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Recommendation Engine

Recommendation Engine: The return of Serial

Plus Midsomer Murders and Football mysteries

3:46 PM GMT+1 on April 3, 2024

    Welcome to this week's Recommendation Engine from Podcast Rex, rounding up the week in podcast reviews. Get this in an email each week by signing up to be a supporter of Podcast Rex from £3.99.

    Apple Podcasts New & Noteworthy:

    Spotify New & 🔥

    Fiona Sturges in the FT

    • Serial, Series 4 - “While this is new material for Serial, everything else about it is reassuringly familiar: the squeaky-clean production, the gently tinkling soundtrack, the thoughtful observational tone, the methodical reporting. Serial may have inadvertently spawned a true-crime monster with its first, blockbuster series, but this latest project is a welcome reminder of why it took off. It’s good to have it back.

    Patricia Nicol in the The Sunday Times

    • Football, Music And Me - “Geoff Shreeves mixes his passion for football with that of music in interviews with figures from both worlds.
    • 53 Minutes - “Josh Widdicombe and Dara Ó Briain look at the 53-minute-long professional footballing career of Senegalese footballer Ali Dia. He played one disastrous match and was pulled off after 53 minutes. How did Dia manage to get there — and where is he now?”
    • The Curious History Of Your Home - “Domestic historian Ruth Goodman looks at the extraordinary stories behind the mundane objects in our homes.

    Miranda Sawyer in the Observer

    • Serial Season 4 - “The problem with all of this is not the storytelling, which is superb, but the lack of surprise. Not only has Slahi’s story been told many times before… but you could sort of guess it anyway. The [first] episode ends and you remain completely unshocked. The reporting and presentation of Serial are as wonderful as ever, so I will keep listening, but I hope for something more unexpected in the episodes to come.”
    • Dial F For Football - “the acting is so good that if you were only half-listening, you might think that someone had left on the producer’s microphone by mistake. “Ooop, she’s gone again,” says the producer, when Lisa goes rogue. “I’m going to have to cut her off.” It’s rare that a fictional podcast manages to be both really funny, and unpick some of today’s trickier issues, but Dial F For Football manages it. Recommended.”

    The Guardian’s Hear Here column recommends

    • To Die For - “The mention of seduction and “sexpionage” sounds like the stuff of male fantasy, but Neil Strauss gives one Russian woman the chance to tell her story of surveillance and love traps. ”
    • History’s Secret Heroes - “It doesn’t get much lovelier than listening to Helena Bonham Carter tell the story of Ida and Louise Cook."
    • Jockular - “Listening to Katie Kershaw, Tien Tran and ER Fightmaster talk about “all things queer, trans and woman-forward in the world of sport” is a workout for your gossip muscle.
    • Murder in the Hollywood Hills - “Kristi Johnson was 21 years old when a man spun her an irresistible pickup line in an LA mall: he said he was a movie producer looking for the next Bond girl. He drove her in his sports car to a supposed photoshoot, and she was never seen alive again.
    • Serial Season 4 - “The OG of podcasting returns for an excellent fourth season, with Sarah Koenig and Dana Chivvis’s history of Guantánamo. It’s a story they have been wanting to tell for years, but until now haven’t been able to get too far beyond the official line.

    Scott Bryan in Great British Podcasts

    • 3 Body Podcast - “unpacking and explaining the scientific themes underpinning the series and speak to the scientific advisors who consulted the programme. It’s neat.”
    • Devil in the Wilderness - “Saul Wordsworth unpacks the complex diaries of his late father, Christopher, who was also a journalist. A small production, but expertly done”
    • Midsomer Murders Mayhem - “delving into the history of the hit television show whilst discussing the eternal question of how such a quaint county in England can be host to so many murders and such a staggering death toll.”
    • Wrongly Accused: The Annette Hewins Story - “A new series exploring a devastating miscarriage of justice, where two women were falsely convicted for starting a house fire that killed a mother and two infants.”
    • 53 Minutes - Ali Dia: Football’s Biggest Mystery - “Appearing on the pitch just 53 minutes, hence the title of the podcast, Ali Dia’s debut was so bad it was described as being "like Bambi on ice.” How did the former unknown football player end up playing for Southampton match back in 1996?”
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