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Podcast / Peculiar Objects

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Spencer's Folly: Where the breeze seems to whisper through the moosewood trees

Peculiar Objects is a Kids On Bikes actual-play podcast from Semiautomagic, Inc., set in Spencer's Folly, a small town on the Alaska/Canada border in the year 198X.

It seeks to actively emulate all of your favorite 80's child-adventure movies while telling an original story about the evil lurking in the heart of a friendly town nestled deep in the moosewood trees.

Peculiar Objects contains examples of:

    Season One 
  • Always Introduces Themselves: Kitt Russell, Junior Lawman, Marshal of Spencer's Folly and Surrounding Environs.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The cult comprised of several dozen of the town's youths appeared at first to be this, then began to seem more like an Ancient Order of Protectors; either way they've made at least one big mistake and their well-intentioned actions may have done more harm than good.
  • Author Appeal
    • All three boys are film nerds of various kinds, but Thony and Nigel are especially knowledgeable about the cinema of Films of the 1980s and the Slasher Movie.
    • Nigel's thorough knowledge of Evel Knievel is shared by Oddie.
    • Casey's interest in American Sign Language bleeds over into Kitt, which comes in handy more than once.
  • Berserk Button: Only the brave or the foolhardy dare besmirch The Lost Boys in Nigel's presence.
  • Black Speech: Used in the cult's midnight ritual; it certainly accomplished something, but perhaps not what they thought it would.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: The Benevolent Order of Beavers, the local fraternal organization that gathers at Dam Zero.
  • Children Raise You: Oddie's mother, when she comes home at all, is cared for by her son in an almost complete role-reversal: he makes her dinner, tucks her in when she crashes on the couch, and calls regularly to make sure she's okay.
  • Country Mouse: Kitt is from somewhere 'down south' and many of the ways of Spencer's Folly are strange to him, such as the teens of the town not patrolling for danger and the local multiplex not offering hot, buttered peas or a nice stew at the concession stand
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Oddie struggles valiantly against this while attempting to reconnoiter during a showing of Porky's, and aside his collar involuntarily popping does very well.
  • Free-Range Children: One of the core elements of both the show and the game system it uses; Oddie and Kitt are fairly young children but are free to roam Spencer's Folly basically at will, although due to their particular circumstances (pseudo-orphan and latchkey kid, respectively) they have very little supervision even by the standards of The '80s.
  • Grease Monkey: Oddie is a mad machinist, always tinkering with something in an effort to emulate his idol, Evel Knievel.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Oddie and Kitt are bound by the chains of friendship, the marshal-deputy bond and a desire to protect their town and its citizens.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Nigel and Casey tag-team to keep this going pretty constantly.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode's title is lifted from a line one of the boys says in the episode itself and may or may not have anything to do with what actually happens in it; some examples include Hot For Justice, This Is Public Science Now, 40 Minutes To Midnight and The Ass Word. The only exception in Season One is the final episode, appropriately titled 'Epilogue'.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • The entire crew universally refers to the game's Adversity Tokens as 'crunchy points'.
    • Kitt consistently refers to himself as "Marshall of Spencer's Folly and Surrounding Environs".
    • Casey only refers to Oddie's mother, Shelly, as 'Kombucha', because she's 'sweet, fermented and inappropriate for children'.
  • Lady Drunk: Oddie's mother is implied to be a Miriam Pataki-level drinker.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Johnny Figueroa, soda jerk at the Four Corners, is believed to be a vampire of some kind by most of the children of Spencer's Folly because he's always there; the revelation that he has a nearly-identical brother named Jimmy doesn't necessarily disprove this idea, but does offer a possible explanation.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The cult attempting to protect Spencer's Folly from the presence in The Woods performed what they thought was a ritual of cleansing to ward the town against the lurking darkness, but a mistake resulted in the performance of a different ritual entirely.
  • Once per Episode:
    • Always Introduces Themselves: All three guys, usually along a theme related to a particular piece of 80's media.
    • Thony firing Casey from the podcast, usually for pun-related offenses.
    • The intro sequence devolving into a tangent discussion and/or argument about what constitutes a "kids on bikes" movie.
    • Thony saying 'cue spooky synth music' to trigger the outro theme.
  • Parental Neglect: Oddie's mother is almost entirely absent, coming home late every night and leaving him to fend for himself in terms of food, homework and getting to school, and his father is a long-haul trucker that he sees only intermittently.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Mrs. Oddwards simply believes that Oddie is spending a lot of time with that nice young lawman, Kitt, and has no idea that he's out protecting Spencer's Folly.
  • Shout-Out: One of the mysterious Polybius machines appears at The Four Corners soda parlor, which immediately makes the players much more nervous about the already-unsettling events unfolding in Spencer's Folly.
  • Special Guest: Max Graham Matta, longtime listener and friend of the Semiautomagic, Inc. Podcast Network, guest-stars as Jeff Who Works At The Video Store.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The introduction of Episode 6 recounts the previous episode's events from Katt's perspective, and implies that his may be more than a typical canine intelligence.
  • Team Pet: Katt, Kitt's canine partner and most bestest friend who has, on more than one occasion, displayed some distinctly undoglike behavior.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: And how.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Oddie and Kitt go to the Four Corners every Thursday to debrief with a frosty-cold grape phosphate, and Oddie is a stage-4 junk food junkie, possibly owing to his latchkey lifestyle.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Thony and Casey, but only in this context; off-mic they're very careful to avoid misunderstanding one another because they're both terrified of unknowingly hurting their best friend's feelings. On-mic, however, The Gloves Come Off intentionally to see how much they can provoke each other for Rule of Funny.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Whatever it is in The Woods that lured Carly Figueroa out into the night and to her vanishment; we're also given to understand that she is far from the first child that The Woods have claimed.

    Season Two 
  • Ascended Fanboy: Steve, a vocal fan of the first season, is not only a player in the second but is playing a minor character from the first, doubling as an Early-Bird Cameo.
  • Berserk Button:
    • That asshole Fire Marshal Dave for DeSoto. Considering that he's dating DeSoto's mom, this is pretty clearly justified.
    • The idea of losing his son (the last remaining link to his wife) for Jamal's father.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: A natural consequence of undergoing a Genre Shift from the nebulous existential and Cosmic Horror of Season One to the visceral Body Horror of Season Two; it really starts ramping up with the Picture Day Incident.
  • Bookcase Passage: Discovered by K.R. after following the clue given to him by Susan; for bonus points, also involves a Concealing Canvas that leads to a Secret Room containing a Magical Library complete with its very own Scary Librarian!
  • Brutally Honest: K.R. has not a spare word to spend on unnecessary pleasantry, which habit is almost certainly either a result of or extremely useful in his job as reporter and editor for the school newspaper.
  • Changing of the Guard: Season Two starts at the same time as Season One but focuses on a different set of characters, who are revealed to be the participants in the ritual that Oddie, Katt and Kitt observed in Season One.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Word-for-word from Jamal upon arriving at the police station to realize they have no weapons, no plan and no backup with which to execute their vague idea of busting DeSoto out.
  • Foreshadowing: Hints began dropping fairly early that DeSoto's mother Remi is a cop; prior to the reveal it was natural for the listener to assume that his reluctance to meet with law enforcement was something of an occupational hazard.
  • Genre Shift: Or rather, genre augmentation: Season One focused exclusively on the Free-Range Children adventure movies of the 80's and included supernatural elements; Season Two continues this trend while also slathering on a squamous layer of Teen and Body Horror, to the point that a disclaimer was added to the beginning of every episode.
  • Given Name Reveal:
    • "Bonjour, Jubilee."
    • "Kitt Russel, what are we going to do with you?"
  • Insistent Terminology: Popacorn.
  • Jerk Jock: Jamal has a lot going on under the surface, but that surface is pretty shallow, arrogant and more than willing to abuse his former friend in public to win his friends' approval.
  • Kid Detective: K.R. is this played completely straight.
  • Last-Name Basis: DeSoto, with one.
  • Missing Child: All three boys are considered this after they spent what was maybe an hour to them in the library's secret chamber, but turned out to be a month on the outside.
  • Missing Mom: Jamal's mother, Mrs. King, is missing for unknown reasons from the season's outset, although the audience knows that it's K.R.'s fault somehownote , and her absence is the source of his fears of abandonment and inadequacy.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted by having Marshall Redwood, Fire Marshal Davenote , mention of Kitt Russell (self-styled Marshall of Spencer's Folly and surrounding environs) and an actual Steve.
  • Parent with New Paramour: DeSoto's mother is currently dating Fire Marshall Dave, and her son is not happy about it. Jamal also begins to qualify, though how serious he is and to what extent he's just being a teen horndog and/or a dick to DeSoto is unknowable.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The disclaimer added to every episode notes that while the show may include violence, references to drugs and alcohol, child endangerment and body horror, it will never include any kind of sexual violence. All four players are fond of genre conventions and want to preserve the spirit of 80's teen horror films as much as possible, but recognize that not everything deserves saving, and quite a lot that was considered raunchy fun in the past would absolutely constitute sexual harassment, abuse or assault by modern standards, and that's a line they aren't willing to cross.
  • Rule of Three:
    Jamal: "I'm thinking I'm probably gonna have sex with Cassandra at some point."
    K.R.: "I'm probably gonna have sex with Ashley at some point."
    '''DeSoto''': "Ms. Erickson and Mr. Thomas are probably gonna have sex at some point."
  • Sequel Gap: The first two episodes overlap with roughly the first third of Season One, culminating in the ritual in the town square; the next thing we know, it's six months later.
  • Shout-Out:
    • DeSoto referring to his customers as 'Friends of DeSoto' is a nod to the Star Trek podcast The Greatest Generation, whose listeners us the phrase as a shibboleth to identify each other.
    • Season Two reveals that there's another Polybius machine in the arcade at the movies, which raises the question: "What the hell is happening in Spencer's Folly that the government needs TWO sinister, mysterious arcade games gathering data and/or brainwashing people there?"
  • Slasher Smile: Fire Monstro Dave following his...makeover.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Mayor is incredibly pleasant, enthusiastic and ‘’bland’’ to the degree that it’s more than a little off-putting. He doesn’t seem like he’s on QUITE the same wavelength as everyone else.
  • We Used to Be Friends: K.R. and Jamal, and there is a good reason.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 11, Fire Marshal Walk With Me, is the most intense and violent episode to that point by a significant margin and ends with all three main characters injured to several degrees of seriousness and an unknown number of people dead, including (possibly???) Fire Monstro Dave.
  • Wham Line: "Kitt Russel, what are we going to do with you?"
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Thony points out that, much like Deanna Troi, DeSoto has two parents, each with distinct accents of their own and he has somehow inherited a third, completely unrelated accent. The apparent explanation is that DeSoto is "From everywhere, baby!"