The Quest – Hot new TV Show or Boring Also Ran?

Quick guess – if I’m writing about it – it’s hot! The Quest has been described by a local wit as the Amazing Race with a +3 broadsword – and that’s not a bad description. But it is so much more than that – and thus well worth watching.

I suppose it helps if you are a re-enactor, because this is definitely about what it should be like to play Dungeon and Dragons for real.

The concept is complex and that’s part of what makes it a must watch for me!

Apparently a group of bored people who had worked on Lord of the Rings and simply had way, way too much time on their hands (the credits are on the web – I’m not repeating them) decided it would be totally too much fun to create a fantasy world, fill it full of actors and cameras – and then invite 12 innocent, but experienced with re-enacting, people to come and play. Amazingly the

The 12 newbies – dubbed Paladins which shows a lack of comprehension of what that term should mean – arrive and are greeted by the Grand Vizier, the Queen, and a host of other people who play the roles of guards, alarm clocks (I love the guy who goes around banging on the doors every morning), or village inhabitants. There are also “The Fates” who are given the responsibility of meting out punishment for a lack of success by banishing Paladins one by one until there remains but one true hero.

It’s hard to say right now what that one true hero is going to face – but given the bits and pieces of amazing costume design that they’ve showed us – it’s not going to be pretty.

So – it’s a reality show with a story line – or it’s a televised Dungeon and Dragons game with some people in the ‘know’ and other people hoping that they can survive. The Paladins so far have displayed a remarkable willingness to ‘believe’ – and that definitely makes the entire thing even more interesting. Here are normal people parachuted into this world where everyone around them stays in character. And they must best challenges and form alliances – and do all the other things that reality contestants must do – while the story evolves around them.

To quickly sum up the first 2 shows – in hopes you’ll turn in for the third show – (runs Thursday on ABC and a ton of cable channels – 8:00 EST, 7:00 Central) –

1) The contestants arrive – are greeted by the fates – explained the rules – and slowly changed from 20th century garb to faintly medieval with fantasy overtone garb.

2) They run thru the ‘forest’, are chased by a monster, and eventually arrive at a castle where they are thrown into jail to wait for the Grand Vizier to greet them.

3) They are escorted to their lodgings – pair off and relax. In #2 and #3 there is time for each person to introduce themselves to the group.

4) They get ‘training’ clothes – so they are now completely ‘in’ the period. Things look much better when everyone is dressed in period – re-enactors know this from experience! You believe more when you are dressed right.

5) The first ‘test’ is a training exercise where they must aim huge crossbows up and over a brush ‘wall’ to ‘kill’ straw men on the far side. Note that so far the ‘tests’ have been fantasy period appropriate – another cool thing. It’s like Survivor when it first started – the tests fit the times! Bonnie is chosen as the ‘top’ – and kneels convincingly at the feet of the ‘trainer’ to get her badge. Cool. The 3 people in the team with the lowest scores must ‘face’ the fates.

6) If I had a complaint – and of course I’d tell you if I did – it’s the Fates. The group marches to the hall of the Fates – 3 beautiful women who are stern in expression. They announce that the person to be banished will be determined in 2 steps. Step 1 – a contest – the winner is exempt. Step 2 – the remaining paladins vote off the ‘loser’. This is where I have a problem. Allowing the paladins to choose who goes and who stays is going to quickly degenerate into a test of Alliances. Not value, not skill – but alliances. Bummer. But that is from someone who would probably always get voted off the island. (me)

7) The next day there is another ‘exercise’ – this one a jousting mock-up with the Paladins on horseback forced to fire arrows, throw spears, hit jousting targets, and smash a skull. Cool – and seriously hard to do, even if they do hold the horse steady while you shoot the arrows. The loser is the best horse-woman in the field – quickly voted off the island. We are now down 2 women – so what started off as a field of 5 guys and 7 women is now 5 and 5.

8) Now the plot thickens. The Paladins meet the Queen earlier in the day, and are pleased to realize that she is very much on their side. Asking the people of the ‘world’ to make sure the Paladins are comfortable. She even comes out to watch the exercise and jousting tournament – and she joins them for dinner after the meeting with the Fates. At dinner – she is suddenly poisoned quite convincingly!

Cool.

I can’t wait for next week just to see what devilish stunt they will pull out of their fantasy hats!

Signing off – the Soup Lady.

 

 

 

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