Welcome to our “For Your Listening Pleasure” series, where we highlight and showcase podcasts and radio dramas that we enjoy. Admittedly, I, Modoc, lean heavily toward radio dramas, but I hope you won’t hold that against me. So, sit back, stay awhile, and maybe you’ll find something new for your listening pleasure.
In this installment, we’ll briefly explore The Harrowing, recommended by Katy T., SCP Archives recommended by Pat D., and McLevy recommended by Pookie of Reviews from R’lyeh. Each podcast is directed and produced by a different organization; the first two are widely available on most podcast services. McLevy was broadcast on the BBC’s Radio 4 and available through the BBC Sounds app and website (linked below).
The Harrowing – The remote Scottish island of Toll Mòr is home to a small isolated population. A one-in-a-century storm bears down on the remote island. As Toll Mòr’s inhabitants brace for the storm’s impact, a brutal and incomprehensible crime is committed, which sets into motion a chain of events that heralds the rise of dark forces.
Police Sergeant Jackie O’Hara is sent to Toll Mòr to investigate the nexus crime and becomes trapped on the island as the storm’s intensity increases. Every aspect of the crime leads deeper into the unfolding mystery of murder, religious fervor, ancients rites, and the rise of the ultimate dark force. The story is presented primarily as an interview between Sergeant O’Hara and two superior investigators attempting to piece together the sparse details of what truly happened on Toll Mòr during and after the storm, and the crime O’Hara was sent to investigate.
Written and directed by Mark Healy and produced by Storyglass. Sergeant O’Hara is played by Golden Globe winner Joanne Froggatt. At eight episodes, I found connecting the dots a challenge at times, but perseverance pays off in the end. With over-the-top production values, an amazingly diverse cast of characters, and high energy, The Harrowing is incredibly captivating and worth every minute.
SCP Archives – Secure, Contain, Protect… Originating as an internet writing project before expanding into other media, the writing project, as my son explains it, has been around for many years. Contributors submit weird, creepy, and sometimes funny short stories to the SCP Foundation. Set in a world similar to ours but on an altered timeline, requiring a clandestine organization (the Foundation) to ensure the safety and security of the world’s population so that they can live out their lives, mostly oblivious to the horrors that exist on the periphery. You can learn more about the Foundation on the SCP Foundation website.
Secure. Contain. Protect. There are things that go bump in the night. Fantastic things. Horrible things. Redacted things. The SCP Foundation was built to keep humanity safe from a world of beings it doesn’t want to know exists. Things of wonder. Things of destruction. And these things have files. A LOT of files.
The SCP Archives podcast uses the short stories from the thousands at SCP Foundation and converts them into radio dramas. The episodes are short and vary in length from episode to episode. One of the signature characteristics in both the written works and the audio episodes is the inclusions of the <redacted> text. This allows the listeners’ to fill in the blanks or frustrate themselves.
SCP Archives is one of those podcasts that you’re either going to love or hate. Its style is very unique and specific. Episodes are self-contained and not connected to each other. Some may find that displeasing, especially if they prefer serial or episodic podcasts. On the other hand, if you like short creepypasta stories that can and will weird you out, I think you will find most of the episodes enjoyable. That said, given its non-serial form and origins, some episodes are better than others, and your mileage may vary.
McLevy – Celebrating the real-life 19th-century Scottish sleuth, James McLevy, this radio crime drama, like no other, has captivated listeners for years. Listeners are invited into the oftentimes colorful underbelly of Edinburgh as McLevy and his constable, Martin Mulholland, chase down brigands, killers, fences, and all manner of scum that break the law. “I am James McLevy, Inspector of Police…” is often heard in the introduction of each episode, signifying not only the transition into the heart of the story but also that McLevy is on the case. McLevy is, by all accounts, an investigator married to his job. He’s portrayed as hyper-dedicated to the pursuit of law and order and sometimes a social reformer.
Presented as a serial drama in the way a police procedural television show might be, episodes are interlaced with short scenes of McLevy reflecting deeply on some facet of a case or his life, both of which propel the case forward.
The real James McLevy (1796–1875) was a prominent detective in Edinburgh during the mid-19th century and later an author of popular crime mysteries in the 1860s. It is sometimes suggested that his writings may have inspired or at least influenced the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. James McLevy was also an early pioneer in seeking out expert forensic advice from medical faculty members at the University of Edinburgh. (Wikipedia)
For readers with a love of police procedurals, crime dramas, or just good old fashion engaging drama, you can’t go wrong with McLevy!
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