The Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from the creators of Pacific Northwest Stories, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both. Do you believe?
The Black Tapes is all I’ve listened to this week. It’s consumed my commutes, it’s taken over my gaming time, I can’t stop listening to it. I finished up season 1 on Friday and I’m on the first episode of season 2 now.
What’s keeping me hooked is the style and the consistency with how the story is told. It sounds exactly like a documentary podcast and sometimes I find myself forgetting that it’s fiction. The cast does a great job selling the authenticity of the story.
So let’s talk about that story. It starts with Alex Reagan, the host, going on a ghost hunt. While she’s talking to ghost hunters and paranormal researchers, the name Richard Strand keeps coming up. Strand turns out to be a skeptic in the field and has an institute that’s sole purpose is to disprove proof of the paranormal. There is a million-dollar prize offered for those who can provide unrefutable proof of the paranormal. Alex set’s out to interview him and in his office, he has a set of black VHS tapes. These are videos of paranormal occurrences that can’t be proven false yet because the technology isn’t there to do so. Sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me…
The show focuses on Alex and Strand revisiting the Black Tapes and talking to people who were involved in them. The first few episodes lead you to believe that this is going to be the format of the show. But as Alex reveals more Black Tapes content the more connected they all seem.
What makes this show work for me is the opposites that are Alex Reagan and Dr. Strand. Alex is the journalist with an open mind and although she says she doesn’t believe in the paranormal it seems very clear that she wants to believe. Strand on the other hand, is a full-blown skeptic. Everything can be disproven with science and logic. Every time Alex brings up a piece of evidence that seems like it’s irrefutable, Strand is there to knock it down. The show wouldn’t be as interesting without that dynamic. It would be like countless other horror shows and movies. It leaves me waiting for evidence so compelling that not even Strand can disprove it.
I’m glad I’m listening to the show after it’s finished so I don’t have to wait between episodes. Especially between season 1 and 2. Season 1 doesn’t end with wrapping any of the plot points up. In fact, there’s even more questions raised. It’s not a satisfying finale but luckily I can just press play on the next episode.
I’m a bit worried though. I’ve heard from friends that the podcast ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. The Black Tapes released it’s final episode on November 7th, 2017, it’s not coming back. But that worry is offset with just how well this story is told so I’ll take a disappointing ending to be able to listen to 2 more seasons of this.