September 1st, 2009
The biggest challenge facing a show, in the past, was bringing in new viewers. In an age of repeats as the only way to really engage with a show outside of new episodes, anything serialized faced intense challenge. However, as we all know, the internet and DVD have made this easier than ever, and there’s no better example than this than Felicia Day’s hit web series The Guild.
If there was ever an argument for the benefit of internet distribution methods, I’d say this is it: the show remains independently produced by Day, but through funding agreements with various sponsors (including Microsoft) the show has an extensive footprint across various different platforms, and has only increased in both scale and quality since its first season. And due to the ease of access (with episodes on YouTube, at WatchtheGuild.com, as well as streaming on XBox Live and on DVD) of the first two seasons, anyone can catch up as I did, late at night when I ran out of other things to watch and decided to see what all the fuss was about.
The Guild is ultimately, like any good show, about characters and their various nuances. It is unquestionably a comedy, testing the strength of online relationships in the context of the real world to hilarious and awkward results, but at its core is a sort of sadness of Vork’s hermit-like state, and horror at Clara’s child care standards. I won’t pretend to take the show as a social commentary, but there is something beneath its comedy that shows a real appreciation for the types of people who play these games, and the sense of serialized character development that defines the best sitcoms (at least in my eyes).
I went through the first two seasons about a month ago, and really enjoyed them: the first season was sharp in its integration of Bladezz back into the folds (and letting Codex/Zaboo’s odd-couple relationship remain the show’s focus), while the second season worked perhaps even better in splitting everyone up into groups now that the character types had been integrated. When I started the show, it seemed like everyone would be stuck in front of their webcams and we’d be watching the drama of the guild infiltrate their real lives, but now we’re seeing it work the other way around (to a degree) with the real life influencing the guild.
Here’s a link to the premiere at MSN.com, and then my thoughts on the premiere after the jump.