Lars Gonall: Welcome to the hell pit, or as it’s more commonly known, Spectrum Spectator. I’m Lars Gonall and with me as always is my spectrum life-partner Daisy Wences. For those of you at home wondering why I’m glistening like a dew-kissed lawn, the environment systems in our building decided to start freaking out today and while they claim it’s safe for us to go ahead and record the show, it is stupid hot in our studio right now.
Daisy Wences: And here I thought that healthy glow was because you saw our special guest backstage.
Lars: I would normally snark back at this juncture, but I’m pretty sure I’m sweating out large portions of my brain function. I don’t know how you still look so put together.
Daisy: I grew up on Vosca. This is basically sweater weather for me.
Lars: Guess that explains why you had a steaming bowl of kacho for lunch.
Daisy: Damn straight. Best thing to eat on a hot day is spicy soup. My grandfather taught me that. The more you sweat, the more it can evaporate and cool you off.
Lars: Spectrum Spectator, come for the reviews, stay for the folksy wisdom.
Daisy: Thanks for reminding me that we should probably actually do some reviewing. On today’s Spectrum Spectator, we turn our focus entirely towards the recent spate of documentaries and reality shows that premiered this month.
Lars: Note that we didn’t set out to do a theme show, but there was such a glut of quality recently it just worked out that way. You wanna go first, Daisy, so I can chug this liter of hydro-gel?
Daisy: And maybe we can get a towel for you. With how quickly that puddle of sweat is growing, I think electrocution is as likely to kill you as overheating at this point.
Lars: Spectrum Spectator, come for the reviews, stay for the death pool.
Daisy: Speaking of things that refuse to die, I had the pleasure of watching One World at a Time: An Inquiry into Project Archangel, a sweeping epic that explores in detail the history of the Synthworld from its earliest conception to its current controversial status. Just like the artificial planet itself, One World is quite daunting in size. Clocking in at over thirteen hours long, the documentary does take some significant time investment, but the choice of directors Cambio Astley and Viktoria Hampton to focus on the people actually building the world, rather than the typical political drama, give the piece a vitality that’s hard not to get caught up in. These are people who have given their lives to make the impossible a reality, and their passion for the project is captivating.
Even more impressive may be just how balanced the whole vid feels. There’s very little sugarcoating going on. Engineers discuss missteps. Project leads candidly talk about mistakes. During one of the standout moments in the piece, Imperator Salehi admits to mishandling how the initial scheduling and financing needs were presented to the public. Combine all those exclusive interviews with gorgeous shots of the construction site itself and an almost lyrical editing style, and you really get a sense of why so many people believe in the Synthworld dream.
Lars: I feel like I’ve seen half of it already, just thanks to the sheer volume of clips that have been passed around.
Daisy: And to be fair, I think that’s how most people are going to wind up watching it.
Lars: It’s actually how I wound up watching the documentary Bullet Catcher. A bunch of people had forwarded me clips of some of the metalworking sequences and I was like, okay, I’m in. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of these artisan and craftsmen-type vids, but there was something about mixing in the seedy underworld of Spider that just did it for me.
Daisy: This was actually shot by an outlaw, right?
Lars: Yeah, Marviana ‘Deadeye’ Gerhart. Turns out she’s as good at aiming a camera as she is a gun. Which from the Advocacy report I looked up, she is very good at. The whole piece is composed of these static shots from unique perspectives while the main subject, Three-Fingered Jack, narrates the story of his life crafting and repairing armor for the worst of the worst. There’s this stark contrast between the beautiful artistry in what he’s creating, and some of the upsetting stories he shares about his time on Spider.
And what was really interesting is that even though you see him throughout, you never actually see him talk. There’s no standard cut away to an interview. While that seems bizarre, it ends up working really well and sort of makes it feel like you’re inside Jack’s head. Later on, I learned that not only was this an artistic choice but also a practical one. Turns out that since Jack is never actually identified as the speaker, there’s some plausible deniability. It was the only way he would agree to be part of the project.
Daisy: I almost had the same thing written into my contract when I started here.
Lars: That would have been the smart way to go. Your reputation is pretty much ruined.
Daisy: It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this film when award season rolls around.
Lars: Yeah. Pretty much all of the people who worked on it would be arrested if they’re seen in the UEE. I heard that the distributor, Golden Path, was even contacted by the Advocacy for questioning.
Daisy: Speaking of intense invasive questioning, what do you say to bringing out our guest?
Lars: I almost hate to do it to him since the green room has air conditioning, but I figure if anyone can face uncomfortable environmental conditions it’s him.
Daisy: You may know him from his recent stint on the sixth season of the hit reality show, Frontier Colony; please join me in welcoming Naizen Blunk.
Lars: Great to have you on Spectrum Spectator, Naizen.
Naizen Blunk: Thanks so much for having me on.
Daisy: Of course, we are huge fans of yours. It was heartbreaking when you had to leave the colony in last week’s episode.
Naizen: It was pretty heartbreaking for me too. I’ve been wanting to be on Frontier Colony since it first premiered, so to have to leave four weeks in was really disappointing.
Lars: I’ve been dying to hear your take on the whole “Carrot Incident.”
Naizen: Once I stopped being worried that I was dying, I was pretty embarrassed about the whole thing. Here I’m supposed to be the colony’s farming expert, and I nearly poison everyone with the first crop that I grow. I guess I’m just thankful that no one else ate the carrots before I did.
Daisy: It was so funny the way they wound up editing that scene of you trying it for the first time. You looked so happy, but the music suddenly got sinister. It was the most afraid of a carrot I’ve ever been.
Lars: And so it turned out that the moon’s soil was toxic?
Naizen: Yup. But only when mixed with water. That’s why none of my initial scans showed anything. If there was one silver lining to this whole thing it’s that they’re actually talking about changing the way soil sampling is done so that hopefully this sort of thing will be less likely to happen in the future.
Lars: When did you know that you were off the show?
Naizen: As soon as they told me that I was too sick to be treated at the outpost. The producers are pretty serious about preserving the purity of the colony. When they say no outside contact, they mean it. After they drop you off, you’re on your own.
Daisy: So does that mean that you have no idea what happens on the episode premiering today?
Naizen: Yup. After I was emergency lifted to the hospital, I wasn’t allowed contact with any of the colonists or show staff, so I’ll be watching just like all of you. All I know is that they’re doing that special tie in with the Consolidated Outland’s new colony ship, the Pioneer.
Lars: We have to take a quick break, but when we come back, I definitely want to hear your predictions.
Daisy: Yeah, what do you think is going to happen with Clair and Aiden?
Lars: And which module do you think the colonists are going to choose to add with the Pioneer?
Naizen: Wait … Clair and Aiden? Are they a thing?
Daisy: Okay. We definitely have a lot more to discuss.
Lars: Stay right there for more when Spectrum Spectator returns.