Critique of “Criminal-Angie”

Crime serial podcasts have never really been my listening choice, which is why I wanted to check Criminal out. The story itself was fascinating, but I thought that what they accomplished in 24 minutes could’ve been done in 18.

It starts with a soundbite, then an interesting introduction to the speaker. They did a good job of identifying who he was and why he was germane to the story. The narrator came on to walk us through the story. This is where I started to have some issues. Since there’s no visual, it would have been more effective if the narrator, Phoebe Judge, introduced herself earlier. It took a couple of minutes for her to do so, so it was a bit confusing as to what her role in the story was. Was she just an observer or somehow involved with the story?

In the first few minutes, they used guitars as transitions from soundbite to soundbite. There’s a part of me that felt that the music was too upbeat for the subject matter. This is a story of death and dismemberment and the early minutes of the story are accompanied with a calypso style score. It didn’t match up and was a bit distracting.

I wasn’t invested in the story until about the 6:30 mark. This is where Judge starts to add the interview element into the story. Before, the soundbites from the particulars, seem to just be coming out of nowhere. Now we know that Judge is in the room with them. That makes a difference. Now as the listener, I realize that she’s not just telling me the story, she’s seeking out answers. Now there’s an element of us both being in this together.

At the 8:00 mark, the music begins to change. It’s more somber and more appropriate to the subject matter.

The storytelling & choices in the editing got better as the podcast went on. The swerve at the end of the story was well cloaked. I wasn’t expecting the motivation for Angie’s murder to be what it turned out to be. Judge wraps up the podcast well and the music again matches.

In the end, I was happy that I stuck with it, but I was definitely thinking about ejecting in the first couple of minutes.

2 Comments

  1. I also chose to write on “Criminal-Angie.” I actually picked this podcast because I tend to listen to a lot of audiobooks, but my favorite audiobooks are the dramatized versions. This podcast just seemed to be ripped right out of one of those true crime shows on A&E, which I thought was a really cool way to tell a story. Since you cannot get the images to go along with the story, like you would on a television show, I really appreciated the fact that they did it with the interview format, where the detectives are re-telling the story in vivid detail. It just made it feel more natural and I think that is why I gravitated to this particular podcast, as opposed to the other choices.

    That is not to say, however, that this podcast did not have its faults. For the most part, I did not mind the sound bites, but I do agree that the music at the beginning could have been changed to fit the tone of the story. There is one section, around the 4:50 mark, where the music begins to sound Arabic, which greatly distracted me from the dialogue. I was too busy thinking about Brendan Frasier fighting mummies than listening to a story about the murder of a girl named Angie. The music then quickly shifts to a Spanish beat, which again, was very distracting. It started to feel like Zorro. That said, the music does get better past this section, but then we run into another small critique that I have about the voice acting.

    One of the voice actors, when telling what Red said to him, spoke in a different tone to convey Red’s dialect. While I understand that he is doing this because he speaks about what a unusual tone of voice Red uses when talking, it was just poorly done in my opinion, to the point that it took me out of the story for a minute. Its one of the only portions of the story where I felt like this was definitely fiction, and it almost sounded too comedic for this sort of tale. I think that, had he spoke the lines without the shift in dialect, the interview portion of the story would have been perfect.

    Finally, my last critique is that I did not necessarily like the shifts between the narration and interview. One minute, the narrator would be asking the detective a question, and then the next, she would be giving us more details about the story. I think that it would have worked better if they had gotten someone else to do the narration and someone else to ask the questions in the interview. Something about it just felt disjointed, and I found myself lacking in terms of engagement. I either wanted to hear her tell the story and then we go to the interviews, or just tell the entire story through the interviews. I think the problem is that their just feels like a big shift between the narration and the interview. The detectives feel like they are so full of life and have their distinct personalities, but then the narration is sort of flat, if that makes sense. Phoebe Judge has so much life during the interviews, as well, that I was just disappointed to hear her narrations become so somber.

    Besides that, I thought the story and script were great. Like I said, it had that true crime feel to it. It also had some nice little twists and some good characterization to go along with it. Sound wise, the quality of the voices are very clear, especially during the interview portions, and the voice acting for the detectives was great. Over all, I really enjoyed the podcast and I think it is a fine production, save for the few flaws in music and narration.

    1. That’s a good point about having a different narrator. Perhaps it would’ve made more sense to do it that way, but my guess is that Judge didn’t want to clutter it with another voice and it was her story.

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