Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Better late than never review: 'The Guild' on DVD

There's so much TV on TV these days -- not to mention TV-esque shows that are available online-only(*) -- that there's only so much I can do to keep up with things that might be interesting. I missed "The Guild" when it ran online, and then Upfront Week got in the way of me doing a proper write-up of last week's DVD release. Fortunately, I had a little bit of spare time over the last couple of days to watch both discs, and I liked what I saw.

(*) Yesterday was the deadline for nominations for the Television Critics Association Awards, and there was quite a bit of discussion (sparked by James Poniewozik) on our e-mail list about whether a web-only series like "Dr. Horrible" -- conveniently co-starring Felicia Day of "The Guild" -- should be eligible for our awards. The group consensus wound up being that, if enough people voted for it, it'd be eligible. So we'll find out when the nominations are announced, I guess.

Anyway, "The Guild." In case you missed it the first (or second, or in the case of the DVDs, third) time around, it's a web comedy series about a group of online gamers who work as a team in a "World of Warcraft"-style game -- and who, with the possible exception of Codex (played by "Guild" creator Day), seem woefully ill-equipped to deal with the world outside their computer windows.

The press notes and other descriptions of the series boast that it "is written for gamers, about gamers by a gamer." Now, I'm not a gamer of any stripe(**), but I enjoyed the heck out of "The Guild."

(**) The last game console of any kind I've owned was a ColecoVision, though I've played with more new-fangled gaming tech over the years, and the only thing keeping me from getting a Wii is that it would likely end my career and/or marriage.

While I'm sure I'm missing a ton of jokes about helms and gold and whatnot, I could very easily relate to the larger jokes about how all the characters (even Codex) have turned the virtual world into a substitute for the real one. Lord knows there are times when I've gotten too sucked into this blog, and other online communities I hang out in, and so I laughed/winced knowingly when wife and mom Clara (Robin Thorsen) tried to ignore her kids so she could focus on the game, or when Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh) or Vork (Jeff Lewis) tried to act as if the rules of the game applied to the world outside it, or at the awkwardness when Codex (trying to kick lovestruck stalker Zaboo to the curb) initiated the Guild's first in-person meeting.

"With just a few of us," she insists, "we can take down a 10-man dungeon. Real life can't be that much harder."

It's a funny show, and it works just fine on a bigger screen, with the episodes watched all together. I'm glad I finally got to watch it.

The DVD sets contain the 12 episodes of seasons one and two, and include DVD-only bonus features like audio commentaries, script files, and interviews with the cast and crew.

You can buy "The Guild" season one and season two at Amazon.com

34 comments:

OldDarth said...

Never heard of it - I'll make sure to check it now. Thanks.

Rev/Views said...

It's a great show, glad you've gotten round to watching it. :)

Oaktown Girl said...

It sounds vaguely familiar, but I've been too busy to follow any online-only stuff. But I see it's still available to watch online starting with the first episode. Looking forward to checking it out.

domino87 said...

I'll watch anything with Felicia Day in it.

The One True b!X said...

Anyone who hasn't been checking out the web series scene(s) could defintitely do far worse than starting with The Guild.

Mads said...

I'm another non-gamer who loves The Guild.

Also, if you're looking for funny web only content, check out Dorm Life on Hulu. It's a mocumentary about a group of college freshmen.

Manton said...

Every time I see Miss Day hawking washing machines on TV a part of me dies inside.

Bitsy said...

The closest thing I get to being a gamer is laughing at my WOW-playing friends. I love The Guild. Another great web series I stumbled over which is mistakenly believed to be only for gamers is Red vs. Blue, which is available online and on DVD and very very funny!

The One True b!X said...

Meanwhile, browse around

http://news.tubefilter.tv/

if you're wondering what else is out there in the world of web series.

Tasha said...

Every time I see Miss Day hawking washing machines on TV a part of me dies inside.Yeah, but you just know that member of the Sears Blue Appliance Crew is just counting the hours till she can go home and raid a dungeon.

WhedonTrivia said...

"The closest thing I get to being a gamer is laughing at my WOW-playing friends. "

Ditto.

linh said...

ah, my comment got messed up. But yeah, this is an awesome show. Props to Microsoft's sponsorship and "hands-off" approach. One of the few things they've gotten right lately.

And more props to Felicia and her crew for holding out for the sponsor that fit them.

DVD's are great too w/ the extras and commentary. I finally understand why people love them... definitely for the hardcore fans =)

Dodo said...

Yup, have to give Microsoft for backing it. I don't think the humor derives too much from the gaming references but maybe a joke about FPS players looking down upon MMORPG players is something that requires some gaming knowledge.

Still really humorous for general viewers.Season 3 coming soon. Felicia Day is getting more work these days, right? She created The Guild and now with Dr. Horrible...when's that episode of Dollhouse with Ms. Day going to air?

nutmeag said...

Awesome on the reviewage. I love this show, just got the DVDs in last week. I'm not a gamer, but I lived with one for a while, so I fairly understand what's going on. Like you said, Alan, it's more about online friends interacting in person, which most people understand these days.

Anyone wanting to check it out should be able to find the eps at http://www.watchtheguild.com/.

worldofhiglet said...

The Guild is a great show and I'm eagerly awaiting both my Season 2 DVD and Season 3!

Devin McCullen said...

Off-topic, but speaking of things that are late, are we getting a My Boys season finale review?

Pamela Jaye said...

I've heard of it - but only because of Dr Horrible.
Your description makes it sound rather Big Bang-ish. Is it?

I'm not a gamer either, so that matters. (I'm not a physicist either, I'm more a computer geek, but..)

Who has time for games when there is TV and Facebook? (and email and Twitter, and all those mailing list's I'm on, and that stuff I want to look up...)

Band of Brothers, on the other hand, is definitely not me. I fell asleep during All Quiet on the Western Front - and I was *reading* it.

Pamela Jaye said...

Every time I see Miss Day hawking washing machines on TV a part of me dies inside.Yeah..

yes, but she's a big fan of laundry

(which was shot first? Dr Horrible or the Sears ads?)

Matt said...

In a way, Guild is like Big Bang, but there's a crucial difference. IMHO, Big Bang, all too often, falls into treating all of its characters with contempt. The Guild loves each and every one of its characters, no matter how geeky or bizarre.

Anonymous said...

I'd say The Guild is more naturalistic than BBT, also less emphasis on setup and punchline.
It's more like The Office if The Office was about a WoW guild, to me anyways.

Tyroc said...

Don't feel bad when you see a commercial with Felicia. It means she's getting a paycheck. National commercials pay bank.

I love her show, and she's adorable.

Hopefully they'll actually get her on The Big Bang Theory next season as she'd be a perfect guest star.

dez said...

Haven't seen it yet, but it sounds fun. And you should totally get the Wii. It's so much fun!!

Pamela Jaye said...

I think it would be cool if she was on Big Bang. But then, I'd like to see her anywhere (that I watch). So far, it's only been House, I think.

captcha: houste

Efehan said...

I think your review is spot on.

The Guild consistently makes sure to nod to the online game player but is definitely more than accessible to a non-gamer. Full of snappy, lovely humour.

One of those great hybrid and unique watches, hopefully more shall discover it!

A Nonny Mouse said...

Pamela: If you watched S7 of Buffy, you saw her as one of the less annoying potential slayers.

avincent52 said...

Haven't seen it yet, but it sounds fun. And you should totally get the Wii. It's so much fun!!Have a wife, kids and a job. You should totally keep yours. They're so much fun!

Stay away from the Wii! Run Alan! Faster!
(And childproof that treadmill while you're at it.)

Famin said...

Pamela: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was shot during the Writers' Strike, so long before the Sears ad. Or the handful of episodes Ms. Day did for the mediocre-at-best ABC Family sitcom Roommates. Luckily, The Guild is a better showcase of her talents!

As someone who watches many hours of TV, I can understand not wanting to get involved with Web series too. But the one big advantage of Web series is that most of them are really short; each episode is about 4 minutes long, so you can watch the entire season in about 45 minutes.

The other reason to watch Web series is because they're usually produced for a niche audience, and you're more likely to find something that would otherwise be canceled by a network in two weeks. There are a lot of really clever, funny, and creative Web series out there, like The Guild, that tell stories you're not likely to see on television.

Pamela Jaye said...

I really do like the punchlines on Big Bang, though. Maybe it's cause it's been a long time since I watched much sitcom (last 8 years - probably Scrubs & HIMYM). I'm not innured to the format.

Deepa said...

Sears winks at Day, Whedon, Dr Horrible, and the fanbases for all three by putting Felicia in those ads. They could have gone with a playboy bunny - glad they didn't.

I've been a Whedon fan for a long time and heard about Felicia Day through her connection with him over the last few years. I foolishly decided, however, that she was just a minor player on Buffy, who gave a decent performance in "Dr. Horrible", and that wasn't enough to compel me to watch the show. But when the streamys.org awards were announced and Felicia slayed "You Suck at Photoshop" and "Dr. Horrible" for Best Comedy Series, I finally sat down to check it out and ended up watching seasons one and two in one sitting. I absolutely loved it!

I dragged my brother to the computer to watch it a week later (just three days ago). He's a filmmaker who has seen countless shorts and web series and he said this was the best online series he has seen to date.

Go watch it. NOW! :)

Brian Kameoka said...

Enjoyed this review - thanks for covering new media/web series!

For people wanting to check it out (and "try before you buy!"), The Guild website, which is the first link in the article - http://www.watchtheguild.com - has all of episodes.

chrisirishuk1 said...

Another fantastic web show that no-one has mentioned is the hilarious Legend of Neil that was created, written & directed by Felicia Day's co-star in The Guild, Sandeep Parikh.

The humour has more of a Family Guy feel to it & has more game references (specifically, The Legend of Zelda for the NES, the game the show was modeled on), but is a laugh riot the whole way. Season 1 is up to watch on their website, & season 2 should be coming soon. Here's the web address for anyone interested!

http://www.effinfunny.com/legend-of-neil

Enjoy!

P.S. I second Bitsy's recommendation of Red vs. Blue, fantastic stuff!

Polter-Cow said...

I love The Guild! Thanks for reviewing it and helping it reach a larger audience. It's really funny and quite the success story among web series.

Anonymous said...

Just finished watching it thanks to you. I might be blinded by cute-vision, but Day is putting on an acting clinic at some points in her web "diaries" that open the episodes, which are invariably hilarious.

maxqnz said...

I love The Guild and will definitely get the DVDs soon. I am not a gamer at all, but its depiction of cyber/meatspace interactions is accessible to pretty much anyone.