Podcast Review: The Worst Idea of All Time

Podcast: The Worst Idea of All Time
Hosts: Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt
Summary: (taken from Worst Idea of All Time)

The Worst Idea of All Time is a podcast hosted by Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt, two New Zealand comedians who watched Grown Ups 2 once a week, every week for a year. The duo then watched Sex and the City 2 52 times. They are currently watching We Are Your Friends. 52 times.

What started as a simply stupid idea, quickly turned into a public mental unraveling of two grown men, week by week. The podcast has been downloaded over 5 million times since it began in Feb 2014. They hope you enjoy the show and recommend you join their Facebook page.

 

4.5 out of 5 stars

I have a confession.  I really wanted to give this podcast 5 stars but just couldn’t do it.  The only reason it does not get 5 stars is that the backlog is impressively long (and I will get into below I think necessary to knock out).  I almost created two separate categories (Quality and Ability to Jump In) but that seemed overly complex so here we are.  Sorry.

The Worst Idea of All Time is hosted by Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery, two New Zealand based comedians.  About three years ago now they conceived this terrible idea to watch the movie Grown Ups 2 once a week every week for a year and record a podcast “reviewing” the film immediately after.  This led to one of the funniest, weirdest, most wonderful experiments in podcasting.  Both Tim and Guy are hilarious and start off having some fun with the idea.  They have some interesting theories in the first few weeks such as the film being sort of money making scheme like in The Producers.  This quickly devolves into more and more ludicrous theories and approaches being needed to be taken in order for them to just get through the movie each week.  Listening to them simultaneously devolve into madness and become closer friends in the process is just amazing.  Episode to episode the experience is both wildly different yet incredibly familiar.  Sometimes both are just in a  goofy mood and sometimes one or both of them is just angry that they are being “forced” to watch the film again.  It occasionally feels like they are having existential breakdowns, but the whole time they are both incredibly endearing and humorous.

They finished their first year and for some reason decided to repeat this experiment twice more with two other movies (which I will not spoil if you are interested in checking out the podcast).  And this is where the only criticism I have with the podcast comes in for new listeners.  So much of the podcast is built on the inside jokes that develop through the course of these repeated viewings and even from year to year with new movies.  It really feels like you are along for the journey with Tim and Guy so even when there is the occasional episode that seems like utter nonsense (“Prawn Salad” from season one I believe still has the distinction of being the best example of this) you at least are able to enjoy it and be there for the journey.  If you were to start in the middle of a season or I would even argue with the beginning of one for the second or third movie the full enjoyment of the podcast would be very much mitigated.  This is even more of a bummer since season 1 is now only available through HOWL.fm.  The length of these episodes are every inconsistent, most being between twenty minutes and about an hour, however, there is one glaring outlier in an episode that is almost five hours long.  This is all very much in the free form style the podcast creates for itself.  Overall, I would absolutely say if you have the time this is an incredibly charming podcast that is well worth the investment.

Podcast Review: Crimetown

Before I get into this review, I should probably explain how podcasts have taken over my life over the last few years.  My first year teaching, I used to listen to sports talk radio on the way to work.  I would occasionally listen to music, but found that I got more out of people talking.  This wore on me very quickly.  I then started listening to NPR (which I now joke is my obligation as a teacher).  One thing quickly led to another and I found myself subscribed to NPR podcasts of segments I liked and suddenly realized I could listen to “talk shows” of just things I was interested in, as opposed to whatever happened to be on the radio, and off I went.  I tend to alternate between subject matters. I usually alternate between episodes of a “serious” podcast and then to a goofier one.  This both reflects my interests and is also a direct result to my over-saturation of politics earlier this year when I was at one time listening to exclusively six or seven different politics podcasts, several of which were releasing daily episodes which super bummed me out. So, you will probably see a similar pattern as these reviews roll out.

Podcast: Crimetown
Producer: Gimlet Media
Hosts: Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier
Summary: (taken from Crimetownshow.com)

Welcome to Crimetown, a new series from Gimlet Media and the creators of HBO’s The Jinx. Every season, we’ll investigate the culture of crime in a different American city. First up: Providence, Rhode Island, where organized crime and corruption infected every aspect of public life. This is a story of alliances and betrayals, of heists and stings, of crooked cops and honest mobsters—a story where it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier.

5 out of 5 stars

Crimetown is produced by Gimlet Media and hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier.  It has been mentioned before that I have an outrageous fascination with non-fiction books and that love extends to other form of non-fiction as well.  I often find myself watching documentaries as often as traditional TV and movies.  I have a vague interest in the genre of “true crime” although I was never really sucked into it all that much until I read The Lufthansa Heist by Henry Hill and Daniel Simone.  I must have missed the period of fascination most people (or at least males I grew up with) had with the mob, but I hit a period last year after reading that book and seeing other documentaries and of course the classic Goodfellas that got me supremely interested in all the different angles around Henry Hill.  It passed.  Or so I thought.

A friend and I will often drop into conversations if we’ve started listening to a podcast we think is worth checking out.  He led me along on a string a little for this one.  He said it was a podcast that was in the style of a documentary about organized crime.  They were going to spend each season focusing on a different city.  At this point I was already pretty interested and figured I would chuck it onto the backlog of podcasts to check out.  Then he reeled me in.  “It’s just started it’s first season and that season just happens to be about Providence.”  A podcast that sounded interesting, I would only have to listen to a couple episodes to catch up to, and was about my home state?  How could I not at least give it a chance?

True to the description, Crimetown is an incredible undertaking.  The podcast uses archived audio as well as interviews with several people intimately involved with the politics, law enforcement, and mafia starting in the 1970s.  It uses several people of interest to drive the story, however, it is fair to say that the infamous Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, the former mayor of Providence, is the focal point of the podcast.  Each episode or chapter runs about 30 to 45 minutes and are packed with stories and interviews.  They do a great job telling just a couple specific stories each chapter that drive the overall plot forward.  At the time I am writing this, six chapters have come out and each chapter has a companion page at their website crimetownshow.com where they put up pictures of the people involved and occasionally archived documents and videos.  It really is quite amazing how well they paint each of stories and it has become a must listen for me as soon as it is released.  If you are at all interested in true crime or even just someone who finds the style of documentaries to be interesting this podcast is completely worth checking out.  I look forward to the rest of the season and any/all of the future seasons to come.