Say it with me now, SEASON TWO, SEASON TWO, SEASON TWO! If we all chant loud enough, I think it will happen.
P.S. Apologies for the random posting times. All posts have been dated to Fridays so that they’re easy to find in the archives.
Summary: A first time deep sea fisher experiences and encounters the mysteries of the open waters.
I really enjoyed Trawler because it is the only story in the series that emphasizes some straight up humor. Sick and twisted jokes abound in Is This Seat Taken? but Trawler is actually hilarious without bringing up jokes about killing people. I definitely laughed out loud quite a few times (LOLed for all you 13 year olds reading this blog), which is always kind of embarrassing when you have headphones on because it makes you look like an insane person. Trawler is another addition to the collection that brings well-roundedness because of its setting. It presents a wealth of maritime sound effects, from a creaking boat to the wet slap of a fish on a boat deck. The Maine/Boston accents are fun, even though they tend to go in an out like the tide. The presentation of the story really makes you feel like you are out on the water, which is a seriously creepy place and I can definitely relate to Cal’s sudden onset of thalassophobia and cabin fever of the seafaring variety. Because of this, Trawler really reminds me of The Thing, the sci-fi/horror classic from 1982, as well as a number of Stephen King and Michael Crichton stories. (Old school Andromeda Strain Michael Crichton, not this new crack pot anti-global warming insane Michael Crichton.) Larry Fessenden’s Hackett is the shining star here. I liked the bit concerning the unknown fate of his wife’s head. I also liked his tone on the intercom when he demands all hands on deck. It has this funny lilt and intonation that sort of conveys that he secretly knows that some out of this world stuff is about to go down. Fantastic performance. Trawler was fun, exciting, mysterious and hilarious–right up to the creepified Pinocchio ending. All you landlubbers are in for a treat!
The epic introductory music swells dramatically like so many ocean waves, then recedes to a smaller vision of two guys chatting. That’s kind of a general theme for The Trawler: a zoomed-in close-up story of some guys on a boat, and a more dramatic universal tale of man vs. nature and the unknown depths of the unknown sea. If that doesn’t shiver yer timbers, I don’t know what will.
I can see why Trawler was paired with Oracle Moon because it has a similar strangers-in-strange-land (or, strange ocean) feel. But it’s not as serious as Oracle Moon. It’s a story told through dialogue, and the dialogue is hilarious. Cal has a classic Michael Cera type innocent deadpan, and I actually laughed out loud at points, which was a nice change from yelping/cringing out loud at points as I usually do with TFBTP.
It’s kind of a werewolf-meets-waterworld story. It didn’t feel as tense or atmospheric to me as other Tales. Overall, it’s just not as scary, partly because of the humor and partly because the scariest thing seems to be Cal morphing (which is also funny, since it causes him to threaten seagulls). Then there’s a big scary moment, but it’s right at the end of the story, so it doesn’t have that chill-building atmosphere. But again, that’s ok. This tale has a lot of heart, and is really fun to listen to. I think the atmosphere is lacking for me because I got caught up on the fact that the dialogue is too clear in parts. There’s a scene where the main characters are talking on the deck of a ship during a storm, but using normal level voices while talking about how panicked they are. Without really sounding panicked. Some kind of stage-screaming of lines and more frantic voices would have made this scarier for me; but instead it kept a consistent almost ironic detachment feel. Which kept with the tone of the story, but also kept it from having as raw an atmosphere as I’m used to from Tales. But I’m sure more “realistic” stormy dialogue would sacrifice some clarity of the conversation, so it’s a trade-off.
And it has a great twist, and who knows, maybe even a happy ending? Pinocchio and Jonah both found their way out of the stomach of a fish (well, whale, but still). Maybe a Trawler 2 on the next season (PLEASE let there be a next season) documenting a deadpan exploration of a fish’s innards?
Before writing about Trawler, I want to take a moment to mention how terrific the intros/intermissions/outros given by Larry Fessenden are. The intro to Trawler has some great sound effects work on its own, showing that the same sort of thought and care is given to these parts of the production as are given to the stories themselves. Anyway, on to the review…
Trawler has, without a doubt, the funniest dialogue of all the Tales. This offers a good break from the incredibly creepy atmosphere that this Tale offers. The sound effects here are excellent, with the sounds of waves and the creaking of the ship doing a great job of making it feel like you are really there. The entire story is told through dialogue, and there are some great lines that sound natural yet do an excellent job of describing the ship and what is going on. The very idea of being on this ship, heading for a storm to catch some form of deep sea creature, is terrifying. Combine that with a captain who in his limited time on air, manages to come off as being dangerously stuck on the idea of catching this creature (kind of like Quint from Jaws), and you have a recipe for a very unpleasant boat ride. The acting for all three characters is great. Like most of the episodes of TFBTP, Trawler uses the radio format to great effect. By not describing the sea creature and instead having the characters sound horrified by the sight of it, the creature itself is left to the listeners imagination. It works very well, even if it allows Cam to imagine some soft fluffy sea creature that is not going to digest the people it swallowed. I clearly disagree with Cam’s assessment that there is a possibility of a Trawler 2, but I sure do agree with her that there needs to be a Tales from Beyond the Pale Season 2.
Next up: Johnny Boy