Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 2 June 2020

How Apple TV+’s ‘Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet’ impressively skewers the gaming industry

The minds behind 'It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia' have got a new show

David Hornsby, Charlotte Nicdao, Jessie Ennis, Rob McElhenney and F Murray Abraham in 'Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet'. Courtesy Apple TV+.
David Hornsby, Charlotte Nicdao, Jessie Ennis, Rob McElhenney and F Murray Abraham in 'Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet'. Courtesy Apple TV+.

It’s hard not to instantly compare Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Not only was Mythic Quest dreamt up by It’s Always ­Sunny’s creator Rob ­McElhenney and its breakout star Charlie Day, with celebrated Community and Modern Family scribe Megan Ganz making up the new show’s creative trio, but McElhenney also takes up the leading role of Ian Grimm, the self-proclaimed genius behind the titular video game.

However, Mythic Quest couldn’t be more different to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. While the latter has now spent 14 seasons covering taboo subject matters in as dark, dingy and depraved a manner as possible, on the surface, at least, Apple TV+’s latest offering looks and feels much more like a traditional sitcom.

Not only do most of its episodes unfold within the confines of the bright and pristine offices for the hugely successful Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, rather than the ramshackled Paddy’s Pub, but even the interactions between its extremely likeable characters are more reminiscent of shows such as Parks & Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock, Scrubs and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

While Mythic Quest has the occasional expletive uttered in anger, this lack of edge and harshness means It’s Always Sunny die-hards will need some time to acclimatise. In fact, its pilot, Non-Playable Characters, which revolves around Grimm getting into a dispute with Charlotte Nicdao’s lead developer, Poppy, over the late addition of a sword just before the new release of the game, feels relatively tame and uneventful, as you can’t help but imagine how McElhenney’s Mac would deal with the situation.

It’s still enjoyable, though. Not only does it feature enough quips to generate a solid number of laughs, but, most importantly, it establishes the cast of characters that will soon propel Mythic Quest from being merely fine to genuinely funny, entertaining and heart-warming.

Since he’s the show’s co-­creator and star, it would be safe to assume that ­McElhenney would be at the core of everything that enhances Mythic Quest. There’s no denying that he is pretty good as the egotistical and oblivious Grimm. But that only goes to show how strong the rest of the ensemble is, as pretty much every other performer in Mythic Quest outshines McElhenney, who still deserves praise for perfectly casting these actors in the first place.

Everything that comes out of the mouths of David Hornsby (as executive producer David Brittlesbee), who was a writer, producer and played the recurring role of Cricket in It’s Always Sunny, and Academy Award-winner F Murray Abraham, as head writer C W Longbottom, is both over the top and hilarious. Meanwhile, Jessie Ennis’s overly aggressive assistant, Jo, Imani Hakim as Dana, Ashly Busch as Rachel, and Aparna Nancherla’s disgruntled programmer, Michelle, also pretty much steal every scene they’re in, too.

However it is Nicdao as Poppy, who constantly has to battle with Grimm while maintaining her own artistic integrity, who is the real stand-out of Mythic Quest. Not only does she bring the required intensity that helps to elevate each episode, but she does so while always remaining captivating and hilarious, which is no mean feat since for a lot of her scenes, she has to go toe-to-toe with sitcom stalwart McElhenney.

Rob McElhenney in 'Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,'. Courtesy Apple TV+
Rob McElhenney in 'Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,'. Courtesy Apple TV+

Over the course of the next three episodes, these sterling performances and the inherent comedic camaraderie of its cast, as well as the show’s exploration of the battle of art and commerce, the rise of Nazism and trolling online, and misogyny in the gaming industry, allow Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet to firmly establish itself.

Instead of It’s Always Sunny, it soon becomes apparent that the only show worth comparing Mythic Quest to is Silicon Valley. Especially because, like the HBO hit, with each additional episode, Mythic Quest lovingly brings to life the people of the video game world, and explores details and stories unique to the industry, while always skewering and satirising it in a relatable and irreverent fashion.

At the same time, it becomes increasingly watchable and quotable, and even comforting, which makes up for the fact some of its episodes are uneven and the over-arcing plot for its first season is actually rather predictable.

F. Murray Abraham, Danny Pudi, David Hornsby, Rob McElhenney and Charlotte Nicdao in “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” premiering February 7, 2020 on Apple TV+.
The show has an all-star cast and is packed with laughs. Courtesy AppleTV+.

Except for its fifth episode, A Dark Quiet Death, which is actually a stand-alone story that begins in the early 1990s and revolves around Jake Johnson and Cristin Milioti’s developers as they launch their own video game, and seemingly has nothing to do with Mythic Quest at all.

However, rather than being an annoying deviation, A Dark Quiet Death not only showcases the potential scope for future seasons of Mythic Quest, which Apple TV+ has already confirmed will return for a ­second season, but also highlights the creative freedom at the recently launched streaming service. Hopefully, the show will use this artistic license to build upon its impressive first season, because, while there’s room for improvement, it has all the ingredients to blossom into one of the best comedies on TV.

All nine episodes of Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet are available to stream on Apple TV+ now

Updated: February 9, 2020 04:00 PM



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