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The Polybius Conspiracy

Originally aired fall 2017

The Polybius Conspiracy is a seven-part series, originally heard on Showcase, which tells the complex story of two men united by a decades-old urban legend. Polybius, a mysterious arcade game from the '80s whose alleged existence in the Pacific Northwest is fueled by myth and an obsessive online fan base, and which may have factored in the abduction of two teenage boys. Told as a hybrid documentary/fictional story, the series is an artful meditation on how urban legends take hold and spread, and an exploration into how we consume and perpetuate information in the internet age.

Jon Frechette & Todd Luoto

CO-PRODUCERS

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JON FRECHETTE holds degrees in film production and language arts. As an undergraduate, he was the recipient of the Cinetech Most Promising Filmmaker award. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

TODD LUOTO had the privilege to occupy roles for Sundance Film Festival, Fox Digital Studio, and Super Deluxe. His creative work has screened at the Tribeca, SXSW, Slamdance, and AFI Film Festivals, among others.

Music throughout The Polybius Conspiracy is by Anenon, Chris Fitzpatrick, Hrishikesh Hirway, Jon Frechette and Restricted. Episode Artwork is by Jin Lim. Logo design is by Kevin Blanchard. Avatar design is by Jonathan Moura.

 

Listen to The Polybius Conspiracy

You can subscribe to Showcase to hear The Polybius Conspiracy and other great series that are featured on Showcase.

 

Episode #1 – The Player

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In Episode One: The Player, an investigation into the origins of the Polybius legend leads to Bobby, who claims the game was responsible for his abduction as a teenager. In the thirty-five years since, Bobby has remained steadfast with his story, going so far as to organize a for-profit walking tour while obsessively searching for the one person he believes could corroborate his allegations. Local players from the Portland arcade scene cast doubt on Bobby’s story, as do journalists who refute the game as ever having existed.

THE CHARACTERS

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Bobby Feldstein is the founder of Portland's first and only Polybius walking tour, and claims the game is connected to his abduction as a teenager.

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Catherine “Cat” Despira is a journalist and video game historian who debunked the Polybius urban legend in the pages of Retrocade Magazine.

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Dylan Reiff is a Portland-based gamer, pinball enthusiast, and creator of immersive games.

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Ernest Cline is an author and screenwriter of the bestsellers Ready Player One and Armada.

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Joe Streckert is a notable Portland tour guide, podcaster, and lecturer.

 

Episode #2 – The Missing

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In Episode Two: The Missing, as a man comes forward to potentially corroborate Bobby's story, the path forward plunges into the darkness of another Oregonian legend: the infamous Shanghai Tunnels.

THE CHARACTERS

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Doug Kenck-Crispin is a Portland historian and tour guide

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Rubin is searching for his partner, Marc, and suspects his disappearance may have some connection to the Polybius legend.

 

Episode #3 – The Cassette

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In Episode Three: The search for answers leads the team to a retired journalist with a bizarre connection to Coin Kingdom, and unsettling allegations of abuse at an international youth academy.

THE CHARACTERS

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Naomi Halbrook is a former journalist who briefly covered the Portland arcade scene in 1981.

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Jenny Travis is a survivor of Morava Academy's controversial behavioral modification program that was conducted in the Czech Republic in the 1990s.

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Icie Parr is a survivor of Morava Academy's controversial behavioral modification program that was conducted in the Czech Republic in the 1990s.

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Clay Cowgill is the co-owner of Portland's premiere retrocade, Ground Kontrol.

 

Episode #4 – The Rewind

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In Episode Four: The Rewind: Sometimes journalists pursue a mystery; other times, it pursues them. An unexpected phone call from Naomi Halbrook leads to more revelations, while a competing documentary project about Polybius leads to conflict.

THE CHARACTERS

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Mitch Marcus is a film director and TV producer from Los Angeles, and one of the creative forces behind the soon-to-be-released History Channel show The Unexplained, featuring a segment on Polybius.

 

Episode #5 – The Seller

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In Episode Five: The Seller: New clues about the whereabouts of Rubin's missing partner shed light on secrets Bobby might prefer stay hidden. The team looks into how one might go about vetting the authenticity of a Polybius cabinet.

THE CHARACTERS

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Frank Seller wheels and deals in all types of nostalgia: toys; board games; trading cards; and, of course, vintage arcade games.

 

Episode #6 – The code

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In Episode Six: The Code, questions about Bobby result in a surprising lead, as Rubin comes to believe he's cracked the code on Polybius.

THE CHARACTERS

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Christina is a Portland resident who briefly dated Bobby Feldstein.

 

Episode #7 – The Final Level

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In Episode Seven: The Final Level: Fact, fabrication, history and hoax converge as the search for Marc comes full circle.