TV Review: ‘The Quest’

The Quest ABC TV Review

Quite possibly the nerdiest competition ever televised, “The Quest” constructs a full-fledged immersive fantasy world complete with ogres, dragons, dark forces and an imperiled Queen. It’s “Survivor” meets live-action role playing, as 12 contestants navigate physical competitions and a scripted mythology to vie for the title of One True Hero. The camp factor is off the charts, and auds will either buy into the conceit or they won’t, but it’s all presented with an admirably straight face. The weirdly endearing result feels relatively fresh enough to attract a following in the generally unimaginative realm of reality TV.

The mass appeal of “Game of Thrones,” “Harry Potter” and Peter Jackson’s ongoing Tolkien adaptations suggest hardcore fantasy isn’t just for social outcasts anymore, and “The Quest” casts a wide net with the 12 competitors. They range from predictably geeky — scrawny college student Jim, bullied horse aficionado Ashley — to the unexpectedly burly likes of personal trainer Andrew and mixed martial artist Shondo.

They’re all immediately whisked away for an epic adventure in the mystical kingdom of Everealm (actually an isolated and highly scenic location in Austria), where they’re dubbed Paladins, bunk up in a castle and discover the details of their noble quest. They must complete challenges to save the kingdom or face elimination one by one.

The true novelty here is the level of detail put into making Everealm feel like a real place. Instead of a traditional host explaining the various tasks and rules, the Paladins interact with actors playing roles in an ongoing story developed by Haxan Films partners Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sanchez (“The Blair Witch Project”), including the benevolent Queen Ralia (Susanne Gschwendtner), the shady Grand Vizier (Marcello de Nardo) and the kindly guide Crio (Jan Hutter).

There’s also a full array of magical creatures and otherworldly beings brought to life through a combination of animatronics, special effects and prosthetic makeup. It often seems as if the competitors are stranded inside the most elaborate Disneyland attraction of all time.

“The Quest” doesn’t entirely dodge the obvious potential for cheese, but the surprisingly impressive production values help keep things on the right side of ridiculous. As the co-creator of “The Amazing Race,” executive producer Bertram van Munster knows his way around classy reality competitions, and former New Line exec and “Lord of the Rings” executive producer Mark Ordesky adds an extra dash of fantasy genre cred.

Despite the medieval warrior wardrobe they’re asked to wear, the contestants are otherwise encouraged to react to everything as themselves, and the typical reality tropes — personality clashes, scheming and strategizing — inevitably come into play.

As one contestant admits, “I’ve always lived in this fantasy world in my head.” The goal of “The Quest” is to bring those daydreams to life in a landscape overloaded with generic talent competitions and culinary showdowns. While that may not exactly qualify as a noble pursuit, it’s a bold enough ambition to hope the fates are in their favor.

TV Review: 'The Quest'

(Series; ABC, Thur. July 31, 8 p.m.)


Filmed in Austria by Profiles Television, CourtFive and Green Harbor Productions.


Executive producers, Bertram van Munster, Elise Doganieri, Mark Ordesky, Jane Fleming, Rob Eric, Michael Williams; co-executive producers, Mark Dziak, Shannon McGinn, Tiffany Faigus; director, van Munster, Jack Cannon, Doganieri; camera, Mark Kohl; production designer, Stuart Frossell; editors, Scott Winlaw, David Berenbaum; casting, Neal Konstantini, Lucky Englander, Fritz Fleischhacker. 60 MIN.


Jan Hutter, Peter Windhofer, Susanne Gschwendtner, Marcello de Nardo, Florence Kasumba, Mai Duong Kieu, Stephanie Buddenbrock, Douglas Tait.

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  1. Jojo says:

    Come on you stupid people you made the biggest mistake keeping Christian for the 3 time in a row all his does is fail fail fail and full of lies… Jim that actual intelligent one. What that crap stick behind Christian because of bromance and he master at weapon as I watch he sucks I do 100 times better then him… Think people… So far I give 1 star out of 5 on this….

  2. shawn vincent says:

    As a child I dreamed of saving the kingdom and be coming the hero. I larp to fill the gap but I would like to be on the show. Just to make the dream come true. let me know if it is my time . thank you vinny.

  3. I’ve dreamed of this for so long. I belong in this world. I need to know how to become one of the 12. Every part of me is pulled into this.

  4. dandy says:

    My friends and I would love to be on the show.

  5. Ruth Ackerman says:

    I would love to be a participant in the Quest. I am an elementary school teacher and want to inspire my students to go for it!

  6. Cpt Tripps says:

    Anyone who is interested in Live Action Role Play should look for a group near them. It is a fun and exciting hobby that gets so much bad press. Yes we are nerd and will tell The standard assortment of Dr. Who, Star Wars, and Monty Python jokes but I assure you we are good people :p

  7. Donna says:

    Laying siege to the castle and stealing the costuming and equipment for use in our own LARP game has been discussed. Well done.

  8. Want to participate!

  9. jdrakeca89 says:

    I had totaly forgot about this, I’m gonna have to tune this looks fun!

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