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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (1/4/10) 12:41pm - ... wherein Peter posts a Weekly Media Update.

Movies:  <none>
TV:  The Guild [Season Two]
Books:  <none>

The Guild [Season Two]
This is the second season of Felicia Day's wildly-popular webseries about a group of dysfunctional World of Warcraft players.

The good news is that season two is a step up from season one, so I feel less like I'm kicking a puppy this time around.  For one thing, the production values are a serious step up from season one.

For another, the jokes feel less repetitive.  For Vork, they do a good job of what the Upright Citizens Brigade might call "heightening the game."  UCB sketch comedy is all about starting with a simple counterfactual, then exploring the world that the counterfactual implies, then finding a way to take that counterfactual further ("heightening"), then exploring *that* level of the world, and so on.  (Matt Besser often describes this as being like a stairase structure.)

So here with Vork, we started in season one with "Vork is very cheap."  And now we get to explore that world a little, as we see where Vork lives, and learn more about his day-to-day life.  Showing us Vork leeching off of his Alzheimer-afflicted neighbor's Internet connection is a far cry from throwing in yet another one-liner from Vork about how something costs too much money.

Codex's webcam videos are also funnier this time around.  They get a lot of mileage of what I'll call "zeFrank jokes", where you get comedy out of jump cuts within a single webcammed monolog.  For instance, Codex tells the camera she feels really guilty about something, and then we jump cut briefly to Codex giggling madly, and that itself is a joke.  I suppose it's analogous to those hacky sitcoms where the old fuddy-duddy says, "I will never, never go to that party!" before we jump cut to that guy at the party.  It's a old-style joke, but a solid one, and they use it in a slightly new way.

I was also happy to see more complexity to the storylines.  Season two had more opportunities to collide the storylines into each other, so that (say) Codex is trying to mollify the roommate argument between Zaboo and Vork while trying to avoid scarig away the hot stuntman who moved in next door.  All the individual storylines are good old standbys (Tink manipulates Bladezz into giving her free stuff; Clara gets out of going to a wedding; Vork and Zaboo try to be roommates), but the collisions are interesting.

Overall verdict:  another batch of light comedy, but more engaging this time around.

Also, I listened to the cast-commentary track for season two.  It's alright.  The cast goes off-track in every direction, and they're at their best when they're at their most juvenile (case in point:  everyone shouting "Boobs!" when the opening credits briefly focus on Clara's bosom).  It's pleasant and sporadically informative.

A couple of mild spoilers from here on out:
I loved this season's twist on the "two guys fight over the girl" storyline.  It plays out relentlessly logically, but it's pretty much the exact opposite of how it happens in most stories I've seen.

Also, I wasn't sure what to make of the "ghost!Codex runs away" effect at the end.  I figured it was a gaming reference I didn't get (it was).  In any case, it felt like a melodramatic moment that the season-long light comedy hadn't really earned.

For next time:  I'll continue reading The Arabian Nights and listening to EscapePod episodes.

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Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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