This ‘n’ That – The Guild, Starship Troopers Invasion, Archer

The Guild (all six seasons), Archer (four seasons), and Starship Troopers Invasion are currently available on instant Netflix.

The Guild

The Guild (2007-13) – Not rated

Fantasy and reality collide in this engaging Internet series that follows a quirky group of gamers, including Codex (Felicia Day) and Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh), as they struggle to balance real-world relationships with their commitments to playing an addictive online video game. Bound in a tight-knit guild dubbed the Knights of Good, these hopeless geeks confront stiff challenges from controlling mothers, rival factions and, at times, each other.

True story – my wife and I met playing Dungeons & Dragons in college. Admittedly I was the one playing while Jenny was visiting her father but later she joined the group. Many years later, the three of us used to play World of Warcraft far too much. I think that’s the only way people play that game.

Felicia Day started her own web series to lampoon her addiction to World of Warcraft. The Guild was funny and insightful. Jenny and I really enjoyed the first five seasons but we think the series may be played out now as the sixth season was very ho-hum.

Don’t be turned off by the time commitment – a season is only 45-90 minutes.


Archer (2009-13) – Rated TV-MA

Sophisticated spy Archer may have the coolest gadgets, but he still has issues when it comes to dealing with his boss — who also is his mother.”

I have previously reviewed Archer but now the fourth season is available. It has yet to wear out its welcome and the fourth season is still quite enjoyable.

Starship Troopers Invasion

Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012) – Rated R

A starship crew on a secret mission goes missing in a nebula, and troopers must embark on a rescue mission while also combating invading alien bugs.”

I’m not sure who the audience is for this film. Special effects aficionados will be disappointed that it is animated. While there are nods to Robert Heinlein’s original work, there is little of his work here.

Fans of Verhoeven’s snarky 1997 original will find that this continues the story of a few of the characters. Unfortunately they are voiced by completely different actors and all of the humor and satire have been stripped from the film.

I do have a few good things to say about Invasion. It is far better than the abominable, live action, direct-to-DVD Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Invasion is competently made and animation allows them to show scenes that would have been prohibitively expensive in live action CGI. There just doesn’t seem to be much life in the movie.


Dr. Horribles Sing-Along Blog – The Doctor is Out week

In honor of my sudden illness this past weekend, this week is The Doctor is Out week. In this case The Doctor is Out..of his mind! Dr. Horribles Sing-Along Blog is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Dr. Horribles Sing-Along Blog (2008) – NR – Not Rated.

“When he’s not busy breaking the law or trying to get close to his secret crush, Penny (Felicia Day), supervillain wannabe Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) boasts about his exploits via his Internet video blog and dreams of defeating his nemesis, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Conceived during the 2008 Hollywood writers strike, Joss Whedons quirky musical comedy originally debuted as an online miniseries.”

“Its curtains for you Dr. Horrible. Lacy, gently wafting curtains.”

Okay I have to admit to having drunk the Whedon-flavored kool-aid. In my opinion he created two of the best TV series ever made (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly) and two flawed ones that I enjoyed (Angel & Dollhouse). He also wrote one of the best animated movies ever (Toy Story) and made one of my very favorite science fiction films (Serenity).

Joss Whedon made this with many of his friends and family during the writers strike. It was originally viewable as three webisodes. Despite never having a traditional broadcast, Time magazine named it the 4th best TV show of 2008.

Dr. Horrible is played to absolute perfection by Neil Patrick Harris. He auditioned for the role of Simon Tam in Firefly but did not get it. I have never seen Doogie Howser but I enjoyed him in Starship Troopers and Undercover Brother. His performance is quite nuanced.

Our hero, the pompous Captain Hammer, is played by Nathan Fillion. He is charming as always, has good comic timing, and works well with Neil.

Nathan Fillion starred in Firefly for Joss Whedon and when that was cancelled, Whedon put him in the seventh season of Buffy. Whedon did much the same thing for Firefly star Gina Torres, casting her in Angel.

Our love interest is the delightful Felicia Day, star and creator of The Guild. She was originally one of the Slayerettes in the seventh season of Buffy. I think she is my new favorite actress and I hope she gets bigger parts.

The only other star of note is Simon Helberg, who appears briefly as Moist. He is currently playing Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory.

The writing is superb and the framing device of this being the video blog of Dr. Horrible plays out great.

This short show (43 minutes total for all three acts) is absolutely hysterical and has great musical numbers (though not quite as good as those in Buffy the Musical). I highly recommend this show. I would actually go so far as to call this a classic and I will have to buy the DVD at some point.

People Watch: Jed Whedon appears as part of the Bad Horse chorus and frequent Joss Whedon collaborator Marti Noxon appears as a newswoman. Joss Whedon himself appears as the fist of Captain Hammer (when he punches the device on top of the van).

The Guild – Videogames are bad for you week

This is Videogames are bad for you week. So far they have been horrid for me, I’ve been 0 for 4. Worst. Idea. For. A. Week. Ever. The Guild: Seasons 1 & 2 is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Guild

WATCH: The Guild: Seasons 1 & 2 – NR – Not rated.

“Actress and former “World of Warcraft” addict Felicia Day created and stars in this Web series about a quirky group of gamers who take part in all sorts of heroics online but are far less skilled at navigating real life. Day plays Cyd Sherman, a young woman whose virtual-world obsession has led both her boyfriend and her therapist to dump her — at the same time that her cyber-friend circle, or “guild,” has begun to acquire a life beyond the Net.”

“Don’t corpse camp that idea. It’ll never rez.”

“No screenshot but trust me it happened.”

“I guess my princess is in another castle.”

Okay thankfully we’re done with movie adaptations of videogames. Our last three items this week will be shows about videogames. Hopefully this new approach will yield better results.

While not a one-woman show, The Guild is written, produced and stars Felicia Day. She is absolutely wonderful – she has beautiful comedic timing and is charming as well. She was delightful in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog which is coming soon to streaming.

Being a former World of Warcraft addict, this is obviously a very personal project for Felicia Day. Our family plays World of Warcraft quite a bit so much of the humor and drama in the series resonates with me.

The seasons 1 & 2  moniker may throw you. These were individual shorts about 4 minutes long. The first season amounts to 45 minutes and the second runs an hour and 15 minutes. All in all, you have essentially a 2-hour movie.

Felicia does takes some license with the game for comedic value but most of it is pretty darn accurate. The different personalities are quite well modeled and are often right on the mark. Clara in particular is someone we knew in a former guild. The only thing really changed for dramatic license is that everyone lives in the same area.

The ensemble cast is wonderful. This is important since the majority of the show consists just of talking heads. Jeff Lewis is quite retentive as the guild leader Vork. Sandeep Parikh is nicely annoying as Cyd’s wannabe love interest. Robin Thorsen, Amy Okuda, and Vincent Caso round out the guild as Clara, Tinkerballa, and Bladezz.

There are countless wonderful World of Warcraft analogies that probably make this more of a recommendation to other players. This earns a hearty recommendation for any current or former roleplayers. Also it earns a thumbs up for those of you who enjoy nerd culture.

To those not into online gaming or geekspeak, give it a try anyway – this is clearly a labor of love.

People Watch: Bladezz’ (Vincent Caso) little sister Dena is played by his little sister, Tara Caso. Apparently in the third season, ubergeek Wil Wheaton guest stars but that is not available on Netflix.