DM Blog 11: Year of the Monkey

monkey king

Happy Year of the Monkey.

You may or may not know that our show is physically based in Shanghai, China – the home of our producers Kungfu Komedy. This Sunday is the big day of the Spring Festival, with all the fireworks and TV shows happening that evening. Then the following week is a long public holiday. So we won’t release an episode on Wednesday 10th. don’t worry though, Episode 24 Wolf Bowling is reading to go for the week after, the 17th. Everyone needs a week where you don’t think about anything. I’ll be playing lots of Civilization: Beyond Earth. I’m big into playing the purity affinity and creating cities surrounded by domes and terrascapes, at the moment.

I also want to come back to Shannara Chronicles on MTV. As a reader of the book it’s based on, Elfstones of Shannara, and a D&D player, I really like it. If thirteen year old Andy Best in 1985, with his red box set, had seen this show it would have blown my mind. Critics are all over the spectrum on it but largely miss the point. The show successfully nails the look of the world, both with great looking sets and effects, and also with intelligence in direction, peppering in just the right amount of visual signs and scenes of the previous civilizations – our civilizations. Episode 6 is a case in point. A review over at the AV Club summarizes the episode as a pointless diversion. But to me, the episode is a perfect¬†episode¬†in a fantasy quest, or a D&D game. They climb a mountain pass to reach a destination but it is blocked by an abandoned fortress, the fortress is still occupied by the army torturer from wartime. After interacting with his story and defeating him, they have to get across a ravine while a monster catches up to them. It was great. Also, through the character of the torturer, they learn something about the elf King and the greater world. The review also singles out the opening, but when you see the rusting, abandoned childrens’ swing set it really evokes the past-in-the-future feel the show goes for.

Considering that the book started life with the standing of Tolkien fan fiction, the show has done an amazing job of bringing it to life and highlighting the parts of it that make it different.

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