I’ve spoken about my love for podcasts before and recently I have joined the many thousands of fans that listen to the bizarre but compelling Welcome to Night Vale podcast. It is unlike any of the other podcasts I listen to because it isn’t an interview like Distraction Pieces or two people riffing off each other like What Say You.
Welcome to Night Vale is a drama of sorts. It is a staged as a radio news show, giving the daily events of a small town which are a mix of the surreal, strange, horrific and normal which leaves you baffled but gripped in equal measure. It is practically all done from the viewpoint and narration of Radio DJ Cecil, who has a unique, compelling voice which draws you in.
The events are strange but interesting. Each 20 minute episode has it’s own event, be it a sandstorm which creates violent doppelgängers, a pack of wild dogs terrorising the small town or a violent and terrifying visit from the “street cleaners.” Along with these single episodes tales are the wider arc stories, like the controversial mayor elections involving a five headed dragon or the always creepy hooded figures who “live” in the dog park.
If it sounds completely weird and slightly off-putting, don’t be mistaken. It is a very clever, often funny and strangely interesting storytelling approach and once you’ve listened to the first few episodes, you will be sucked in.
As I listened, I always imagined how great it would be to see the imagery that narrator Cecil describes on the small screen. A TV show could very naturally bring the events, no matter how weird, to life and I’m sure create a series that is unrivalled and clearly like no other.
If we were looking for comparisons it would probably be in the small town, slightly strange dramas like Twin Peaks or Wayward Pines. Welcome to Night Vale is stranger still though but not without it’s core characters who could make a series work well. As well as bringing the individual events of the single episodes, the over-arching story, involving characters such as scientist Carlos or the old woman Josie and The Angels, could be the hook to keep viewers coming back.
Of course the strange nature of the series is the reason it is difficult to actually imagine a TV show happening. It takes a lot for people to suspend their disbelief and a cult podcast is much easier to sell than a whole season run of surreal episodes. That doesn’t mean it isn’t something I would love to see and I would be very surprised if it isn’t already in the pipeline or at least being considered, especially with the avid fans the series has.
Overall, Welcome to Night Vale seems an obvious choice for a TV show, especially with the impending return of both Twin Peaks and Wayward Pines back to our screens. It would be a welcome mix of the strange, surreal and bizarrely normal. If you can’t imagine a TV show, at least give the podcast a listen… but with an open mind.