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With: Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh, Jeff Lewis, Robin Thorsen, Vincent Caso, Amy Okuda, Wil Wheaton, Hayley Holmes, Erin Gray, Ted Michaels
Written by: Felicia Day
Directed by: Sean Michael Becker
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 100
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

The Guild Season 5 (2011)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Wrath of Con

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In 2010, I received a DVD of Season 3 of "The Guild," a show about a community of six video gamers. A friend informed me that, before watching it, I needed to catch up on Seasons 1-2, which instantly put me off. But then I was informed that an entire season was about the length of an ordinary movie, maybe a little less: each of the 12 episodes runs only about 6-8 minutes.

With this terrific show, creator, writer and star Felicia Day, best known for appearances on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and in Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog (2008), has proven that the old-fashioned half-hour or one-hour television format isn't necessarily anything that needs to be adhered to in the age of the web, and that a great deal of entertainment can be had in a short amount of time.

Now a DVD of Season 5 has arrived, and I went back and caught up with Season 4. Though Season 5 picks up a few threads from it -- notably the new sexual tension between Codex (Day) and rival gamer Fawkes (Wil Wheaton) -- it begins fresh as the six guildies hit the road for a big-time game convention. They have been invited to attend for free after Bladezz (Vincent Caso) has achieved viral video fame for his performance in a Cheesybeard's commercial.

The entire episode takes place over one weekend, and they are forced to stay together in a single hotel room, though this hardly comes into play. There's too much going on. Guild leader Vork (Jeff Lewis) tries to make money from personal appearances by Bladezz when he spies Madeleine Twain (Erin Gray), a former star of a once-popular sci-fi TV show; she arouses mixed feelings in Vork, who is attracted to her, but angered by her sudden departure from the show. (In real life, Gray starred in the "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" TV series of 1979-1981.)

Meanwhile, Codex tries to deal with her newfound feelings for Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh), while simultaneously worrying about the uncertain future of their game. Zaboo dives head-first into the convention, starting a group of seat-savers that quickly turns into a powerful, corrupt organization. Tinkerballa tries to avoid her family, which has unexpectedly turned up at the convention. And Clara (Robin Thorsen) becomes fascinated with the snobby "steampunk" booth at the convention.

This fifth season lacks the simple, fresh approach from the first season (shown almost entirely through webcams), but the convention setting shows an insider's look at geekdom, and shows how fun and seductive it can be (geeks are generally nice people). Likewise, there are a whole bunch of great cameos here, including Stan Lee, Kevin Sorbo, and Brent Spiner, not to mention costumes and actual visual effects! I hope to see more "Guild" someday, but even better, I hope that "The Guild" inspires more short-form shows of this nature.

New Video has released the new DVD, complete with cast commentary tracks, short behind-the-scenes featurettes, a gag reel, a table read, and screenplays in PDF form.

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