New Favourites – February 2021

This is a new feature that I wanted to try out, a post about shows that are either new or new to me that I’ve been really enjoying every month. It’ll feature a mixture of both newly-launched shows, and shows that were previously launched in the past that I’ve only just started listening to.

Margaritas & Donuts

Yes, I know I’m very late to the party here, as I started listening to Margaritas & Donuts only last month – on Valentine’s Day, actually. Until nearly a year ago, I always tried to avoid romance and romantic storylines over the course of my life – it turns out that being constantly single will do that to you! – so I’ve still got some catching up as far as the romance genre in fiction podcasts is concerned. I found this story very refreshing, as it goes against many of the typical tropes the romance genre can fall into. The main character, Josephine, is a successful Black woman in her 40s, who has her own pediatric surgery. She’s been pretty unlucky in love over the years, and while on a first date at a restaurant with a man she met on a dating app, her date invites the charming Malik to join them at their table, as he’s eating alone. Josephine, naturally, is not impressed at her date inviting a complete stranger to join them while they’re supposed to be on a date. However, this isn’t the last time she sees Malik, as he starts working in the same building as her. Rather reluctantly, Josephine starts dating him, after he asks her to have donuts with her before work one Friday morning.

Rapture 518

(CW: This show deals with a pandemic.)

A psychological horror/thriller launched in November, Rapture 518 was another show I got into last month. I’d seen it being mentioned on Twitter a few times, and was intrigued by the concept. The name of the show refers to the new apartment building Dr Sarah Penn moves into, named Rapture, and her apartment number 518. What I love about the show is the different layers to the story, there’s the paranormal events in the apartment building, the strange noises Sarah hears in the middle of the night; but then the story develops into something much more apocalyptic, as a strange virus takes over the city. There’s a real claustrophobic feel to Sarah’s recordings, isolated in her apartment, and she fails to realise what’s going on in the world outside until it’s too late. I’m really curious to see how everything comes together, and to discover more of Rapture’s mysteries.

Second Star to the Left

Post-Earth stories fascinate me, and the first episode of this show provides a hopeful glimpse into a hypothetical future. In this universe, there are people who train to be scouts, who are then sent to uninhabited planets to explore and prepare them for settlement – alone. Gwen Hartley is one of these scouts, and the show opens with her descending towards the planet she will be living on for the next five years. Gwen is an instantly likeable character, and she shows a definite amount of resilience after having travelled through space on her own for nearly a year. But after she arrives on the planet, it turns out that she’s not completely alone, as her scout-minder Bell Summers has been trying to contact her. Two episodes are available so far, and I’m really excited to see which direction this story will take, as well as being slightly apprehensive about what will happen to Gwen all alone on that planet. Definitely recommended for fans of This Planet Needs a Name and Tides.

Surreal Love

I was really excited for Surreal Love, a project by Caroline Mincks and A.R. Olivieri. I’m a big fan of both of their work, and Surreal Love also had an interesting concept – a new episode was released every hour on Valentine’s day, from midnight to midnight CST (GMT-6), making a total of 25 episodes. It very much reminded me of some of the two creators’ other shows, Olivieri’s 2298 and LIMBO, and Mincks’ SHIFTS; and as the show’s title suggests, there’s a huge element of the surreal, as the characters are in an alternative reality when we first meet them. What this alternative reality serves, and what’s really at play in the real world, comes out as the show develops, in a heartbreaking story of love and sacrifice.

The Silt Verses

From the creators of I Am In Eskew, The Silt Verses is an urban fantasy/horror podcast, set in a world where new gods have been fabricated, and old gods are outlawed. In episode one we meet Carpenter and Faulkner, two followers of an old river god, who are on a pilgrimage to find other members of their faith. This isn’t easy to do when they’re in fear of being discovered, and have to hide their identities. As the story develops, we are introduced to more of their world, and how these old gods are still very much present, even though it’s forbidden to worship them. New gods have been created to replace them, false gods drawn up for every sector of society. But the old gods are still worshipped in secret, and pose a very real and sinister threat.

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