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 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.