Wednesday, September 28, 2016


This was a study I did that morphed into a quasi sketch of Meer Katnip from the Tanis Podcast. I could see her as perhaps of Asian or even Russian descent with a heavy winter coat with fur trimming, isolated away in self-imposed exile somewhere, doing her thing. However, I should note, while I really, really enjoy the The Black Tapes Podcast podcast, I am on the verge of giving up on Tanis.

I cleared out the current two seasons of TBP, and found out that, neat, they have a sister podcast that's apparently a more SF-y TBP. That's got to rock. Well, I listened to the first episode literally three times at least, and then the first five episodes or so twice, and I still had no idea what's going on. Not like, "oh, man, what's gonna happen next???" but like, "Ok, what is this about? Why should I care? Why should anyone on the show care? Why is anybody doing any of this? Why is that hacker character such a jerk? Is this supposed to be charming?"

I mean, let's get right down to it, easily my least favorite personality on the show is Meer Katnip. Let's pretend the show were scripted real quick...I would say the writers are trying to make an abrasively charming "Dr. House" type, who's so good at what they do and so ultimately helpful that their severe social shortcomings get forgiven. I can get down with that, but there's no underlying warmth to it. Like, imagine if there were say a brother-sister sort of relationship where MK might needle or "abuse" Nic, but you could sense that she actually did care for him if anything external were threatening the cat's mousey plaything, I could buy that. Or if there were moment of opening up and betraying what causes the curtness, or if she saved his life or something, that gives us some contrast to the general harshness.

But when it's so one-sided, she just feels like a rude bully, and then there's such a labored effort by Nic and the dude he hangs out with on location sometimes to assure the listener that despite the brusqueness, this MK character sure is cool, eh? I just can't get into it. It's telling not showing; there's nothing for me to "see" where the coolness comes from to alleviate the rudeness. This was true at least (especially) for season 1, which is what made that season such a chore to get through, if I'm being perfectly honest. I would dread(!) whenever MK was coming on. Contrast this with the joy when Alex would stop over!

But after my first bout of "wow...I don't think I can keep going with this one," I soon happened across the Reddit for all the Pacific Northwest Stories series. And while it seemed the consensus was that TBP was a better listen than Tanis (and there was certainly much more discussion of that show, too), those who did enjoy Tanis did stress that after making it through season 1, it really pays off in season 2. I'm just about current on season 2, and I'm still waiting for stuff to feel worth it, and I'm just weary of the cycle of "find out what happens next time" and then we find out nothing substantial next time. I can appreciate not giving any real meat to chew on if they want to preserve/prolong as much mystery as possible, but when denied even the bones to go on, then there's only so many times you can keep coming back to the diner.

Granted I listen to the podcast while drawing, so maybe I can only 95% focus on the audio (but to be fair, painting, inking, etc. doesn't actually take major concentration after setting up the base stuff), but I do the same for all audio, and am fully absorbed by TBP, Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe, the Bright Sessions, King Falls, Dunesteef, etc. enough to follow those narratives and discern what I like and dislike about each.

I must say, though, when it's just rando-wacky tales, like the bonus short about the sadistic doctor lady (Bonus Ep1), or the early season 1 episode with the urban legend of the elevator game, that stuff rocks. It's weird, unsettling, and vaguely relevant, but compact enough to feel satisfying. Just like with the early TBP where seemingly unconnected weird stories just came at you episode to episode, those felt worthwhile because they were self-contained enough to feel like something happened, and only got richer when things started coming together. Tanis just feels like someone trying to wink you into submission that they know something you don't know, but they won't even tell you generally what it even is that they know and why you need to know it, just that you need to know it. So why do you even care that they know it? Who knows!

So where do we stand on Tanis? I dunno, I might relisten to season 2 after it's all released, and if that doesn't work out [faint background female scream], I'm pretty sure I'll drop it, or at least only check in once per season. I really, really hope they pull it together; had such high hopes after TBP. Worse comes to worst, at least they have a new series coming out, too. Optimistic for that one, just as I was with Tanis.


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