After much anticipation and intrigue, ABC's "The Quest" premiered Thursday night and audiences finally got a look inside the show and the world in which it is set, "Everealm." The show follows 12 contestants, or "Paladins," as they train and compete to be the hero to save the magical realm.
"The Quest" truly is a reality show unlike any that has come before it and much of the premiere episode was spent setting up the world and concept for both the contestants and the audience. One fascinating aspect of this show is that the audience and contestants are completely in the dark about, not just what will happen next, but what is even possible in the world of this show.
"The Quest" begins with each of the 12 contestants receiving a parchment note inviting them to embark on the journey as a fairy tale narrator sets the stage and introduces the contestants. We next see the contestants travelling through a dark tunnel (a device that felt like a medieval "Hunger Games" construct) to enter the world of Everealm.
In the tunnel the contestants meet Crio, who essentially acts as their guide through the episode. Crio is an actor (his real name is Jan Hutter) and we soon realize that everyone in the show, other than the contestants themselves, are actors enforcing the conceit that the show is a real life fantasy adventure.
Crio introduces the Paladins to the Fates, three goddess-like characters who explain that the Paladins will each receive a piece of the "Sun Sphere." One Paladin will unite all 12 pieces and defeat the evil Verlox who has taken control of all, but one of the 12 realms of Everealm.
After they have their Sun Sphere pieces, the Paladins follow Crio through the woods at the end of the tunnel towards an unknown destination. On the journey an Ogre leaps from the woods and drags a companion of Crio's off into the dark -- a lesson that in this world, anything can happen.
It should be noted here that "The Quest" employs a mix of both reality style multi-camera filming and cinematic cinematography to achieve its unique mix of fantasy and reality. Many of the scenes look like they are out of a movie (among the producers of "The Quest" is a "Lord of the Rings" executive producer).
After journeying through the woods all night, the Paladins reach their destination - Castle Sanctum.
Were they really in the woods all night? Producer Jane Fleming says, "yes!"
They were in the woods all night long. We were hiding in the woods like crazy producers. #TheQuest
— Jane Fleming (@harveyfleming) August 1, 2014
The real life castle where the Paladins will live gives viewers their first real taste of the scale of "The Quest's" production. The castle is alive, with dozens of extras going about their business as residents of Everealms one free kingdom.
Upon arrival, the Paladins are thrown, despite Crio's pleading, into a prison cell where the audience starts to see the personalities of some of the more colorful Paladins, like mixed martial arts fighter, Shondo, and the arrogant fantasy guru, Christian.
Soon the contestants are freed and meet the Grand Vizier, the ruler of the realm, who explains to the Paladins that "The Quest" will entail a series of team and individual challenges, after which they will be banished one by one, until the one true hero remains.
It's not long before the Paladins are in the middle of their first challenge, working in teams of three to shoot targets with large arrow turrets at the direction of Ansgar (somewhere in between a "Game of Thrones" ranger and Jeff Probst).
After the challenge, the losing team (Christina, Patrick, and Katie) goes before the Fates for another individual challenge (another archery competition) that leaves the Paladins with a choice to vote to banish Katie or Patrick. In the end, Katie was the first Paladin banished from Everealm.
The premiere of the "The Quest" was impressive in its scale and complexity and we're eager to see where it goes next. The only downside so far might be that the premiere episode required so much exposition that we only got to see glimpses of the Paladins as characters.
It was so hard to decide who to banish. It was so soon! We didn't get a chance to know everyone's strengths yet! :( #TheQuest
— Bonnie Gordon (@BonnieBellG) August 1, 2014
"The Quest" continues next week, airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC.
What did you think of "The Quest?" Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV