‘Dimension 20: The Unsleeping City’ television review
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
The jokesters over at CollegeHumor launched their own comedy streaming platform Dropout TV. I’m here to tell you if their exclusive content is worth the subscription fee.
It feels weird typing this, but when Dropout launched just over a year ago, I didn’t even like Dungeons and Dragons. I’d played a smackling of times over the years, using the odd invitation as mainly a vehicle to hang out with friends, but it rarely held my interest. Dimension 20: Fantasy High lured me in with promises of regular doses of veteran CollegeHumor cast members who had otherwise moved on from the company. Before long, catching new episodes had been integrated into my weekly routines, and I even started my own campaign IRL. Suffice it to say, I was a fan.
Now in its third season, Dimension 20 is a crown jewel of Dropout, and probably the reason why I’ll never cancel my subscription. A certain standard has been set with the previous seasons, and dungeon master Brennan Lee Mulligan nails the hattrick with The Unsleeping City.
The titular city of the season is New York City, a bustling, grimy metropolis where mystery and adventure lurk around every street corner—and that’s just the non-magical side of NYC. Turns out this is only “The Waking World,” one facet of our reality, while The Unsleeping City exists in tandem. There’s a lot of groundwork laid in the first few episodes, but once the storyline takes off, the duality becomes a major player.
One of the first season’s (many) highlights was the ineffable chemistry between the six cast members Siobhan Thompson, Brian Murphy, Emily Axford, Lou Wilson, Zac Oyama, and Ally Beardsley. Thankfully, everyone’s back around the table, though now as different characters. Whereas in season one I found myself gravitating towards certain favourites, this season is truly a cast of MVPs. From Thompson’s Misty Moore, a veteran Broadway star to Axford’s recently divorced hairstylist tragically based on Staten Island, there are classic NYC tropes laced through the characters, but they all feel truly unique.
Season three also plays with internal conflict in a way that previous seasons shied away from. When you have six players working cooperatively, there’s a tendency for D&D campaigns to forgive and forget easily for the sake of group cohesiveness. This season, Beardsley’s Pete the Plug acts as both a wild magic sorcerer but also a wildcard for the storyline, as his selfish actions continuously endanger the group (and New York City). A tension develops early on between Pete and Wilson’s Kingston Brown, which results in some tense, and therefore juicy, storytelling.
And of course, the man behind the iron curtain, Brennan Lee Mulligan, is back. Mulligan’s rich world-building and storytelling have been a personal inspiration for me in my own D&D campaigns, and he’s outdone himself with this whimsical take on New York City. Mulligan’s a continuous defender of NYC—check out his sketch for CollegeHumor called “Don’t Trash Talk New York” to see him in his natural element—and season three feels like both a takedown but also a love letter to one of the world’s most infamous cities.
The previous two seasons of Dimension 20 set the bar impossibly high, in terms of cast, creativity, and storyline, and yet The Unsleeping City matches those heights in leaps and bounds. From the whirlwind premiere to the heartbreaking finale, The Unsleeping City will have you reaching for your “I <3 NYC” T-shirt like never before.