This American Life, Redux

As long time readers of this dribble know (and I'm sure there are tons of you), I'm a bit of a radio-phile/dork. The last time I wrote about Ira Glass and Chicago Public Radio's This American Life it was to announce that they'd gone down the free podcast route, as well as to remind people that they'd soon be airing the long awaited Showtime T.V. series. Now, as many people have noted, the trailer is available online. Its not bad, but its not especially great. I can tell you, dear readers, that after having seen the first four episodes (thanks to a kind friend who still remains in "public media") -- the trailer doesn't do the show justice.

Because Ira and crew are obviously still trying to come to terms with the visual medium, the vocal narration you came to love from the likes of Nancy Updike, Alex Blumberg and even Ira himself is what really shines here. Each "act" of each episode has its own visual feel and style, and each, in its own way, holds true to the conversational aesthetic of the radio show. Long, wide, and professional shots in the first act are juxtaposed against cartoons in the second, or a personal handy-cam type documentary. And though each act shifts gears distinctly, the overall feel of the episodes is so unique, and wholesome (though sometimes a bit disjointed.)

The end result is that Chicago Public Radio and Showtime have a winner on their hands. The transition from radio to television was one they weren't ever 100% comfortable with, but I think the gradual transition over the last few years has benefited them. They haven't rushed into, nor been overly meticulous with this transformation, and the result is a thoughtful and thought provoking platform through which new documentaries and musings can be seen.

All this is not to say that the show doesn't have its faults -- I just don't want to ruin it for those who haven't seen it yet. One thing I can criticize is this stupid logo:

I'd much rather it be Ira's Glasses. Or at least just the old logo:

:::via an old friend


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