Slackers and fellow nerds, stand up. Or, like, whatever. Technology keeps on marchin', and now we even got web serial shows hitting it up big. Cutie-pie actress and self-avowed avid World of Warcraft gamer Felicia Day created, writes, produces, and stars in THE GUILD, a series focusing on a pretty pathetic bunch of online gamers. It's par for the course that these cats spend an unholy amount of awake time logged on to their game, "The Knights of Good," to the exclusion of pretty much everything else. But then real life barges in.
Felicia Day is "Codex" - which is the guild code name of our heroine Cyd Sherman - and Codex is a bit of a sad sack. She's just lost her job and her boyfriend. Her therapist just now broke up with her. And, responding to a knock on her door, Cyd has a face to face with her creepy but genial stalker Zaboo, who just happens to be a fellow gamer in her guild. Zaboo mistakes online flirting with Codex for honest romance, and he quickly becomes a house guest who won't leave. Thing is, Codex prefers her fellow questers where they are, online and not in the same room. However, in trying to cope with Zaboo's intrusion, she hits on the notion of having the guild members meet in person. Uh-oh.
Coming from a non-gamer's perspective, I find THE GUILD to be hugely entertaining stuff. Let's face it, most of us are at least a little bit like these hapless folks, and it's this commonality which keeps me tuning in and it's what made me snatch up this DVD. Felicia Day has mad skills. She's outstanding as the sweet, very insecure Codex, and she can't really be given enough props for juggling all the hats she has to wear to keep this show going. An accomplished violinist, Felicia even rocks the bow and strings in Season 2. The cast is comprised of no-name actors and Felicia's buds from her improv days - Jeff Lewis (the always deadpanned "Vork") and Sandeep Parikh ("Zaboo," a Hinjew) are friggin' hilarious. That the cast comes together like this and consistently produces these bits of awesome... well, it's a triumph for the underdog and the underbudgeted. Fact is, THE GUILD wouldn't have survived if the fans hadn't dropped in their donations; that's how strapped the show was. Felicia Day launches each episode with an entry from Codex's video log, which not only gives us even more of a window into her character but also cements her even further as the show's core character. Personally, I dig these v-logs because this is when Felicia comes up with her best facial expressions. She's so cute, man.
THE GUILD is a web sitcom, its recipe touching on themes of alienation, loneliness, obsessiveness, and sheer social discomfort. And, it turns out, when done right, these themes make you laugh. I'm not a gamer and so some of the gaming jargon zipped by over my head, but I still found plenty of relatable things (although, okay, I'm pretty horrified at how badly Clara neglects her kids - it's one of those "laugh as you cringe" deals). It's cute how the Guild members become each other's unlikely support system, on- and offline. Even Clara, who spends most of Season 2 crazy hammered, tries to fit in.
All 22 webisodes from Seasons 1 & 2 are here. Disc 1 has the first season webisodes and the following bonus stuff: 2 optional audio commentaries for each Season 1 webisode (one with the cast, the other with director/producer Jane Selle Morgan for episodes 1-5, producer Kim Evey, and director Greg Benson popping up from episode 6 on); cast interviews; audition footage with Vincent Caso ("Bladezz"), Robin Thorsen ("Clara"), and Amy Okuda ("Tinkerballa"); Season 1 gag reels; a Christmas Carol video; and the Season 1 script (PC downloadable as a PDF file). Word to the wise, the best bonus segments are the outtakes.
Disc 2 has Season 2, in which we get to know the Guild even better (especially Vork) as they interact with each other even more, and Codex sort of gets an outside life. There are also server shutdown woes and a betrayal from within and a cautionary tale about why you shouldn't ever leave your valuable stuff on a sofa. Also, the very hot, very tall Riley enters the picture, as well as that annoying movie stunt double. Bonus stuff on Disc 2: two commentaries, one with the cast, the other with Felicia Day, producer Kim Evey, and director Sean Becker; Meet the Cast & the Crew & the Extras; more cool gag reels; Season 2's Episode One table read as the cast munches pizza; "Twas the Night Before Xmas" (the Guild version); audition footage of Fernando Chien trying out for the role of "Wade Wei" & Michele Boyd going for the role of "Riley" (with some great ad-lib stuff with Sandeep Parikh); some fan art (meh); and the Season 2 script (PC downloadable as a .PDF file). Lastly, the DVD case comes with a warm thank you note from Felicia to the fans, a graceful finishing touch to this highly watchable labor of love.