Remarkable Lives. Tragic Deaths. is a unique show from the Parcast Network about people who had fascinating lives but died tragically. It is hosted by Carter Roy and Vanessa Richardson, but mostly Roy as he provides the voice acting as the show tells the story of the (mostly male) subjects’ lives in first person. The show aims to honor the people who were lost to the world too soon.
I’m excited to review this show because it seems to be polarizing based on the iTunes and Stitcher reviews – people either can’t stand it or they love it. The first episode I listened to was episode 2, about Harry Houdini. I didn’t know the story of Houdini, so I loved it. I admit that at first I thought it was a little weird listening to just two actors act out someone’s life in audio. And as many reviews have noted, there is constant music in the background which can make the “scenes” too dramatic or even distract from the content. It was an annoyance to me, but I was intrigued by who else they might profile.
So I went back and listened to the first episode about Rasputin, who I also knew little about, and then found my groove with episodes about Kurt Cobain, Amelia Earhart, and Jimi Hendrix. The show can get a little hokey and overly dramatic – it is voice acting – but if you allow yourself to be transported into the story and use your imagination, there are episodes where you can really feel like you’re there with the subject. What would make it better is more diversity of voice actors, but in some of the episodes, Roy in particular hits a home run. Here are a couple of clips from the Kurt Cobain episode – my favorite:
I really felt like Roy brought me right in the room with Kurt Cobain as he wrote that suicide note. It was gripping and respectful.
I didn’t love episodes 15 or 16 (Princess Diana, Ernest Hemingway) even though those had the potential to be great subjects. I thought they were overdone. I hope as the episodes go on this is not a sign of the hosts getting tired of doing the voice acting, because I think there is a lot of potential here. I love unique shows with fresh ways of presenting history we think we already know about. As Nate DiMeo may posit, there is something warm and comfy about listening to a personal history wrapped up in a nice audio package. Get the right voices telling those stories and it’s somehow easier to float through your day while absorbing the retold personal narrative. Time goes by faster and before you know it, it’s been 20 or 30 minutes and you’ve reacquainted yourself with a historical figure who met an untimely death but first made their mark on the world. If you’re willing to get lost in the story and overlook the unnecessary drama, check this show out, especially the episodes I recommended below.
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Audible Feast Ratings
Educational Value (3 / 5)
I only learn something new when a subject is profiled who I know nothing about. More research could be done to beef up the facts in the stories vs. the sensationalist headline attention-grabbing tidbits. In other words, it’s not that deep. But if you let yourself go and enjoy the history being presented to you in a novel way, you’ll probably find it fun and interesting.
Pop Culture Value (5 / 5)
Host Listen-ability (3 / 5)
Flow & Production Value (3 / 5)
Humor (2 / 5)
Investigation (2 / 5)
See my comment in the education section. I would like to see more research done than what I could find in a Wikipedia article, as someone had posted in a review I read on Stitcher.
Storytelling (4 / 5)
Let yourself be lost in the story and time will fly by no matter what you’re doing.
Makes Me a Better Person (2 / 5)
Overall Audible Feast Rating: (3 / 5)
Start with These Episodes:
You May Also Like …
You Must Remember This, Stuff You Missed in History Class, The History Chicks, The Bowery Boys, Radio Diaries, The Memory Palace, ArtCurious Podcast
Remarkable Lives. Tragic Deaths.