Moonbase Theta, Out does the audio diary format justice
If you’ve read my reviews or heard our PlotCast podcast before, you’re probably aware that there are two tropes in audio fiction that really grind my gears:
- Totally normal premise… BUT IN SPACE.
- Audio diary recordings that recount action instead of letting the listener experience the action.
So you may go into this reviewing thinking that I’ll just be harping on those two facts – but you’d be wrong. For the first time, I feel like we’ve found an audio drama that utilizes the audio diary format correctly.
Moonbase Theta, Out follows Roger Bragado-Fischer as he reports on the shut down process on Moonbase Theta, the last of the moon bases to be closed down by their new parent company back on Earth. What we hear is essentially Roger’s audio logs that are presumably transmitted back to the base on Earth, as he discusses procedures, issues on the base, messages to and from loved ones, and all other incidents that occur during their twenty-week process.
The difference between MTO and other shows like the Deca Tapes is that MTO episodes average under five minutes in length. The short, directly-to-the-point style of episode works very well in this format, as the single-narration dialogue does not drone on, nor do you feel like you really miss much as the poignantcy of the log fills you in.
You can hear more on why this method is so effective on the PlotCast podcast below:
And the actor playing Roger is so superb in his delivery that you almost forget that he’s the only one speaking. There’s this imaginary back-and-forth that Roger has with his superiors via his audio logs that almost creates a pseudo dialogue, although you never hear the other end.
There are also the occasional break ins of other audio logs and notes that are played back, and the plot progresses smoothly between the episodes.
My one complaint is that the tension created toward the end of the episode is usually, quickly undone at the start of the next episode. Had I been listening during the initial airing of the show, I would have been eagerly anticipating the next episode to see what happens, only to quickly find out that very little comes of it.
Take the following example: At the end of an early episode, Roger notes that the cargo barges are not making it to the moon, which means there have been no new audio logs or supplies. Tension created. However, the very next episode begins with Roger essentially saying that he’s glad everything cleared up, and that the barges are working correctly.
That type of up and down is enjoyable to an extent, but I felt like I want a greater sense of impending problems across multiple episodes occasionally to up the tension. However, that one problem doesn’t detract much from the overall experience, and after things in MTO pick up, you can see how the small issues culminate over time to create the ending – which is a great one.
Overall, the show has us excited for Season 2. The twist endings leave listeners in a place of wanting more, and it’s an easy recommendation to get someone to listen to a five-minute episode.
Go check out Moonbase Theta, Out, here.
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Vince, also known as Grumpy Gus, is a writer, director and lover of audio dramas. Though he may appear grumpy, working in audio drama production is his favorite passion. During the infrequent times when he’s not working, he’s probably watching The Office for the 6th time through.