On paper, “No Dogs in Space” sounds like it should be a disaster. It’s the result of an already incredibly successful creative using his influence from well established and popular projects to focus on an overwhelmingly niche subject – punk rock history – with his wife. It should be too long, indulgent, and filled with too many inside-jokes to be any good. This sort of thing never goes well, except somehow it has.
A large part of what makes this series so good is the unabashed passion hosts Marcus Parks and Carolina Hidalgo bring to the topic of music history. Its first four episodes focus on the career of Iggy Pop, front man of the Stooges and the primary inspiration for David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona, as part of a larger series on the history of punk rock.
“No Dogs in Space” weaves genuinely terrific storytelling with samples, often nearly full-length songs, of the music being discussed. The tracks selected for each episode are usually quite good on their own and they flow seamlessly into the conversational segments. Since Parks and Hidalgo are such unapologetic fans of this music, the result is a joyful and infectious excitement running through each episode.
The storytelling sometimes channels the glory days of VH1’s documentary series “Behind the Music,” with the facts of Iggy Pop’s life being so frequently salacious and sometimes absurd. Though as it isan audio-only product with a significantly longer runtime to work with, “No Dogs in Space” often far surpasses standard bearers in the genre of music history.
The longer runtime allows Parks and Hidalgo to delve into interesting stories that contextualize Iggy Pop’s career and personal life. For instance, near the end of the series Parks recounts an incident where Pop was forced at gunpoint to repay money owed to a fellow musician. Following this story is a short argument between Parks and Hidalgo on whether this constituted robbery, since Pop was so notorious for failing to pay his debts.
The goal of the podcast, stated near the beginning of the first episode, is for Parks and Hidalgo to be able to share their love of the music they’re covering in the series. By that metric, “No Dogs in Space” is a triumphant success. The hosts never make any topic intimidating or try to shame the listener for not already knowing the background of the topics being discussed. “No Dogs in Space” maintains an inviting atmosphere for all listeners regardless of their existing preferences in music.
It’s not entirely accurate to praise “No Dogs in Space” as having exceeded expectations. By the standards set by the circumstances of its creation, the series would have wildly exceeded expectations if it had merely been mediocre. Rather, “No Dogs in Space” is, simply put, incredible and everyone should listen to it.