'The Quest' is 'Game of Thrones' meets 'The Amazing Race'

The Quest. (Courtesy ABC)

The Quest. (Courtesy ABC)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

This sounds like a pretty good idea for today's TV tastes. I know there's a whiff of “backhanded compliment” in that sentence, but I'm actually being genuine.

Singing and talent competitions are on the wane, if not outright dying. The shows that are based more on mental skills and strategy – Survivor, Big Brother, etc. – appear to be hanging on better. And event-type TV is the only stuff people will watch “live” any more.

Meanwhile, on the scripted side, it's all about darkness and fantasy fare and knights and swords. So, if you add two and two together, what do you get?

Well, you get The Quest, which debuts Thursday, July 31 on ABC and City. My first reaction when I heard about the premise was, “Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?”

If you love Game of Thrones and you also love reality-competition TV, then The Quest truly is a dream come true for you. And even if you love Game of Thrones but generally don't care for reality-competition TV, this might be the one show in that genre you'd be willing to check out.

In fact, it's kind of Game of Thrones meets The Amazing Race.

The Quest takes 12 unsuspecting contestants to a realm where ogres run free, dragons stir, agents of a dark lord infiltrate the keep, and the only thing standing between peace and chaos are these unlikely guardians. Yanked from their everyday lives, the participants are transported to a fantasy world where they are declared Paladins, defenders of a noble cause. The Paladins must compete to save the besieged kingdom of Everealm.

I know, I know, it sounds silly on the surface. But a lot of people these days are really into this stuff. At least in the early stages of The Quest, the participants can't conceal their excitement. I will go out on a limb and suggest that the word "awesome" was not utilized nearly as often back in Medieval times.

"Be brave or be banished," the would-be saviours are told.

The contestants will be fully immersed in the experience, akin to being locked in a big Disney theme park. This was filmed in Austria, though, so Goofy isn't walking around in the background. But in and around the signature castle that serves as home base, the fantasy realm will come to life thanks to elaborate projections, animatronics, prosthetics and art direction.

The narrative and mythology of The Quest supposedly is deep, having been designed to mesh with the actions and decisions of the contestants. Then again, if it all were being made up on the fly, how would we know? But that's just the cynic in me talking. You gotta buy into it, I realize.

Relying on physical stamina, intelligence and resourcefulness, the dozen will be pared down to one man or woman, who will claim the title as the one true hero. Great thing to have on a resume, just sayin’.

Of course, as is the case with all reality-competition series, The Quest will have to be well-produced in order to hold people's attention. If it looks cheesy, then it's done. And on top of that, so much depends on casting.

Among the dozen participants, there's an MMA fighter, a school counsellor, a math teacher, a student, a personal trainer, a horse trainer, a homemaker, a property manager, a marketing director, an executive assistant, a server and a bartender. Hmmm, do any of those occupations scream “favourite” to you? Depends on the types of challenges, I suppose. If nothing else, hopefully the bartender brought booze.

I have no idea if The Quest will be a hit. Summer series are particularly tough to predict.

Theoretically and thematically, though, I must say that The Quest has a saleable concept for modern TV and its most popular genres. Tip to the competitors, though: If you get invited to a “Red Wedding” challenge, make up an excuse and take a polite pass.

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