Saturday, July 12, 2008

If "The Office" Was Populated by Unemployed Gamers, You'd Have "The Guild"

Actress Felicia Day, best known for her role in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was a hard-core World of Warcraft player for two years before going cold turkey in November 2006. Instead of waiting for auditions, she pulled a Good Will Hunting and started writing a show for herself, called The Guild, about a group of gamers meeting for the first time in the real world.

Can I say that after six months of trying to subsist on a diet of internet-only content, this is the best original show I've seen online? Don't take my word for it--in March, Yahoo, YouTube, and On Networks/SXSW awarded The Guild their best original online series awards this year. Heck, it's better than some shows on extended cable. It's got enough in-jokes about the WoW culture, but I as a non-gamer, I was still laughing out loud.

Episode 1: The Wake Up Call

Day stars as Cyd Sherman, who is so addicted to a nameless game clearly modeled on WoW that her therapist fires her in the first episode. Cyd knows her fellow guild members only by their onscreen names, until Sujan Balakrishnan Goldberg, aka Zaboo the Gnome Warlock, logs off of the game and shows up on her doorstep. He has taken the ;-) her onscreen character Codex has been giving him as a clear signal that she wants to do the horizontal mambo.

Hoping to distract Zaboo from his stalker-like obsession, Cyd suggests that the guild meet at a local restaurant in person. It's then she meets her fellow players face to face: Vork, the leader who plays while preparing himself a BLT on his George Foreman grill (an incident that Day says came from real life), Clara, the stay-at-home mother of three who pens her crying kids in the kitchen so as not to be distracted from the game, Tinkerballa, the short-fused Asian chick who thinks she is too cool to be seen with these geeks, and Bladezz, a teen troublemaker fond of inappropriate comments and extortion who carries an embarrassing secret.

By far, the best character is Clara--never has child neglect been so funny. While her baby teethes on a power strip, Clara apologizes to the guild for stepping away from the game because the nanny didn't feed her two toddlers dinner. "Belle, Gabby" she yells out, "tomorrow Mommy’s teaching you to use the microwave!"

As someone who wanted to quit her own addictions to try to do something slightly more constructive, I have to give massive props to Day. After funding the first 10 episodes of her show with PayPal donations, Day is now seeking production partners who can fund a second season at a rate faster than one episode a month. Given the spate of recent awards, I'm sure she's selecting between suitors. However, it's only got 44,460 subscribers so I've just added this show as my first subscription on YouTube to lend it some support.

Check out her interview from 3:10-5:00 on Epic Fu

Then check out this interview from MahaloDaily.

I found out about The Guild because Day also appears in Buffy creator Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, a musical about an evil supergenius that debuts online in two days. Don't forget to watch it on Tuesday, June 15!

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