Fantasy stories are not represented very well in the field of audio drama, so when I first discovered this show, I was pleased. Since I lived in Boston at the time, I was overjoyed when I found the show was put together by a small group of Boston locals called Blue Sky Red Design and even performed episodes in front of a live audience at the annual Arisia Science Fiction Convention in Boston Massachusetts. First time readers should note that this show completed production in July 2011. The entire show is available for free on the Second Shift website.
What self-respecting geek hasn’t fantasized about actually living in their favorite game or movie world? That’s the basic premise of Second Shift. What if it were possible to travel between worlds? More importantly, would it turn out to be as fun as it first seems? Its time to find out! Dust off your Players Handbook, get out your ren-fair garb and tune your podcaster to the magical world of Laundi.
Second Shift is a delightful show aimed squarely at gamers and sci-fi fans. The show is a clever mix of many different story elements, such as magic, zombies and even the mundane modern world, thrown in for good measure. I found their website well-organized with its own RSS feeds and forums for discussing the show, and they even have a Wiki. I also liked the ability to listen to the show directly from the website or download episodes from iTunes. Listening options are a good thing. The first season is thirteen episodes long, and each episode tends to run a little over a half hour making it only slightly longer than most other audio dramas out there.
Second Shift is recorded in a studio with all the actors present, rather than having each actor read lines remotely and splicing them together in post production, like many current audio dramas. This technique pays off for the actors who are able to “read” each other each other easier, but can still lead to technical errors such as uneven audio levels; which were noticeable in a few places. While the electronic Midi style music of Second Shift, seems dated at first, it is appropriate to the overall feel of the show. The dialog is a bit rushed in places, especially early episodes but fortunately as the series goes on, it happens less and less frequently. While it does take a few episodes for the plot to get moving, once it does, it moves quickly.
The first season of Second Shift focuses on three Boston college students: Katherine, Shauna and Mike who have no knowledge of how or why they came to the world of Laundi, where magic is as real as cars or computers. As they struggle to get back to Boston after being “shifted” against their will, The trio soon discovers that Katherine must learn a powerful spell called Shift and cast it at just the right time and place in order to return home. To make matters complicated however, Katherine is also told that her friends would return eventually, but she would never go home again. What happens next? Sorry, you’ll just have to listen for yourself.
Overall I found Second Shift to be an entertaining, engaging character based story that starts off slow, but is well worth a listen. I eagerly await the chance to listen to season two of this wonderful show. Until then, I hope you enjoy Second Shift as much as I have.