The Guild (Seasons 1 and 2)
Have you seen The Guild? Well, frak and gorrammit, son/sister, what the hell is keeping you? It’s only the most fun online sitcom there is. And I know what the definition of "is" is.
The Guild is the creation of the incredible Felicia Day, famous for starring (and singing) in Joss Whedon’s online experiment Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog. Day had previously worked with Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where she had a recurring role in the final season, and recently returned to the Whedonverse by guest starring on the unaired (but included on the DVD and shown at this year’s SDCC) Dollhouse episode, “Epitaph One.”
Day apparently believes in the old writer’s saw of “write what you know” as she played World of Warcraft and other games for many years, so she knows the people who play these games very well. She also may have picked up a thing or two by working with Whedon. You know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout: she really brings the funny.
Like all good sitcoms, there’s a simple premise. A small group of online gamers who have played together for years but never met in the flesh have to start interacting with each other offline in the real world. The gamers usually refer to each other by their characters’ names: Codex the healer, Zaboo the warlock, Vork the leader, Clara the mage, Bladezz the thief, and Tinkerballa the hunter.
They get together for the first time when Zaboo misreads Codex’s online semi colon winks for real world flirtation (she says she meant to use a colon but the shift key was stuck!). In desperation, and to try and get Zaboo off her couch after he moves in, Codex calls the gang together for a meeting in the flesh. In real life, they are much like their characters, only without the cool powers and the gold loot. Codex, who’s real name is Cyd Sherman, is a healer and Cyd tries to fix everything without anyone's feelings getting hurt. She’s also trying to fix herself, as the first episode shows she’s been seeing a therapist about her online gaming addiction. But she’s so caught up in her online world her therapist basically fires her as a patient!
Every episode, which runs about four to six minutes long, opens with Codex making a vlog. This is Day’s time to shine and she does, being funny, sweet, and a touch vulnerable, but she gets tougher as the episodes continue. Much of each episode, at least early on, is the characters dealing with each other while wired into the game. This could get boring except Day’s writing is so funny and spot on with these characters and this particular culture. For instance, Vork, the guild’s banker as well as leader, is such a miser in his real life that he cashes his dead grandpa’s Social Security checks, steals his old neighbor’s wifi, and buys bulk mayo and ketchup (hey, every penny counts on and offline). Clara is a mom with three young children and those darn kids with their - oh what do you call them - oh yeah, needs like feeding and changing, keep getting in the way of mommy’s online time.
Felicia Day and the entire cast – Vincent Caso as Bladezz, Jeff Lewis as Vork, Amy Okuda as Tinkerballa, Sandeep Parikh as Zaboo, and Robin Thorsen as Clara – are spot on and hilarious in their roles. I’m glad they went the online low budget route because if this was pitched to a network, they wouldn’t “get” it, but on the off chance they did, they’d have gathered a cast that looked like Beverly Friends 90210 (basically any show on The CW). And a network would demand rewrites until the show was just like Two and a Half Men. Nothing against Two and a Half Men, but it’s one type of animal and The Guild is entirely another. It’s like taking Coke and saying “Great, this is awesome, it’s just what we were looking for. Now change it so it’s more like 7-Up.”
There’s a way cool music video made to promote the DVD release of The Guild that features the entire cast all decked out in their character costumes. Day sings Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? which could easily stand up to any late 80s/early 90s pop song. She also wrote the ridiculously catchy song, with music handled by Jed Whedon (one of the outlaw Whedon Brothers Gang).
+five to sexterity for all!