February 28, 2013

[Gonzo #121]

This episode is all about the three-season western TV series from HBO. In case you've not had the pleasure it's a foul and filthy depiction of life in a mining camp in South Dakota 1876-1877. Absolutely every character is carefully crafted in shades of dark grey. There is grim violence, interactions of a carnal nature and such language as you've never heard. The dialogue is lyrical and Shakespearean and everything revolves around power, control and gold. 

Far from ending up depressing as it might sound, the few pinpricks of light, moments of innocence and surprisingly frequent levity lend the show a hopeful air and you will swiftly find yourself warming to many characters who at first may seem repellent to your delicate tastes.

Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Jeffrey Jones, Powers Boothe, Brian Cox, and dozens of other immensely talented actors lend their skills to the roles and by the time you hit the end of season three you will wish there were more episodes. We're focusing on characters and events from season one so if you really don't want to know anything then watch that first. Bear in mind that this is partly based on true events that are a matter of historic record.  My ultimate assertion is actually that the key to Deadwood is performances and we can't really spoil those.

Joining me to discuss the machinations of skulduggerous frontier folk are Gary Blower of GameBurst, Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse and Sharon Shaw of DorkCast.

Next week... My Little Pony: Friendship is magic. 

I'm not even close to kidding, and there ain't many podcasts out there ready to tackle these two back to back.



February 27, 2013

[Gonzo #120]

This episode is all about the NBC comedy Community. I was introduced to this series a few months ago on the forum by Daniel Floyd who guests on this podcast. After a slow start something clicked and it rocketed to the tippety top of my most cherished TV comedy experiences, ranking alongside the US Office and Arrested Development. I am therefore proud to present this exceptionally thorough overview show to newcomers and fans alike.

The plot runs thus: slick, handsome, insincere lawyer Jeff Winger is disbarred for having a phony degree and must attend community college to get a real one. On his first day he organises a study group to get close to a girl. Despite having nothing in common with one another and clashing pretty much constantly the seven assembled students end up as unlikely friends.

That may be what happens, but it doesn't adequately describe the smart, funny, inventive and touching highlights of watching this show. The mad genius and the endless quotability of the whole caboodle. So you can listen to the podcast itself for all of that. We steer clear of major spoilers pertaining to relationships and moments that are best discovered for yourself but there are two distinct sections.

1. Character study
2. Key episodes.

These are presented in order so if you have only seen Season 1 you can leave off after 'Modern Warfare', which is incidentally the one episode we believe every living person on this planet should watch. By the end of seeing that one you will know if you love this. 

The first three seasons are available on DVD in the USA, the first two in the UK and the reputedly final season 4 has just begun showing on TV. The other two guests on this podcast are Sharon Shaw of DorkCast and Jerome McIntosh of the Gonzo Planet community. 


Mass Effect 3

February 23, 2013

[SOEE #53]

This has been the most requested Gonzo show in history. For a project of this magnitude we needed a Dynamic Analysis, and one that stretched out to cover the real world aspects of the controversy surrounding Mass Effect 3. So what I have assembled for you guys is a document of opinion. I have accrued the strong viewpoints of many many people, some of them Gonzo regulars, some of them newcomers, some of them are representations of the strongest views on this game, BioWare and indeed its fans and detractors that have been circulating on the internet for the last year and a half.

What I’ve found is evidence of something more approaching a civil war. It is my intention to accurately represent the views of both sides with as little bias as possible. The ideal would be to hear everyone out, but that may be a big ask for some. This gets pretty heated as you might imagine. As a result, and considering many of you will hold views of your own I have time-stamped each section so that you can jump to the next if what you hear is too objectionable. 

Angry Joe: Indoctrination Theory (08.50)
Jeremy Jahns: Mass Effect 3 Ending and Why We Hate It (31.20)
Holly Dotson - My Experience With Mass Effect 3 (39.50)
Bob Chipman: Game Overthinker #69: Game AfterMass (51.02)
FilmCritHulk: A Few Words on the Ending of Mass Effect 3 [Read by Alex Shaw] (1.05.18)
Sharon Shaw: The Third Choice (1.25.45)
J.C. Hutchins: Blood on My Hands: My Failure and Redemption in Mass Effect(1.35.15)
Leelee Scaldaferri - The Center of the Universe (1.57.35)

Now that much of the debate has been heard regarding the end of the game, this episode focuses on the rest of it. There are definitely still issues with combat and structure that affect the gameplay experience regardless of how you felt about its close, but there is also a deep and rich adventure to be had finding everyone and everything in the last hours before the galaxy takes on the Reapers. There were so many people who wanted to talk about this game that I couldn't not confine them to a single, epic round-table, so instead we have three. 

Appropriately you'll meet many old faces and some new. Everyone has something to say. At the close we spend a good 48 minutes talking about the Citadel DLC with full plot spoilers for that as well as Leviathan and Omega. Everyone present agreed that Citadel was downright essential if you love the characters of Mass Effect so if nothing else, play that before you listen to the last third of this show. 

Alex Shaw: On Taking Back Earth 
Round Table 1: Margeurite Kenner & Alasdair Stuart
Alex Shaw: Some Statistics
Round Table 2: Neil Taylor, Jerome McIntosh & James Perkins
Round Table 3: Matt Ramsey, Leelee Scaldaferri & Sharon Shaw 
The Idea Channel: Will Space Travel Save Us?
Alex Shaw: Shepard Effects

Margeurite can be found on Cast of Wonders, Leelee is the artist for Extra Credits. You'll also hear a segment from The Idea Channel which is available on YouTube and something I sincerely suggest you each spend a few hours delving into. Some incredible, funny, lightly delivered, deeply considered six-minute lectures on there. Kind of like TED Talks but with more visual flair and packed to the gills with blink-and-you'll-miss-it geeky references. 

It's been a great ride on the Normandy. I hope some day soon we can come back and re-enter this universe which has played host to some of our favourite games of all time.

If you enjoy this episode or some of the others I've put out in the past year, why not take part in our 2013 donation drive and give a little something back. I've got a ton of content lined up for 2014 and you can support me in crafting it for everyone. All donations welcome, just go to Gonzo Planet and look for the button in the top right hand corner. 


Mass Effect 2

February 22, 2013

[SOEE #52]

This is the second part of our epic trilogy of review podcasts focusing on the Mass Effect game series from Bioware. Game two was a significant polishing up of the original's formula with tighter combat, more fluid and dynamic presentation and a greater focus on characterization. As a result and for many other reasons detailed within, this is widely regarded as the most beloved of the trilogy.

So in this week's episode my crew and I go deep into the shadowy world of the resurrected and reinstated Commander Shepard, now assembling a small army, all of whom must be ready to die to protect our galaxy.

If you haven’t played it, once again we keep the major spoilers regarding the finale and the essential Shadow Broker DLC for a section at the end. Returning to the Normandy are Matt Ramsey of the DO Try This at Home podcast, Neil Taylor and James Perkins of GameBurst and Jerome McIntosh of the Gonzo Planet community. We’ll be back in a month to talk about Mass Effect 3.


Mass Effect

February 21, 2013

[SOEE #51]

This is the first part of our epic trilogy of review podcasts focusing on the Mass Effect game series from Bioware. Originally released in 2007 on Xbox 360 and following on the heels of Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, this was the Canadian developer’s original take on a serious Sci-Fi space opera.

The first game is not without its flaws and the frustrating combat, slow beginning, vehicle sections, simplistic hacking, texture pop, and crazy glitches are all hauled over the coals, however, this is balanced with effusive praise for the characterization, in-depth discussions about the textured and detailed worlds they have built, first rate voice acting, storyline and narrative sweep.

If you’ve played it and enjoyed it overall you will be well at home. If you haven’t played it we keep the major spoilers for a section at the end so you can listen in and find out what all the fuss is about. My crew are Matt Ramsey of GamerDork, Neil Taylor of GameBurst, James Perkins of GameBurst and Geek Wad, Justin Smith of Last Save Loaded and Jerome McIntosh of the Gonzo planet community. We’ll be back in a month to talk about Mass Effect 2 and then four weeks after that for Mass Effect 3.


Tomb Raider

February 20, 2013

[Gonzo #124]

This episode focuses on the 2013 reboot of the long-established Lara Croft franchise. My guests and I go into great detail as to the strengths of this game, it’s alarmingly serious tone, it’s abandonment of the franchise staples of the Mary-Sueperwoman and enforced fiendish puzzling, the new narrative thrust, the frantic combat, the potential for exploration and most of all the completely transformed central character herself. We also outline clearly why it’s neither an Uncharted clone nor torture porn, how it’s already raising the bar on third-person action and how tricky it’s going to be to write a sequel that does this initial outing justice. 

With me on this nightmarish trip to the island are Sharon Shaw, Matt Ramsey, David Merrett, Paul Gibson and Jerome McIntosh. All key figures in the Gonzo Planet community. 



February 19, 2013

[SOEE #49]

This is the full, combined trilogy of podcasts about GamerGate; How it developed, what its effects have been and how we can move forwards.

For the first show I had eight contributors, two of whom would like to remain anonymous, the other six were; M.P.J. Dillon, Holly Dotson, Gavin Greene, A. Reece England, Livio De La Cruz and Kevin Murphy. 

Nine more contributions make up the second part. Some were in response to Volume 1, some elaborated on ideas laid down in that one, others were simply inspired to speak on hearing about this series.


Batman: The Making of The Killing Joke

February 16, 2013

[SOEE #38]

Grab hold of a copy of the Killing Joke in book form and if you don’t have one to hand, follow this nifty link to an online copy

We’re going to take you through page by page, panel by panel and discuss what it took to turn this into an audio drama and then a motion comic. Joining me I have Matt Ramsey of the Do Try This at Home podcast; AKA Commissioner Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth. Matt’s partner in crime Sharon Shaw who played Jeannie and Street Girl. And for the first time on Gonzo, newcomer Laureta Sela who played Barbara Gordon.

We'll be talking about the complex character of The Joker as depicted here, voices, casting, music, sound FX, the process of directing remotely and my plans for future audio dramas. The next will be an adaptation of the epic Batman story: Hush, which is at least four times the size of Killing Joke. 

The following roles are yet to be filled...

  • Poison Ivy
  • Killer Croc
  • Superman
  • Lois Lane
  • Huntress
  • Ra’s Al Ghul
  • Talia Al Ghul
  • Nightwing
  • Riddler
  • Scarecrow
  • Lady Shiva

Plus brief appearances by Amanda Waller and Lex Luthor and dozens of parts for cops, agents, superstitious, cowardly criminals, henchmen and other Gothamites. 

My intention is to get as much as possible of the recording done in conference calls so that I can help with direction and the cast can bounce off one another for emotional beats and find a unified tone for every scene. It’s going to be hard work, but you’ve already seen that the outcome is worth all the effort.


Spoilers for Batman: Breakdown throughout so listen to that (rather good) show first if you haven't already. 


Batman: The Killing Joke [Audio Drama]

February 15, 2013

[SOEE #37]

This is an audio drama adaptation of The Killing Joke: written by Alan Moore, and originally illustrated by Brian Bolland for DC comics in 1988.

This show is dedicated to Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, two of my all-time heroes. Their inspirational work is a key reason why I love Batman so much, and their immense talent as voice-over artists is what made me want to produce performance pieces like this. I hold out hope that one day we will get to hear them perform Killing Joke as an official radio play or better yet, a DC animated film. 

All credit to Alan Moore for his excellent writing. The few minor changes I made were to facilitate the audio format. Also artist Brian Bolland whose striking imagery I wish I could convey. 
If you would like to collaborate on turning this into a motion comic to deliver the visual side of the story, or if you have any other questions please contact me at

If you enjoyed this, do please check out Batman: Breakdown, which is an original story written by myself and rendered into an accompanying audio drama. You can find it on YouTube or along with hundreds of my movie, video gaming and comic book podcasts over at Gonzo Planet dot com. As a bonus for newcomers I've included the first six minutes of Breakdown to act as a taster at the close of this production.

A huge thank you to my cast, without whom, this would be a considerably less vibrant production.

Cast (in order of appearance) 

JOKER/JACK – Alex Shaw
BATMAN – Alex Shaw
JIM GORDON – Matt Ramsey
GUARD BILL – Jerome McIntosh
BOB BONUS – Daniel Floyd
JEANNIE – Sharon Shaw
BARBARA GORDON – Lauretta Sela
GANGSTER JOE – Lorin Grieve
GANGSTER JAKE – Alex Spencer
DOCTOR – Joshua Garrity
CIRCUS FREAKS – Matt Whetter
DETECTIVE MOORE – James Batchelor
OFICER BOLLAND – Nama Chibitty
DON SENIOR – Matt Whetter
ROB SENIOR – Andres Rodriguez
GAMBOL – Aquila Edwards
STREET GIRL – Sharon Shaw
CREDITS - Giles Thomas

There will be more adaptations like these on the road to the epic follow-up to Batman: Breakdown. If you would like to be a part of them them drop me an email. 

Of course including some audio of yourself performing Batman characters would definitely stand in your favour. 


Batman: A Graphic Novel History

February 14, 2013

[SOEE #36]

This episode we present you with Batman's full comic book career as a chronological reading list. We begin with Frank Miller's seminal Year One and work all the way up to the current run on New 52. This has been angled to allow newcomers to get an understanding of Batman on the printed page and give you a little after-school reading to do.

Joining me once again are David Hartrick and Matt Ramsey. This show has an ending I didn't expect and couldn't have planned for. 

Batman’s History Through Graphic Novels.

1. Year One (Frank Miller 1987)
2. The Man Who Laughs (Ed Brubaker 2005) 
3. The Long Halloween (Jeph Loeb 1996) 
4. Dark Victory (Jeph Loeb 1999) 
5. The Killing Joke (Alan Moore 1988) 
6. The Cult (Jim Starlin 1988)
7. A Death in the Family (Jim Starlin 1988) 
8. A Lonely Place of Dying (Marv Wolfman 1989) 
9. Arkham Asylum (Grant Morrison 1989)
10. Knightfall (Chuck Dixon / Dennis O’Neil 1993) 
11. No Man’s Land (Greg Rucka / Chuck Dixon 1999)
12. Mad Love (Paul Dini / Bruce Timm 1994)
13. Hush (Jeph Loeb  2002) 
14. Gotham Central (Greg Rucka / Ed Brubaker 2003)
15. Under the Hood (Judd Winick 2005) 
16. Batman and Son (Grant Morrison 2006)
17. Batman R.I.P (Grant Morrison 2008)
18. Battle for the Cowl (Tony Daniel 2009)
19. The Black Mirror (Scott Snyder 2011)
20. A Court of Owls/Night of the Owls (Scott Snyder 2011)
21. The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller 1986)

Justice League Graphic Novels

1. Kingdom Come (Mark Waid 1996)
2. Superman / Batman: Public Enemies (Jeph Loeb 2003)
3. Identity Crisis (Brad Meltzer 2004)

Elseworlds and other Books

1. Flashpoint (Geoff Johns 2011)
2. Gotham by Gaslight (Bryan Augustyn 1989)
3. Legends of the Dark Knight: Faces (1993 James D. Hudnall)
4. Legends of the Dark Knight: Blades (1994 James Robinson)
5. Legends of the Dark Knight: Images (1995 Dennis O’Neil)
6. Earth to Earth Swamp Thing Vol. 5 (Alan Moore 2002)