Thrashtopia & Adulting in the Apocolypse

The Geek & Sundry network, now famous for things like Tabletop and Sagas of Sundry and of course, Critical Role, has a wide variety of shows on it’s joint project with the Nerdist, Project Alpha or just Alpha for short. If you’re only watching Critical Role on YouTube, you’ll have noticed that it’s delayed a week reaching there, despite being livestreamed on Twitch weekly. At the same time it’s on Twitch, it’s also live on Alpha. In fact many of their Twitch shows are on Alpha. I’m not here to sell you on Alpha (specifically) but I do want to tell you about one of my favorite shows they’ve done, singular to Alpha (not Twitch) and wholly unique.

Thrashtopia is a weekly talk show with host, Whitney Moore, that takes place in a post-apocalyptic dystopian bunker. Whitney, with the help of her best pal, Bunker Bot (played by Jason Charles Miller of many a G&S, project as well as lead singer of Godhead) host guests each week in the bunker to talk about how the apocalypse is going beyond the bunker.

Whitney is being cared for by Bunker Bot, who both makes sure she’s eating enough and isn’t lounging and wasting away mentally or physically. In addition, inside this strange show, Whitney hosts a segment called “Adulting in the Apocalypse” which I believe you can now view all of on YouTube, though Season 1 of Thrashtopia has ended.

[Pretty sure this is the first Adulting in the Apocalypse segment.]

I love this silly little show so much. It has this like really throwback vibe that makes me think that this would’ve been one of the shows playing on television in the early eighties. Like it’s got this great post-punk, metal attitude with a cheery host and it all sort of reminds me of movies like UHF. It’s not taking itself too seriously. Which I adore.

And of course, at the end of every episode, Whitney (and usually her guest as well) have to “mosh it out” for two minutes. They dance around as a cap on whatever topic the episode was about. And while it does have this sort of innocent vibe going on in the first few episodes, it takes a sharp turn pretty quickly. It’s not for kids. (Not even for cool babies.)

Alpha does have a monthly fee if you decide to sign-up for the service. And while I loathe that channels like CBS have their own paid app, I’ve recommended Alpha to just about everyone I know at this point. If nerdy shit is your thing, there’s something for you to watch on Alpha. Believe me this won’t be the first thing I write about non-CR Alpha shows. This isn’t even my favorite one. But it’s really, really unique and if you haven’t signed up for Alpha before you can do so now and watch free for 30 days. That’s worth it. And more than plenty enough time to watch all of Thrashtopia Season 1.

Wynonna Earp — She ain’t anybody’s but her own.

Recently I picked up Wynonna Earp to watch on Netflix (Season 1 only at the moment). It’s been on my list of things to watch for a while now, I’ve seen enough WayHaught gifs on my tumblr dash, to know there were good things waiting for me when I got into it. What I didn’t know was how much I’ve craved an anti-hero like Wynonna. She’s bad, she’s crass and as Doc says, “She ain’t nobody’s but her own.”

If you haven’t watched Wynonna Earp, it’s about a woman named, Wynonna Earp who is the heir of the Earp curse. When the heir reaches 27 years of age all the people Wyatt Earp killed return to Earth, possessed by demons which can only be put down for good by the heir. Or something like that. Also, Doc Holliday (Wyatt’s best and closest friend) is still alive, having been granted a long life by a witch. He works at Wynonna’s side to put down the demons.

What makes this show so great is how much Wynonna isn’t the hero type. She comes back to her hometown of Purgatory after years of avoiding the place, hoping to stave off the curse. All the way back to high school, she’s been a loose cannon. People didn’t believe her about the demons (for obvious reasons) and she acted out. All the time. A whole lot. She left town with few friends (really just her younger sister, Waverly). The chosen one’s refusal to take on a task is a common enough trope. As is the rebellious champion, someone who doesn’t fit the mold we expect them to.

But you root for Wynonna because she tries.

She might hate the curse, but once it enacts in earnest while she’s in Purgatory for a funeral, she stays. She’s trying to do the thing she knows she needs to do. And she doesn’t lose herself, or her personality and wit, in the process. Picture if Buffy was older, had a gun, and gave in most often to her baser instincts. Then put it all in the southwest where there’s a lot of boots and guns and dirt. It’s a good time.

Now, all I need is for Season 2 to arrive on Netflix so I can get caught up.

Critical Role Season 2

Maker bless these nerdy-ass voice actors. Season 2 is off to a fantastic start… well, after some technical difficulties that kept the Alpha stream down for a little bit.

Although even before that, I thought that I might miss it given that the weather is bad here and we went without internet for a few different hours earlier in the evening. But, it came back on and stayed on for the entirety of the new episode. I switched back and forth between YouTube and twitch to watch a steady stream until the Alpha stream was back up. Alpha has people’s names and character portraits and they were slowly being updated throughout the evening as we learned who was playing what.

Here’s the biggest thing I enjoyed about tonight. And it’s one of the things I like about Matt’s storytelling, about the way Critical Role began in general and one of the things I like most about new games I DM. There was no extended discussion at the forefront of who was playing what and which classes they were or what their abilities would be. There was no awkward discussion introducing each individual. We got these characters as if we were picking up with new friends. As observers we’re coming across the characters in medias res. As players, they’ve talked to the DM, they’ve talked to one or two other people in the group and they have things already in place.

It’s like a new television show. You get contextual clues about characters as the first episode progresses. Most shows do not sit you down like an episode of the fucking Bachelor and give you every person’s backstory. It’s one of the things I think SO MANY actual play shows and podcasts get wrong. [The Adventure Zone’s Balance arc did this really well. The boys didn’t know what they were doing the first time around and their first episode gave us brief intros and then they just jumped into the first adventure at Phandalin. I feel like in these more subsequent stories where they’ve spend a whole episode on character introductions, I’ve enjoyed those less.]

And as I mentioned, it’s one of the things I like as a DM also. I want characters that come to me sort of half-formed. I want players (and observers) to come to the story with little expectations. Learning through play is one of the best and most exciting things. You don’t know how a character (including your own most times) will react to certain situations until you come across them. So while you might plan to play a trickster (and be still my heart about Vex’s new character, Jester) until you get to stretch your legs with that character you still don’t know how they’re react in each situation.

As an aside about RP characters in general — this is why as a DM (and a player) I highly advocate for rolled stats and randomization tables upon creation. As a player, if I can completely randomize character creation, I will. I love rolling up a character that might not make much sense and then having to play and find out what I can do with them, and what they might grow up to be. I’ve played some really interesting characters through the years as a result.

When the first season launched, we got the characters and the game sort of already in progress just by fact that there was already a game happening. They just moved it in front of the cameras and stuck to a schedule. But they didn’t spend the first episode just explaining anything… Matt just jumped them right into the game with a minimal recap. I really appreciate that they kept that mystery for Season 2. The slow reveals of what people were playing, how they would speak, what they’d be good at and what exactly their roles would be, were fantastic. It wasn’t forced and it wasn’t over-explained. Over what might be another 100 episodes, we’ll figure these characters out pretty thoroughly, if experience with Season 1 has taught us anything.

I’ve got more specific character thoughts I want to put down, but I’ll save those for another post.

Dinner Is My Design 02×04 – It’s Like Nabisco Introducing The Red Velvet Oreo

Dinner Is My Design Is a podcast by Elizabeth and Summer. Mostly, we just laugh really hard at the supremely shit TV shows we watch during the week (True Blood, we’re talking about you). The podcast was renamed as a tribute to NBC’s Hannibal and we don’t plan on changing it. You can visit the website for #DinnerIsMyDesign at http://www.dinnerismydesign.com/ or tweet at @Cherithe or @UziSuzuki to talk to us about the podcast.

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