Mythic Quest is an American sitcom about the creation and running of the titular computer game. It’s not the first time MMORPGs has been brought into the realm of comedy, but this does something a little different. Where The Guild and Dead Pixels both focused on the *consumers, Mythic Quest takes us behind the scenes, to the very offices where the fantasy world is made. Yes, finally, it’s a show about creatives—Hallelujah! I think you’re gonna dig it.
At its heart, this is a show about Art as Industry – a concept perhaps underappreciated by the masses in the past, but one that has gained more attention during the pandemic. The inherent tensions are manifold and ripe for mining as egos collide, artistic integrity is challenged, and the twin tyrants of capitalism and populism loom large.
The pilot sets the scene nicely with a battle over the humble shovel. Poppy, the sparky Head Programmer, has a vision: she sees it as a way to change the landscape in the game, to engage players with a bit of world-building themselves. Brad (the Monitizer) thinks it’s guff. Who wants to spend time in the game just digging? And it’s a cheap item. Even if they wanted to buy it, no-one’s paying big bucks for something like that. Meanwhile Ian (the egomaniacal Creative Director, who prefers to be called ‘Iron’) thinks it’s all just a bit dull. Perhaps, he thinks, swinging it around, it should double as a weapon…?
So far, so what? Plot is not the **point; it’s the interactions between the characters, their motivations and their failings that make any comedy sing, and this one has real range. It’s written by Rob McElhenney who is best known for creating the ***hit show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so don’t worry, you’re in good hands. McElhenney stars alongside the brilliant Charlotte Nicdao (Thor: Ragnarok), and the ever-sharp Danny Pudi (Community) as the aforementioned Ian, Poppy and Brad, and they’re all a freakin’ delight.
What surprised me was how deep the show could get. Bouncing in and around the creative conflicts, comedic foibles and unfortunate events (I’m looking at you, Blood Ocean) are some really quite deep topics, tender moments of grief and love, broken families, thwarted ambition, loneliness, and the art of story-telling. I’d be hooting one minute and shedding tears the next. That may be a sign of the script quality (excellent), the performances (never less than brilliant), or possibly old age creeping up on me. (Because yeah, I cry at Ted Lasso too. Bite me.)
I could go on to talk about the secondary characters, a chorus of angels, devils and morons played to perfection by Ashly Burch, Imani Hakim, Jessie Ennis, David Hornsby, and the incomparable F. Murray Abraham, but this is supposed to be a review, not a dissection. You will love them or you’ll love to hate them but, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be cheering all of them on by the end. The characters – all of the characters – matter to me. Their hopes and their dreams are fragments of my own (yes, even the McDuck money bin), and their fears and their failings are all-too familiar. That’s not nothing, especially when there are only 20 episodes. Gotta take my hat off, they’ve done a great job and created a grand sweep of story.
There’s just one problem…
See, great as it is, there’s a decent chance you’ve never even heard of Mythic Quest unless you have AppleTV+, and even then you probably haven’t watched it. I mean who has the time, right? There are already far too many shows and films languishing on your watchlist, with new ones popping up each month. Just how many damned streaming services do they expect us to pay for anyway?
Can you get it on dvd? Blu-ray? Buy a digital download from Amazon? Nope.
Well, the good news is that you can get a ****free AppleTV+ trial so if you know what shows you want to watch, and if you have the time, you can get in a bloody good binge for nothing at all. I can already strongly recommend Mythic Quest, Ted Lasso and the animated movie, Wolfwalkers. I’ll be checking out Foundation (the Isaac Asimov adaptation) later on this month, and perhaps Tehran too, given my family connections there. I’ll let you know if they’re any good.
That’s about it from me for now. Have you seen Mythic Quest? Did you think it was brilliant or a load of old tat? Pop down to the comments and tell me why.
* Delicately treading the tightrope between laughing with and laughing at people who socialise in computer-generated worlds.
** Which isn’t to say the plots are bad; there are some cracking little through-lines.
*** At 15 seasons and counting, Always Sunny holds the record for the longest-running US live-action comedy series.
**** Normal trial is 7 days. However, you get 3 months with any new Apple device. Oh, and I’ve just found out that T-Mobile are offering a full year subscription to their American customers now. You don’t even have to be a new subscriber. Not too shabby! (Can’t immediately tell if that includes the UK, mind.)
For full transparency, neither Apple nor T-Mobile are paying for this review in any way. The bastards…
Prefer to see how I apply my critical thinking to the editing work? My clients will tell you all about it on the Testimonials page.