Last weekend, after hearing about the new Apple TV show Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, I was curious. The reviews made the thing sound interesting and then I saw the trailer. The graphics are pretty incredible and Ubisoft (Makers of Assassin’s Creed, among other amazing games) had a hand in a lot of show details, from the impressive visuals, to the titles of the people that play the various roles in the comedy.
Raven’s Banquet is a hard pass: 1 episode is too much
Let me preface this by saying I’ve never worked in a video game company, however, I have made a few games. Animation, rendering, rigging and coding everything together is a massive amount of work, even when using a modern game engine. The crunch I have read about for games where the team pulls in massive amount of overtime, skips out on life and does nothing but game dev until the title goes gold (as in, the game is all ready for launch), but that’s missing in the pilot. There’s tension and drama about when the title is shipping and of course, the ever dissatisfied Creative Director naturally has to push the release date.
On thing I loathed about the idiot in that role was his lack of anything remotely resembling, “I care about this character.” From the douchebag beard to the trope riddled outfit – yes, he needed multiple massive silver rings to physically resemble a character from a fantasy book – to his attitude with his team, especially his boss, made the character simply unrelatable. Even leading a company with half a dozen employees, I never could have pulled that kind of crap without having half my staff quit. Business can’t run on ego alone. Think about Mad Men and then recall despite his flaws, Don Draper was an interesting character – also a Creative Director.
What about the other people in Raven’s Quest?
Let’s make the token old guy an alcoholic, who literally sleeps in the office overnight. The man stumbles out of a closet and claims he was, “Commuting,” when everybody knows he was sleeping there – they talked about it in another scene! How many companies can you think of or have worked at where they didn’t include security? It’d be easy to just hide out in a closet and sleep there, right? Alphabet could pay their employees a lot less if they just allowed them to sleep in conference rooms after a daily bender, Apple, Microsoft and others could really save a ton of money. Think about it, the local housing market situation, if all tech employees just slept on campus and never owned, rented or leased a dwelling near their place of business – wow. That would have a massive impact on inequality in the bay area, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Austin, Research Triangle Park and more.
That single move would be a massive boon to all of society, except, of course, for those poor tech workers whose salaries would drop from mid six figures to mid five figures, because they no longer had to worry about real estate. The companies already provide free food, for the most part and some include free day care. You could work all day at mega corp, sleep there, socialize there, raise your kids there…just live in a filter bubble!
Why did Apple and Ubisoft fund this television show again?
Perhaps they wanted to tell the world, once and for all, that the HR person is not your therapist. Perhaps they wanted to show that you could be a raging a-hole at work and because you had a magic title, your direct boss couldn’t fire you, would just smile in your face at insubordination and more? Hm. Maybe the people who green lit this project were just out of touch with reality?
The other shoe to drop is simply that the film and television industry spent a record, eye popping amount of money for scripted shows in 2019. As a result, everything, anything remotely worth considering was green lit, funded and people just expected the shows to do well. After all, Americans went from watching a single TV in their house fifty years ago, to now having multiple computer devices per person, and globally, more than half the world has a smartphone of some kind (usually Android) as well as internet access. The audience therefore has never been bigger so the stakes have never been higher.
Despite this large opportunity, there are some stories that people just won’t care about. When you’re dramatizing the lives of people who make, on average, enough to put them in the global one percent, then have those same characters violate all the norms that millions of workers deal with daily…the Office did it better, if you must watch scripted drama about work. Or Cheers. Or literally any other television show.
Bold prediction for 2021: If by then Mythic Quest has been renewed for a second season, titled, “Mythic Quest: How many buttholes would you rate our stinky poo?” then I’ll dice and slice my shoes, boil them, and eat them on a live webcast. /mic drop