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Dirigible Days
Tonight's Webseries Presentation

DIRIGIBLE DAYS

Starring: James Bragado, Jeff Gruhala, Gary Lobstein, Julie Wilhelm, Anthony Daniels

Written and Created By: James Bragado Directed By: Gary Lobstein

See It Here: http://www.day304.com/dirigibledays.html


What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEDDAR SPREAD.

It doesn’t cost much, but it’s tasty for any occasion.


Pairs Well With...

BEEFEATER.

What’s life on a boat – even a flying one – without a tot of gin every now and again?


“No drinking this time!  Stay out of the taverns and do your job.  This is your last warning.”


Steampunk.  Cthulhu.  They’re staples of the modern bookstore and sci fi convention, but only the smallest hints of them seem to have made their way onto the screen when compared to their popularity elsewhere.  But fear not, steampunk fans and Cthulhu cultists, for someone has heard your call.  Behold the webseries: Dirigible Days.

The premise for this steampunk world, as explained by none other than Anthony Daniels (yes, that would be the Anthony Daniels known to a billion plus as C-3PO) during the show’s opening voice over, is that an asteroid nearly collided with the Earth during the Victorian age.  Unfortunately, though the big asteroid missed, its trail of debris did not, and a reasonable apocalypse occurred during which millions of people were killed, civilizations fell, and “sky lands” rose from the surface after being infused with some strange ether left behind by the falling rocks.  It is from this cataclysm that the calendar was reset, and now, in the year 997, adventure, they say, is inescapable.

From what I’ve seen so far, I’m willing to go along with that statement.

I’ll start by stating the obvious: this is not a big budget dirigible.  But I don’t find this to be a bad thing; indeed, I find the solutions that the creative team has had to come up with to be part of the charm.  The style of the visual effects used tends to be a modernized echo of 1910s/20s cinema, and gives the story that much more of a Victorian feel.  (I know that these dates actually reflect the reigns of Edward VII and George V, but the point remains.  I’m still deciding whether it might play even better with the stock aging that’s used for the trailer.)  The budget that the producers do have has instead gone toward other elements that catch the eye for more of the time, which is to say costumes and physical props, which are generally top notch and certainly convention prize worthy at the very least (which I find to be a good standard for genre web productions).  Nods to other things are made – our Captain has a Gatling gun for a left arm – and the interpretations of technology are generally fun, and often wonderful.  They’ve also made sure to give their steampunk world its own personality, adding little idiosyncrasies along the way such as a propensity to display medals of dubious origin.  All of this is complemented by outstanding music that far outstrips normal expectations of a project such as this, with a score that’s adventurous and invocative of the period and featuring a range of bands with a definite steampunk flair (including theme music by Vernian Process).

The story and the characters are fascinating, fitting neatly into the world being presented rather than feeling as though they’re simply an excuse for it –in the realm of steampunk, this is not always a given.  HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos also feels like a natural fit here – again, not always (indeed, not usually) a given.  (My only issue with the writing is that James Bragado doesn't credit himself for it; he pens a good yarn, and deserves some recognition.)  The major characters are well played, and certainly capable of carrying a story.  (I imagine that a fair amount of my Twitter feed would not be happy to learn that the only major female character is written as – kinda – mute; however, this actually makes sense within the frame of the story and is very creatively dealt with.)  Go beyond our major stars, and the budget shows again, with the acting abilities of the supporting cast being best described as “hit and miss.”  Fear not, though: nobody stinks up the place, the atmosphere does a lot to cover any visible (or spoken) sins, and the people you’re supposed to be paying attention to most of the time do a fine job in front of the camera.  Tack on same fine direction by Gary Lobstein, and I’d much rather watch this than almost anything the major networks – broadcast or cable – have on offer.

Bottom line, if you’re into steampunk or Cthulhu, you need to check out Dirigible Days.  Interesting characters tell an interesting story in an interesting – and incredibly realized, all things considered – world.  If that’s not the definition a good show, I don’t know what is.

Now I just need a copy of the soundtrack.



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Season One | Five Episodes, 9.5 – 12.5 minutes each


Episode 1: “Adventure is Inescapable” – Wherein Mr. Anthony Daniels brings us up to speed on the world we’re looking in upon through a concise voice over, and we begin to meet the players.  Highlight #1: I love the old school cinema visual effects at the start.  I hope they keep those up.  Highlight #2: Less than a minute of dialogue, and someone mentions Cthulhu.  This is either awesome or a disaster.  (Note: awesome.)  Highlight #3: Drinking during job interviews.  Sign me up.  Highlight #4: “It’s a tad bit difficult to check this at the door without a surgeon.”  Highlight #5: “Pinkerton! I knew it!”  Interesting world building, well realized even if on an obvious budget.  I’m in for more.

Episode 2: “Strange Cargo” – Wherein we board the Beatrix, and talks are had in the engine room and in the mess hall.  Highlight #1: I’m digging the portable radio set.  Highlight #2:  “Brasshole.”  I’m adopting this word.  Highlight #3: After a moment’s consideration, I like the stylistic choice to make the loud engine room actually be, y’know, loud.  So people have to shout over the noise.  Highlight #4: “You probably haven’t shagged in years!”  Highlight #5: “While you’re aboard my boat, you’ll direct all your insults to me and my hand cannon.”

Episode 3: “Grasping at the Shadow” – Wherein the Cthulhu cult comes to the fore.  Highlight #1: Damn, that Cthulhu cult has some harsh rules about being late to meetings.  Highlight #2: “Damn alcohol.  I’m never drinking again.” / “I bet he does.”  Highlight #3: I’m trying to decide about the vocabulator.  It’s either cool or ruins something interesting.  Highlight #4: “It was on its last leg anyways!”  Highlight #5: “Does this Cthulhu play checkers?”

Episode 4: “Hierophant Unbound” – Wherein an escaped cultist causeth mayhem.  Highlight #1: Immediate points given for the fact that someone other than a tarot card reader has sufficient vocabulary to use the word “Hierophant.”  Highlight #2:  Dog portrait!  Highlight #3:  Whatever that scream was supposed to be, it was awesome.  Highlight #4: Ew!  Tough break on that ritual.  Highlight #5: Good effort, Captain!

Episode 5: “What Has Sunk May Rise” – Okay, Season Finale, so no major spoilers… but if you do a double take when the jamboree music comes on to signal an air battle, you won’t be the only one who did.  I dig it, though; it fits in its own weird way.  As does a conclusion to the season’s story that may seem quick and/or convenient at first… until one thinks of the short story anthologies that inspired this world, at which point, yeah.  It works.


Okay, I like this world.  Consider me good for more.

For those who find they enjoy the show as I have thus far, there are also some mini episodes available for viewing on the production website, along with the original promo teaser video.  Give them a look!

- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, December, 2012


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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