I found my way to this podcast at its inception by already being a listener of the original McElroy flagship product, MBMBaM. I was instantly in love with TAZ. The first season had an extremely natural evolution. It began as a single episode with no clear intentions of becoming a spinoff, and it was charming and genuine to watch the hosts go from the fun, hilarious days where they were not taking it even a little bit seriously to the later-game episodes where they had established a slow and natural passion for the story and obvious affection for the characters.
Season Two was, in my opinion, even better than season one. It lacked some of the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of the family learning to roleplay together, but the story was set in their homestate of West Virginia and it felt meaningful and rich in a very real-world way.
It came to me somewhere in Season Two that the plotlines themselves where beginning to favor the fact that the podcast had begun to skew toward a much younger fanbase than MBMBaM. I wasn't necessarily thrilled with that since I'm not in that young age group, but neither was it getting in the way of my enjoyment or the quality of the storytelling.
It feels cold and hypocritical to say that Season 3 has been a disappointment. I know that this season's DM is new to the role and I know that, being unfamiliar with that role myself, I probably couldn't do much better. Then again, I haven't asked anyone to hang in there with me and keep up with their monthly membership throughout a pandemic, only to present them with results that frankly feel phoned in.
Don't get me wrong, I do believe that an incredible and earnest amount of hard work went into producing the current season. I also believe that work was mostly put into the wrong things. A large ensemble cast of NPCs exists in this season, all of whom are described beautifully and none of whom have had moments where the affection we are asked to bestow upon them was earned in real time. A completely original fantasy world was built for this season, which is an admirable attempt but the logic of which breaks down upon any kind of scrutiny and-- worse than that-- has no earned emotional merit to make up for the lack of logic. Past seasons did not attempt something as daunting as a totally original world but they found brilliance in small moments that played out with an open sincerity and sense of collaboration and in-the-moment adaptation for both players and dm.
I don't know. Maybe I'm just a grumpy woman in her thirties. I hung in there for all of 2020 but I've rerouted my subscription money to other shows on their network. I'm happy that younger people are enjoying this season, and maybe this one just isn't for me. I think it was a good try. I don't think they stuck the landing.