CREATED BY: Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz
STARRING: Rob McElhenney, Charlotte Nicdao, David Hornsby, Danny Pudi, F. Murray Abraham, Jessie Ennis, Imani Hakim and Ashly Burch
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is an Apple TV+ comedy series created by It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia stars Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and comedy writer Megan Ganz. The series is set in video game studio that follows Ian Grimm, the creative director of the hugely popular online role-playing game Mythic Quest, where he and his fellow developers getting prepared to release their first big expansion, Raven’s Banquet. Those working at the studio include lead developer Poppy Li, head of monetisation Brad Bakshi, head writer C.W Longbottom, executive producer David Brittlesbee, David’s assistant Jo, and game testers Dana and Rachel.
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is the first Apple TV+ series that I decided to watch first, primarily due to the fact that it’s created by Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day and I am a fan of the other comedy series they created and star in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. While the series gives the viewer a new terrain for a comedy series, a video game development studio, to explore, it gives us very familiar office and corporate shenanigans for us to laugh at as some of the group of characters that we follow proceed to treat each other like shit over the course of the season, particularly in how often there’s a power struggle going on in each episode with a character looking to obtain something that they want, be it recognition…or actual power.
The first season looks particularly at the video gaming world through an open lens, pointing out how a single voice, or in this case a ‘YouTube’ personality (Pootie Shoe in this series) can make or break a games reputation with their verdict, regardless of the time and effort that many people put into making it. This is eventually covered in a sub-plot which the studio try to mould their own content creator personality to become a voice in the gaming community. It also highlights how the community crave for more content to be added and how critical they can be for not getting what they hoped for, which is sometimes covered in the scenes involving community Sue (played really well by Caitlin McGee). It also looks into how gaming is open to all communities, though how do you handle the extreme ones that love your game such as white supremacists (in one of the best episodes ‘Dinner Party’).
The one episode that stood out for me was episode five, A Dark Quiet Death, as it focuses on two characters that related to the rest of the ensemble, seeing how these two get into a relationship and develop an indie horror game that becomes a global phenomenon through the 90’s-2000’s, serving as a cautionary tale of letting a studio and your ego compromise your original vision that made your game popular in the first place being micro-managed and dismantled from within that, if you don’t pay attention, you’ll end up looking at a completely different game entirely. It’s a well written episode and the guest performances by Jake Johnson, Cristin Milioti and Geoffrey Owens, are great in this episode and made me care about the relationship especially between Doc and Bean, and considering they only appear for one thirty-five minute episode, that’s some achievement. Another standout episode actually happens to be the one that the ensemble and creative team shot during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown titled ‘Quarantine’, and while it will also serve as a solid starting point to introduce your friends to the series, I believe it works much better having followed the characters through the entire season.
The ensemble are terrific in their roles and oddly enough, there’s not one character that stands out above the rest. Rob McElhenney is great as Ian Grimm, Charlotte Nicdao is great as Poppy Li, a perfect foil to the craziness that goes on around her, Danny Pudi is perfectly cast as the sociopathic, profit-obsessed Brad Bakshi, and David Hornsby is terrific as David. However, there’s some characters I felt that were either underwritten from what I was expecting, particularly if you cast F. Murray Abraham as C.W Longbottom I expected him to do more than reminisce about his glory fantasy writing days, but that’s just me. There’s also some characters that currently don’t work for me, though they do have their comedic moments, particularly Jessie Ennis as Jo and Craig Mazin as Lou. Again, not their performances, just their characters.
While the series initially takes a while to find its footing in the first few episodes, I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, as it’s the chemistry amongst the ensemble and the writing for certain scenarios and topics that are covered are often hilarious.