Everealm, the fictional setting of ABC's new fantasy-meets-reality TV experiment The Quest, is a land under siege. But a prophecy predicts the kingdom will find salvation in one True Hero, to be picked from a lot of 12 strangers from another land.
The actual identity of said hero is to be determined — and it's also the whole point of the show.
"We took a typical challenge-challenge-elimination reality show format and plopped it down in the middle of a movie," executive producer Rob Eric tells Mashable. "We said, 'How do we merge these two?'"
The answer was: with a lot of imagination.
In each episode, something happens in the scripted world of the show that then sets off a challenge, much like the ones often seen in reality shows, fellow executive producer Jane Fleming explains. Then, the three worse performers are "called to the fates," where they are challenged again. The two bottom performers in that second challenge face banishment.
"It came out of our jealousy of the Lord of the Rings actors, honestly," Fleming says. "Way back when we were pre-production on Lord of the Rings we saw the tapes of all the actors doing sword camp and archery camp and we were so jealous, we were like, 'Why can’t we go?'"
Without the CGI that fantasy movies have at their disposal, the show relies on elaborate sets, costumes, special effects from the artists at Spectral Motion, and immersion.
"They lived in the castle, no electricity, no running water, we were in costume on set so they didn’t know who anybody was — we were just part of their world," Eric says. "We would be listening to them on mics, cameras would go down and they’d still be talking about the world and what’s happening there. Because it’s a game but there’s a story to follow there."
Recruitment for the show's currently unofficial Season 2 took place this weekend at Comic-Con. And casting for Season 1, the pair says, took place at Renaissance faires and other comic conventions.
"What’s lovely about it is that it’s very positive. It’s very different than most reality shows, besides all the obvious differences," Fleming says. "It’s different from an emotional level because they’re trying to find people with the highest quality of values."
Eric agrees. "It’s inspirational and aspirational."
The show is from executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri (The Amazing Race), executive producers Mark Ordesky and Fleming (of Court Five productions), and executive producers Eric and Michael Williams (of Green Harbor Productions).
The Quest premieres on ABC Thursdays at 8/7c.
This show is so much fun. It's like LARPing, but with a Disney budget. The production quality is great-- it takes place in an honest to god castle, and the prosthetics are movie grade. With as many LOTR/Hobbit/Fantasy fans as there are in this place, I'm really surprised that there isn't any chatter about this here.
You can catch up on the first four episodes on Hulu - http://www.hulu.com/the-quest