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8-24-2009 @ 5:54PM
What makes The Guild funny is that anyone who's even been close to gamer culture will recognize the archetypes represented by the characters. EVERYONE'S known a Vork, for example, just as everyone's known a version of Zaboo, Tink, Bladezz, Codex, and Clara. The series is refreshingly honest about all of their failings -- the series is driven in no small part by the fact that they're all dysfunctional people -- without being mean about it or turning the characters themselves into a joke. That's an incredibly difficult balance. Too far in either direction and I doubt the series would have found an audience, but while the characters might be dysfunctional people, within their own little world, they make perfect sense. It's the same reason that William Goldman gave for the success of the "The Princess Bride." That movie could have been a failure on so many levels (and in fact it didn't do amazingly well at the box office), but it worked because you never doubted for a moment that every character had utter faith in whatever they were saying. Vork hosting a guys' night and using the opportunity to show a slide lecture on boss strategies fits that mold pretty well. I'll say as someone who's written professionally that doing all of this within 3-6 minute increments for each episode is even tougher. It's really hard to tell a coherent story that way and still be funny in each episode. As a matter of fact, it's really hard to tell a coherent story on film, period, because doing it well means conveying stuff to the audience without beating them over the head with it (the very first episode of "The Guild," while lacking some of the polish the series later had, was still a small marvel of exposition). Add in the difficulty of doing this without the backing of a film studio or much professional help at all, and reaching their current popularity, well...they have my unending respect for pulling it off. Online media has really taken off, but it is still an uphill battle to reach a large audience without the entrenched and automatic advantage of traditional media.And frankly, I think the geekosphere could do with a lot more of The Guild's self-referential but entirely irreverent humor on its subject matter. WoW's forums, case in point. It's not that hard to find people going postal over patch changes or damage meters or what have you, and you can't swing a dead cat without hitting players biting their nails over guild drama or the havoc that pixels can wreak on real people. Any rational person would take one look at this stuff and bust out laughing. So, while The Guild's characters are themselves dysfunctional, the series' approach to its material represents the only truly functional way to deal with it.At any rate, I greatly respect the cast and crew for having the chutzpah even to try this in the first place, and also Felicia Day for being a very unpredictable person. Anyone who turns down a violin scholarship to Juilliard to go major in math, shows up in the Whedonverse, is one of the people dragging gamer culture kicking and screaming into the mainstream, and does commercials while penning comics and screenplays is someone worth knowing. I bestow on her the title awarded by LiveJournal's now-legendary ONTD community: FIERCE BITCH.
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