Created by: Felicia Day
Cast: Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh, Jeff Lewis, Robin Thorsen, Vincent Caso, Amy Okuda, Michele Boyd, Wil Wheaton, Mike Rose, Teal Sherer, J. Teddy Garces, Alexander Yi, Brett Sheridan
Synopsis: The first episode of this season sees the Knights of Good waiting in line for the latest expansion to their MMO game. A rival guild, The Axis of Anarchy, cut the line in front of them, and start an altercation that shatters Vork and has him resign as Guild leader, nominating Codex to replace him, a decision that has Tink leave and join the enemy.
This review assumes the reader has seen or is familiar with the first two seasons. You can find my review for these seasons by clicking here.
It has recently come to my attention, with the release of Season 4 of the Guild having occurred earlier this week, that I neglected to post a review for the third season. This was a great oversight, as Season 3 took the great elements that had been established in the first two season, while beefing up the roles of some of the more minor characters (Boyd’s Riley, now the dominant member in a relationship with Zaboo, Sheridan’s George, the hapless husband to negligent Clara), as well as adding a raft of new characters in the form of a rival Guild, headed by Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wheaton.
Codex still struggles to get some control of her own life, so to have her dumped with the responsibility of Guild leader results in a pandemonium of mismanagement. She does make decisions, but often for the wrong reasons. In particular, her animosity towards Riley has her elect Clara’s George as Tinkerballa’s replacement, and his sheer level of Noob sends their stats spiralling downwards. Getting him involved was genius from a scripting point of view, this being Clara’s solution to saving her marriage, rather than getting offline to spend time with him.
Vork goes on a mission of self discovery, which has him driving around in his van searching for free Wifi and generally putting him in positions that in many respects make him seem to many like a predator. Lewis’ deadpan delivery is perfect for this, his lack of personality very easily being utilised to highlight the character’s more extreme idiosyncracies. Given the strength of the character, it seems an intentional step was made to give him his own side story, and it was an opportunity that was not squandered, providing some of this season’s best moments.
As already referred to, Zaboo remains the other clear cast lead in his relationship with Riley, whom likes her males subservient and masochistic. Zaboo’s inexperience and awkwardness is a start contrast to the situation in which he finds himself, and promote’s Codex’s more protective side, and perhaps some latent growing emotion for him too. Parikh’s performance style has not altered greatly since season 1, but this should not be seen as a criticism. Since that time he has maintained a brilliant balance between being awkward enough to be amusing, but not so much as to be annoying. He is a great second lead for the show.
That leaves Bladezz and Tink, whom are more to the sideline this season. The Axis of Anarchy expose Bladezz’s modelling alter ego to his entire school, sending him into a social and emotional tail spin. Though at times this provides laughs, it was a relatively weak storyline, and I wish there had been some more room for the character to grow this season. Tink is dealt an even worse blow, but it is a clear consequence of the other strong elements of the season, her defection clearly leading her to be absent for a good portion of the season. What screen time she does get though, she does let her acerbic tongue loose, and it rarely fails to hit the mark.
That leaves the rival Guild, led by Wheaton’s Fawkes. Wheaton over the last few years has been slowly redeveloping his geek credibility. After seeming to have fallen off the map after leaving Star Trek, with appearances on The Guild and The Big Bang Theory, he has proven himself a delightful comic actor that has no problem escaping his squeaky clean Ensign Crusher persona, as well as being open to self parody. He is a strong presence in the series, and is the perfect choice to lead the Axis of Anarchy. Rose plays Valkyrie, a male gamer with a fondness for playing female characters, whom is so over the top that it creates a delightful juxtaposition with his RL persona as a guy working in a textiles company. In many wats, he is Anarchy’s Zaboo, so to see them face off late in the season is absolutely classic. We see less of Garces’ Bruiser, an aggressive cop, Yi’s Alexander, and Asian video gaming pop star with his own hand masseuse, and Sherer’s Venom, a villain that exploits her wheelchair handicap mercilessly, but they are all great characters that use their limited screen time well. It is also great to see a wheel-chair bound character not played for sympathy, for the preference of showing a strong determined character that yes, is just as capable of being a villain as the rest of her guild. The DVD extra’s also highlight how important playing strong characters is to Sherer, and how much fun she enjoyed hamming it up for the series.
It does not take long to watch a season of The Guild, with each webisode being pretty much under ten minutes long, however the laugh rate is generally consistent and the entertainment value is very high. Given that seasons are selling at $20 a piece with a raft of special features (this season includes the popular music video, “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar), it is well worth the purchase. Seasons 3 and 4 are both still currently available at Gametraders.
4 stars out of 5
Season 3 trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_5xcBUydP8]