Reviews: Welcome To Night Vale

Too overdone to enjoy.

This bucks the current of effusive praise, I guess, but I found Welcome to Nightvale overwrought when I first encountered it in 2014 listening with some friends, and a recent relisten to the first three episodes only reinforced that view.

The biggest problem for me is the sheer amount of stuff that's supposedly existing or happening in and around Nightvale. There are so many references and mutually exclusive hints that I can't keep my disbelief suspended. It feels like they're taking every horror/conspiracy/scifi/etc trope they can think of and tossing it at a wall, and even if that's just some early installment weirdness, I can't get through it.

This may be an odd segue, but it reminded me of the Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon has at least one neurotic activity/custom/habit revealed every episode, until one can't help but notice that a single person can't possibly be doing all of those things - there simply isn't space or time in one person's life and living space (even a theoretical physicist should know that). Or Excalibur from Soul Eater, for whom even in a couple dozen described rules out of hundreds requires beyond full time attention. Both of those, however, become evident over the course of a season or a series, and only affect part of the story; in Welcome to Nightvale, it was obvious not just every episode, but every few minutes that not all of these things being described can possibly be happening all together in any structure of reality. This takes X space, and that covers half the town, and pretty soon there's simply no room left no matter how weird the town is.

Aside from that major issue, there are other problems. Soundwise, Cecils' voice is fine, but at times way too over the top for me to stay engaged. A far bigger issue is the music, which is usually over done and definitely too loud. The real world hipster politics that leak in from the creators personal views are jarring and annoying, especially when I might otherwise agree with it if they weren't hijacking the show to spout them.

I don't, and can't, enjoy this overdone, self important show, and have no intention of listening further short of being a shared activity with a romantic partner.

Incredibly vivid Lovecraftian horror for the post-Information Age

Do newscasters exist? Where do they get their stories, besides fever dreams, clairvoyant scrying and the occasional prophecy? Sometimes we see pictures of them "on the scene", or in a war torn country, but the vast majority of information we receive in daily life is alienated from its context. Does this food cause cancer? Do vaccines cause autism? Is the moon made out of cheese, or gunpowder? Maybe, who can possibly say?

In the second millennium, there is no need to worry about Cthulhu or Nyarlathotep, we have Exxon-Mobile and Google and Amazon and Mc Donalds and Whole Foods. We have corporate sponsors that murder so that they can make a profit, we have people that are so privileged that once they inherit their political dynasties, they can lazily destroy hundreds of thousands of lives in a far away country because said entitled manbabies are scared of terrorists (or freedom fighters, more accurately).

Is the "Vague, Yet Menacing, Government Agency" on our side? Are they enemies, or allies? In a confused, abstract world such as ours, it doesn't matter: they are both and neither; "mu".

Our neoliberal, postglobalized world is more absurd than anyone can say, Lovecraft only saw the top of the iceberg, because he lived before the Internet or other truly mass media memeculture vectors.

Welcome to Night Vale is a New Take on Horror

Welcome to Night Vale is a new take on horror. While not relying on visuals, it has a way of making you think. That is scary enough in its own right. But, there's more. Paranoia Fuel and Nightmare Fuel alike, Night Vale's got it. If you're looking for something spooky, yet philosophical - and a bit gay - Welcome to Night Vale is the podcast for you.

Simply, One of the Best

Night Vale is not just the best podcast around. It's probably one of the finest works of modern media around right now.

Welcome to Night Vale’s appeal is based on its combination of non-visual media and reliance on fan involvement. Mystery is a lost art in storytelling. We live in the Spoiler Age, where we peak into the presents to see the surprise. Night Vale does not even give us presents. It tells us a story, and leaves the main details out, making us draw our own conclusions of what is happening or how it will end. The spirit of this narrative is the intentional omission of detail. The writers compose a story for a non-visual medium and do not even tell their vision for the story or its inhabitants and the audience must work with what they are given. The story is to be followed like a jigsaw puzzle. Several pieces are given, but the big picture is intentionally obscured and kept secret. Every detail in this podcast down to the words or the musical Weather becomes important at some point in the narrative. When the puzzle is finished, gaze upon it, and you will be in awe at how such a mastrpiece could unfold from mere fragments. We are being narrated the story, rather than reading it ourselves. Thus, we must insert ourselves into the story and gather our own conclusions from what we hear. The podcast rewards repeated listens based on the way we hear things. We will miss things when being relayed information, so we need to have things run by us again. The podcast is always right there. The more we hear a part, the more it sticks and we are transported into the world of Night Vale. However long we stay depends on our level of enjoyment for the series.
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