Shauna Brown is a college sophomore in Boston who has, quite literally, no time for herself. In between going to school full time and caring for her 4 younger brothers, she works at a pizza joint along with Katherine Rinson, her super-achiever old roommate/best friend, and Mike Archer, the loveable dumb jock who’s got a not-so-secret crush on her. As she’s taking her teenage brother Tyler and their younger twin brothers home, Shauna learns she might actually get a night off, and heads out to the movies with Mike and Katherine. Things quickly go awry, though, as the trio hear mysterious chanting and are pulled through the ether into another world.
Our trio land with a thump in a lush forest outside a town called Laundi, and quickly encounter the people who brought them here: Fesmer, an impulsive but friendly mage, and his friend and coworker Arkahn, who tried her hardest to talk him out of casting this spell, and Jareth, a rather strict teaching assistant at the local University who is none too pleased to discover Fesmer using magic he isn’t trained in. Everyone’s bickering is soon broken up by the arrival of a group of Legionaires, the local “bad guys”, and the group split up and run. They eventually converge at the shop where the Laundians work, where Zana, the friendly old proprietress, takes the fact that 3 people just fell through time and space in stride, and invites everyone inside for dinner.
Comments! (may contain spoilers for the whole series)
- Much as I love this show, I’ll admit that this first episode is a little rough. Getting into a good pace with a new project is HARD, and the creators struggled a little bit to get into that groove. The dialog, for instance, is way too fast and occasionally a little stilted, as if the actors are still trying to get a handle on the characters, the recording quality isn’t the greatest, and a LOT of exposition is crammed into one half hour. But if you consider that, at this point, many of the cast and crew were college kids doing this for fun, I find most of their slip-ups easy to forgive. Knowing just how good this is going to get down the line helps too.
- All that being said, I love how well-defined the characters are, even from the outset. 4 minutes in, and we already know a ton about them; Kathrine’s issues with her parents, Mike’s inability to take anything seriously, Shauna living entirely for others, it’s all in there.
- And here begins the Great 5th Brown Mystery: Shauna explicitly says that she has 4 brothers, and that she’s the eldest…but we only ever meet Tyler and the Twins. That’s 3 brothers. And (SUPER SPOILER ALERT) when her house burns down during her dream in Season 2, only 5 bodies are recovered: 2 parents, 3 brothers. So who the heck is that 5th Brown sibling?
- Tyler is voiced by the same person who does Shauna, and I’m really glad they later figured out a way to deepen her voice more naturally, because it does sound a little wonky in this episode.
- CONFESSION: I’ve never actually listened to Captain Laserbeard. This clearly makes me a bad 2S fan.
- I really appreciate that they never have to spell out how head-over-heels Mike is for Shauna; it’s all conveyed in the dialog. Because he is DELIGHTFULLY UNSUBTLE.
- Ahhh, the first appearance of “No promises”. I fully blame the 2S writing crew for how often this phrase slips into my speech nowadays.
- Charendraen is just…so awesome. This may be where the show first really grabbed my attention, because even on the first listen I could tell this wasn’t just gibberish. Charendraen is a constructed language, with its own grammar, syntax, and even idioms, along with a (relatively limited) vocabulary. So when we first hear Arkahn and Fesmer talking, it actually sounds like a conversation, as opposed to just so much meaningless noise. And in an audiodrama, where everything has to be conveyed through sound alone, having people speak with a constructed accent is a pretty useful way to suggest a sense of unfamiliarity.
- I love how quickly distracted Mike is by the shiny, shiny sword.
- Looking back, I never realized that the reason Shauna is so discomfited by the point of origin spell is because she’s so strongly attuned. She’s always had her “Shauna sense”, but she’s just never experienced actual magic until this point.
- For all that the Foley has evolved over the years of the show, I still love the sound effect for the Waa-loren.
- “I’m sorry we did not have time for a proper introduction. You may have noticed we are running for our lives.” Ah, Jareth and Katherine, the ship that sunk before it even left the harbor. A shame, really; I enjoy their interactions as two people who are too similar to ever really get along.
- SO. MUCH. RUNNING.
- “I bet they won’t even miss you!” “…I think Fesmer needs help with that fence, Mike.” Y’know, looking back, (SPOILER) Porec really did have a point: Shauna is literally incapable of thinking of herself and her family as independent units. The thought of them without her, or herself without them, is impossible to her. When it comes to character arcs that have stretched across the show, Shauna’s has been the opposite of Mike and Katherine; while they’ve grown up and learned to think of others, Shauna’s arc is about her learning to look inside herself and be confident on her own. Interesting to see how far back all of these arcs were seeded, is essentially what I’m saying.