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Rob McElhenney initially said 'No, thank you' to 'Mythic Quest'

From left to right, F. Murray Abraham, Danny Pudi, David Hornsby, Rob McElhenney and Charlotte Nicdao star in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, which premieres Friday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
From left to right, F. Murray Abraham, Danny Pudi, David Hornsby, Rob McElhenney and Charlotte Nicdao star in "Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet," which premieres Friday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

NEW YORK, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator and star Rob McElhenney initially passed when Ubisoft pitched him a sitcom about the artists and tech wizards behind a wildly popular video game.

"They said, 'We love Sunny and we want to do a show set in the gaming world.' And we were like, 'Great. Good luck with that. No, thank you,'" McElhenney told reporters in New York on Tuesday. "We just didn't really have any interest."

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But a free trip to Montreal to tour Ubisoft's studio and meet its staffers convinced McElhenney that a comic gold could be mined for a TV series about gaming culture.

He brought his fellow Sunny writer-producers Charlie Day and Megan Ganz on board, and they built the framework for what would become the critically acclaimed Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet.

The nine-episode workplace comedy debuts Friday on Apple TV+ and stars McElhenney as Ian, the egotistical creative genius behind the new extension of a beloved video game.

F. Murray Abraham, David Hornsby, Danny Pudi, Charlotte Nicdao, Imani Hakim, Ashly Burch and Jessie Ennis co-star as quirky members of Ian's team.



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The goal for the show's writers was to accurately portray the specificity of the gaming world, while also creating relatable characters and situations.

"You can see some bits of people in the show that maybe you work with, no matter what you do," Ganz said.

"Anytime people engage in something creative or just something they are really passionate about, obviously, it's hard to separate your personal feelings from what it is you are making. So that's going to lead to a lot of ego, that's going to lead to clashes, and all those things are really great for comedy."

In the pilot episode, Ian's insistence on perfecting a shovel that Poppy (Nicdao) designed causes a delay in launching the new version of their medieval game.

"We wanted people to watch the show and find it funny, but also be like 'This could really happen.' This seems like a real studio with real human beings making real decisions," McElhenney said.

"Because of that," he said, "we had to make sure that the decisions that he was making -- albeit seemingly ridiculous to hold up an entire multimillion-dollar expansion for this one little detail -- were true to the experience of making really anything in a creative collaboration, which is the details."

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While he hopes viewers love the show as much as he does, 14 years of working on Sunny taught McElhenney not to anticipate which moments or phrases will go viral and become fan favorites.

"You can only do what you think is funny. You can't really predict what is going to connect with people," he said. "At a certain point, it's none of my business what other people like. I just make it, and then I hope that they enjoy it."

McElhenney said he doesn't get upset over negative feedback because everyone is entitled to their opinion.

"However, when I feel like people are just lazy or have an ax to grind or aren't taking the time to at least try to understand what we are going for, that becomes frustrating," he said.

Burch, who plays game tester Rachel, comes to Mythic Quest with previous experience as a voice artist in the gaming industry.

"Getting to be part of the show is very surreal for me, especially as a lifelong gamer and someone that loves games," Burch said. "For a long time, it was considered a niche hobby, so the fact that a television show is being made with Oscar winners on a major platform is really, really exciting.

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"The little girl in me that used to stay up late playing video games is pretty astonished that I get to be a part of it."

Oscar winner Abraham -- known for his roles in Amadeus, Homeland and various Wes Anderson films -- was attracted to the show because characters like his story czar, CW Longbottom, are unique and well-defined.

"Each of us is very individual, and yet there is a real chemistry between them," he said. "There seems to be a respect between them, too. Maybe, in some cases, a grudging respect, but, in fact, it is what binds them together.

"It's not simply a job. They do fight for their territory, but they give a little at times, and that begins to build this family."

Abraham related to CW, in part, because he, too, has stayed relevant in a fast-changing industry by keeping an open mind and learning new skills from younger co-workers.

"Working in television becomes more and more time-compressed. You really simply have to get a certain amount of work done in a certain time, and you've got to learn the technique for doing that," he said.

"I come into the situation where people are practically a quarter of my age who look at a script and they've got it. They are ready to go. And I think: 'My God! I need a little more time.' ... And they are patient with me that way."

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Abraham and Burch agreed that having a diverse cast helps the show tell better stories -- and even enhances the game within the series -- because different points of view are represented.

"The more perspectives that you have, the more interesting your product. So if you only have a certain type of person filling your entire company, you're going to make a certain type of game," Burch said.

"If you bring different people from different backgrounds that have different genders, you're going to have a more fully fleshed out product."

Abraham added: "Diversity is one of the richest things about this show. The other thing is that it's really funny."

Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet has been renewed for a second season.

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