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  1. Car Talk Podcast

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Alternate title: Your wacky uncles on the Internet (and they just figured out how to forward chain e-mails).

    "Car Talk," a podcast of epic proportions. This show was picked up by NPR in 1987, which makes it long-standing enough to be older than at least half of you reading this review. A long standing NPR staple, "Car Talk" comes from a simpler, more genteel time, when families used to gather 'round the radio to hear tell of other people's broken alternators as Father smoked his pipe and Mother knitted socks.

    Or something.

    This show is old, yo, and it didn't get that way without maintaining a thoroughly hooked audience. Host to over 2000 call-ins a week, it's time you joined the learned regarding the podcast that is "Car Talk."


    Hosted by brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers," the show revolves around listeners calling in with car problems. The brothers' collective automobile knowledge is impressive vast and vastly impressive as they deduce each caller's problem to the best of their abilities. Some callers are more educated about their vehicles and are able to explain which part is having trouble or what the symptoms are, many callers are forced to use noises varying on "VRRRUMMPPTPTPTPTPTHHHHBBBB" to describe why their car isn't functioning. Tom and Ray tease, cajole, comfort and inform their callers, give them their best diagnosis about what the problem is and send them on their merry way to the repair shop. In between calls the brothers annoy each other and host segments such as:

    Stump the Chump - where previous callers come back to tell whether or not the brothers got the problem right.

    The Puzzler - a logic puzzle where listeners can send in the answer for the chance to win a prize.

    Whatever They Find Amusing - seriously, they read goofy e-mails aloud, or tell bad jokes.

    Relevant Links
    Main Site
    Wikipedia Page
    Shameless Commerce
    Donate your car to charity, why not?

    Episode Length:
    Fifty-three to fifty-four minutes.

    The back-and-forth between the hosts is charming, their answers are informative, and the production value is awesome. Even if you're not a motor head "Car Talk" deserves at least a chance to tickle your ear buds before you write it off. Who knows, you might even figure out why your car makes that squeaky noise! Many of the calls are interesting and puzzle solvers might enjoy the deductive nature of the show. It is very interesting to listen to the hosts mull over a problem, batting hypothesis back and forth until they can somewhat agree on an answer.

    Content Rating: Clean (squeaky). No fear for the children or tender hearts unless you're especially vulnerable to bad jokes.

    Drinking Game: If you're fond of alcohol poisoning, drink every time one of the brothers laughs. If you enjoy the company of your liver, perhaps you could fashion a game that revolves around certain caller tropes including the following rules:
    +Drink every time a problem involves a belt
    +Each time a caller's name is spelled out (two drinks if they spell it incorrectly)
    +When you actually recognize a car part they're talking about

    Release Schedule:
    Weekly, every Saturday.

    Music:
    Ye. Gods. "Car Talk," like so many other NPR podcasts, plays musical interludes in between segments. The songs all revolve around cars, with lyrics about broken down heaps and much beloved racing cars and HOLY HELL ARE THEY BAD. I cannot bear the songs played during "Car Talk" and immediately fast-forward past them. Now the intro, which is just a little bluegrass breakdown, I actually like. But the rest of the music? Caustic. Evaluate it for yourself and tell me if I'm right or wrong.

    Unintentionally Good Part:
    The end credits.

    Unintentionally Bad Part:
    This is a podcast about car problems. Every week, this is a podcast about car problems. Truth be told, I'm currently not listening to "Car Talk" due to burnout from listening to car problems every week. The subject material can become repetitive, and there is only so much the brothers' personalities can do to distract from that.

    Unrelated Rating:
    Twenty-three seconds of wheezing laughter.
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  2. 1 comments:

    1. Kristopher said...

      I used to listen to Car Talk on the radio while driving around with my dad. For Father's Day one year, I even bought him some coffee mugs with their motto: "Car Talk: Unencumbered by the Thought Process." It's really pretty amazing how entertaining a pair of guys talking about broken down cars can be.