In the age of Coronavirus, some TV shows have tried shooting remotely in order to produce new content but still practice social distancing. Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is one such series that aired a quarantine episode with everything shot from within the actors’ homes. AIPT’s Christopher Franey really enjoyed the special last month.
The quarantine special was also screened at this year’s SeriesFest followed by a panel with the cast and executive producers. In attendance were EP Megan Ganz, and cast members F. Murray Abraham, Jessie Ennis, Ashley Burch, Imani Hakim, Charlotte Nicdao, Danny Pudi, and Rob McElhenney. They spoke about the process of filming the episode along with some tidbits for the second season.
Mythic Quest had just begun shooting the second season when COVID-19 hit so they furloughed everyone. McElhenney was looking for a way to get the cast and crew paid during the hiatus and the quarantine special was a good way to do it. From conception to delivery, it took three weeks. Ganz thought it had to address the pandemic because the show is so grounded in real life, it would be disingenuous not to cover it. Plus, the show’s premise, a tech company making video games, lent itself perfectly for zoom calls and meetings.
One of the most difficult parts, surprisingly, was scheduling. They had to determine the time of day that had the best lighting in each actor’s home, when their neighbor’s dog wasn’t barking, and Abraham was on a different coast. However, once they began filming, it was easy since there was only one camera angle.
For the intricate Rube Goldberg machine sequence, there was a good five to ten minutes of comedic outtakes. The entire contraption was put together by the special effects team, production design, and the props department. It was initially built in its entirety then broken down with different sections mailed to the cast along with a detailed tutorial video for assembly and use. The cast experienced varying degrees of difficulty since some sections were more intricate than the others.
A surprising aspect of the episode was how it tapped into the emotional impact and isolation sickness of the pandemic. It was partially drawn from Ganz’s personal experience. Since the show was beginning to shoot the new season, she was ready to hunker down for all the long hours. When it halted, she found herself in a depressive place and searching for work to do, similar to what the character Poppy was experiencing on screen. For those wondering, it was Nicdao’s husband standing in for Ian Grimm in that one scene.
Other episode notes include actor, David Hornsby, actually shaved his eyebrow and mustache in real life. He even had to darken his other eyebrow with make up to make the shaved side look more noticeable. Pudi also shared how he likes seeing how demented Brad, the man responsible for the shaved eyebrow, is and it is very fun playing someone with a different perspective.
The panelists also spoke about some season two teasers. McElhenney believes that the most interesting and fun thing is looking at the dynamics and relationships of the characters within the office. They can look at conflicts that are more nuanced and insidious and hopefully create stories that feel true and real. You might see the game destroyed from within but be rebuilt along with the damaged relationships.
Abraham added that the biggest loss of shutting down is not being able to see everyone. The entire show allowed the actors, writers, and producers to be connected in the first season and things were to be richer and more complex for the second. The camaraderie is so good that he really misses all his co-star. You can see the casts chemistry even in the remotely shot quarantine episode.
Also, during that first season, Ganz discussed how they were able to change course of where the characters were going based off of learning and becoming more familiar with what each actor brought to the table. They adjusted storylines on the fly to make better use of the actors’ talents. In the upcoming season they want to explore different dynamics and combinations of the cast that the audience hasn’t seen before. When asked who the cast would want to work with, Ennis wanted more time with Pudi while Nicdao wouldn’t mind if all the girls hung out. Ennis responded with a bottle episode of all four women stuck in an elevator.
Since Mythic Quest involves video games, they couldn’t finish the panel without the cast discussing what they were playing while social distancing. Burch and Nicdao have an affinity for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Nicdao plays with her mom in Australia every day. Pudi has been on his Switch playing Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and then Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with his son. Hakim is revisiting Tekken 7 and The Sims while McElhenney obtained an advance copy of The Last of Us 2.
Speaking of video games, viewers shouldn’t expect a real version of Mythic Quest. Not only would it require a ridiculously large budget to bring it to life, McElhenney also thinks it would be a money grab and not fair to the fans.
The first season of Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, including the quarantine episode, can be streamed on Apple TV+ now.