Thursday, September 15, 2016

Perfect Podcast

I'm rather a Supreme Court junkie, as longtime readers might know from some book reviews I've posted over the years. I've recently taken that interest to another media, discovering the podcast More Perfect.

More Perfect is actually a spin-off of another podcast, Radiolab (which I have yet to check out). It's currently running what's billed as a seven episode "season one," so for now I think of it just as a mini-series (and I'm squirreling away the episodes to enjoy slowly). Still, it's a compelling series, each episode a rather deep dive into a case or issue handled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I imagine it must be quite a trick to balance the storytelling here. They have to make dense legal cases digestible for a wider audience. But they surely don't want to dumb things down too much for their legal-loving core listeners. They have to educate on a wide variety of topics as they move from case to case. More Perfect deftly juggles all these sometimes competing interests.

I will admit that the editing style sometimes jars me just a bit. The narrator interjects a bit too much for my tastes; in the setting up of a story, he often jumps in with needless shoe leather any time an interview subject pauses for a breath. Still, once the figurative table is set, the reporting itself is excellent, covering every aspect of each case.

Thus far, I've listened to episodes tackling the death penalty, the case that Chief Justice Earl Warren called the most important of his tenure (Baker v. Carr, an expansion of judicial ability to intercede in historically legislative matters), and the surprising legal quagmire behind the unusually titled "Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl." I actually had at least passing familiarity with all three of these before listening to the podcast, but came out of each episode knowing a lot more than I did before.

I give More Perfect an A-. I certainly hope it develops into a regular series, or at least doesn't break long before coming back for a "season two." It's great for those interested in the Supreme Court, and a good way for U.S. voters who maybe don't think it's so important to challenge that thinking.

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