Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I love role-playing games--tabletop, live action, mmorpgs, PC games, console games. I’ve slain many pixelated dragons and been the hero of several fictional kingdoms. When I first heard about ABC’s new show The Quest, I was instantly filled with fangirl squee and the show hadn’t even premiered yet.
Imagine if you will a mashup of a Survivor-type reality competition where contestants compete in challenges to save themselves from elimination, but instead of taking place on a remote island the setting is a magical kingdom called Everealm. Not just any magical kingdom, but one that is threatened by the forces of evil, and the contestants are responsible for saving it.
This show had me at hello, and here are five reasons you should be watching it too:
5. The Armor
Upon their arrival in Everealm the contestants (called “paladins” on the show) (we’ll get back to that later) were gifted with leather armor, and it was awesome.
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s so great about basic leather armor?” Aside from the fact that my inner gamer was instantly nostalgic for the many happy hours my characters spent in newb gardens learning how to slay giant rats with starting armor and rusty weapons, there’s something very important about the paladins’ armor—no chainmail bikinis. No boob windows. No molded metal “breast” plates. It’s not Strong Female Character armor. It’s real damn armor. Brienne of Tarth armor…okay maybe not quite that awesome, but you get the idea. The cut of the neckline is different on the women's armor, but everyone is fully clothed and wearing pants. (If you've ever had a female character suffer the indignity of running around in chainmail panties when the same armor piece on a male character is full pants, you understand. I'm looking at you, World of Warcraft!)
4. The Diversity
I’m just going to put this photo of the Fates right here.
3. The Setting
There is some seriously beautiful background going on in The Quest. Nice countryside. A beautiful castle with lots of detail. I’m one of those geeks who runs around a game reading every random book on the shelves and talking to all the NPCs to hear their flavor dialogue, so I’m impressed by the random background actors doing random background things in the castle. It shows thought in creating an immersive setting, so kudos to them.
2. The Contestants
I was addicted to Survivor for many seasons, but after a while I was soured by contestants proudly proclaiming “I’m not here to make friends” and their supervillainous delight in stabbing other contestants in the back. If I want to spend my free time watching how quickly polite society falls apart I’ll read Lord of the Flies again.
I was instantly enchanted by The Quest’s paladins. First, they’re paladins. In most rpg settings paladins are holy knights—warriors imbued with divine powers who do battle in the name of their patron deity. To the gamer audience, choosing “paladin” for the contestants instead of “warrior” or other title adds the expectation that these people will be Good.
Not only do the paladins enthusiastically love every moment of being in Everealm, they’re dead set on saving the kingdom. When an unfortunate red shirt gets eaten shortly after the paladins’ arrival in Everealm, someone (I believe it was Shondo) exclaims that from now on they don’t leave anyone behind. He was fully prepared to run back and save the red shirt.
Yes. This. THIS, PEOPLE. All caps serious. This is what sets this show apart from any other reality show out there. While cheftestants are gleefully bidding on torments to inflict on their competition on Cutthroat Kitchen, and the real housewives of wherever are throwing drinks and pulling hair, the paladins of Everealm are serious about working together to save the kingdom. Their tribal council-ish meetings on deciding who to vote off have floored me. Instead of the typical “How do I advance my place in this game?” conversation, they’ve been discussing which person has the best qualities to be a hero.
Please, TV gods. We need more of this. So much more. I’m tired of dark. I’m done with edgy. I want feel-good TV that I can cheer at, that leaves me with a warm, fuzzy feeling of “that was awesome”.
1. The Characters
Ahem. He may be the Vizier, but he’s the King of Snarky Commentary. Out of all the characters in Everealm, he is clearly having the most fun. But all of the characters are awesome in some way, and big props to them for staying in character when they have no idea how the paladins are going to react/reply. There’s Sir Ansgar, the grizzled veteran responsible for turning the paladins into soldiers. There’s Crio, the dreamer/seer who guides the paladins through their journey. There’s the queen, who got damseled at the end of the last episode (grr, this vexes me, but I understand that it’s a fantasy trope and I’m willing to let it slide) (once).
The Quest airs Thursdays at 8 Eastern/7 Central on ABC. You can like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Now, I know you’re thinking, “But Robyn, Defiance is on then and I have to watch that.” Fear not! You can watch episodes of The Quest online, and I assume they’re available OnDemand for Comcast users and may be streaming on Hulu. Plus, that’s what DVRs are for—you can watch Defiance AND The Quest! :-o Don’t you love living in the future?