Ronstadt is a new scripted podcast by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, hosts of the long-running YouTube show, Good Mythical Morning and founders of the media company Mythical Entertainment. I used to be a massive fan of GMM and although I haven’t watched it much over the last few years, I found myself drawn to the idea of their podcast.
Perhaps best known for their comedy music and wacky morning-time show (in which they often set each other random challenges and taste tests), this is not the first time Rhett and Link have dipped into the realm of scripted dramedy, proving themselves to be decent storytellers in the past. With that in mind, I decided to give Ronstadt a try. Categorising itself as a supernatural noir comedy, it certainly sounded interesting.
Although the story is slow to start and weighs itself down with clunky exposition, the concept is strong and well-suited to a podcast setting. The show follows Ronstadt (voiced by Rhett), a man who randomly starts seeing things he shouldn’t: strange monsters in the subway and people walking up the side of buildings, all signalled by an overwhelming sensation that hits Ronstadt out of nowhere. He quickly gives into this sixth sense, which he names his “craydar” (or crazy-radar, for the uninitiated), and leaves his job working at an ice cream parlour to move to the city. Here he takes up a job working for the local police department, placing him solely in charge of the nighttime hotline which typically receives the craziest callers – a dreaded job for most, but perfect for a man with a newfound penchant for “crazy.”
The episodes are segmented into an easily digestible 40-minute runtime, with each installment focusing on one strange event which Ronstadt normally gets caught up in. Each episode succumbs to its dull moments, spending too much time building up to the main event.
Despite the slow build-up, the time isn’t necessarily wasted as it is used to craft a realistic world around the character, with enough intrigue that it makes you want to learn more about this new world the protagonist has been launched into.
The show uses “immersive audio” which puts the listener right in the centre of the action and it is honestly one of the more entertaining parts of the shows, particularly during the action sequences which emphasises the horror and adds just the right amount of atmosphere. But the podcast still falls into the trap of over-explaining every tiny detail as Ronstadt, who narrates the story, talks about insignificant actions which the sound effects have already revealed for him.
The podcast borrows clichés from time to time too, like awkwardly introducing the show’s first main female character as the love interest, which seems a bit forced and out of place, or the over-enthusiastic partner trying a little too hard to provide comic relief. Still, the show is amusing and provides some exciting story moments.
Not a podcast without its flaws, Ronstadt is easy to listen to and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It feels more like a 90s sci-fi cop show and I could definitely see myself sitting down to binge watch a TV show based on this concept. If you’re not afraid of a few bad puns, then this show might be right up your alley.
If you enjoy listening to story-driven podcasts like Ronstadt, why not listen to Fireside? The Irish storytelling podcast which retells folklore and myths as they were meant to be told.
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