The Byron Chronicles review
In life there are a few names that guarantee quality, whether it be electrical goods, cars or clothes. In the podcast world, one of those names is David Ault. I think the first time I heard him was probably on the Shadows At the Door Podcast, but I was soon hearing him showing up in The Magnus Archives, A Scottish Podcast and many others. I would have bet anything that a podcast featuring his voice talents would be well worth a listen. Until this one*.
This particular podcast started an incredible SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO! For some reason it had completely passed me by, until I heard one of the other shows I subscribe to do a collaboration episode with this one. I subscribed as soon as I heard the dry humour and deadpan delivery of Mr Ault, and at the first opportunity pressed play and waited to be entertained.
So what’s it about?
The titular Byron, aka “The Pale Man Of Portland” (voiced by Ault) is nothing if not an enigma. He is an ancient being of indeterminate origin, and indeterminate motives. The pilot episode, strangely enough not featuring Ault as Byron, sees him being contacted by Lucifer and the archangel Gabriel to capture the daughter of God and The Devil.
Here comes the first hole in the story. Byron is literally centuries old, and used to communing with all manner of supernatural and spiritual beings. I find it remarkable that he gets surprised at the concept that God can be either male or female as it sees fit (in this case to give birth to a daughter).
Maybe I should write the pilot off as teething troubles. After all, it must have been popular enough for them to make more episodes right?
Each series is about ten episodes, which covers four separate stories. Each story sees Byron and his sidekick, again called Sparrow (what is it with plucky female sidekicks called Sparrow?) Encounter a different supernatural being, from the aforementioned angels and demons, zombies, werewolves and vampires.
Their take on Father Christmas was brilliant, and a really good way to end series 1.
Is it any good?
Yes and no. After listening to the pilot episode I very nearly wrote it off. It really wasn’t very good at all. While the story was interesting enough, the acting was poor (check out the bartender in the pilot episode for a prime example).
The first proper episode showed more promise. Now we have David Ault as Byron and this time he gets kidnapped by a shady Vatican group to capture the original zombie. None other than Lazarus himself. This episode sets the style from here on out, Byron tasked to battle some supernatural foe, and reluctantly doing his duty with all the deadpan humour of someone who has seen (and engineered) civilisations to rise and fall.
It reminds me of a cross between Doctor Who (a lot) crossed with the comic book character Constantine but written by Neil Gaiman. If you’re a sarcastic and cynical old sod (like I am), and you enjoy listening to sarcastic and cynical antiheroes, then despite the generally poor voice acting from 50% of the cast, then you’ll love this. As in Wormwood, it is possible to overlook the flaws and enjoy the series.
Do not take this as an admission that it is a fantastic series. It isn’t. There have been times that I have wanted to turn it off and forget all about it. Thankfully I have the patience of a saint, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt.
You may have guessed that I wrote this as I was listening to it. I’ve listened to the whole first series in a day, plus the Christmas special. Despite having a serious aversion to stories that deal with werewolves, vampires and talking dragons, I am interested to see where series two goes. I could have written this review after listening to every episode, but would anyone else have the patience to slog through many mediocre episodes to get to the good ones?
Ultimately I gave this a four brain rating, but honestly, two and a half of those were just for David Ault being in it.
*I reserve the the right to eat my words at any time!
You can get The Byron Chronicles here:
Or wherever you get your podcasts