Oct 122015
 

The Quest

What if you could play Survivor, except in Narnia? Or go on an Amazing Race through Middle Earth?

You can. All you have to do is be lucky enough to become a contestant on an offbeat but compelling reality contest called “The Quest“.

My Gamer Girl stumbled across this series while paging through Netflix, looking for something to help fill the never-ending maw of “what do you want to watch next”. I am not the TV person, she is, and I am most certainly not the reality show person (although she is). So when she found this, she started it up, except she had to turn it off almost as soon as she’d started it.

“Geoff has to see this”, she thought, as she set it aside for a night we can both watch, “this was written for him”.

And she was right. Except, it is not written for me, so much as for all of us. All of us fantasy nerds. Swords and sorcery, combined with a social game.

It sounds unbelievable. And in fact there are a couple of unbelievable aspects to the show. One in particular. How did I not know about this? It’s not on some obscure cable channel, it’s on ABC! How could promotion of the show be so bad? I am someone who internets constantly, especially regarding anything to do with fantasy and/or sci fi. How could I be entirely unaware?

And yet I was. Poorly done, ABC, poorly done. But enough about the (lack of) promotion. The show itself is quite the opposite of its promotion in that it is really, really well done. Production values are through the roof. Ridiculously so.

They start with a dozen players, no idea how they recruited them, mostly nerds (mostly good-looking nerds, it is national TV after all). Anyway, they take these dozen players and have them spend the entire first night marching through an incredible underground cavern and then a “haunted” forest as their introduction to the show’s fantasy milieu.

Yes, the show has a fantasy milieu. A world.

The fantasy world is called “Everrealm”, a pretty good name actually, and indicative of the care that the producers are taking to make their fantasy believable. Some of the production staff also worked on the Lord of the Rings movies and they seem to have sufficient budget to do things up right. Monsters look real. The castle where they base the players looks authentic. The actors playing the various roles are skilled but also well-coached with well-written dialog; it is all quite well done.

Right away you bump up against one of the oddities of the show: the players know they are in a game show, but also seem so immersed in the fantasy world they are inhabiting that they sort of crossover, and start referring to the events in the game as if they were real.

“I don’t want to let the Queen down” says one, in a perfectly earnest tone.

 

One of the players , called
One of the players , called “paladins”, playing The Quest”

Even more strangely, there doesn’t seem to be any prize for winning. No one is talking about winning, but rather, saving the realm, as if they are totally swept up in the quest rather than the contest. I assume the producers prime them to talk in this manner, and have edited the talking head shots to feature those that are said in-character over those that are not.

But still. It is weird. Yet weird in a good way. If you have ever played any LARP you will feel right at home, although your LARP game never came close to this kind of makeup and costuming.

 

Your LARP never had the budget for this
Your LARP never had the budget or skills  for this

It is still a game show, even if everyone involved is acting like it is something more. Someone is eliminated each episode. There is still a social game to be played (like Survivor), although it is more important to excel at the challenges (like the Amazing Race). No one is talking about alliances, or any form of meta gaming, but you can see alliances forming, even though I’ve only watched the first two episodes.

The series originally ran in 2014. There is a facebook page, but not one that is well-tended. Apparently they used up their entire budget on sets and costumes and castle and left nothing at all for promotion.

The Fates preside over player eliminations
The Fates preside over player eliminations

IMDB shows it still open-ended, not canceled, maybe there will be a season 2? One can only hope.

Swords and Sorcery and Survivor. Who’d have thunk it?

You have to watch. It’s on Netflix right now.

Stop reading the internets and go get The Quest.

Go!

🙂 😀 🙂

  6 Responses to “The Quest – D&D for the Masses”

Comments (6)
  1. Off to add this to my Netflix watch-list!!!!

  2. 🙁 Not on the UK Netflix

  3. I had a friend that watched it, and I teased her mercilessly that she was watching a show about LARPing… She was not amused.

  4. I watched the first 2 episodes, but it was on during a weird time slot that made it hard for me to view – glad to hear its on netflix

  5. “Not cancelled” but also “not renewed”. Ratings were absolutely abysmal (’cause, y’know. No promotion. People can’t turn in if they don’t know it’s there!). IMDb lists a *lot* of series as not having ended despite everyone involved having moved on 5 years ago. Take last year’s Taxi Brooklyn, for example: Listed as still going, but three of the main actors are all on new shows this year. And not just a couple of eps, *every* ep, so clearly at least major supporting characters if not main characters. Or Cleaners – listed as “2013-” but both main actresses have starred/are starring in new shows. Another longer-term example in the genre: Pirate Master, a reality show about modern-day pirates. It was fun, it was expensive, it tanked, it wasn’t renewed… and it’s listed as “2007-“… with only one season.

    So, yeah. Don’t get your hopes up for a second season – if there was going to be one, it would’ve aired this summer, but between the obvious costs and the ratings, it simply wasn’t renewed, with about as much fanfare as it aired. So enjoy it while you can.

What do you think?

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