The first episode of the Mystery show (the third show from Gimlet Media) who are the people behind The Startup and Reply All podcasts is now available. I love Startup. It has a story about a company and follows them for weeks. Recently Startup sent the first episode of the Mystery show down their feed. I listened and what follows is my opinion. It’s only an opinion.
Don’t Hire Your Friends
I’ve heard this before, and I lost a friend once who hired me and later (after not being paid) I left and that was the end of our friendship for a while. Alex Blumberg mentioned how he’s known the host of the Mystery Show (Starlee Kine) and has worked with her over the years. Objective? Maybe not.
The Empty Safe
The show opens with a story (complete with sound effects and dramatic music) about finding and old safe and opening it to only find it empty. The host knows what its like to have anticipation that leads to – nothing. This is how I felt about the mystery show.
Where is the Hero? Where is the Hurdle?
Typically a story will have a lovable hero who needs to overcome some obstacles. In this podcast, I guess the host (who we just met) is the hero. She is going to solve the mystery. The mystery? Her friend (here we go again with friends), once rented a video from a store only to return to the store the next day and finds it had vanished.
Let me cut to the chase: I don’t care about this.
With Serial, it was a life and death situation. With Startup, it is a story that intrigues me. I want to know how the company is doing. There are circumstances that pull me in. With this episode of the Mystery Show, I could care less.
Is it weird? Yes.
Do I care? No.
What’s the worst that could happen? You get a free copy of a bad movie. Oh the humanity!
According to their website, this is the description of the episode:
Laura rents a video. When she tries to return it the next day, the video store is gone.
Painting A Story
I listened and they tell stories with descriptive words. They paint the picture for the theater of the mind. With this podcast they mix in music into the background. It’s icing with no cake. They record live conversations. I understand that you like to solve mysteries. If all the mysteries are like this one, I would tell you to get a better hobby.
The fact that it is a real conversation that’s been recorded doesn’t make it good.
They interview someone I don’t know at the 11 minute mark who likes a foreign film. But HEY he’s a REAL NEW YORKER. Listen to that accent. The film made him cry. OOOH it’s a story, but it has NOTHING to do with what happened to the video store. By let’s focus on the stranger talking about how he never married. Please, let’s so do some quick psycho analysis as well.
Do they not have an editor?
Wait, I’m going to quote Fellini so I appear well read and smart.
The fact that these are real people does not make it really interesting.
At the 15:35 mark she explains how she is looking for clues by watching the bad movie (really? logically this makes NO sense – the store closed because of something in the movie?).
But that’s OK, here comes some fun Charlie Brown type music to transition into the next obscure segment.
Thanks For Pointing Out the Obvious
Then they point out that two “chic flicks” have similar plots. Really? I’m no genius, but if you tell me that many chic flicks end in a wedding, or the man and the woman finally get together and walk of into the sunset, I don’t think that’s a mystery.
The Big Revelation
They find the owner who explains how the store went out of business. In the end her friend was crazy, or someone is telling a lie. So it ends a bit like Serial (with conflicting facts), except I cared about that story. I care about Alex and Dating Ring. I never cared about the video store. It’s in the past and has no bearing on the present. Serial happened in the past, but it has meaning (the dude is still in jail) in the present.
You Don’t Have To Release Everything You Record
I’m really surprised this was the first episode. You want to lead with your BEST stuff, and this is the best? Well, I won’t be a subscriber. It’s just my opinion. You can check it out here
You can check out Startup (I recommend going to the begining and BINGE Listening) HERE
I really wanted to like this show, but this episode leaving me asking my phone, Really? Let me know what you think below.