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Arts & Culture

Cinema Junkie Podcast 198: Quarantined With 'Mythic Quest'

Apple TV launched "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" on Feb. 7 but the show managed to produce a clever episode from quarantine.
Apple TV
Apple TV launched "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" on Feb. 7 but the show managed to produce a clever episode from quarantine.

How Apple TV's show delivered a show from lockdown

While in quarantine I discovered the Apple TV show "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" created by "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's" Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz. The show debuted in February but had a bonus quarantine episode released at the end of May. So for this podcast I wanted to look to the gaming world and creating a show about the dynamics of running a game design company. I also wanted to focus on the ingenious quarantine episode so I speak with two of the writers from that show Megan Ganz and actor David Hornsby (who you may remember as Cricket from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia").

Apple TV's "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" debuted on Feb. 7 but when quarantine hit they decided to make a bonus episode from quarantine about being on lockdown. It wasn't easy but the result was ingenious.

When lockdown commenced in March the first thing my son cued up to watch was the quarantine episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" followed by "The Storm of the Century" episode in which the Gang joins in with some panic buying as the city braces for the biggest storm ever. So as soon as we discovered that some of the creators behind that show were behind Apple TV's new "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" we knew we'd have to binge that.

"Mythic Quest" has an interesting genesis. The video game studio Ubisoft was a fan of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and contacted Rob McElhenney (Mac in "It's Always Sunny" and one of that show's creators) to see if he might want to do a show set in the gaming world. He was. So he partnered with Charlie Day (Charlie in "It's Always Sunny" and one of that show's co-creators) and Megan Ganz (also an "It's Always Sunny" alum) to create "Mythic Quest."

Ganz recalled, "I feel like lots of people have come up to me and said, 'oh, my God, you have to do something about my workplace because it is wild and you won't believe what goes on in my particular job.' And it just so happens that I think Ubisoft was right about it being really fun and weird and sort of about these big egos trapped in a world where nobody's paying attention to their names. We learned that 'Grand Theft Auto' is a franchise that has made more money than 'Star Wars.' But the people that are behind it, that made it aren't as well known as the people that made 'Star Wars.' So comically it provides a lot of interesting opportunities there."

The great thing about the show is that you don't have to be a gamer to enjoy it. The last video game I played was "Godzilla Wars" about 10 years ago, but my son is a gamer and he just gets more of the jokes. But we both have enjoyed the smart writing, hilarious characters and inventiveness of the show.

David Hornsby (whom you may remember as Cricket in "It's Always Sunny") plays David Brittlesbee, the executive producer at the gaming company, and he's also one of the show's writers. He pointed out that the show appeals to a wide audience because it creates characters and storylines that people can recognize.

"So we explored women in gaming, and equality in the workplace. So they were some both universal but also very specific stories that we could start to tackle. It's also a culture much like TV and entertainment that is a cult of personality," Hornsby said. "For example, my character is the executive producer of the show and technically the boss of everyone. But Rob's character Ian, he is the cult of personality. And ultimately, that wins out. And there's just something really fun about that. And the idea of obviously the narcissism and everyone being attracted to — no matter who's right and who's more responsible — to the person that's the most charming."

Cristin Milioti and Jake Johnson are a couple who create a game that we follow for almost 20 years in the stand alone episode "A Dark Quiet Death" on Apple TV's Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet."
Apple TV
Cristin Milioti and Jake Johnson are a couple who create a game that we follow for almost 20 years in the stand alone episode "A Dark Quiet Death" on Apple TV's Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet."

The show also delivered a brilliant stand alone episode focusing on a young couple who develop a game called Dark Quiet Death and then watch as it morphs into something they can no longer recognize. It was a beautiful change of pace to the frantic comedy of the the Mythic Quest workplace. It was genuinely sweet and poignant, and the writers managed to weave it thematically into the main storyline in a wonderful way.

Jo (Jessie Ennis) tries to teach C.W. Longbottom (F. Murray Abraham) how to use Zoom in the quarantine episode of Apple TV's "Mythic Quest."
Apple TV
Jo (Jessie Ennis) tries to teach C.W. Longbottom (F. Murray Abraham) how to use Zoom in the quarantine episode of Apple TV's "Mythic Quest."

But perhaps the episode that most impressed me was the bonus Quarantine one. The show had to be produced completely from lockdown with actors having to learn how to light, shoot, and do their own make up and hair. Then editors had to piece together all the footage to make a seamless episode about the characters dealing with quarantine life. The episode ends with a delightfully uplifting moment of community and coming together that gracefully manages to avoid crass sentimentality and instead display sheer ingenuity.

For this podcast I speak with Megan Ganz and David Hornsby about the show and in particular the challenges of creating an episode from quarantine. If you have not yet discovered "Mythic Quest" I urge you to move it to the top of your quarantine viewing list, it'll not just make you laugh but will also occasionally touch your heart and inspire you.