Archive for The Byron Chronicles

The Byron Chronicles Season 2 Finale, AKA: Can I Start Crying Now?

Posted in Darker Projects with tags , on December 10, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

I make jokes about being at a loss for words when it comes to writing reviews for The Byron Chronicles. Those jokes are based in truth, but are still slight exagerations. I’m never at a loss for words, and yet it’s taken me quite a while to figure out what to say in this review. It’ll probably be quite disjointed and make only a little sense, because even an entire day later, my brain is still going up and down and around and around like a frog on a trampoline in a dryer. Oh, and the frog is drunk, blind, and made of rubber.

The Byron Chronicles: The Hour of Portland begins with widespread chaos and news anchors being devoured, and pretty much gets better from there. Byron goes after Chris, leaving Dmitri’s vampires and Katherine’s Order operatives to protect the city. As soon as he leaves, however, Katherine decides to pull out and take the Order’s favorite approach to solving problems: bombs. Yes, just like in ‘The Taint’, the Order’s troops plan to firebomb Portland to remove the threat once and for all.

Meanwhile, Dracula is being a bad person, trying to make Chris feel better about the fact that she’s about to facilitate the rise of the greatest evil known to man by telling her that she’ll be a martyr, revered and seen almost as a goddess. Obviously, this doesn’t make her feel better at all, since…it still means she’s going to die.

Meanwhile, Byron encounters a dramatic pointing figure which dramatically points…and then Slate turns up. Good old Slate, Steward of Winter, who never interferes and always stays out of the way, has finally decided to stop playing Switzerland. He finally admits that the concept of brotherly love exists for him, and that he actually cares about Byron a great deal. He says that he doesn’t want to lose Byron, since they’ve already lost both parents…and a sister. Wait, rewind quickly. A sister? Which one? Who died? This makes me sad inside. Anyway, though, I’d like to point out this scene in particular and say this it is one of the best in the episode. We’re used to Slate being pretty uptight and all, “Follow the rules, gah!”, but now, he is, in a word, badass. I was a little bit in shock hearing it, and afterwards, I went back and listened again. I like Slate.  This scene also raised some questions…as in, who is this mysterious pointing figure, what is he pointing mysteriously at, and why won’t he talk to Byron? Either he’s extremely important, or he’s the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come who wandered onto the wrong set. I’m inclined to think it’s the former…

Now, for the instance of most surpreme awesomeness: Did I mention the fact that there’s a sword fight? A. Sword. Fight. Well, a sword-and-poisioned-metal-spike fight with a side of insults, but still. That made me happy on the inside. I will now move on to the next paragraph, because I think the words “Byron has a sword fight with Dracula” say everything that needs to be said. (Unless you add the words, “so Byron can stop Dracula’s Doomsday device.” right after them.)

Meanwhile, the Order is setting up their bomb, Dmitri makes a treaty with Lycan leader Ryuk after saving his life from a Revenant, and Felix is mean to Katherine, who definintly deserves it. This is all very important stuff, but I’ll come back to it later.

Dracula buggers off. Byron tries to save Chris, but he’s too late. She’s become a part of the machine opening the portal, and there is no way to free her. No matter what he does, she’s going to die. So, he has to kill her in order to stop Leviathan from entering the world.

Wait.

Stop.

Rewind.

Let’s get that one more time, ’cause…I don’t think I heard it right.

Byron is stuck between the hardest of all hard places (as in, say, a mountain made of adamantium-covered dimonds, reinforced with titanium) and a rock the size of the entire universe. He has to kill Chris. THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR HOW SAD THIS MAKES ME! As I mentioned before, I have formed emotional attatchments to these characters over the last two years. It also makes me sad, because its one more person Byron cares about that he’s had to kill.

Oh, one more reason it makes me sad: Laura Post is brilliant. I’m going to miss Laura Post. Let’s everyone give Laura Post a big round of applause for being awesome as Chris Sparrow, and just in general.

Oh, and one more reason why this makes me sad. I mentioned somewhere up there that Dmitri and Ryuk formed a tentative alliance against Dracula.  They killed Branlaven and chucked his head at Dracula (Yay, happy…) and at the end of the episode, the two formerly opposing leaders made plans for a treaty. Dmitri even made a comment about humans, Vampires, and Lycans working together to stop the evil. Here’s what this has to do with the sadness of Chris dying: Byron had been trying to make a new Rome in Portland, where all the races lived together in cooperation. That happened in this episode. So, in a way, he suceeded…but at the same time, he failed to protect Chris. Succeess and failure at the same time. I think there’s even a mathematical equation for that: Enormous Failure + Small Success = Enormous Failure.

Now, I kind of knew Chris was going to die — I had some theories, I asked some questions, I took Piece A and put it next to Piece B, etc… It made me sad, but I’ve had almost three months to get used to the fact that Chris Sparrow was going to die. Did that mean I wasn’t crying when I listened to the end of this episode? No. I was definintly crying. There were tears. Everywhere.

But wait, there’s more! Believe it or not, this was not the big shocker moment in this episode. Hoo, no. Writers Eric Busby and Mark D. Wrenchild aren’t satisfied with pouring three doses of liquid aweome into our brains. They need a fourth, too.

Byron takes Chris’ body back to the tower. There is a moment of extreme sadness and contemplation, we get a glimpse of how wonderfully dark Season 3 is going to be, and then the whole thing is interrupted by a Creepy Gloating Cloaked Guy. He starts talking and being creepy and cloaked and gloating and then, all of a sudden, right at the end, right before the dramatic music and the credits…

Oh, by the way. He’s Leviathan. And he will have his vengence.

I’m sorry. What?

Here I am over the course of the last year or so, thinking Leviathan is, in this order, no jokes at all: invisible, a giant space whale, Lillith, Cthulhu, a group of immortals in an underwater city, a giant space creature again, or Logan.

Leviathan is none of these things. Leviathan is a Creepy Gloating Cloaked Guy.

My brain has now been twisted into a shape rather resembling a pretzel that’s been put through a wringer washer. (i.e, it’s twisty and flat.) Thank you, oh Great Writers, for completely disabling my motor functions for round about five minutes, during which time I sat on the couch opening and closing my mouth like a surprised goldfish confronted with a piece of particularly chewy gum, trying to make a sound that didn’t resemble “Aaaaaaaaarghbpfdbsfisbbv.”

I think that I have nothing further to say.

Oh, wait. Yes I do.

1. My brain. It exploded.

2. I’m going to listen to the episode and again and again and again and—

3. Thank you so very much, cast and crew of The Byron Chronicles. All the writers, mixers, actors…everyone. You’re all brilliant and wonderful. You’ve also destracted me from finals studying, but I can lay most of that blame on the shoulders of Hulu and Monty Python, so nevermind that. This show is quite possibly at the top of my list of favorite things, and now, it’s been stuck there with industrial-strength cement. Made out of adamantium.

This story may be ending soon, but my obsession with all things Byron is not. Oh, and by the way: You guys got three or four standing ovations from my end alone. I’ve gotten my friends hooked. So, congratulations on a job well done. I wish I had more thumbs, so I could put them up.

I can’t wait for Season 3.

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Download or stream The Byron Chronicles: The Hour of Portland, the wonderful Season 2 finale episode, by clicking here.

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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.

 —

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! 

Halloween Review Spectaculathon! DP, BSAP, & MORE!

Posted in 19 Nocturne Boulevard, BrokenSea, Darker Projects with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

 Halloween is my favorite holiday. It has everything: Free candy, the chance to dress up in a strange costume and frighten people,  free candy, 2 episodes of The Byron Chronicles in the same week, free candy, costume parties, free candy… you get the picture.  The other thing I like about the Halloween season that I only truly started noticing this year is the holiday specials, both on TV and in the audio drama world.  Yes, last year I was in paroxysms of glee over the Byron Chronicles special, but I didn’t know how many other similarly brilliant things were out there.

So, I’m going to ignore SyFy’s ’30 Days of Halloween’, and I’m going to somehow manage to ignore Nathan Fillion dressing up as Malcom Reynolds on ‘Castle’, (at least for the moment,) and focus on a few of my favorite things: Halloween, Audio Drama, and some good old-fashioned creepiness.

The Byron Chronicles Halloween Special: Dead Time (DP)

Last year’s TBC Halloween special featured a demonic 2-way plot and some ridiculously quotable bits of dialogue, but I think this episode might top it. While attending a live performance of a staged show called Psychic Detectives, Byron encounters an actual demonic spirit from his past in the midst of all the elaborate fakery.

This episode has it all: Evil creepiness, Byron being badass, and, in the trend of the last few Season 2 episodes, a flashback. It also has Leviathan Chronicles author Christof Laputka making a cameo appearance, which bumps this episode up a couple pegs on the Epic-O-Meter ™. They also reference Stephen King. Oh, speaking of references and of things that make my little bibliophilic heart feel all warm and fuzzy, something was mentioned in this episode that I’ve been waiting to hear ever since I started listening to this show two years ago: “My name is Byron, and no, I don’t recite poetry.” Thank you for that, episode writer Mark D. Wrenchild. I like you a lot.

So, for the Stephen King reference, and the aforementioned line about the other Lord Byron (the one who did write poetry,) ‘Dead Time’ joins the ranks of my favorite episodes. The fact that the story is very well-written and well-acted helps, too.
Now… bring on that Christmas special!

To listen to Dead Time, ring the doorbell here.

Kolchak the Night Stalker — All Saints Archive (BSAP)

I don’t just celebrate Halloween on October 31st; I celebrate it for the entire month leading up to the special night. I’ve even been known to start making my costume as early as September. Even August. The nice, creepy people over at BrokenSea Audio Productions and I are alike in this respect: We know that one day simply isn’t enough to get all of the Halloween out of our systems. BSAP started the celebration on October 1st with a host of Halloween madness, including the introduction of a new miniseries, Kolchak The Night Stalker — All Saints Archive, based on the cult tv series that inspired The X-Files. . Since there’s so much Halloween goodness goin’ on at BSAP, I’m not even going to try to review everything. Instead, I’ll just point you in the right direction and stand back…

To listen to Kolchak — All Saints Archive, get your bag of candy ready and say, “Trick or Treat!”

If you’re in need of more Halloween goodness, try Zombie Cheerleaders 2: Pom-Poms of Death, and/or The Robot With A Human Brain Vs The Insidious Octpoids, which has the greatest title of all time.** The Insidious Octopoids can be found at Brokensea.com, while Zombie Cheerleaders 2 comes to us courtesy of www.grindhouseaudio.com.

  —

Making Book (19 Nocturne Boulevard)

This is by no means a new release, but I think it deserves mention in this Halloween Review Spectaulathon for two very important reasons: 1) It’s creepy beyond words, and 2) Every single thing I’ve listened to from these people has been brilliant, and it’s about time I started reviewing some of it!

‘Making Book’ tells the story of a woman who steals an artifact of unspeakable power in exchange for money to pay off her brother’s gambling debts. The artifact in question is a mysterious book that, when opened,  releases horrible, murderous creatures that devour whomever they see. At first, the book seems like the perfect way to resolve her brother’s problems, but he soon discovers the dark truth about using the book instead of using common sense.

While listening, I kept expecting that one guy from Stephen Sommer’s first Mummy  movie to jump out and shriek, “NO! You must not read from the book!” Well, he didn’t, but that’s ok because I did it plenty of times myself. I kept alternating between being freaked out and mildly grossed out, and potential listeners should be aware that my tolerance for grossness is very high. This story is very graphic, with plenty of squelchy sound effects.

 To listen to Making Book and other great offerings from 19 Nocturne Boulevard, knock on this door… if you dare. (You’ll have to scroll down a bit…)

Gothik (Darker Projects)

There’s just something about the word ‘Cthulhu’… it’s fun to say, once you actually figure out how to do it. It’s one of those words that just begs to be screeched out in a public place, along with  “KHAAAN!” and “SNAAAKE!” I’ve never actually read any of H.P Lovecraft’s books, something I will soon remedy, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed Darker Projects’ ‘Gothik’ any less.

Again, this isn’t anything new. It’s actually Halloween Special 2007. I think it was maybe supposed to be the first in a series, but nothing came of it. It works very well as a standalone episode, so that’s perfectly fine. It’s one hour of creepiness, HPL references, and noir elements. Oh, and did I mention the cast? No? Probably because it would take me all day. It includes Laura Post, Mark Bruzee, David Ault, Mark Kalita, Fiona Conn, Judah Friese, Elie Hirschman, Eric Busby, Chris Snyder, Shire Smith…and many, many more. It’s worth listening to for the cast alone, although it’s got a perfectly brilliant plot. It also goes well with popcorn.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn: Listen to Gothik by descending into the crypt.

A Few More Halloween Recommendations…

Age of the Zombies (Necropolis Studio Productions): The very creepy high-quality  tale of the zombie apocalypse. I just started this one myself… brilliant. (2009 Parsec Awards finalist!) Click here.

Alive Inside (Darker Projects): A creepy, gory tale of a band of survivors making their way across a zombie-infested United States in search of the cure to the undead virus. (Note: Contains strong language & adult content.) Click here.

Underwood & Flinch (by Mike Bennett): U&F tells the story of a vampire named Underwood and his caretaker, Mr. Flinch. I’ve only listened to the first episode so far, but that’s enough for me to say that it’s a brilliant show and a fresh imagining of a familiar genre. Click here.

Autumn (Darker Projects): Based on the novel by David Moody. For the most part, it’s your basic zombie survival formula, but it’s so well adapted and brilliantly acted that it doesn’t really matter.  Click here. (It’s much better than the recent indie film adaptation…because it stars David Ault and Mark Kalita, to name a few.)

Well, that’s all I’ve got, so I’ll leave you to enjoy this lovely All Hallow’s Eve… The air is cool, the sky is darkening, and fallen leaves rustle in a  sudden breeze… Unless you live in L.A or something, where it’s probably warm and horribly sunny (if you can see the sky) and the leaves don’t die and fall off like they’re supposed to.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from THE OMNIPOTENT BLOG LADY!


The Asterisks!

Lord Byron (George Gordon), was a 18th century English writer and poet. The literary stereotype he created has become known as the ‘Byronic Hero’, a category DP’s Lord Byron definitely falls under.

** The second greatest title of all time belongs to the Dark Matter episode “Zombie Pumpkinheads from Outer Space!” , which I believe is the first Darker Projects Halloween Special…

 

The Byron Chronicles 2×07: Dracula, Part 2 AKA The Beginning of the End

Posted in Darker Projects with tags , on October 25, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

WARNING: SPOILERS AND SOME WILD THEORIES MAY OCCUR PAST THIS POINT…
… although I’ll try to keep both to a minimum.

——————————————

The Byron Chronicles Season 2 started a little over a year ago, back in September 2008. I was overjoyed, because after listening to the Season 1 finale, I honestly believed that the show was over and done with. Now that a year has gone by and Season 2 is rapidly approaching its close, I’ve realized something that I never really consciously thought about before: I’ve become very emotionally attached to these characters.

It happens with pretty much all of the shows I follow, on television or otherwise. After over two years of rapt listening and rabid obsessing over The Byron Chronicles and related characters, I’ve come to the conclusion that if this season ends the way I think it’s going to end, I’ll be in tears.  More on that later, though, down in the section marked “wild theories”; I just felt I should bring it up right in the beginning, so that later when I mention being emotionally traumatized while listening to Dracula, Part 2, you’ll understand why.

The episode begins pretty much where Part 1 left off; Chris, Byron and Katharine are more or less prisoners of Demitri and company,  and are locked up in a room waiting, as we are, to find out what’s going to happen next. Since there’s nothing else to do, it’s the perfect time for some backstory, whether Byron likes it or not. At Katherine’s insistence, he reluctantly continues the story of his encounter with Mina Dracula in Bar Harbor, Maine.  

This definitely an episode I would recommend listening to without looking at the cast list first, because even a few nice little shockers will be a bit spoiled. Also, reading this before listening is a great way to accomplish the same thing, but hey; I warned you.

There are a couple characters that are introduced and re-introduced in this episode, and both instances caused my head to spin a little, like a ballerina playing with a top on a merry-go-round.  Clym Angus Dodds joins the cast as the most famous vampire of all time: Count Dracula himself.  I was thinking that since they’d already introduced Mina Harker as Dracula that the Count himself wouldn’t actually be making an appearance. Let’s chalk that up on the list of things I’ve assumed about this season that have ended up being completely wrong, shall we? Another semi-familiar character also pops back up in this episode; Branlaven, that melodramatic, insane, rush-manufacturing sewer-dwelling vampire who made his first appearance way back in Season 1 Episode 3 turns up as one of Dracula’s followers.

The way so many seemingly incidental characters are making surprise reappearances, it makes me wonder who’ll be next: Caduceus? Max the demon? There have been vague rumors that Jo Penny will be coming back in some respect, although I’m not sure how that’ll work since she was killed in the season premiere… but getting killed didn’t stop Katherine from coming back, so we’ll see.

The overall impression I got from this episode was that it was a bit like The Two Towers:  It’s epic in its own right, but we all know that it’s really just building up to the big, shiny fanfare that’s sure to follow. There’s a story to be told, and there’s space for a few surprises and epic moments, but it’s really all leading in to the conclusion. That doesn’t make it any less brilliant, mind you–it’s just the way it felt while listening to it.

Now, this is the point at which the wild theories and my emotional trauma begin. I have spent the second half of the second season convinced that Chris Sparrow is going to die. It seems logical, since according to series creator and writer Eric Busby, Season 3 is going to be much, much darker… and what better way to make Byron turn to the dark side than to kill one of the few people in creation he actually cares about?  This theory was reinforced further for me by the very last line of the episode; as soon as Byron explained why Dracula was coming to kill him, it was like someone lit up a big neon sign which read, “R.I.P CHRIS SPARROW, YOU WILL BE MISSED.” For now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see, but I know I’ll be keeping a box of tissues handy. As I mentioned before, I’m very emotionally attached to these characters.

 So, in short, listening to this episode made me even more excited for the next episode (and the holiday specials, but that’s another story for another time), but it also made me a little sad inside. For once, I’m actually hoping that my theory is completely off the mark…

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Listen to The Byron Chronicles 2×07: Dracula, Part 2 by clicking the following link, or by going through the middlemen known as iTunes and the Zune Marketplace. THIS IS A LINK. CLICK IT.

The Byron Chronicles 2×06 : Dracula, Part 1

Posted in Darker Projects with tags , on September 29, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS EPIC SPOILERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

—-

I am finding it very, very difficult to type a coherent review of this episode, but as usual, I’m going to do my best.

While listening to shows such as The Leviathan Chronicles, Once Upon a Time in Vegas, The Section 31 Files, and The Byron Chronicles, I sometimes find it necessary to pause the podcast, stand up, and run around in circles. This is a natural self-defense mechanism developed by my brain, and used only as a last resort to keep itself from exploding. As I was listening to The Byron Chronicles 2×06 : Dracula, Part 1, the aforementioned defense mechanism kicked in many, many times.

The episode  is set in the summer of 1916, towards the end of the First World War. After saving the world from the forces of evil yet again, Byron (who isn’t calling himself ‘Byron’ quite yet) goes to the town of Bar Harbor, Maine to rest and heal. However, since the universe obviously hates  him, it isn’t long before his vacation is interrupted…

In typical Byron Chronicles fashion, this episode answered some questions but just ended up making the listener ask even more. For instance: The truth about what Byron and his siblings actually are is partially revealed. (I figured it out back in May after a finding out while doing a crossword puzzle that ‘Aestival’ means ‘ ‘involving summer’.) Still, even though it now seems pretty clear that the four siblings represent the four seasons, it turns out that this wasn’t always the case; they were chosen for these roles. But… chosen by whom? And what were they before?

Another interesting thing this episode turned up: Elves. Yes, that’s right. Elves. Byron’s history involves elves, and a strange name that I wish I could spell so I could include it here. (Note: If anyone knows how to spell the name the elves called Byron, I’d really appreciate it…) I remember this name turning up as far back as Season 1, Episode 1: The Taint. It was in the Watch’s records, as quoted by Agent Katherine. Personally, I’m glad to finally find out what that was about.  Elves. Wow. Just when I thought I’d seen it all, I get another shock to the brain. I should be used to it by now… but no.

Slate, Byron’s older brother, turns up again.While Byron shows a colder, more impersonal attitude in this episode, Slate seems a little more talkative, both about their pasts and their futures. Byron’s refusal to follow the rules of the universe seems to be what continuously gets him into trouble, and gets the people around him killed. He also refuses to believe that the future is set in stone, hence his attempts to change things. Slate also mentions the mysterious coming conflict (presumably involving Leviathan?) that we’ve been hearing about for so long. Apparently, not even God knows what the outcome will be. It could end with the destruction of all creation…including Byron and his siblings. From Slate’s point of view, this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, because it would mean the end of their ‘punishment’.

Hold on a second.

Their punishment?

We found out in ‘Nicholas’ that Byron was being punished for something that he’d done in his past… but it isn’t just him. It’s Slate, too, and possibly his other siblings as well. I’d really like to find out more about that one.

Another interesting revelation: Byron is continuously changing his name. Slate is always Slate, and he’s annoyed by Byron’s refusal to use his real name. I’d kind of like to know what his actual name is, but I know I’ll always refer to him as ‘Byron’, because it’s fitting.*

Speaking of changes… (another brilliant segue. I’m good at these!) One of my favorite things about having marathons of The Byron Chronicles is noticing how the title character changes over the course of the series. In ‘The Taint’, he’s cold and completely self-serving, but by ‘A Code of Conduct’ and especially ‘A Time of Returning’, he’s started to show genuine concern for others. Well, for Chris, at any rate. In this episode, which takes place long before the rest of the series, Byron is still acting like a complete jerk, for lack of a better word. While Slate seems ‘nicer’ (if Slate can be called ‘nice’), Byron is anything but.

And NOW: I’ve saved the best for last, because it completely blew my mind. I like to talk. I talk a lot. In fact, it can be argued that I very rarely shut up. I want you to know this so that you can truly  appreciate it when I say that the end of this episode rendered me speechless.

What’s the standard, accepted image of Dracula? Well, Bela Lugosi’s version, complete with protruding fangs, slicked-back hair, cape, etc., including the whole “I vant to suck your blood” accent. Most of all, the traditionally accepted image of Dracula involves the Count being…well, a Count. Not a Countess. That was why the end of this episode came as such a shock to me. I saw it in the cast list : Melissa D. Johnson as Mina Harker. I heard it in the episode. Mina Harker. Then…then she had to go and say, “but my followers call me Dracula”. I sat in my seat for about five minutes with  my mouth opening and closing while I made shocked noises and waved my hands around. Mina Harker. Dracula. Apart from continuing to reference one of my favorite books, DP has put a new spin on the classic vampire. Brilliant.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I love this show. I am continuously surprised, amused, frightened, and entertained by The Byron Chronicles. This was true two years ago, and this most recent episode proves that the same holds true today. Each episode of Season 2 has been better than the one before… and that’s why I’m more excited than usual for the next month’s installment.

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Download The Byron Chronicles 2×06: Dracula, Part 1 HERE . Or, get it from iTunes. You know the drill.

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* I’m not sure how the character Byron got his name, but when THIS was discussed in English class last year, I had to wonder…

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Next: Reviews of Lost Frontier and Gaia are still coming, I promise! Look for them sometime this week!

The Byron Chronicles: The Coming Storm – AKA: “Did They Just Say What I Think They Just Said?”

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

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Byron Chronicles is my favorite Darker Projects show by far, and I have something of a problem with reviewing it without bias. I’m going to try my best, though.

I’m not going to lie; at first, I wasn’t too sure about whether this episode was absolutely brilliant or a swing and a miss, and I was leaning towards the latter.  Maybe it was the introduction of the new characters and a new story arc, maybe it was the fact that I was still getting used to the show’s 180-degree turn into unfamiliar territory, but whatever the reason, my first response to The Coming Storm wasn’t one of love at first sight. I guess I was so used to the focus being on Edmund and Leviathan throughout the rest of this season’s episodes that this abrupt paradigm shift kind of caught me off guard. That, however, is something you’d think I would have learned about Darker Projects  by now; what they do is so different, so unlike anything you’ve ever heard before that when they whip out something like this, you’re caught completely unprepared. Nothing is what it seems; not only is this true for The Byron Chronicles, but for Darker Projects itself.

The only problem I had with it was the fact that the beginning minute or so with Byron and Cullen Tate talking in the sewers was completely unrelated to the rest of the episode.  I remember listening to it about five thousand times when it was released back in April as the Season 2 preview and thinking that it was absolutely brilliant, and it was a tiny bit disappointing to find out that the rest of this long-anticipated episode had nothing whatsoever to do with the first few minutes. Again, I need to learn to expect the unexpected from DP, because they hardly ever do what you think they’re going to do. This short little opening scene is necessary, though; it’s a segue between the events that have dominated the focus of the series for the last five episodes and this new story arc, which I’ll return to later. It’s also a brilliant piece of writing, and one of my favorite moments from the series.

I liked the fact that a few old faces turned up in this episode, including Agent Katharine from way back in the series premiere, The Taint. Sometimes, I wish that Darker Projects wouldn’t post the cast lists directly beneath the download link and live feed on their website, because it gives a lot away; personally, I try not to look too closely at the credits before I listen. That’s how the series finale of The Section 31 Files was ruined for me, and I think that this episode would have had a far greater impact on me if I hadn’t seen Chris’ and Katherine’s names listed. However, her re-appearance was still something of a shocker. Chris is the one who asks the question we’re all wondering about: Didn’t she, I don’t know, get eaten by zombies, or something? Well, yes and no…

Another somewhat less familiar character who makes a surprise re-appearance is Sam, the barkeeper at Dante’s, an establishment catering to humans and the other races alike. Now, you might be asking, “Who’s Sam? What’s Dante’s? This has never been in The Byron Chronicles before!” Actually, you’re absolutely right. This character really hasn’t ever been in The Byron Chronicles; not officially, at any rate.  You may or may not be familiar with an episode from the Darker Projects series Night Terrors; it was called ‘Byron’s Tale’, and serves as a prequel to the events of the proper series. The short story details why Logan was after Byron. In this story, Byron finds Lilith at Dante’s, and this is where the character of Sam makes his brief appearance.

Now, before you go rushing off to download ‘Byron’s Tale’, which is what I did when I heard about it, I feel I should let you know that it’s really not that good. Actually, it’s bloody awful. Not the writing, which is awesome, but the acting, which isn’t. This is from the earlier days of Darker Projects, and, well, production values weren’t as high. Plus, you won’t hear any familiar voices—not even David Ault’s. Yes, that’s right. Somebody else is playing Byron. (Ironically, Byron is voiced here by Tom Davis, who also voiced Logan in another DP short: Devil’s Due: A Polite Conversation.)  I’m not going to stop you from downloading ‘Byron’s Tale’, but just remember, I did warn you…

Speaking of Chris and reappearances, I am extremely delighted to note that Laura Post, who was the voice of Chris up until the episode ‘Autumn Twilight’, has returned to the role. Due to conflictions, Laura Post was sadly unable to record for the episodes ‘Autumn Twilight’ and ‘Autumn Dawn’. The part was played by Melissa D. Johnson, who tried her best to fill the enormous shoes left for her. This is extremely unfortunate; those two episodes were great, but they would have been so much better with the proper cast. Hopefully, all of that is in the past now that Laura Post has returned to take her rightful place as Chris Sparrow. Welcome back!

This brings me to the only other thing I found strange about this episode. Anyone who listened to the last few minutes of ‘Autumn Dawn’ knows that due to his desire to keep Chris safe, Byron told her that he didn’t care about her and that he didn’t want to see her again. Did I mention that this is right after Chris told him she loved him? You’d think after parting on those terms, their meeting in ‘The Coming Storm’ would have a little more tension, especially since Cullen Tate reported in the beginning of the episode that Chris wasn’t feeding or even getting out of bed. Other than some very awkward moments, however, Chris and Byron’s reunion shows no sign that any of the aforementioned events ever happened. Maybe it’s the fact that they aren’t in friendly company, but no mention is made to the events of ‘Autumn Dawn’. In fact, Chris seems perfectly fine, and their relationship seems to go back to what it was in Season 1. Huh.

A few interesting details popped up in this episode: In the beginning, Byron alludes to the fact that being mortal is something that has happened to him before, a long time ago. He also reveals that he has lost track of how old he actually is, joking that he might be ‘due for retirement soon’. It is also revealed that he helped the European coven of vampires draw up the official rules regulating vampire’s interactions with humans: the Masquerade Pact. (One of my personal favorite moments from this episode is when Byron also claims that he helped Moses with the 10 Commandments, and that the original list had included 14 commandments until Byron suggested cutting it down to a ‘nice, round number’.)

Another detail mentioned in passing was equally intriguing, and I wish there had been time to expand on it more. When Byron goes to meet with Demitri, the leader of the European coven, the clandestine meeting takes place in an abandoned high school. As the group walks through the deserted hallways to the auditorium for the meeting, Byron says that the school is haunted by the spirits of people who’ve died at his hands. After the not-so-pleasant walk down memory lane we witnessed in the Starlight Dreams, I have a renewed curiosity about Byron’s past. It seems the more we learn, the less we know, and I’m really hoping that this is something that will be touched on again in a later episode. I’d also like to know why all of those ghosts are haunting a high school…

At the beginning of this review, I mentioned a head-spinning plot twist. Again, let me remind you that if you haven’t yet listened to ‘The Coming Storm’ (which you should have, since it’s been out for three whole days!) you are about to get the living daylights spoilered out of you. Consider yourself warned…

There is an instance in this episode where Byron quotes a famous line from an equally famous novel while mocking the overly formal and melodramatic way in which both the vampires and the Order speak.  When he said, “Welcome to my house, Come freely, go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring “, the bibliophile in me jumped up and shrieked “DRACULA QUOTE!” while the little ironic voice in my mind whispered about how funny it would have been if Byron had actually met the Count.

 About two minutes later, I found out that he had.

Not only that, but Dracula is actually going to be in The Byron Chronicles, trying to start a world-wide war between the Lycans and the Vampires.

Anyone who claims that they saw that one coming is a liar.

 So, despite my early misgivings, I have now come to the conclusion that The Byron Chronicles Season 2, Episode 5: The Coming Storm is brilliant, and that every time I think I have this show figured out , I’ll find out that I actually don’t.  I’m eagerly anticipating next month’s installment, and I’m extremely curious to see how this new twist will be incorporated into the plot.

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Click here to listen to The Coming Storm: www.darkerprojects.com/byronchronicles.php

The Byron Chronicles Season 2 : ‘Starlight Dreams’

Posted in Darker Projects with tags on August 3, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

It’s almost Autumn, and that means… NEW SHOWS! And I don’t mean new shows in the television department: I’m talking about Darker Projects. Of course.

The first of Fall 2009’s run of new material is a ‘teaser’ of sorts for one of Darker Project’s best shows: The Byron Chronicles.

Before we get to the review, though, here’s a brief synopsis of ‘The Byron Chronicles’ for those of you who are lucky enough to be hearing it for the first time:

Set primarily in the city of Portland, Oregon, The Byron Chronicles is the story of a mysterious immortal called Byron who, despite his apparent apathy towards human affairs, continuously finds himself caught up in all sorts of problems as he works towards an unknown objective of his own. This  imaginative series by Darker Projects creator  Eric Busby feels like a mix of Constantine, Angel, Doctor Who, and Supernatural, and manages to combine drama, humor, horror, and old-fashioned science fiction goodness into something completely original.

Check it out! http://www.darkerprojects.com/byronchronicles.php 

And now, for a review of the latest episode — ‘Starlight Dreams’:

Bigger isn’t necessarily better: This  episode manages to almost but not quite answer a few of the show’s biggest questions, introduce an important plot point to be developed in the rest of the season, re-introduce a major antagonist, and remind us all of why we liked the show in the first place…and it does it all in 11.5 minutes. That’s about half the length of a normal episode, by the way.  Oh, and did I mention that two new characters make their debuts? (Or is it three?) 99% of the plot may be set in a dream (something that often fails on TV, let alone in audio drama) but Starlight Dreams is delivered with trademark wit, a few ‘popcorn scares’, and the great writing we’ve come to expect from the talented people at DP.

I can’t say anything else without giving it all away, so just go and listen to The Byron Chronicles: Starlight Dreams and see for yourself!

Download FREE from the Zune Marketplace or iTunes store…

…or from the DP website: http://www.darkerprojects.com/byronchronicles.php

That’s all for now – Next up, a review of the newly… ‘regenerated’ version of Darker Projects’ fan work “Doctor Who” … (that joke didn’t work as well on screen as it did in my head. Oh well. )