Dr. D & Mr. J

Podcast Junkie Episode 44785727889

Harry Duran w/ guest Casey J. [8/1/2023]

Harry Duran: Hello everyone, and welcome to a brand new episode of Podcast Junkie. I’m your host, Harry Duran, and we’re going to be doing things a little bit differently today. Instead of getting a professional opinion on the mic like usual, we will be speaking with someone completely uneducated in the art of the podcast. Casey, I’m so happy to have you on the program.

Casey: Thanks Harry, I’m super excited to talk about our podcast for the week—can I say the name yet? Or is that your job?

HD: Go ahead!

CJ: Okay, okay, so for this week, we’ll be digging into “Dr. Death.” Written and hosted by Laura Beil, by the way.

HD: And we might be getting into spoiler territory in this chat, so if you want to listen to Laura’s work first, it’s available for free on Wondrey-dot-com. But I’ll give some context for anyone who hasn’t listened yet. To quote Wondrey directly: “DR. DEATH is a story about a charming surgeon, 33 patients and a spineless system.” So, think medical malpractice to the extreme.

CJ: Yes!! The program is only seven episodes, too. It’s the kind of storytelling that makes you blow through them all in one go, which is what happened to me. Now what do you want my expertise on first, Harry?

HD: Well you almost got there yourself; I want to know what you thought made the show so captivating.

CJ: Alright, lemme think… I would say that… It was definitely the sound design for me. The backing music never overpowered the story, but definitely added some intensity when Laura was ramping up to a big, revealing piece of evidence.

HD: Honestly, I thought the music became overkill a couple times, especially for such intimate and horrific events.

CJ: Y’know I usually get annoyed with the over-dramatization of these kinds of stories, but something about Wondrey’s production didn’t feel that way to me. I think I would have agreed with you if there was a constant backing track, but the long periods of just talking made it feel like a high quality news segment.

HD: Alright, let’s agree to disagree, then.

CJ: Okay, shake on it.

HD: So if you liked the sound design, was there anything that didn’t do it for you about the series?

CJ: Well, I mean, you pointed to the music as being insensitive, but I was starting to feel the same way by the end about how the show talks about the history of American medicine, and all the politics of it.

HD: They could have expanded on that for sure, but you don’t think that would have taken away from the narrative?

CJ: Not at all! By the time they started getting into all the legal proceedings and interviewing other hospitals, I was already feeling like we had left the meat of Dr. Dunsch’s story behind. Like, yeah, he was horrific. I get it. Now just summarize the rest of his life and get on with some real journalism here please. I think if you’re going to make a story like this, make it truly narrative like this, you need to put some auteurship and deep connections into it. I was kind of done with the “what”s about halfway through, and they weren’t following that up with enough “why”s.

HD: You said “history” before, though. What does that have to do with getting enough “why”s in?

CJ: Okay, let me back up actually and give you something more specific.

HD: Sure.

CJ: There’s a bit somewhere in the third-to-last episode which made me CRAZY. Basically, they bring this guy from the local Texas community to talk about what he thought about the whole situation, and he says something to the effect of: “This is unprecedented. This type of medical atrocity has never happened before in American history.”

HD: Okay, I think I see where you’re going now.

CJ: Yeah. So the story takes this quote and runs with it for the rest of the show. Which was a TERRIBLE choice because of how stupid and uninformed this random guy’s opinion was!! Like, I’m pretty sure Townsperson D from Texasville who has never heard of the Tuskegee syphilis study, or Henrietta Lacks, or the thousands of other cases of genuinely malicious medical malpractice that have occurred in the US, was the not the best choice to shape your defining viewpoint in this case. And after this guy’s bit, they keep going on and on about how the likes of Dunsch’s case has never been seen before in court either. Way to ignore the fact that most victims of medical malpractice are profiled as low-income and as racial minorities, which makes the likelihood of a case making it to trial go down hugely. Sure, this is the first time a case like this has been seen in white suburbia, I’ll give you that. But that’s not America as a whole.

HD: I can tell you’ve been putting a lot of thought into thi—

CJ: —of course I have!!! That one interview blew my damn mind. And the fact that this podcast got so popular that they made a TV series out of it?!?! It’s genuinely f[BEEP]d for them to be presenting this topic with so little nuance.

HD: You don’t need to cut me off. I get you. Let’s just have a conversation here.

CJ: I kind of did, though. Why am I here if you don’t want me to say my piece?

HD: [awkward laughter] Just keep in mind we want this show to make it to air. So. I want to ask, does lacking that nuance ruin the podcast for you? You seemed so into it before.

CJ: Touché. The problem with me is that I loved the first half as-is, and then the second half was still fantastic because I love being a hater.
HD: So you didn’t like it?

CJ: No!! Like I said, it was worthless to me after about halfway. I just loved the experience of it.

HD: I’m not totally sure I understand, but I think we can agree to disagree again.

CJ: Sure, but not shaking on that one. Actually, can we take a quick break? It’s been great talking about this show, and I totally want to get to more of the stuff I did really like, but I’m just going to be pissed off about it if we don’t reset real quick, haha.

HD: Fair enough. This will be good timing for us to put in a word from our sponsors as well. Thank you all for listening to the first half of today’s program, see you in a couple minutes!

CJ: Really, thanks! Peace, for now. But maybe more violence later?

* * *