Gold: The DVD That Does Double Damage

The Gold DVD is now available for purchase through the official store.

Gold, tagline “the web series that does double damage,” is, depending on how you look at it, a comedy series, a cutting satire, a dramedy or even an exploration of what the world would be life if role-playing were a professional sport. It is also now out on DVD in a remastered presentation that also includes commentary tracks from the cast and crew. David Nett, executive producer of Gold, was kind enough to send me a review copy of the special edition to share with you all.

The first season of the series follows the members of the American team’s preparations for the World Goblins & Gold Role Playing Game Championship. The former leader of the Americans, Jonathan Drake, struggles to recover from an emotionally scarring incident during the semi-finals, while the team founders under the questionable training tactics of self-absorbed cad Richard Wright. Meanwhile, the rival British role-players have their own plans in motion to secure the gold in the tournament.

I followed Gold‘s starting about early 2009, a few episodes into its premiere release schedule. The series caught my attention then with its high production values, quirky premise — in essence, “what happens when role-players are exalted on the level of professional athletes?” — and best of all, straight-faced storytelling. Gold‘s a comedy, to be sure, but the laughs come from the absurdity of the situation when put in contrast with the sincerity of the characters. In that, it’s the same style of comedy you’ll find in a Ghostbusters or a This is Spinal Tap, where the characters remain earnest and believable throughout the story. That won me to Gold right away; the creators trusted their audience enough not to nod, wink and nudge their way through the season. They played the humor — and drama — straight instead of camping it up, making for a very satisfying series.

The DVD special edition of Gold is no less eye-catching than the show itself. The packaging looks every bit as professional as any DVD you might find on the shelves of your local media purveyor. And inside, there was even a couple feelies, a behind the scenes still from production and character Richard Wright’s card from the Gold Character Card Game, which is an actual factual game you can play, and no mere artifact from the universe of the series, as I first presumed.

On the disc itself, in addition to the prologue and six episodes of season one of Gold, you’ll find two sets of commentary tracks covering all seven parts of season one. The first track is with cast members, while the second is with the crew. As in any small production, the camaraderie that formed among the commentators shines through, making both tracks just as interesting and engaging as the series itself in their way. Other nifty features include a minisode, Palace of the Silver Princess, and a thank you from the cast and crew to donors, which is really touching, to see such a visible show of gratitude from creators to the people who made their DVD happen.

Combining the straight-faced absurdity of mockumentaries with the wry, self-reflexive perspective of creators who are hip deep in the role-playing hobby and love every bit of it, from critical hits to the funny little quirks and traditions of the players themselves, the first season of Gold is a solid success. It has real characters, drama and laughs. I can’t wait for the next season to begin streaming, whenever that may be.

The first season of Gold, including the teaser, trailer and prologue, is available for streaming from the series’ website, in addition to the DVD now up for sale in the official web store for $20 plus shipping, in addition to lots of other cool tidbits.

Additionally, I also happen to know that Gold‘s first season will screen in its entirety, prologue to final cliffhanger, at Carnage the 13th in Fairlee, Vermont, Saturday, November 6th at 11:30 PM. As the evening slot officially wraps up at 11:00, it’ll be a nice way to wind down from a hard day of gaming.

2 thoughts on “Gold: The DVD That Does Double Damage

  1. With the brief amount of free time I had this week I used it last night to watch the first season. It was an interesting approach to this sub-genre. Having an entire cast of what sounds like LA actors definitely elevates this material over a lot of the other gamer-movies out there. The ones that come to mind with a somewhat similar tone are Astropia and Gamerz, though with those they weren’t going for the mockumentary approach.

    With all of the talented actors doing solid work, what kept throwing me out of it was the sound production, which from my completely armature exposure to film making, sounded like there wasn’t much of a budget for better mics, booms or whatever is needed.

    Also, the camerawork seemed to be trying to emulate The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm in many ways. A kind of documentary style of camera work, but without any pretense of their being a documentary crew in the setting. I guess it just didn’t go far enough. Sometimes you had the shaky cam, sometimes it seemed to be shot without that pretense. It seems like it would be better if it just went one way or another.

    As for the writing itself, it felt solid, but leaning so heavy on the drama end that it didn’t feel like a “dramedy.” I guess it just didn’t make me laugh enough, even in a knowing and clever way. I think over the six episodes I laughed maybe or at least smirked just a couple of times.

    One thing that I thought would have worked better would have been to simply adultize it even more. All of the characters are under such big tension, but the cussing was actually rather minimal. One thing that I’ve rarely seen in movies and TV is good solid EXASPERATED cussing. One of the few instances where it was properly used was in the movie Super Troopers from Broken Lizard. They really nailed realistic cussing there, and if there was more of it with GOLD’s characters, then I’d have connected better with all of the tension in the show.

    It looks like it is a good initial outing with a new and different style. A smart gamer show that isn’t just aiming to please the lowest common denominator of gamer out there.

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