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With: Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh, Jeff Lewis, Vincent Caso, Amy Okuda, Robin Thorsen, Wil Wheaton, Michele Boyd, J. Teddy Garces, Mike Rose, Teal Sherer, Alexander Yi
Written by: Felicia Day
Directed by: Sean Becker
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 79
Date: 03/19/2013

The Guild: Season Three (2009)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Rules of the Gamers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As a film critic, I spend most of my time watching movies. I rarely ever get to relax and watch TV. For example, I have been interested in checking out "The Wire" for years now, but have not had the time to invest in a whole season. Thankfully this wonderful new web-based show turned up, with episodes running just 4 to 8 minutes apiece, and I was able to devour three whole seasons in a reasonable amount of time, and come away as perfectly relaxed, satisfied and entertained as if I had watched dozens of hours. Although it's available online for free, "The Guild: Season Three" is also now available on a new DVD with higher quality picture and sound and tons of extras.

"The Guild" was created by Felicia Day, best known for her roles on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and in Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog. She writes and stars in every episode. The show follows a team of six guild members ("The Knights of Good") who play a video game together over the web. (I'm not a gamer, and you don't have to be to enjoy this show.) Their disparate skills and personalities allow them to work together in virtual reality, even if they don't do quite so well in real reality. Codex (Day) begins each show with a webcam broadcast. She's a meek people pleaser, who attracts the unwanted romantic attentions of guild member Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh). Vork (Jeff Lewis) is the bald, middle-aged, anal-retentive leader of the group, and Clara (Robin Thorsen) is a housewife who cheerfully neglects her husband and three kids to play the game. Bladezz (Vincent Caso) is a good-looking high schooler who doubles as a model, and Tink (Amy Okuda) is the opposite of Codex, proud of her bad attitude.

As Season Three begins -- and the production budgets have improved -- our six guildies have survived various shakeups and are now waiting in line together to buy an upgrade to the game. A rival guild ("The Axis of Anarchy"), led by Fawkes (Wil Wheaton) cuts in line and thus begins a nasty, below-the-belt battle between good and evil. Over the course of Season Three, Vork resigns as leader and goes on a personal quest, driving around in his van and occasionally logging on via some free WiFi. Meanwhile, Codex takes on the role of leader, a job for which she is woefully unprepared. Zaboo begins a relationship with the superhot Riley (Michele Boyd), who begins to abuse him sexually and then mentally. Tink decides to abandon her guild to join the evil "Axis" and Clara's husband has discovered that she kissed another man at a wild party during Season Two. Likewise, Bladezz must try to undo some of the damage inflicted upon him in Season Two. (It's recommended that viewers check out all of Seasons One and Two before embarking on Season Three.)

"The Guild" works like any great sitcom, by creating a brilliant mix of characters, each likeable in his or her own way -- no one character outweighs any of the others -- and with a strong group chemistry. Thankfully, these characters all have much more amusingly dark, twisted personalities than something like "Friends." But what's really incredible about this show is how much funny stuff and character development it crams into such a short amount of time. It left me feeling that most TV shows are really very wasteful sticking to all those old-fashioned half- and full-hour time formats. "The Guild" proves it can be done just as well in a fraction of the time.

New Video's DVD comes with several featurettes, a Halloween special, the "Do You Want to Date My Avatar" music video (plus the making of said video), commentary tracks and optional subtitles.

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