With a slew of recent podcast-to-TV adaptations — from “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” to “Startup” to “2 Dope Queens” — the industry is primed for even more. With so many podcasts to choose from, which ones should get the small screen treatment? We looked at ones that make for the best long-form series that tackle a unique subject and that have the elements to translate into a visual medium. Here are our picks.
“You Must Remember This”
Karina Longworth has a unique perspective on classic Hollywood that is readily apparent the moment you put on an episode. Just listen to her “Dead Blondes” series, which is running at the time of this writing, and it’s clear we need more women educating people about “Hollywood’s first century.”
It’s like “This American Life” but for the smallest, least interesting sounding stories. Somehow, the producers make something like cargo containers seem interesting. I’d be very curious to see how that would work on TV.
“The Black Tapes”
A fiction podcast about a batch of supernatural tapes and people with a lot of secrets seems like it should’ve been a TV series to begin with.
“Hardcore History With Dan Carlin”
The internet is filled with history podcasts, but few are as intricate and detailed as “Hardcore History.” I think it’s time to bring back classic History Channel with some long, educational, but entertaining documentaries on history.
“Hello From the Magic Tavern”
It’s an improvised story podcast about a guy who fell into a dimensional portal behind a Burger King and ended up in a magic land. It has a homespun, low-key feel that could work as a show if you kept it looking as amateurish as possible.
“How Did This Get Made”
There are plenty of bad movie podcasts on the internet, but few go beyond the typical format, where a bunch of friends talk about, well, a bad movie. “How Did This Get Made” has a number of different segments, a slew of celebrity guests and a visual element that would translate well to TV.
“Judge John Hodgman”
Comedian John Hodgman is a judge in this podcast, where he takes the most mundane and absurd cases from everyday people. Now you just need to put that in a “Judge Judy”-style setting.
“Pod Save America”
Any of the Crooked Media podcasts would work on television. The podcasters are incredibly smart and educated in politics (two of the hosts were speechwriters for President Obama) and have a lot of inside scoop. We have enough politics on TV, but Jon, Jon and Tommy can be the “no-bulls–” commentators we need, combined with a bit of White House gossip.
“With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus”
“With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus” is a spiritual successor to “Comedy Bang Bang.” Each episode has a different celebrity guest, who engages in improv with Lapkus in a false talk show scenario. It works over audio, but costumes and a set will only heighten the entertainment factor.
“This American Life”
“This American Life” already ran as a Showtime series for two seasons that ended in 2009. Please bring it back? We want to see and not just hear where and how the show’s subjects live.
“Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me”
NPR’s weekly trivia show is already good as it is, but imagine if you could see the special guest comedians or the contestants instead of having them call in on the phone?
“Alice Isn’t Dead”
The sister podcast to “Welcome to Night Vale” isn’t as popular, but it might work better as a visual adaptation. The narrator is so good at explaining the grotesque horrors around her that we almost want to see some of them in action.