection between podcasts and pod people. Has this series secretly replaced us? Are our smartphones truly smart enough to transmit their words, their thoughts, their very consciousness like spores on the solar wind and into our very beings? Does this explain any of Cecil's general stoicism despite facing so much death and destruction every 15 days?   Be vigilant, dear readers, and watch for signs of Pod People t-shirts in the Commonplace store, or alien screams under the track of Meg the Proverb Lady pushing the merch at the end.  Until we're sure that we all are who we appear to be- even to ourselves- stay aware,

and as always,

Good night, Live Journal.... good night.
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Comments
platypus From: platypus Date: September 5th, 2014 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I am very tired of the opening bit myself -- it takes me out of the 'reality' of the show, right before it begins, and so sets the wrong tone. And they are super bitchy if they hear any complaints about it. (I think they're much more at fault for that than for saying they can't take weather submissions -- they actually did recently reopen the weather submissions for a while.)

I didn't enjoy the live show being broadcast as an episode, either; it didn't have the poignancy of One Year Later, which I was sort of hoping for, and I think the show works a lot better as a quiet voice in the dark, not when it's not bouncing around showing off its voice guests. (Don't get me wrong, the Night Vale folks put on a great show -- I've seen them four times, and thoroughly enjoyed every one -- but I don't like listening to recordings of shows.)

I've enjoyed some of the format-busting episodes (A Story About You was pretty damned good, and A Story About Them may not have been quite so brilliant, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to enjoy a sequel) but I'm not so sure about the monologues. I'm feeling a little detached lately. But I suspect I'll get back into the swing of things once some momentum builds up again.
xiphias From: xiphias Date: September 5th, 2014 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I wasn't thrilled with "The September Monologues", although showing us Steve Carlsberg's side of things was interesting, but I really liked "Capital Campaign", as a big of getting back to the episodic kind of scary surrealism thing. "The Retirement of Pamela Winchell" was good, too, I felt.
mikailborg From: mikailborg Date: September 5th, 2014 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I mostly enjoyed the two-parter, though I usually let a few shows go by and binge-listen, so I had no break between them. And the Carlos situation tugs at my heart as well!

Agreed on the opening. Fink... shut up. Just give us a website or something for all your news, it will be more timely anyway for those many of us who time-shift our listening. I'm also glad the Strex storyline is over for now... it wasn't surreal enough, and I found it genuinely upsetting a few times. I don't come to Night Vale for that.
canadiandiamond From: canadiandiamond Date: September 5th, 2014 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Having similar thoughts myself lately. Part of me is also a little bummed over de-villifying Steve Carlsberg, to be honest. The end of the election plot left me mreh too.
digitalemur From: digitalemur Date: September 5th, 2014 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
So first of all, not all of us are caught up and would love it if you used a cut-tag on this entry so as to not harsh the squee of others. Not a demand, but it _would_ be cool of you.

Second of all, while I would love for Fink to be more brief, they do need to ask people to support them, and I want their live show endeavors to succeed. I think some of what you're noticing MAY be because they are putting a lot of effort into their live shows, and those live shows are amazing and I would like them to continue making them. (I would like them to continue releasing the recordings of them too! The show I saw was SO COOL.)

And third, I miss Carlos too though it's not like he actually was heard from THAT often.
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