Homecoming: Ushering in the Age of the Podcast Drama

Like in the age of radio when families gathered to hear Orson Wells' War of the Worlds, podcasts are bringing back the thrill of the audio drama featuring all-star casts to enrich the story-telling.

We live in an incredible age where actors, writers and directors not only have television and film as a medium to explore but also podcasts. These little gems are ushering in a new age of audio drama. Joining the likes of Criminal, Invisibilia, This American Life, and many more popular fare is a new psychological thriller from Gimlet Media called Homecoming.

With an all-star lineup of Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer, those of us who are connoisseurs of good storytelling are in for a treat. With the well-placed sound effects alerting listeners to changes of setting, inserts of taped phone calls between characters, and a script crafted specifically for podcasts in particular, you’re never lost and always on the edge of your seat.

The story centers around a therapist (Keener) who is working with soldiers (Isaac) at a medical facility in Florida. Soldiers have been sent there to receive treatment for P.T.S.D. like symptoms. The treatment includes not only counseling but also their being drugged without their knowledge.

Part of the mystery is that we, along with the patients, are not made privy to what exactly the drugs do to them in the short-term or over the long-haul. The therapist’s boss (Schwimmer) is constantly breathing down her neck for results, and adherence to procedure, however she is a bleeding heart who can’t seem to get on board with treating people like lab rats.

Very soon into the first podcast, we are endeared to both the therapist and her patients. We are dying to find out what she’s supposed to be overseeing and what events have happened to bring her the point where we first find her. The flash-forwards that the authors include create an ominous tension and take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. At no time does the plot waiver from anything but titillating.

It’s clear that using the soldier’s dilemmas, the wrioters want you to think about how memories affect us. They want us to ask the same questions their characters are faced with. Would you be truly authentic, without certain memories? How does extracting bad memories change our quality of life? Ultimately, they call on you to wrestle with the fine balance of dark and light that must coexist within us all.

If you haven’t yet jumped on the podcast bandwagon, Homecoming is an excellent way to start. Podcasts are easily accessed on your iPhone, iPad or computer. Unlike audio books which are expensive, collect dust after you are finished listening and usually have a single narrator, podcasts are free-of-charge and very convenient. They offer an  ensemble of exciting stars to enrich the story-telling and new episodes, much like you favorite television shows.

If you are already a hardcore junkie of podcasts like I’m fast becoming, then download this one right away.

Written By
Suzanne Crain Miller is a screenwriter, poet, novelist, teacher, reporter and music blogger who resides in Raleigh, N.C. She lives with her husband,...
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