In the hype of larger productions and bigger fanbases, it’s all too easy to completely miss out on less spoken of productions that are equally as good. With this seeming boom of Dungeons & Dragons webshows, it perhaps comes as no surprise that they suffer from the same thing—it’s definitely easy to fall in the shadow of amazing shows like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone. So today I bring you a beginner-friendly D&D webshow starring some of my favorite YouTubers and led by Wizards of the Coast’s own DM extraordinaire, Chris Perkins. Friends, readers, dim the lights, because it’s time for some Dice, Camera, Action.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, so I have the perfect web crush for us today. They Call Us Bruce is a fairly new podcast, but it’s a timely one: hosts Jeff Yang and Phil Yu started it in March of this year to talk about Asian-American issues in pop culture, just in time to catch up with the explosions of wrong that were Death Note, Iron Fist, and Ghost in the Shell. And ever since its inception, the podcast has only gotten better and more insightful in its commentary.
“A bunch of friends who might not be film experts, but sure do have funny opinions, watch bad movies and rag on them” is a podcasting trope by now, if such a thing can exist. How do you wade through the sea of cinematic chit-chat to find one you know will be good? That’s not actually a question I can answer, since I was lucky enough to stumble into Trash & Treasures sideways, but I can help by assuring you that Trash & Treasures is one worth checking out.
Trash & Treasures is where self-described “three weirdos”, Vrai, Dorothy, and Chris, watch movies and sometimes TV series that have been lost down the back of the pop culture couch. Maybe they’re a product of Disney’s awkward and edgy dark era where the company was low on funds and fighting with Don Bluth, maybe they’re an obscure single-release piece of queer action cinema, maybe they’re… just plain bad. Each episode is devoted to a different piece of media, and the trio discuss the plot, context and history of how this movie came to be and how they came to find it, and which parts of it are terrible and which parts are actually, maybe, kind of good.
Since I started watching Critical Role a few months ago, I have become quite obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons. I quickly realized that while playing D&D is a lot of fun, what I really wanted to be is a Dungeon Master. It unites some of my favorite creative outlets: writing, drawing, acting, and directing. Despite my enthusiasm, it seemed quite daunting at first because there appeared to be so many aspects to it, so I started reading the source books and searching the internet for tips and advice. There is a lot of great stuff out there, so this might become a series of sorts, and I want to start today by talking about one of my more obscure finds—a series of YouTube videos titled Dungeon Master 101 by Acreletae. She has a lot of great advice on the basics of DMing: from organizing your notes and planning strategies for sessions and campaigns to creating non-player characters and cities.
Once upon a time I was one of the many people trying to catch up with Critical Role. During this fantastical, entertaining slog (and it was a slog at times) fellow fan Noodle suggested to me that I take a different route with my catch up plans: instead of watching each 3+ hour episode, I read the summaries of the episodes instead. “What a perfectly logical solution!” I thought. While my stubbornness eventually saw me through the twenty-some episodes I was behind on, I ended up enjoying the site Noodle linked me to, Project Derailed, for its other nerdy content and reviews.
In mid-2016, the U.S. presidential election had just kicked into high gear with the announcement of Orange Cheeto Dust as the Republican presidential nominee, and I started looking for a comical podcast to take my mind off things. A friend of mine recommended The Adventure Zone, a podcast by the McElroy brothers, without really telling me what it was about. Mostly what I knew about the McElroys was that they were from my own home state and had some well-known podcasts, so I went in with absolutely no knowledge of the game they were playing, laughed at some jokes, and listened to an episode or so when I had the time. Before I knew it, I had somehow gone from “an ep whenever” to “three or four eps a day” because I was so invested in the story, and it’s definitely one of the few things that keeps me laughing even in this news vortex of despair. Now that The Adventure Zone is hurtling towards a sure-to-be hilarious and heartrending finale, I feel like it’s past time to try to get some of you to jump on this train with me.
Minor spoilers below!
Harry Potter is a pillar of civilization by this point. What began as a series of children’s/young adult novels is now a virtual empire, with eight movies, several spinoff books, movies of the spinoff books, theme parks, and the website Pottermore to ensure that the franchise is constantly alive and being added to. Given the impact this series has had since its release in the ‘90s, you’d be hard pressed to find someone in the Western world who hasn’t been influenced by it—and it would be nigh-impossible to find someone who hasn’t read the books that have shaped a generation.
You’d think that, but you would be wrong—Mike Schubert, a twenty-four-year-old American man, has never read the Harry Potter novels that so defined the childhood of his peers. And so, in a grand experiment, he’s sitting down to read them all one after the other, and discuss them with his Potterhead friends in this week’s web crush: the Potterless podcast.