JourneyQuest is a light, silly, dead-on-target web series about a group of differently-competent adventurers who may be on an epic quest. Or not. Anything’s possible, really. There have been quite a few surprising turns already in the available seasons, and there will be more coming soon.
JourneyQuest is the brainchild of Dead Gentlemen Productions of Seattle, Tacoma, and Los Angeles, and Zombie Orpheus Entertainment. The first season came out in 2010, and the second in 2012. Collectively, both seasons only take about two hours to watch (including the bloopers and outtakes after each episode), and in JourneyQuest time everything happens over the course of a couple of days. It hardly even counts as binge-watching.
As far as the initial plot goes, the party is in search of the legendary Sword of Fighting hidden in the fearsome Temple of Some Dooms, and there is some disagreement over who is actually supposed to be the Chosen One.
Played with believable goofiness, the characters are a typical adventuring party, reasonably balanced if not entirely in their right minds. Christian Doyle is, oddly enough, the romantic lead as the awkward and semi-inept wizard Perf–his memorized spells are Mending, Vague, and Conjure Milk, which he uses defensively. His love interest is the elf ranger, Nara, played with disdain and occasional drugged wonder by Anne Kennedy Brady. Brian Lewis plays Carrow, a sincere and unfortunately undead cleric, while the not-too-bright but painfully enthusiastic fighter Glorion is played by Kevin Pitman.
There is even a framing story. As the documentarian human bard, Wren, Emilie Rommel Shimkus is almost unbearably perky—yet she becomes the love interest of Rilk, the most level-headed and handsome of the orcs, played by Jesse Lee Keeter.
Other personalities romping about include the Assassin, the legendary bard Silver Tom, the multilingual orc scholar Strong Like Bull, the socialist barbarian king Karn and his queen, Starling, Death personified, and an assortment of orcs, zombies, nobles, peasants, and functionaries who round out the story.
There is plenty of action going on besides the main adventure. There are self-help meetings for evil-holics, Orcs mocking humans: “Don’t kill me! I live in an indefensible village and have no martial training!”, and other pop-culture tropes played as in-world tropes. At one point, Perf gets into a classic internet grammar argument with a group of attacking orcs, because he apparently speaks orcish better than they do. And the orcish, while not a truly created language, sounds good because it is spoken with convincing intonation and feeling (and subtitles. Always subtitles.).
On that note, the dialogue is hilarious. With lines like “Vast waves of murderness”, “Why does he smell like crying?”, and “Being undead? It kind of itches”, there are plenty of catchphrases to choose from. One liners abound.
go around. But there are no sly asides here. I am glad they don’t break the fourth wall. That would actually take away some of the fun, because these characters are all fully a part of their world.
Because besides being funny, the writing is also good. Real feelings develop in and between these characters, and we can honestly care about them and be invested in their outcomes. JourneyQuest plays out the way a really good D & D campaign should—with well-loved characters and enough chaos and danger to keep it interesting. The last few episodes in the second season have a more serious tone to them–lives are threatened, and feelings get hurt–because by this point the story has become complicated and some darkish things have happened.
On the technical side, I think the special effects are restrained and therefore well-done–nothing looks half-baked or amateurish, and no effects are bigger than the actual story. Sets and locations are evocative and far above the cheesiness of many other shoestring productions (and having cut my teeth on Star Trek TOS, I have a high tolerance for Styrofoam props). The costumes are simple, color coded, and stereotypical–what they wear is what they do. The Dead Gentlemen seem to have borrowed a few gags from other sources—Men In Black, Shaun of the Dead, Blackadder, Dune—but they work well in the general disarray of the party’s evolving adventure.
In addition to JourneyQuest, Dead Gentlemen Productions is also responsible for the Demon Hunters and The Gamers movie series, as well as assorted other shorts and web series. They do keep busy. Right now, principal photography for a third season of JourneyQuest has finished and they are working on post-production polishing. I am more than ready for it.
E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com. Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.
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