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Podcast / Sporadic Phantoms

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Sorry, we can't really tell you too much about ourselves. For this investigation we have to be careful. Really careful. Just know that we care about our planet, and we have some experience uncovering corruption- though it's never been quite like this.
— The About Us page on their website
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Sporadic Phantoms is an Animorphs fanfiction podcast with light Alternate Reality Game elements. It follows a trio of environmentalists — Robin, Stevie, and Kyle — who are protesting against the Dapsen Lumber Company's logging in the national forest. They soon discover it has links to a shady organisation called The Sharing, and the podcast shifts focus to investigating its suspicious activities.

The show is notable for its attention to detail, density of Mythology Gags, and aversion of Functional Genre Savvy, and the culture around the show - the characters and listeners all maintain kayfabe as if this was really happening.


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This podcast contains examples of:

  • Accidental Truth: In episode 8 Kyle claims that the only reason one of the Phantoms would side with The Sharing over each other is if they'd been taken over by mind-controlling space worms. After a beat he claims he was just trying to lighten the mood.
  • Adult Fear: Soon after getting involved with The Sharing, Robin especially is worried that some of the minors are being groomed by the full members. Stevie is also especially worried about her niece Maddie, who is also involved.
  • Agent Mulder: Kyle is the most likely to believe some of the more outlandish explanations for what the Sharing is up to. Most of the time he's only half right, as seen in Entertainingly Wrong and Right for the Wrong Reasons.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Stevie gets a call at the end of episode 4 that her sister Nicole has been taken to the hospital after a car accident caused her hand to get severed. But considering Nicole is a Full Member of The Sharing, it's more likely that it was severed by Ax in a fight.
  • The Cameo: The Animorphs make occasional appearances in the series.
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    • Tobias appears in Episode 4 and while he's not named it's pretty obvious the tiger Kyle hears in the sharing basement is Jake.
    • Rachel and Cassie are mentioned in episode 5 with Cassie's mother making a major appearance.
    • Jake and Ax are in episode 7 at the Sharing event, Jake stuck with his family and Ax undercover as a waiter.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Kyle walks a fine line between this and Entertainingly Wrong - he's wrong that the Sharing is an animal trafficking ring, but anyone who's read Animorphs knows he's right that birds are surveying them. He's just wrong about them being from The Sharing. It's almost a Running Gag that he'll say something unsettlingly accurate about the books... and then undercut it with an Entertainingly Wrong claim.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Kyle immediately throws his lot in with Elizabeth shortly after meeting her, getting highly defensive about her and her methods in The Sharing, and is convinced that other Full Members are trying to oust her. It's what starts driving a rift between him and the others.
  • Dramatic Irony: The trio don't know that The Sharing is a front for an alien invasion, so the listeners are able to put the pieces of the mystery together before they do.
  • Enemy Civil War: Kyle believes there's one going on in The Sharing between the rich donors and Elizabeth's Be You Now course. As usual, he's Right for the Wrong Reasons: Chapman and Visser Three want to get rid of her and her followers, while Elizabeth claims to be working under direct orders from The Council of Thirteen.
  • Enforced Plug: Every episode has a ridiculous advertisement for something from the Animorphs universe. The first episode has one for Dealin' Dan Hawke's car sales, and the trio complain that it goes against their environmentally-friendly values, but they need the money.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Understandably, the trio don't immediately realise that The Sharing is a front for mind-controlling aliens. From the information they do have, they come to the conclusion that they're either some kind of cult (based on a recording of a Be You Now meeting where Elizabeth probes a girl about her problems until she breaks down in tears) or an animal trafficking ring (based on Kyle hearing a tiger roar from the Sharing building's basement).
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Someone going in blind would figure out early on that the show is about a conspiracy theory rather than environmental scandal, but it's not until The Sharing is namedropped that the world the show is set in becomes clear.
  • Funny Background Event: While the Phantoms are discussing their next move at the gala during episode 7, Nancy Candleton's speech can be heard in the background...which mostly consists of variations on the phrases "we should treat owls like children" and "sometimes, children are owls".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is titled "The [Word]", just like the Animorphs books.
  • Innocent Bystander Series: The podcast is about three normal people who unwittingly discover the Yeerks' suspicious activities, and occasionally have run-ins with the Animorphs.
  • Kayfabe: The podcast presents itself as real, to the point that the website has no information about the creators and the characters encourage listeners to talk to them on their social media accounts. The only acknowledgement that this is an Animorphs fanwork is K. A. Applegate being mentioned in the "special thanks" at the end of each episode.
  • Meaningful Background Event: After a live-streamed Sharing event is sabotaged by the Animorphs, Chapman can be heard muttering "bandits" under his breath.
  • Modern A.U. Fic: Sporadic Phantoms takes place in the 2020s instead of the 1990s, when the original Animorphs books were set. This is apparent from the many references to COVID-19, Donald Trump, and social media. This is done in order to fit the podcast format which for obvious reasons couldn't work if it was set in the 90s.
  • Mysterious Benefactor: From the perspective of Sporadic Phantoms, the Animorphs are this. They've helped them out, such as when where Ax gives Kyle a recording device with a message that one of the trio is a Controller in episode 7, but they know nothing of the overall goals, size, and structure of the Animorphs.
  • Mythology Gag: Filled to the brim with them. Standouts include:
    • The ads, referred to as These Messages (itself a mythology gag to what Ax called ads) are always this - from the Barry and Cindy Sue show, to the "Happy Meal with Extra Happy."
    • Robin orders a cocktail called the "kandrona sunrise" in episode 7.
    • Kyle's ringtone is the TV show's theme song.
  • No Full Name Given: Every episode begins with Robin saying that the trio can't tell you their last names out of fear of retaliation, as a mythology gag for the books' tendency to do this. It's later mocked and lampshaded when Robin and Cassie's mother describe how using first names only makes the podcast untraceable.
  • Reality Subtext: The Sharing explored in this fic is shown to explicitly play on the feelings of isolation that people felt during the COVID-19 pandemic, touting their safe in-person gatherings and feelings of community to draw people in.
  • Retool: In-Universe, the podcast was supposed to be about investigating illegal logging practices before the trio realize The Sharing is a much bigger threat and shift their focus to them.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Kyle is convinced after hearing a tiger roar in the basement of a Sharing community center that animals are a major part of Sharing activities and that it's possibly a front for either animal smuggling or genetic manipulation. Robin and Stevie aren't so sure especially after animal services investigate said basement and find it empty. However, the viewer knows that Kyle is 100% correct about animals being involved with the sharing, he's just wrong on why they are involved.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Kyle leaves in the middle of episode 8 because Robin and Stevie blame him for compromising the investigation.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The tiger at The Gardens is called Hobbes, as in Calvin and Hobbes.
    • Crazy Helen's advertisement in episode 9 includes a soundbyte of a Dalek saying "EXTERMINATE!"
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: The trio's surnames are beeped out, as are the surnames of minors in The Sharing's visit to The Gardens, though you can hear the first syllables of "Chapman" and "Berenson".
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The podcast often takes aim at how profoundly weird the actions of the Animorphs look from an outside perspective. After all, someone would notice all the animal sightings, and the paper trails to Visser Three's scheme of the week.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: In episode 9 it's implied Robin is starting to get this toward the Be You Now program though she denies it.
  • Take That!: Crazy Helen's ad in episode 9 has her express delight at how well her stock of Ivermectin has been selling, and assumes there must be some kind of horse-worm epidemic. When her assistant informs her that some people think it can cure COVID-19, she scoffs at it.
    Helen: And they call me crazy?
  • Title Drop: Towards the end of the first episode, Stevie calls their concerns about The Sharing "a sporadic phantom of a thought".
  • Wham Line: In episode 7, Chapman says that "one of the Sporadic Phantoms is already one of our people." This is later backed up by the "Share the Truth" hackers, who say that one of the trio is already a Controller.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Stevie and Robin finally get fed up with Kyle's obvious bias towards Elizabeth when she's clearly up to something and call him out on it in episode 8.
  • Wild Card: Two examples:
    • The Animorphs (aka Sharethetruth) are this In-Universe to the Sporadic Phantoms. S.P know that they're against the Sharing, and little else.
    • Sporadic Phantoms themselves are this to the Animorphs (and to a lesser extent, The Sharing) because routinely exposing the Sharing's dirty laundry threatens to make the fight between Animorphs and Yeerks less predictable.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The main characters' speculations haven't gotten close to what's really going on - which is fair. You wouldn't suspect aliens, would you?

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