Judge Adam Arseneau gets double XP when he writes a review.
"There is so much fail in that sentence, I can hardly begin."
With over fifty million worldwide views, the award-winning online comedy The Guild returns for a third epic boss run in The Guild: Season Three. Can the tanks hold aggro and the healers keep up with the DOTs long enough to survive the attack of a rival guild? If that sentence makes no sense, then you've probably wandered onto this page by mistake.
Facts of the Case
Things are looking bad for everyone's favorite online guild, The Knights of Good. Still reeling over the events of last season's party, Codex (Felicia Day, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) tries to psyche her guild mates up by the announcement of an expansion pack, but morale is at an all-time low.
Bladezz (Vincent Caso) is trying to pay his debt back after being hustled by Tink (Amy Okuda), who herself is still furious at the deletion of her avatars. Clara (Robin Thorsen) is suffering husband aggro, landing in hot water after compromising photographs of her emerge. Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh) is trapped under his dominating girlfriend, leading Vork (Jeff Lewis) to assume moral responsibility for the guild's poor performance. He gives up the leadership to Codex in penance.
Suddenly in charge of a fractioning guild, Codex tries desperately to bring everyone together for the expansion pack. To make matters worse, a rival guild called the Axis of Anarchy set their sights on destroying the Knights—both in the game and in real life!
The Guild: Season Three contains all twelve episodes of the online web series:
• "Expansion Time"
Created by actress Felicia Day as a sitcom pilot based on her real-life love of online MMORPG games, The Guild found a rabid and passionate fan base in the most obvious of places—online. This is modern media in its most organic form: an online sitcom based written for fans of online games, distributed by a network of online games catering specifically to its target audiences. With millions of fans worldwide, The Guild has evolved its production values and storylines into a third season more popular than ever—and all entirely free from the traditional production and distribution channels of television sitcoms. Not too shabby for a web series.
Season Three picks up where the previous installment left off and for the most part stays the course, preserving the formula that brought it web fame and nerd popularity: lots of MMORPG jokes, neurotic anti-social behavior, and Vork's deliciously deadpan delivery. The show ups the geek credibility to unprecedented heights by adding a villainous rival guild leader, Internet rock star extraordinaire Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Fawkes, leader of the Axis of Anarchy. He wears a kilt, curses a lot, and glowers. He's surprisingly good at glowering. The malevolent Axis is introduced as a rival guild to the Knights of Good, taking umbrage with the Knights and bringing the fight to real life, causing all manner of chaos and confusion. We also get improvement in the amount of character development into the non-gaming lives of the Guild members: Clara's husband, Bladezz's little sister, and Zaboo's new girlfriend all make important appearances. Clara's husband in particular graduates from a barely unseen background role to a full-fledged cast member, even joining the Knights in order to spend more time with his neglectful wife.
A show like this is all about the cast. As the eponymous face of The Guild, it is often difficult to separate Felicia Day the actress from her character and avatar in the show, if only because every male in the world secretly wishes she was this neurotic and adorable in real life, just to justify their massive crushes on her. You watch the show and wonder why she isn't a massive superstar in Hollywood yet. Of course, then she'd have to give up The Guild, so it's probably in no one's best interest to think along those lines. Jeff Lewis is as hilarious as ever as Vork, the off-again guild leader who takes being thirty to new vagrant levels. Robin Thorsen gets a lot of screen time this season as Clara, and rises well to the challenge as the borderline abusive mother who games at the expense of her marriage. Sandeep Parikh gets a large amount of the laughs here as Zaboo struggles with his difficult and often violent romantic relationship. His storyline with his dominating girlfriend is as hilarious as it is terrifying.
If nothing else, The Guild is a labor of love. This isn't the kind of project that makes giant piles of money for its creators to roll around atop. It has a genuine affinity for its subject that is evident in every frame. The creators of the show are fans of gaming, and the fans who love the show are, too, making each indebted to the other in a weird symbiosis of mutual appreciation and shared interest. It is a testament to both groups that The Guild has survived, if not thrived outright in the competitive online space, keeping close contact with its fan base—even surviving entirely on donations during an uncertain first season. This kind of creative collaboration may represent a new option for filmmakers and content creators, striving to find a measure of fan and financial success via the web. Or perhaps it only works here because of how intrinsically nerdy the subject matter is, and how passionate and fantastical MMORPG fans can be. Either way, The Guild rolls on, with a fourth season in the works, and this Judge couldn't be happier.
A pretty straightforward technical presentation, The Guild isn't a show known for its professional production values, but has noticeably improved since its inception. A simple stereo presentation and anamorphic transfer is all we get here, but it does the job. The image is clean and deliberately soft, especially during the hazy glow of Codex's video blogs. Colors are vibrant, with flesh tones leaning towards the red throughout. Black and white levels and detail are average—not the sharpest or most technically impressive presentation, but a marked improvement from watching it streaming online. Originally released as a series of online installments running five to ten minutes in length, a helpful "Play All" feature avoids the opening and closing credit sequence between each episode. The stereo presentation is dialogue-driven and is well-mixed and recorded throughout, with minimal bass response. English subtitles are included.
Considering that most fans watch the show online for free, it stands to reason that the DVD edition needs to step up with some killer supplements. Thankfully, it does. Two audio commentary tracks are included: one with cast, and one with creator, director, and producer. A music video, "Do You Want to Date My Avatar?" (with music by Jed Whedon, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, brother of Joss) as well as making-of footage and tips for making a web video. We also get a special Halloween episode of The Guild, interviews with the Axis of Anarchy, behind-the-scenes footage on building Vork's sword, guild applicant reject footage, a PDF file of the script and some gag reels. Not too shabby for a single-disc release.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
If you're not a gamer, odds are, this show isn't for you. You will miss out on an entire dimension of appreciation. Jokes about "tanking and spanking" work as a triple entendre, but only if you understand the reference to the relatively straightforward, even derogatory raid boss strategy where the tank holds aggro while the DPS nuke down the mob as quickly as possible. To me, this is obvious, but I'm a gigantic geek—so I'm a fan of the show, duh. I can't even begin to imagine what a non-gamer would think about it.
The Guild is made for geeks, and every moment is pure fan service. Sure, you can watch it online for free, but unlike a big network show where the DVD sales are treated as separate entity towards ratings, every copy of The Guild: Season Three will almost assuredly drive future production of new episodes.
If you're like me, and you're a fan of the show, here's your chance to show your support. The Guild is the ultimate in nerdy DIY creative expression. How can you not support it?
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