Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dick Dynamo

Dick Dynamo- the 5th Dimensional Man is a continuing series put together by Jon Baker, Eldon Cowgur, Jacey Dalton, Anthony Myers and Grant Cottrell. DD is a parody of 1950's science fiction pulp detective style stories. The show is absolutely rated Restricted and is not work safe.

Website
I originally went to www.dickdynamo.com to see the website, but it disappeared. I don't know what happened, but now the links have to do Warcraft guides and some wrestler who calls himself Dick Dynamo. I found their Myspace Page and a link at the somewhat defunct Echo Fiction site. There are rumors of a Facebook page although I don't partake in social media to know if that's true or not.
The original webpage was amazing. It was like flipping through an original comic book (as the above graphic can attest.)
But without a clear website or even a RSS feed to point to (all I had was the i-tunes store to nab it) I'm going to have to give it a null.
Rating: 0/5

 Audio Drama Type- Mock Old Time
 Dick Dynamo tries to fashion around old time themes and well-worn plot devices like an heir to a fortune, baby left at a doorstep, and the amnesia game. But expect each of these tales to take a decidedly different Science Fiction/Dick Dynamo twist. Music through out the show is a mix of old and new, and there's enough intentional production interference to mimic old time theater. Even the tries to mimic the style with the fast-talking, flim-flamerisms found back in the era of the Golden Age.

Acting Types- Amateur
The DD team are obviously friends that have known each other and these characters for some time. I could not begin to pick out who plays what characters with the exception of Jacey Dalton and Eldon Cowgur who voices Dick, but they all know their parts well. They mimic old-style stock characters and very nicely mock them. Their "Tech Man" series has even more ridiculously drawn characters that mock their own writing itself. Lines are delivered in TM with halting dullness which adds new depths in its shallowness, if that makes any sense. Finally, their depictions as their out of character selves come across as painfully funny and the listener feels guilty at times listening in to what appears to be an extremely bad and amateurish production but is obviously well-orchestrated and produced. The only criticism I have is that the characters are so cartoonish that there's little requirement for from strong performances to engage the audience.
Rating: 4/5

Production Type- Detailed
Jon Baker's production is detailed and incredibly well-planned. Each sound effect is provided for comic effect or to tell the story. While it make at times appear chaotic, do not thing that the chaos is not in fact incredibly controlled. Even Tech-Man is painful to listen to on purpose. The recordings peak, the hiss grows and cuts out as if badly microphoned. Sound effects are horribly placed and artificial. But after hearing the fine design of Dick Dynamo you can tell that these are production choices.
All of these are underscored by the music. The music of Dick Dynamo sets the tone of the series, the frantic pace, and creates appropriate high points for scene stings and openers. While most shows begin with a theme music (and usually the shorter the better to get to the story) Dick Dynamo begins a teaser. Honestly, I'd prefer more audio drama series to consider this option. Beginning with a taste of a story and then cutting to a longer theme has the ability to connect with your listeners early.
Because Dick Dynamo is kind of science-fiction/fantasy, there are a pile of worlds and ideas that the show opens up. Naturally, audio drama does this better than any medium. In fact, I challenge Jenette Kahn who used to say that comics were the ultimate medium because they could destroy a universe and bring it back in a few frames. Audio Drama can do it with even less effort, sometimes with a single sound effect.
Dick Dynamo's production is one of those rare moments where the entire scope of possibility for this form is shown. As silly and fun as the content, DD's imagination just shines.
Rating: 5+/5

Writing
Perhaps one of the most successful collaborations of the modern age,  Dick Dynamo is written by the same folk who act in it. One can imagine the stories evolve over a series of meetings (and probably beers) and go down to the smallest joke. There's real snappy dialog and hilarity.
One of my favorite lines is from an early episode when Dick is rebuffing a woman he has recently discovered has a child. "There's no 'we' in 'unwed'" Dick says, without a trace of a smile. That's brilliant. Simply brilliant.
Dick is a thoroughly chauvinistic and ignorant character, who's not at all likable, yet he's compelling to listen to in this comedy. That's not easy to do. Sometimes the audience is waiting to find out just what stupid thing will come out of his mouth next.
What makes Dick so palatable as a character is despite his chiseled features and brain, he still ends up stopping many of the evils that occur around him. In short, the lesson is, to make a hero, a hero, no matter how bad he is, make his opponents worse.
The humor is sometimes puerile stooping to lots of comments about urination and scatology. I never find it funny when the Angry Video Game Nerd does it, I don't here. But that's a matter of taste (or lacking there of). To be fair, DD doesn't pull its punches anywhere. The writers often play to stereotypes, so if you don't mind the sometimes misogynistic humor either, you'll enjoy the show as I do.
Rating: 4/5

Additional Notes
In thinking over this review, I was trying to come up with a way to describe Dick Dynamo for a new listener. I could crib Gregg Taylor of Decoder Ring Theatre who wrote:
"If you put Matt Helm and Roger Ramjet into the same teleporter and sent them through together, thus melding them into a single, slightly confused but cool being, then poured him into a sci-fi movie with a lot of heaving bosoms and fed everybody in sight as much 'Captain Crunch' as they could eat until they were buzzing like a hummingbird... That gives you a vague idea of where this one seems to be heading."

But instead I'm going to say this.
I don't know who comes up with the most ideas, or who is writing most of the works, but either singularly or collectively the creative brain of Dick Dynamo represents the Andy Kaufman of Audio Drama.
They seem interested in annoying as much as entertaining. They create purposefully bad stories because they think its hilarious to the point of even laughing at their listeners for liking bad audio drama. I get it. The DD team are working on a very "meta" level of how they approach audio drama. One wonders at times if they are having fun producing these shows or producing these shows for fun. My guess is it's more the former and not the latter.

Over All
Dick Dynamo is the kind of audio drama that really defies easy description. It's a comedic experience. One that you will either instantly appreciate or hate depending upon your depth of knowledge in the field. Despite its silly exterior, DD is extremely smart in their choices, and I just can't think of another show out there that does what it does. Sometimes I love it, some points I hate it, and always I keep coming back to it.
Put back your website, let people know that you plan to stay. Put out a monthly or bi-monthly schedule. Set out your tent pegs and let people know you're planning to stay (if you are), because this show is one of those shows that if it lasts will bring Audio Drama back to the quirky minds of the cyber-folk.
Rating: 4.5/5

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