From true crime, suspense to supernatural thrills, here’s a list of 6 binge-worthy podcasts to listen before they make their TV debut.
Story by Sidney Phillips
Before television went mainstream, people used to sit around the radio tuning into the fantastic fictional soundscapes of audio dramas. Now, podcasts are taking the world by storm and have issued in a new era of audio programing. The medium is officially making its way into the mainstream and, in an ironic twist of history, TV is increasingly looking to audio for inspiration.
While book-to-TV adaptations are most common, the rise of podcast popularity has opened a new avenue for sensational TV adaptations. Streaming services from Amazon to HBO have joined the podcast-to-TV bandwagon, producing a multi-genre list of series from “Lore” (Amazon Prime), “2 Dope Queens” (HBO) and of course, “Serial” (HBO). Here’s a lineup of six addictive scripted podcasts that are soon to get their own TV adaptations. From true crime and suspense to supernatural and fantasy, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
“Limetown” (Facebook Watch)
When 300 people vanish from a small town in Tennessee, investigative reporter Lia Haddock (voiced by Annie-Sage Whitehurst) attempts to uncover the question: “What happened to the people of Limetown?” Facebook Watch has ordered 10-episodes of the “‘Serial’-meets-the supernatural” mystery thriller, starring Jessica Biel in the titular role. Stanley Tucci and “The Fosters’” Sherri Saum have also signed onto the project, which airs later this year. In the meantime, catch up on the series wherever you listen to podcasts, or check out the “Limetown” novel.
“Welcome to Night Vale” (FX)
In the dystopian desert community of Night Vale, local radio DJ Cecil Baldwin offers updates on local weather, mysterious glowing clouds and announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police. The darkly surreal series merges elements of horror, comedy and the supernatural, with an “uncanny valley” mood reminiscent of “Twin Peaks.” The cult classic is currently being developed by FX. “Breaking Bad” writer and producer Gennifer Hutchinson has signed on as showrunner, with creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor as producers. While there’s no set release date, you can tune into Cecil’s latest broadcasts via the ongoing “Welcome to Night Vale” podcast or the series’ novel spin-offs.
“Crimetown” explores the culture of crime in different American cities, making it an easily-addictive series for true crime buffs. The first season centers around the criminal underbelly of Providence, Rhode Island, weaving a gritty narrative of ruthless mobsters, corrupt cops and shady politicians. Co-creators and true crime veterans Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier narrate the noxious series, supplemented with interviews from figures at the heart of the story. The series’ sophomore season focuses on Detroit, Michigan and the interplay of race, the drug wars, urban decay and poverty. FX plans to bring the series to life in a scripted TV show based on the first season. “Hidden Figures” director Ted Melfi has signed on to direct, and Smerling and Stuart-Pointer are involved as producers.
“Alice Isn’t Dead” (USA)
A darkly surreal take on the classic Americana odyssey, “Alice Isn’t Dead” chronicles a long-haul trucker search for her missing wife, Alice. From the creators of “Welcome to Night Vale,” “Alice Isn’t Dead” shows just how well Joseph Fink has perfected the art of the supernatural thrill. The podcast is on its fourth season, and USA Network is currently developing the story for TV with “Mr. Robot”executive producer Kyle Bradstreet as showrunner.
“Tanis” (Universal Cable Productions)
“Tanis” chronicles one man’s quest to uncover the origins of an ancient mystery of the same name. The series plays out somewhat like a spiral down the internet conspiracy rabbit-hole and was created by Terry Miles, who also voices the unconventional narrator. Presented as a true crime story, the series muddies the lines between reality and science fiction, interlocking real historical events with the fictional narrative. Dark Horse Entertainment, the comic publisher behind “Hellboy” and “American Gods,” plans to produce the series for TV, along with Universal Cable Productions.
Imagine if the X-Men decided to try group therapy. In this fresh, irreverent and pleasantly original series, psychologist Dr. Bright helps her teenage patients navigate their mental health, teen angst and dangerous supernatural abilities. Now on its third season, the series is yet another audio drama picked up by Universal Cable Productions and Dark Horse Entertainment. Original creator and writer Lauren Shippen plans to pen the script, with Gabrielle G. Stanton (previously of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Flash”) as showrunner.