Riftworld Chronicles is a magical comedy web series. It has hilarious dialogue, and the power of Tahmoh Penikett’s belief, which is so strong that I’m sure Tibetan monks feel it when they meditate. A wizard is transported to modern day Earth. He enlists the help (sort of) of a magazine fact checker to return him to his world. However, she’s on a quest of her own to get a job as a serious writer.
Alar of Caer Caladh is a powerful wizard played by Tahmoh Penikett. I’ve always respected him as an actor, but his roles in Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, and Supernatural were all very serious. In Dollhouse there were some comedic moments, but it was hard to tell if it was intentional or a side effect of his dedication to his character. (No one can accuse Tahmoh of a lack of dedication.) In Riftworld Chronicles the comedy is obvious and everywhere. Tahmoh reveals himself as a comedic genius. The same expression that worried me in Battlestar Galactica, made me laugh with glee in Riftworld Chronicles.
Alongside Tahmoh’s wizard is Kim, a magazine fact checker and a true skeptic. She grounds the story with her constant refusal to believe Alar. The show even lets her have a slightly ugly side. She’s not afraid to abandon or use him for her own goals. For once, this is a rom com where the woman isn’t ready to throw it all away. In fact, her push for what she wants helps drive the story. Erin Karpluk does an amazing job of switching between laughter, empathy, and selfishness. She builds a truly complex character. She also may not get as many great lines as Tahmoh, since she isn’t a crazy wizard, but she’s a great comedic straight man, and makes the comedy shine.
The writing by Jonathan Williams is brilliant. For example, when Kim takes a picture of Alar on her cell phone he says, “Only a great sorceress could wield such an artifact.” The metaphor is perfect. I can summon kitten videos at will on my cell phone! And who hasn’t tried to upload a photo only to find that their mana is too low for such a powerful spell!
In most comedies where a character is lost in a new world or culture, all the jokes are directed at their ignorance. However, Riftworld takes the time to make fun of all involved. Kim and Alar take turns being shocked at the other’s ignorance. Also, where most fish-out-of-water comedies are awkward, Riftworld is written with such a light touch that embarrassing character moments aren’t painful, they’re hilarious. These are adult characters with self esteem. They aren’t crushed by looking stupid in public.
Right now my only issue with Riftworld Chronicles is that I need more. A lot more. They’ve worked hard getting investments and crowd funding to get this far. Now we need to watch, like, follow, share, love, review, and campaign for more episodes. We need to convince them to make more before Tahmoh disappears into another drama, and we never see his comedy again!
Watch Riftworld on YouTube.