Archive for November, 2009

The Byron Chronicles 2×08: When the Storm Breaks, AKA “AARGH! WHY?”

Posted in Darker Projects with tags , , on November 30, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

Yesterday night (or was it very early this morning?) I experienced the familiar sensation that all of my blood was instantly replaced with helium. No, that’s not actually what happened, but I’m pretty sure the sensation of one’s heart suddenly starting to pump lighter-than-air gas through one’s veins is similar to the sensation I felt when I discovered that a new episode of The Byron Chronicles had been out for a whole entire hour and I didn’t notice. Sure, I had a perfectly wonderful excuse (I was watching the movie ‘Equilibrium’; If you have not seen this movie, rent it soon. It has Christian Bale and a puppy, and katanas and epic gunfights. I digress.), but that didn’t change the fact that I, the rabid fangirl who usually pounces on each and every release  like a sugar-high kitten on a defenseless baby mouse about fifteen minutes after the episode goes live, nearly missed what I’m pretty sure is the Season 2 Finale episode.

This is not an episode to miss.

As always, this review contains some pretty nasty spoilers, almost on the “Luke, I am your father!”  level this time.  (Well, at least on the “Luke, she’s your sister” level…) So, if for some reason you have not yet listened to The Byron Chronicles: When the Storm Breaks, close this window and go listen. I’ll be here when you get back.

For the rest of us, the review follows.

So much awesome happened in this episode that I don’t know where to start. Well, I suppose the beginning is the very best place to start, so I might as well begin with the fact that Dracula makes his first non-flashback appearance, and starts off strong with the whole Big Bad thing, speaking mysteriously about a ‘machine’ to that evil little drug-creating sewer-dweller Branlaven from way back in Season 1. 

It then cuts to Byron and Agent Katherine having a friendly chat, still in the clutches of the vampire lord Dimitri. (And when I say friendly, what I really mean is that there are minimal threats and no actual attempts at murder.) It is revealed that it was the Order who freed Byron from that nasty little buried-alive-with-dragon-venom trap Dracula sprung on him back in Bar Harbor, and that it was immediately after this that Byron was betrayed by the Order and locked up in another underground prison, albeit one with a chess-playing zombie, a little more breathing room, and a notable lack of dragon venom.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, the two of them begin to discuss Leviathan, and thank you Eric Busby for including the other reference I’ve been waiting for all season! Mention is made of a certain other brilliant audio drama by Christof Laputka…Oh, you know the one. The Leviathan Chronicles. And, I’m not talking about just a passing reference, here — I’m talking about an epic shout-out. (Oh, and…you didn’t hear this from me, but we may be hearing a lot more than just references in Season 3 of The Byron Chronicles…but I’m not sayin’ anything else. Just in case.)

Then comes the truly dis-gus-ting scene with some impressively gruesome sound effects. Suffice to say, I was significantly disturbed by the sound of two vampires  trying some of the…local cuisine, if you get my meaning. I firmly believe that things are scarier when you can hear them but not see them, which is the reason audio drama scares the crap out of me while horror movies only make me laugh. So, congratulations to whomever mixed that scene (and the entire episode in general, actually…) because it was brilliant.

Oh, and the Rush-crazed Revenents turn up again. Mmhmm. Like I said before, everyone who’s anyone from Season 1 pops back up in Season 2, and they pop back up with a vengeance.

Ok, now, here comes the big one, the one that literally made my jaw drop.

Dracula is an insane puppet-master! He’s pulling every string, and he’s been pulling every string, throughout the entire series!  Branlaven was manufacturing Rush under his orders. Chris Sparrow was bitten and infected under his orders. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d even had some dealings with dear old Mr. Logan. The Count has been orchestrating everything to serve his own purposes in a way that puts Byron’s machinations completely to shame. Why was he playing this long game? He’s trying to tear open an interdimensional rift so that Leviathan can enter the world and wreak havoc, and he’s going to use Chris Sparrow’s blood to do it. That’s what the machine is for. It opens a rift.  Dracula is serving Leviathan. Gyah!  For the last three episodes, we’ve been led to believe that he is Season 2’s Big Baddie, but then, with just a minute left on the clock, we find out that he’s actually working for the biggest Big Bad of them all…

Then, just when the plot had progressed from ”great” to “skull-shatteringly epic”, that blasted theme music began to play and the credits started up! It was a cliffhanger! I hate cliffhangers! They drive me out of my mind! Part of me is hoping that there’ll be another episode between this one and the Christmas Special, because this is a cruel, cruel way to end the season. Heartless, I tell you. It’s a violation of my Constitutional rights, the ones that say cruel and unusual punishment is a no-no.

Sigh. Well, if there’s anything that listening to audio drama has taught me, it’s how to wait patiently. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

So, despite (and partially because of)  the fact that the cliffhanger ending made me want to tear apart my desk with my teeth, and because of the yummy plot-twistiness and wonderful continuity, I hereby deem this episode one of the best yet. Season 2 itself was beyond brilliant, and everyone associated with this show should go give themselves a giant hug from me, since everyone is so spread out and my arms aren’t that big. This episode reminded me of why I cyber-stalk the DP website, and why I rant and rave and theorize and squee over this show. I can’t wait for Christmas. I can’t wait for Season 3.

Bring it on.

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Download or stream When the Storm Breaks by clicking on this little interdimensional portal of my own making. Don’t worry, you won’t summon Leviathan. Just a boatload of epic. CLICK ME!

Oh, and you can find the equally brilliant Leviathan Chronicles at www.leviathanchronicles.com.

Well, DP’s Doctor Who: The Dreamers, Part 2 was also released last night, so expect a review of that as soon as my stupid computer lets me download it! 

Gaia’s Voyages, Episode 6 – Episode Review!

Posted in BrokenSea with tags , on November 20, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

Valentines Day has come early, and thank goodness too; I’m not big on Christmas or even Thanksgiving, free food and presents notwithstanding. Of course, Valentines day would be depressing for dateless ‘ol me, if it weren’t for the fact that I get to point at everyone wearing red shirts and snigger about their immanent doom like the blood-crazed Star Trek fangirl I am. Oh, and the chocolate is nice too.

I digress, but only a little, since the most recent episode of Gaia involves love, hormones, and yes, Valentines’ cards with sparkles. More on that last one later. (Not much later, though; bit of a short review this time.)

The episode opens with everything back to relative normal onboard Gaia; no one is injured or dying, but if the tension between characters such as Mycroft and Armarok (or Armarok and everyone, for that matter…) continues, then things won’t remain that way for long. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that everyone seems to want to challenge Mycroft to a duel, and that the variety of different species onboard the sentient vessel have an equally varied methods of flirting, some of which are disturbing while others are just downright gross. On the other hand, things take a turn for the musical when Andre seranedes his lady love… in a Muskateer costume.

Personally, the episode had two highlights for me, apart from the singing: 1) Natty giving everyone Valentine’s cards, including a nice sparkly pink one for the Vengari assassin Armarok, right before she ‘adopts’ him and provides hugs and kisses. 2) The end of the episode, which involves Commander Mycroft preparing for a duel, with a little help… but I’ll leave that bit spoiler-free and let you all enjoy it for yourselves… mmhmm.

Anyway.

Despite the fact that this episode might seem to be simply lighthearted and hilarious, there are several important bits that will be referenced later on in the series…the scene between Natty and Armarok, as adorable as it was, will apparently be very important round about the season finale, and the scene between Desdemona and Undomo explains a bit about the Thylora race. Hooray for girl talk!

And speaking of lots of love and Valentines day and things of that sort, I feel I should point out that David Ault, the talented voice behind characters such as Gaia’s Commander Mycroft Beckert and the one and only Byron,  in addition to waaaay too many other roles for me to mention here, just celebrated his birthday on November 19th. So, happy birthday (again) David!

Well, that’s all I’ve got. Go download the episode and listen to it, since that’s generally what you do with brilliant audio drama. Click this link right here… Or, you know, download from iTunes or the Zune marketplace or from wherever you get your scheduled doses of audio crack!

This review was brought to you by late nights and caffiene. Molto Bene!

Episode Review: The Leviathan Chronicles Chapter 22: City Life

Posted in The Leviathan Chronicles with tags , , , on November 10, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

The Leviathan Chronicles.

It’s a good name, but when I recommend it to friends and random, confused  people I meet on the street, I  refer to it as ‘PURE AUDIO CRACK’ in a voice that sounds almost completely unlike Trailer Voice Guy Don LaFontaine. Why do I do this? Because ‘Leviathan’ is like a highly addictive drug that is free and also comes at more or less regularly scheduled intervals. It’s also a very high-quality drug.

I’m going to stop the drug metaphors now.

The Leviathan Chronicles Chapter 22: City Life continues the tradition of  being at least 2x as epic as the episode before it (even though episodes 20 & 21 are my current favorites ever.) In this episode, Macallan and Evangeline explore Leviathan, meeting and talking with its inhabitants;  most notably, a classical painter and his apprentice (played by Mur Lafferty, writer of the ‘Heaven’ trilogy and a lot of other awesome stuff). Evangeline is forced to cut the trip short, however, once she receives news that a serious security breach has occurred within Leviathan’s main computer, resulting in a virus that could destroy everything, including the pressure shields that make Leviathan habitable. The main suspect? Harlequinn, rogue Immortal, assassin, thief, and Evangeline’s lover. An enraged Evangeline leaves Harlequinn in Bennu’s capable hands for questioning. Oh, and speaking of Bennu–he’s actually evil councilman Kriegerson. Remember him from way back in Episodes 9 & 10? If not, you should go back and re-listen.

This is why I love ‘Leviathan’ so much! Every time I think I know what’s going on and who’s right and wrong, things get changed up. Harlequinn may or may not be the one who planted the virus (a note left inside a globe in Evangeline’s room may or may not indicate this), and he might also be on the Rebellion’s side, Evangeline’s side, or both. Bennu may or may not be plotting against Evangeline, and Sienshun/the Rebellion may or may not be evil. Oh, the ambiguity! It’s wonderfully infuriating. I have a feeling that when the first ‘season’/chunk of episodes ends in the not-too-distant-future, my head will explode.

Also, remember that so-called doomsday device? The one Nathaniel Pratt took the plans for when he ran to the surface? Evangeline calls it a “failsafe device”, and says that they may be able to use it to create a “new Earth”, but she also says that she prays she will “never be forced to use it”. Based on the description of this machine, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think it’s a space ship, but my theories are usually pretty far off the mark, so… it could also be a doomsday device. Or, it could make toast.

 One of the things I enjoyed most about this episode were the guest stars, which included Mur Lafferty, David Ault, and a host of others as the citizens of Leviathan. Speaking of voice actors, I discovered something in this episode that made me feel a little foolish: after two episodes of listening to Evangeline, I suddenly realized that she is voiced by the one and only Laura Post. (DP’s The Byron Chronicles, Star Trek: Lost Frontier, & Batman: No Man’s Land, among others, as well as a myriad of other projects including Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy.) I had to dig through the ‘Leviathan’ website to find the cast list, but it was worth it. I would have gone crazy otherwise.

So, quick wrap up: Leviathan is awesome; it has a plot that is twisty and wonderful, like a pretzel, or quite possibly a whole bag full of Twizzlers candy.

(I’ve noticed that I tend to compare ‘The Leviathan Chronicles” with food. This is because I really love food, and I really love ‘Leviathan’. I actually think I might love ‘The Leviathan Chronicles’ more, because unlike eating food, listening to ‘The Leviathan Chronicles’ all the time does not result in me needing to buy bigger pants.)

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Listen to The Leviathan Chronicles Episode 22: City Life by clicking here. Or, to get the show on the front of iTunes’ podcast page, download it there! Don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment, too…

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This review was brought to you by the number 22 and the letter L. One, one review, ah ah ah ah…

Yeah. I made a Sesame Street joke.

Batman: No-Man’s Land Has RETURNED!

Posted in Darker Projects with tags , on November 4, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

We seem to be living in a time of reboots and comebacks…for example, words cannot describe how excited I am to watch the ‘V’ reboot. I am even more speechlessly overjoyed over the comeback of Batman: No Man’s Land.  Yes, that’s right; Laura Post’s adaptation of the novel of the same name has returned after a nine-month hiatus with a brand-new installment.

I did a review on the entire series earlier (a lot earlier) but let me re-cap anyway: No Man’s Land, based on the book by the same name by Greg Rucka, tells the story of a Gotham City devestated by natural disasters and disease, cut off from the rest of the world, and worst of all…abandoned by Batman. The events following the beginning of what comes to be called ‘No Man’s Land’ are faithfully chronicled by The Oricle, aka Barbra Gordon, aka the former Batgirl, who was crippled by the Joker and now relies on a trusty network of spies to get her information. The baddies are out of Arkham Asylum and have divided up the city, and whatever’s left has been claimed by various gangs. Gotham has never been more in need of Batman, but he’s nowhere to be seen.

Episode 3 picks up 90 days after NML went into effect. The former officers of the GCPD, led by Commissioner Gordon, are reduced to the level of the street gangsters who have claimed various parts of the city. They are kept bust defending what territory they have and trying to stay alive, but after Gordon begins planning to take back Old Gotham, the ‘Blue Boys’ plot to spark a war between two rival gangs in the hopes that their enemies will wipe eachother out, thus making the takeover much smoother.  On top of all this, a new tag has been spotted graffitied onto several buildings. It isn’t just any gang sign, however: it’s in the shape of a bat. While the former officers wonder hopefully whether this means Batman has come back, Gordon becomes extremely angry. He’s harboring a grudge against Batman for abandoning them in the first place. Across the city, a pair of looters poaching on another gang’s territory are rescued from almost certain death after they’re caught red-handed, and their rescuer is, at first glance, Batman. The theives realize their mistake when one notices that ‘Batman’ is actually ‘Batgirl’, and that the Dark Knight hasn’t returned to Gotham after all.

Since I read the book over the summer before listining to the other episodes of No Man’s Land, I can’t help making comparisons between the two while I’m listening. It’s pretty easy to do, since this is a very truthful adaptation. That alone moves it up very high on the Ladder of Epic. Really, the only thing I don’t like about this series is that the episodes are very, very short… one clocks in at under 10 minutes, and other than the introductory episode, average length seems to be about 11-12 minutes. It makes me sad inside, since as soon as I start getting into the story, it goes to credits. Still, all things considered, No Man’s Land  meets all of the requirements on my List: True to source material? Check. Brilliant cast? Check. Shiny Music? Check. (And there’s one particular piece that plays right before the end of this episode that’s driving me CRAZY, because I recognize it but I don’t know what its FROM!) So, that makes three out of three checks on the List, leaving Batman: No Man’s Land as one of the shows you should be listening… even if it does update sporadically.

Think of it this way, however: If you got a piece of candy every day, would that candy taste as good as it would if you only got one piece every six months? Would you enjoy it as much when you got it? (If you answered yes to these questions, then you probably missed the point entirely.)

Listen to Batman: No Man’s Land Episode 3 by turning on the bat-signal here.

Gaia’s Voyages Episode 5 Parts 1 & 2 Episode Review! — It’s Heeeeere!

Posted in BrokenSea with tags , on November 2, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

I have a shirt. It’s blue. On it, there are words, and the words say, “Procrastinators Unite! (Tomorrow). I feel as though I should be wearing that shirt right now, because I am a procrastinator of epic proportions. See, the reason this review is a twofer is because…gulp… I never actually reviewed Part 1 when it came out back in the beginning of September.

Well, it all worked out, because now parts 1 and 2 can be united together in one review of shiny goodness and oh, the happiness overwhelms me in great joyful waves of joy. Sigh.  

So, without any more ado, here’s the review of Gaia’s Voyages, Episode 5: Grumbles and Jump Starts, Parts 1 & 2. (To simplify things, I’ll just review episode 5 as a whole, and pretend that it was never split into parts.)

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Let me begin by saying that one of my favorite things about this series is the the charcter Zeet (James Rossi), Gaia’s robot caretaker and devotee. Every time he makes an appearance, I have to pause the show so I can giggle madly. This episode was no exception — poor Zeet suffers a nervous breakdown after his robot staff goes on strike. Robots. On strike. Try to even think about that and keep a straight face. I dare you.

 This episode is called ‘Grumbles and Jump Starts’, and I can tell you straight away that there’s a whole lot of the first and really only one of the second…and that the characters do a little more than just grumble.

It seems like everyone has a bone to pick with someone, and they don’t tend to pick it very quietly or peacfully… and that’s good, because if all the characters decided to sit down and settle their differences over a nice pot of tea, the show wouldn’t be half as good and we’d all get very bored. Some not-so-nice but very shiny examples of lovely conflict are: By-the-books Commander Mycroft Beckert (David Ault) and the Vengari assassin Armarok (Mark Kalita) get into the first of many arguments. Armarok and his new underlings, the Firestorms, have a not-so-nice little confrontation in which leadership is questioned and ass is kicked. This was a very exciting episode, but the best part is that based on the few behind-the-seens peeks I’ve gotten into the future of ‘Gaia’, I can tell you that the actioness and excitement keeps getting better and better. (Notice the fact that I had to invent a new word, ‘actioness’, to describe this and future episodes. I’m quite proud of it.)

I abhor spoilers, and that certainly makes me a hypocrite because I include them in pretty much every review regardles of the fact that I usually put disclaimers at the front. I don’t know why I put those disclaimers there. I don’t read them. Why should I assume that anyone else does? Anyway, I suppose my point is that beyond this point, I will be discussing specific things that happen to a specific character, so if you haven’t listened to either part (although you’ve had plenty of time to listen to the first one, so I won’t apologise there), I suggest you stop reading right about here.

Another of my favorite characters who pretty much makes the show for me (Other than the two obvious ones, that is,) is little Natty. (Played by the talented Natasha Damroth.) One of the things that bothers me about other series and about audio drama in general is the fact that the child characters are very rarely played by actual children. I understand that it can be difficult to find a kid who fits the part, can enunciate, and has the attention span to record lines, but still, it’s kind of annoying to hear people pretending to be small children. This is one of the reasons I don’t like anime much. It is also one of the reasons I like ‘Gaia’ so much. The character Natty is actually voiced by a very talented 7-year-old girl, and she’s another one of those characters whom I usually have to stop the show and giggle over. I started liking this character even more in Episode 5, when she ceased to be an adorable and amusing plot point and became an important and pretty epic main character. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that I love the fact that a 7-year old, albeit a very special 7-year-old, saved the day pretty much on accident while everyone else failed. That makes me happy inside.

There’s another point I wish to make, and I feel odd focusing this entire review on the characters, but wow, do I love Mark Kalita as Armorak. He redefines the term “Creepy Badass”. I’d have to say that all in all, my favorite part about Gaia so far and this episode in general is the characters…and there are a lot of them to choose from. There are so many shiny examples of great writing and acting throuout, especially here in Episode 5. There’s some great talent here, both behind the scenes and in front of them. The only problem is, there are so many characters that it’s hard for me to keep track of them all. A new character will be introduced, and I won’t remember them the next time they start talking. I blame this partially on my poor memory and my tendancy to to do other things while listening to these shows, but for me, at least, the enormous cast somtimes gets tanged up in my head like shoelaces that have been victimized by little knot-tying creatures. That’s my only gripe about Gaia, and it’s small beans compared to the big picture.

Overall, I’m liking each new episode of ‘Gaia’ more than the one that came before… this show is absolutely nothing like what it’s made out to be in the trailer, and it’s heading in entirely strange, new, epic, creepy, and exciting directions.

To listen to Gaia’s Voyages Episode 5: Grumbles and Jump Starts, Parts 1 & 2, click this wonderfully lovely glowing link. –> This one. <– (In case there are any other wonderfully lovely glowing links around.)

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As soon as I manage to get The Robot With A Human Brain vs. The Insidious Octopoids to download properly, I think I might  be doing a quickie review for it later this week. I’m excited. I really am.