It’s surprising how much “The Big Bang Theory” owes a debt to Felicia Day’s web series “The Guild.” Both series are about a small group of flawed but likable individuals who hide in their fandom, and confront life through the lens of video games, science fiction, and pop culture. And one of their main rivals is a character played by Wil Wheaton. That said, “The Guild” really managed to expose actress and all around adorable geek goddess Felicia Day to the online masses, paving her as a self made comedic performer who felt unpolished, but never amateurish. Day’s character Codex is surely a flawed girl with neuroses that stifle her from achieving true happiness, but we root for her because Felicia Day knows how to write the character with empathy.
Even when she’s being mean or cruel. Codex just broke up with her boyfriend who she discovered was sleeping with her male cello teacher. To add insult to injury, her therapist just decided she’s beyond help and has opted out of treating her. The first season of the series is rough around the edges, but garners an immensely charming tone to it that really keeps the show moving along at a brisk pacing. It’s clear Day can’t really offer much in the way of narration, so much of the exposition is through Codex’s fixation on chronicling her life through her webcam. When her webcam is malfunctioning, she basically whips out a digital camera to record her thoughts.
This is very cleverly inserted as a means of Codex trying to prove to her therapist that she’s making progress. Thus she records her thoughts. Codex is a part of an online guild of role players called “The Knights of Good,” but when one of her team members named Zaboo shows up at her door professing his love to her, and admitting to know everything about her, Codex is at a loss for words. What’s ultimately grasped with is: Was Zaboo completely out of line for breaking the illusion and opting to meet Codex, or was he really the only member of the group bold enough to break the illusion and make an actual human connection?
Felicia Day as Codex transforms over the course of the series wonderfully, as this woman content with keeping the game only a game, and then slowly comes to rely on her actual guild, and less on the computer game. Day’s character Codex is sweet and quirky, and though her flaws keep her back often, she learns about real fulfillment that’s not all fantasy and fiction. “The Guild” really is a platform for Day to shine, and she is adorable. Codex assembles her group beyond the game to meet and discuss Zaboo and their situation, and not only does the illusion fall, but the group of role players have to figure out how to communicate and overcome their own social dysfunctions to solve actual problems in their lives. Sandeep Parikh is great as the geeky Zaboo, who takes it upon himself to meet Codex, and take a shot at a different life beyond his smothering mom.
Much of the characters introduced in “The Guild” feel realistic and comical thanks to and in spite of their personality disorders. Jeff Lewis is great as Guild leader Vork, who has a phobia about going broke, and counts every single penny he spends, while Robin Thorsen really keeps the energy lively as neglectful mom Clara, who values the game over her family. Amy Okuda is also a standout as the enigmatic Tinkerballa, who refuses to divulge information about her personal life, but grows to love the guild beyond the game. Thankfully, “The Guild” isn’t a one note premise, as it evolves with different conflicts, and new obstacles every season. Felicia Day’s web series is often very funny, incredibly inventive and worth watching. Especially if you’re a fellow Felicia Day admirer, like myself. “The Guild” series is a little over eight hours long, with each season clocking in at a little over an hour in length.
The Bonus materials include Cast and Crew Interviews, production diaries from the cast including Felicia Day, Audition tapes for the key cast, Gag Reels, Audio Commentaries from the cast and crew, and looks at table readings for the episodes. There’s also PDF scripts to download for folks who want to read them. As well there’s tips on making a web video, a few music videos, production diaries, a Behind the Scenes featurette, and an interview with the Axis of Anarchy rival guild.