The Riddler: Secrets In The Dark review
Production Company – Warner Bros. / Spotify Studios
Back when I first started this blog (possibly even my first post), I said I would never review a podcast that was exclusive to a subscription service. I didn’t think it was fair because believe it or not, not everyone has Audible or Spotify (me included), and I didn’t want to leave anyone out.
So why am I reviewing a Spotify exclusive podcast you may ask? Well, it is something of an experiment. This is a brand new show, and the subject matter will no doubt see it climb the charts, so I took the challenge from GreatPods to listen to some charting podcasts alongside independent shows that people need to hear. I’m also a massive fan of DC Comics and Batman in particular. Enough of this nonsense though, on with the review!
So what’s it about?
Secrets In The Dark kicks off in Arkham Asylum. Edward Nygma aka The Riddler reviews a mysterious letter from Julian Day aka Calendar Man. Julian is in fear of his life, and he believes that Batman is after him. He has been seeing shadowy figures in the dark and he knows his days are numbered.
When Julian’s fears prove to be true and he winds up dead, apparently murdered in a rather tell-tale fashion, The Riddler seeks to escape from Arkham to solve the killing. What he uncovers is something much deadlier than he imagined. As the death toll rises, he finds himself teamed up with Batman to catch the murderer before his time runs out.
Is it any good?
You can tell this has a rather large budget. The music and sound design is great, and the voice acting is very good indeed, despite the scenery chewing in parts. Whether intentionally or not this really reminds me of the radio dramas of the 30’s and 40’s. Apart from the bad language.
Here’s where I will probably alienate a lot of you reading this. I really didn’t like it much, I can’t explain why. I listened to the entire series in one go and was left feeling unsatisfied.
My kids have started using the term “NPC” now for people who are a bit weird or who do strange things*. This is probably the best way to describe any of the characters in this podcast, apart from The Riddler himself. There was no real depth to any of the characters and it felt like they were only there to advance the plot, or die. This might seem a rather obvious thing to say, but they were noticeably shallow.
I think I’m a bit fussy with the caped crusader, and all the costumed cackling psychopaths that seek to rule Gotham City. The last decent Joker was Jack Nicholson (although Cesar Romero was the GOAT), and I can really take or leave Killer Croc et al. There is an element to this story that seems like some characters are getting mentioned just for the sake of it. They only appear to get killed off, and I can’t really see the point of that. Maybe I should have listened to Batman Unburied first, to see if it made more sense.
This show has done nothing to make me like the character of The Riddler any more. He’s still an irritating nerd that acts like a petulant child. Although I do like the idea of casting him as an Indian computer hacker.
As I was listening, I kept having the feeling that I really should be enjoying it. Rather like eating salad. And rather like eating salad, what should be zingy and flavourful and interesting, is really just a mouthful of leaves. That’s what this show is like. This was the biggest let down. It’s BATMAN for god’s sake.
If there’s one thing that has come out of this, is that I’ve started reading my batman comics again, if only to remind myself of how good DC can do it.
You can get The Riddler: Secrets In The Dark here:
*For those of you who don’t know, NPC stands for Non Player Character. A term first used in the role playing games of the 70s and 80s, but in this case more related to the people who fill out the computer generated worlds of Grand Theft Auto and The Elder Scrolls.