The Phantastic and Wondrous Adventures of Mr. Jonathan Darby: A Review

The Phantastic and Wondrous Adventures of Mr. Jonathan Darby
Writing and Direction by Austin Sirkin
Narration and Audio Production by Matt Weller

(Disclosure Notice: I payed five dollars of my hard earned money for this that I wish I could have back.)

Now, I will freely admit, I normally give “for the love of it” audio producers a bit of a pass on things when I review there work. Which is what The Phantastic and Wondrous Adventures of Mr. Jonathan Darby (which I will refer to as PWAMJD for the remainder of this review) should have been. Unfortunately, the creators of PWAMJD decided to charge for it, and, therefore, I will not be overlooking some production problems I might have otherwise.

So in a nutshell, PWAMJD is the story of Jonathan Darby a Victorian (or maybe Edwardian, I aways get those mixed up) clerk who finds himself through no fault of his own drawn into a time travel adventure as he and his companions, Henry Furnace, a thug from his own time, and Key, a woman from the future, chase the evil genius Nichols. This adventure was released in eight audio episodes done in standard audio book style, and the whole thing can be your’s for the small fee of five dollars.

First the story. There is not much I can say here. The first episode made me curious enough to buy the whole set, but as a whole I was bored. (Your can listen to the first episode free at the PWAMJD website.) The writing seemed to get worse as the story when on. All the interesting characters, outside of Henry Furnace, disappeared after the first couple of chapters, and rest felt flat and stereo-typical. The plot was hackney and has been done time and time again.The dialog was stiff and annoying in places. And the title of the whole piece is too long as are all of the chapter titles. (I suspect the chapter titles in many cases where intended to be funny, but they came across as lame.) On the plus side, I think all historical stuff was accurate.

I give PWAMJD zero out of five snark bites for story and writing.

Now the audio. The audio for PWAMJD was actually pretty good for the most part. It was clean. The narrator did a nice job with the actual text, and it was fairly easy to tell the characters apart by voice. But in episode three and eight, there are dialog errors that were not clean up during the editing process: In both cases, it was lines that were miss-read and read again. These errors should not have been in the final cut of a product that is charged for. I also did not like the theme song chosen for the work, but I will not hold that against the author and/or narrator.

I give PWAMJD three out of five snark bites for audio.

In the end, I just can’t recommend PWAMJD, at least not as a piece you have to pay for. (Although with the story issues, free is still a pretty high price for this piece.) The flat characters and predictable plot lead to an experience I wished I had passed on. I did listen to the whole thing in the hope that it would get better, but it didn’t. So I give The Phantastic and Wondrous Adventures of Mr. Jonathan Darby one out of five snark bites wholly for the quality of the audio production.

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