Film and TV

The Intertubes: The Guild

Once a week, the Intertubes will look at popular internet-only television-style series and comment on them. We're trying to avoid porn, but you really never can tell with the internet.

Felicia Day's face is an easy one to look at. She's so endearingly, geekily pretty that I could watch her talk for hours. She starts off each episode of her webseries, The Guild, with a brief monologue delivered straight into the webcam of her character Cyd Sherman, better known by her avatar's name, Codex.

The Guild is about gamers, and unlike something you might see on TV, it's less patronizing pandering and more humble salute. Whereas most TV shows and movies don't really have a handle on the whole internet thing yet ("Colonel, if I can hack into their mainframe, I can splice into their power supply and unload all their weapons." "Then do it, Corporal. And on your way out, BREAK ALL OF THEIR INTERNETS."), The Guild is pretty accurate and reasonable for what is mainly a goofy farce. The members of the guild in question - The Knights of Good - are all from different walks of life, holding to various forms of employment and various tiers on the social ladder. It's a far cry from, and more believable than, Hollywood's constant depictions of the basement-dweller / technopunk computer geeks who can find their way into the Pentagon's network from a halfway decent graphing calculator but can never, ever access the genitals of the opposite sex. And there's a good reason for that intimate familiarity with the gamer community.

Felicia Day is an avid gamer, and wrote and produced The Guild in between her somewhat sparse (at the time) acting gigs. Her devotion to the world of gaming shows in her sympathetic portrayal of the characters.

The members of the Guild are all horribly addicted to a nameless, generic massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG for short). Whatever it is, it seems to adhere to the same fantasy-medieval setting as popular MMORPGs Everquest and World of Warcraft, in that there are elves, gnomes, trolls, and spellcasters. The series deal primarily with what happens when the lines between this fantasy world and the real world start getting blurry. The first thing that happens, for instance: Guildmate Zaboo shows up at Codex's door, having interpreted her chat-room flirting as genuine professions of love. Zaboo stays with her for the entire first season, an unwanted, amorous houseguest, and maximum credit has to go to actor Sandeep Parikh for his portrayal of Zaboo. What could have easily been an unpleasantly creepy stalker of a character instead simply emerges as a likable if socially maladjusted weirdo who is obviously not a threat to anyone's safety. Not even his own; after being rejected by Codex, he fails to hang himself properly.

Day's acting is probably the best in the series, as she brings a quirky believability to a character that could have come across as too gimmicky. When the series starts she's a shut-in, but begins venturing out more and gaining confidence in the real world, thanks largely to Zaboo's infringement into her personal space. Jeff Lewis is also a highlight as the details-obsessed Vork. Other actors are hit and miss at first, with some noticeably stilted line readings here and there, but they improve as the series progresses. Day's writing makes up for the weaknesses in some of the actors; her dialogue is smart and sharp, and she plays to each character's strengths and shortcomings with equal affection.

Everything adds up to an extremely watchable little show. You could run through all the episodes in a day, which I plan on doing, being at the moment about halfway through Season Two. I'll be disappointed when I reach the end of Season Four, no doubt, and eagerly awaiting Season Five.

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John Seaborn Gray