While it may feel like you only made and broke your New Year’s resolution yesterday, the fact of the matter is that we’re already ushering in the second half of the year and a lot has happened in the world of podcasts in that time.
While 2018 has been a fairly lukewarm year for podcasts (compared to the smashing 2017 that saw shows like S-Town, Homecoming, Ear Hustle and 36 Questions grab our eardrums), we’ve managed to pick the diamonds in the rough for you. So whether you’re relaxing at your summer getaway or beating the oppressive heat by curling up indoors, make sure you’re taking one of these shows with you for company. Happy listening.
What: Narrative non-fiction podcast
Released on: April 19
Narrative journalism doesn’t get better than this. Caliphate follows Rukmini Callimachi, who covers terrorism for The New York Times, on her quest to understand Daesh. Joined by Radiolab veteran Andy Mills, the duo paint a disturbing but gripping picture of the world of radicalisation and put a face to the enemy the rest of the world’s been relentlessly fighting. While the show’s a lot about understanding terrorism from all its many angles, as painful as this may seem, Caliphate is also about Callimachi and her dangerous quest that often sees her put herself in the way of harm. Immaculately produced and feverishly researched, Caliphate begs to be listened to at the first opportunity.
What: Film review show
Released on: May 16
You may call yourself a film buff but chances are that you’re yet to get around to watching all the classics. A new podcast from Paul Scheer is here to set that right. On Unspooled, his team-up with film critic Amy Nicholson, the duo are watching the AFI’s top 100 movies of all time to find out what makes classics like Citizen Kane and Taxi Driver so special. Scheer and Nicholson dissect iconic scenes, talk to artists and industry experts, and discover just how these films got made.
This is Love
What: Non-fiction standalone stories
Released on: February 14
From the makers of the award-winning podcast Criminal, This is Love investigates life’s most persistent mystery. Stories of sacrifice, obsession, and the ways in which we bet everything on one another fill this six-part series that comes as a soothing balm for your soul at a time when we’re inundated with stories of abject horror on the news. Each story is unique and offers a fresh perspective on the ways the human race experiences this one emotion, and the ways in which it shapes our daily lives. Tune in with a cup of hot chocolate and you’re set for a few hours of auditory bliss.
Wolverine: The Long Night
What: Fiction drama
Released on: March 12
Marvel’s first venture into audio storytelling blew open wide the barriers of what a good fiction podcast can do. The 10-part series is an exercise in meticulous world-building and achingly beautiful and detailed audio production. With Wolverine: The Long Night, listeners got a chance to get inside the much-loved, adamantium-clawed mutant’s head in a way that hasn’t been done before and they largely pull it off because of lead star Richard Armitage’s superior voice acting skills. Armitage’s Logan is everything you’ve known him to be and more: vicious loner meets overzealous protector meets vulnerable man. If you are a fan of the comics, you have no excuse to not have tuned in to this beauty. Head togulfnews.com for our full review of the show.
Mission to Zyxx
What: Science fiction comedy
Released on: Season two premiered on May 30
It’s hard to satisfactorily explain what Mission to Zyxx is about, so I’m going to lazily paste the show summary here: “Mission to Zyxx follows a team of ambassadors as they attempt to establish diplomatic relations with planets in the remote and chaotic Zyxx Quadrant of the Tremillion Sector. They work for the benevolent and harmonious Federated Alliance, which has recently defeated the evil galactic monarchy. The Federated Alliance is definitely less evil.”
A happy marriage between improv comedy and science fiction, Mission to Zyxx successfully lampoons every science fiction TV show, book, or movie you’ve ever loved, and does it ever so lovingly (Even Star Wars’ iconic opening scroll isn’t spared). The show is laugh-out-loud funny and some of the episodes easily rival top network-produced sci-fi material you’re currently binge-watching on your preferred streaming service. And since it’s currently in its second season, newcomers have the added pleasure of binge-listening through Mission to Zyxx’s excellent season one.