The Quest, review of the reality fantasy Disney Plus

The Quest, review of the reality fantasy Disney Plus

The Quest

Available on Disney Plus The Quest - The Quest of the Paladins, a series that blends reality games with serial storytelling. With this series, Disney presents a unicum within the boundless entertainment offer, proposing a hybrid series that can appeal to different audiences, often very distant from each other. The overall result of this effort is not entirely centered, however this series has some aspects both technical and entertainment, which deserve due recognition. The series is made up of a total of eight episodes, and was made fully available on the platform last May 11, and sees eight boys engaged in an epic quest for the salvation of Everealm, an enchanted world whose fate is threatened by forces. of evil.

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The Quest: when reality meets TV series

The Quest - The Impresa dei Paladini arrives on Disney Plus bringing to the streaming platform the legacy of the homonymous television format of ABC (American broadcaster owned by Walt Disney) broadcast in the United States in 2014 with a single first season to its credit, totally unreleased for the domestic market. The 2022 season therefore represents a revival that re-proposes the essence of this hybrid reality / TV series, making some changes capable of marrying better with the horizontal plot of the series and its own demographic of reference.

The format was conceived in this way to capitalize on the success of entertainments such as role-playing games and larps, live role-playing games, which in recent years thanks to the popularity of actual play shows such as Critical Role or very high profile live events (i so-called Blockbuster Larp) are ennobling and validating an aspect of pop culture that has often been viewed with suspicion in the past.

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The coexistence and coexistence in the same container of scripted and unscripted elements therefore represent the main distinctive element of this series and unfortunately, due to the specific grammars of these two genres, the coexistence is not always well balanced, placing greater interest or on the plot of the story, than on the players and the tests they will find themselves having to endure from time to time.

The Quest: Everealm's meta-narrative

The Quest - The Quest of the Paladins presents a typical fantasy plot, in which we find some consolidated topoi of the genre such as the battle of the forces of good against those of evil and the presence of chosen heroes from another world, however the show embraces a certain self-awareness, accepting the metanarrative element as a plot device aimed at justifying the presence in another world, of eight American teenagers

For thousands of years, Everealm has been a land of unparalleled beauty and powerful magic. Now, the kingdom is threatened by Tavora, a terrible evil sorceress. As a last resort, the King of Sanctum, one of the realms of Everealm, uses a powerful divine artifact to summon eight strangers from another world. The eight boys will be invested with the title of Paladins and will have to take part in a sacred quest, to fulfill an ancient prophecy and defeat the Witch. To succeed in the mission, the Paladins will have to look for the hero who is inside each of them, triumphing in a series of challenges that will push them beyond their limits. However, what is at stake will not only be Everealm's salvation, in fact if the Paladins fail, Tavora's advance will be unstoppable and will also hit other worlds, including Earth.

As themselves, there are eight kids (Serean, Myra, Shaan, Ava, Caden, David, Toshani and Holden), who, unlike a larp or role-playing game, do not play a fictional character, but are introduced to the public simply as the heroes summoned to fulfill the Quest and defeat the threat to the equilibrium of the kingdom. The cast of protagonists immediately demonstrates the will and the ability to play the role to which they have been called to respond, putting themselves on the line and trying to embody the virtues that are expected of a Paladin, both in being part of a story in the role of the heroes, both in being part of a full-fledged competition.

In The Quest - The Quest of the Paladins there is the proclamation of a winner at the end of each trial and at the end of the series, with the proclamation of the Only True Hero, or the only Paladin who will be able to face and defeat the witch Tavora. Reality games have often shown us competitors so determined that they are ready for almost anything, in order to triumph over others, but in this show heroic virtue wins over everything and in staging the most competitive aspect of this format, we remained deeply impressed by the dynamics of the group, which throughout the season demonstrates qualities such as loyalty, friendship, respect and sportsmanship.

We therefore find that the selection of the boys was really well done and for this we would have liked to know better each Paladin, even if the show focuses on the protagonists as a single group, rather than lingering on the different individualities, a choice that differs from the typical reality show. Usually in this kind of programs the competitors have the opportunity to introduce themselves and tell something about them with sequences recorded specifically after the selection, to allow the public to get in tune (or not) with the various people. Some hints on private life can be obtained through some excerpts of conversation that the children have between one test and another, but without going into too much depth.

The Quest: when the narrative runs its own track

Before continuing with the analysis of the storytelling of The Quest - L'Impresa dei Paladini we want to spend a few words on some scenic and visual elements of this series that we found very respectable. The chosen location, the Castello di Amorosa in California, is a perfect setting for the purpose of the show thanks to its style that blends elements taken from some really existing castles and monasteries. The other visual element we want to praise is the prosthetic makeup used to create the fantastic creatures that the protagonists encounter during their adventures, in particular Dragior and the Serpent King denote a remarkable prosthetic makeup care.

Let's move on to the aspects related to the plot that we found less centered. Previously we talked about a two-stage narrative that travels on two parallel tracks, avoiding as much as possible the points of contact and in this wasting the potential of a hybrid narrative. If we were to borrow a term from the world of role-playing games as we have done previously, we would say that it is a case of railroading (i.e. when a master rather explicitly guides the actions of his players, so that they do not deviate from the plot. that he devised). However, since this is a content, which partly inherits the dynamics and mechanics of a TV series, it is natural that the plot of the story is written a priori. Instead, what should have had more space are the Paladins, used as a mere narrative tool.

The boys have the opportunity to actually live this story, but only within predetermined bubbles (the tests to which the boys are submitted) and not for the totality of the episodes, thus ending up becoming an element on the sidelines of the plot that instead gives a good emphasis to the narrative arcs of the characters played by the real actors. In the eight episodes, however, there are a handful of moments in which the Paladins find themselves interacting substantially with some of the Everlians and it is precisely in those moments so spontaneous that the series shines in a way so unique and different from other fantasy series for children.

To conclude

The Quest - The Enterprise of the Paladins is a series that, although pleasant, could have been more incisive if it had decided to investigate the relevance of the boys involved. The lack of depth of storytelling elements thus struggles to balance reality game and TV series in a cohesive way, to the detriment of attention to its purest narrative component. The real gem of this program are eight young protagonists, who admirably fill the role of Everealm's Paladins, thus making this show particularly suitable for a teen audience, who could identify with one of them.

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