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The Last Movie review & the last time we listen to the PRA

Warning: The following is an angry and “controversial” rage-fest about the Public Radio Alliance / Minnow Beats Whale podcasts from creator Terry Miles (of The Black Tapes / Tanis / Rabbits). AK suggested we review The Last Movie, PRA’s most recent podcast. Unfortunately, it was the tipping point for how much we hate these. 

Enjoy!

So this week on the PlotCast, we reviewed yet another of the Public Radio Alliance’s audio dramas, this time called The Last Movie. We’ve already reviewed Rabbits here, and the eerie similiarities are what’s led us to this opinion.

If you’re unfamiliar with the PRA, they are the creators of Tanis, The Black Tapes, Rabbits and now The Last Movie. All, or a large majority of these shows, are highly acclaimed in the Audio Drama world. Hell, even the Black Tapes is a common name in podcasting, and they’re all widely considered good shows.

The problem that arises, as best said by Ori in our podcast episode, is that Terry Miles has great story premises, and terrible execution.

Now, our dissenting opinion is not to say that the shows are badly made – quite the opposite in fact. Rabbits, and more specifically The Last Movie, are very well produced, with great audio work and a coherent flow. Miles has definitely honed his craft between his shows.

Here, though, the break down is all about the storytelling aspects of the show. Specifically for the Last Movie, very little happens in the story, which would be fine if it were more of a human interest piece than a mystery, but it’s not.

The show is supposed to be a mystery surrounding a movie that, when viewed, causes the viewers to go crazy and kill themselves or others. It’s obvious why no one has lived to see it, and why Miles and his partner MK go on a journey to find it.

They go places, learn small bits of information and eventually uncover a mysterious cult who happens to own the movie, which they watch.

Now, the two very important action scenes occur “off camera,” meaning that they’re told to us by Miles retroactively, which seems to be a common trope in his shows. (I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t think audio conveys action well, or what). But either way, we lose out on interesting information. This happens in Rabbits as well.

In any story writing class, they’ll push for something called “showing, not telling,” which is (obviously) showing the audience the scenes in the moment, as opposed to just explaining what happened. We, ad the audience, need to feel the character’s anxiety and struggle. You cannot just tell us that they’re anxious and expect us to relate. The same goes for these shows.

Unfortunately, the mystery all but wraps itself up in a lackluster twist – the woman who was supposed to be dead was actually alive and had produced this movie. Buh,-buh-bummm. It’s that exciting.

And that’s about it, unfortunately. The PRA’s latest show feels like a rehash of a generic mystery, in the exact same form and layout as Rabbits. I’m worried that shows like these will roll out in a factory line with only minor differences between them. At least The Last Movie is a much more straightforward mystery than Rabbits was, but the generic feel of it made me want a better mystery to solve.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the entirety of The Last Movie just felt like an ad for Tanis. It was said 8 times. “Have you heard of Tanis?” Tanis, and Bombas socks.


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