A podcast about a grown man reading a series of children’s novels for the first time”. Given that the series in question is, you guessed it, Harry Potter, this concept is mouthwatering to Potterheads. Possibly even a mild intoxicant.

Each week, host Mike Schubert gives listeners a breakdown of a few chapters, including a summary of events interspersed with reactions from Mike and his guests. A solid premise, it goes without saying.

Where the show revels is in its off-the-cuff remarks and unscripted tangents, geeky as they might be, about the books. The often snarky Mike, who loves nothing better than a good plot hole, might have questions about how some part of the wizarding world works, or else have spotted some error on J.K. Rowling’s part, allowing the Potter ‘expert’ on hand to shine. These critiques often involve Quidditch and its nonsensical scoring system, which Mike hates with a passion.

However, Mike is far from a perfect host. Potterless may be better led by a Brit, rather than an American: his complete lack of understanding of everyday British words and phrases threatens to irritate rather than amuse before long. More generally, the humour can be a tad hit-or-miss, and is perhaps more appealing to American listeners.

Additionally, Mike makes frequent mistakes with both plot points and pronunciation that leave real Potter fans head-in-hands. As well as being distracting, this can give the impression that Mike does not care about either the books or his podcast. Even worse, in later episodes he sometimes admits to having read up to half a book ahead of the chapters currently under discussion. While this level of preparation may seem like good practice, it leaves Mike looking back to his weeks-old notes for his initial thoughts about Harry and co.’s latest antics. When it comes to Mike’s ‘predictions’ for future chapters, which he has actually read, this really undercuts the whole idea and it begins to feel a very slapdash podcast.

It can be difficult to know whether to be won over or turned off by Mike’s take on the books. Highlights include his nickname for Harry, Ron and Hermione (“the Squad”), his incessant hatred of Quidditch, and his exuberant, tongue-in-cheek sign-off and catchphrase, “Wizard On!” Without the epic source material and its considerable nostalgic heft, however, it is sad to say that Schubert might not make it in podcasting. He may just be a man with a Sirius-ly good idea.

Image: Carlos Cruz via Wikimedia Commons

2 replies on “Potterless”

I must say: I LOVE POTTERLESS, and I really hope that Schubert makes in the world of podcasting. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, but I love Mike Schuberts more adult and questioning perspective of the books than my own view of the books. I read the series as a child/teenager and I therefore believe that I have had and still do have a more accepting take on the books, because I as a child just accepted and explained the more “difficult” and problematic parts of the books as “well, it’s magic”. I agree with you that Mike sometimes do get stuff wrong, but come on there are a seven books and an enormous amount of information to keep track on – especially the first time you read the books. I also guess that is the reason why he has guests on his show that can both correct him and witth whom he discuss all of these “problematic” parts with.
I am from Denmark and have only read the danish books + I don’t know how to pronounce all the words, but I do love how an american notices the very british parts of the books. Well, all of this is just my take on it, and your opinion is as good as mine, but I just wanted to say, I find this podcast hilarious and I would have loved to have learned how to analyze and interpret novels/short stories etc. through this podcast back in my days in elementary/high school. Keep up the good work, Mike 😀

A pretty short-sighted review of the wonderful Potteriess.
As a lifelong British Potterhead, Schubert can be delightfully naïve but in no way does he seem not to care about the source material.
He has a refreshing take on the books and your review comes across judgy without substantiation.

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