The web series is quickly becoming a viable entertainment medium. Like Youtube with a comparatively high budget, these scrappy independent shows connect with an entire generation who prefer quick shots over longer, more traditional styles. Undoubtedly one of the most successful web series ever created is The Guild, Felicia Day's on-the-pulse sitcom about a group of socially maladjusted World of Warcraft addicts. The Guild is set to premiere its third season on August 25th.
For the uninitiated, it should be no problem to catch up in time for Season 3. All of the episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 are available on the offical website, as well as on iTunes, Effinfunny.com, Youtube and XBox Live. Each episode (I tend not to like the term "webisode") is just a few minutes long, so don't be surprised if you end up watching the whole thing in a single sitting. I know I did.
The real appeal of The Guild is in its surprising accessibility. It would be incredibly easy to turn its premise into an endless stream of in-jokes and shameless fan service. Instead, Day and company have made it possible for anyone to enjoy The Guild regardless of how connected with gaming culture they are. The net speak and WoW references are there for flavor, but they don't carry the show. At its heart, The Guild is a funny, well-acted, well-written story with compelling characters and an endearing atmosphere. It could be about horticulture or hot air ballooning and still be just as entertaining.
It'll be interesting to see how the story and characters in The Guild develop in Season 3. Thanks to a larger budget and some very generous fans, the second season of the series got to stretch its legs and bring itself into a wider variety of sets with a much larger cast of characters. I suspect that this already ambitious project is going to get downright intrepid with its latest season, especially now that the creative chemistry has been cemented by a longer story arch.
Between The Guild and Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Felicia Day has established herself as one of the first real Internet actors. Well, not exclusively. Day has appeared in a variety of movies and TV shows over the past few years and she has more than a little experience on the stage. By bringing Hollywood-level acting chops to a web series, Felicia Day has helped legitimize the medium just as The Guild has proven that there's an audience (of 25 million according to the most recent numbers) for what basically amounts to scripted, professional-level Youtube videos.
The Guild: Season 3 is currently being promoted by a music video, "Do you Want To Date My Avatar", a cheeky pop tune that should prime new viewers for the giggly humor of the show and remind returning fans of why they love the series. There's plenty of merch for hardcore fans, including the first two seasons on DVD with all of the usual extras we've come to expect from modern video releases. Sponsor Microsoft has funded 12 new episodes, the first of which will air this coming Tuesday (August 25th). Log on and enjoy.