Radio drama without the personality?
February 27, 2020 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I've come to realize that my least favorite thing about modern radio drama/ podcasts is their jokes, especially in the scifi/ fantasy realm. Are there any good genre dramatic podcasts that avoid jokes, pop-culture references, wry sarcasm, and are NOT influenced by the Whedon-verse? Like the most boring, dry, un-fun hard scifi podcast serial would be my ideal.
posted by Think_Long to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Would also accept free audiobook recommendations available on LibriVox
posted by Think_Long at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2020

Still Lives is exactly this!

"Thirteen years after the fall of modern civilization, five survivors live in relative harmony on an isolated farm, where they rarely discuss their lives Before. The delicate balance of this household is upturned when a sixth survivor arrives at their doorstep with an empty stomach and a world of possibilities."
posted by clarinet at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2020 [5 favorites]

It's been a while since I listened to season 1, but I don't think Limetown has many jokes. It's modeled on an investigative, NPR-style podcast so it has narration and personality, but it isn't lightweight and definitely not Whedon-esque.
posted by cpatterson at 1:20 PM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Magnus Archives is an anthology horror* podcast that gradually develops a continuing plot. It does not do jokes or pop culture references and, while there are episodes that I find funny, they are only funny in the way that surreal horror is sometimes funny, where the humor only occurs to you a few days later.

*I would class this as somewhat under the fantasy umbrella because all the horror is explicitly supernatural tending towards cosmic horror, but YMMV.
posted by darchildre at 2:04 PM on February 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Whedon-verse. Such an apt term. And, like you, I hate it. It's not funny. It's distracting. I have no answers to give you, though (and thus my comment may be removed). I just wanted to commiserate with your dilemma.
posted by jdroth at 4:11 PM on February 27, 2020

No Jokes in these podcasts:
- Vast Horizon (hard 'n' tense sci-fi that's probably very much what you want)
- Archive 81 (powerful-beings-from-beyond horror but not in the Lovecraftian style)
- Kane and Feels (supernatural horror in a sort of Sherlock Holmsey way)
- Steal the Stars (Area 51-style sci-fi-flavored prison break)
- Marsfall (hard-ish Sci-Fi that is serious, but I can't guarantee there are *zero* references)
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 5:12 PM on February 27, 2020

Apologies that I don't know whether you will be able to access any of them for free anywhere, but you might enjoy the many BBC Radio 4 adaptations of John Wyndham novels. The couple I've listened to (Chocky, Midwich Cuckoos) have been serious in tone and the extent of the humour was mid-century English wryness.
posted by FavourableChicken at 6:05 AM on February 28, 2020

Reposting my comment from the Non-Improvised Podcasts question:

The BBC has drama (not sure if it's all available outside the UK, but at least some of it shows up in iTunes for me):

BBC Drama of the Week
Drama category page at the BBC

I've also seen occasional BBC radio dramas on CD at my library, so you might consider checking your library's audio offerings.
posted by kristi at 8:09 AM on February 28, 2020

The Journey into Space series pre-dates the Whedonverse by many decades. I'm not saying there's no humor at all (although I don't think any of it is comedy as such it does have lighter moments) but definitely no pop culture references - stick with the originals - Operation Luna, The Red Planet and The World in Peril. The newer stuff isn't a good and the metaphors a very on the nose.
I also enjoyed Earth Search and Earth Search 2, I think they probably also pre-date Whedon
posted by missmagenta at 8:25 AM on February 28, 2020

I loved Steal The Stars and Life After
posted by latkes at 9:33 AM on February 28, 2020

I also recommend the BBC Drama of the Week, and the RTÉ Drama on One from Ireland.

In addition, this site, which I believe I found recommended on Metafilter, collects a large number of radio dramas and shows and presents them as podcast feeds. I really enjoyed the John Le Carré George Smiley dramatizations.

Note that it lets you change how many of the podcast episodes you can get of a show at once but doesn't explain how to get them all at once. To do that, copy the RSS URL of the podcast feed and change the number before ".rss" to 0.

posted by Mo Nickels at 10:28 AM on February 28, 2020

Steal the Stars is great. I listened to it a year or so ago, and aspects of it still creep back into my mind - both plot elements and the way I remember feeling during some of the more tense/revelatory moment.
posted by NumberSix at 10:13 PM on February 29, 2020

I found The Truth to be a great sort of Twilight-Zone-alike series of independent short stories. Lots of mysterious exploration of "like our world, but with one unsettling difference", which is most often a sci-fi or fantastic element. There's also occasional stories where the characters appear to be acting strangely in our own world until the mask cracks and you suddenly find out what was actually going on all along in some other reality.

Their recent five-part serial Body Genius was a fantastic slightly-ironic Chandleresque whodunnit in a pretty mundane universe, but with a celebrity gym instructor as the narrator and detective. Really amazing writing, and I keep recommending it to people despite not actually having any affinity for any of the elements in its formula!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:04 AM on March 1, 2020

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