Saving G4’s best show for last.

The Preamble

Back in 2002 when G4 launched, MMORPGs were still something of a new sub-genre. Unlike today where there are thousands of MMO games, things were different in the early 2000s. World of Warcraft, the game that is synonymous with the genre, hadn’t launched yet. Instead, there was Everquest, Asheron’s Call, and Anarchy Online. As with most of the launch-era G4 shows, Portal focused on a genre/topic: MMOs. While Arena is remembered as the first big E-Sports show and Player$ is a largely forgotten take on MTV’s Cribs series; Portal was one of the first network shows that heavily featured machinima.

The Premise

Portal featured Dave Meinstein and VAL; the latter being a female take on the character HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The former was the show’s host who served as the main character of the series’ run. Most of the show was set in “The Hub” which was a hub between the various MMO realms that existed during the show’s run. Season 1’s major over-arching plot saw Dave encounter a malevolent entity known as The Ultimate and discover who The Ultimate was.

G4 Portal
Credit: G4 Media

The Characters

Aside from Dave and VAL, certain characters would reappear during the two-year run of the show. The biggest fan favorite was a man simply known as “The Drifter”. A bona fide hero who drifted from one world to the next and God help anyone who got in his way. Another character who was a fellow fan favorite was the MMO redneck who went by the name of Gruder. He appeared in the 3rd episode of the first season and would go on to become a recurring member of the show. Yoodle would later join the cast of characters as the love interest of Gruder with a few external forces getting in the way.

The End

As with most of the G4 shows that launched with the network, it was among those canceled when the G4 and TechTV merger happened. The finale would air in 2004 as G4 would change the direction it was going in as a result of low ratings. The ending consisted of Dave who lent his body to a fallen friend and in turn, was stuck in a Christmas tree and VAL breaking the fourth wall by asking “do you think my life, and your life is all part of some tv show?” VAL would further break the wall by saying “we’d be canceled.” While there was a planned continuation of Portal in the form of a web series said plan never materialized. Soon after Dave Meinstein officially departed G4.

Portal’s Legacy

While Portal only had two seasons it was, ahead of its time like many original G4 series. Considering World of Warcraft would be released a year after Portal ended, if the show had continued into 2005, I assume many would have enjoyed seeing the most popular MMO of its time-integrated with Portal in some way. Because the various G4 series were never released on any form of physical media there was (and still is) a MASSIVE amount of lost G4 footage when it comes to old G4 shows. Portal is one of the biggest victims as twenty-one of the sixty total episodes have been lost to time.

What’s Next?

Now that I have covered all of the original G4 launch shows (for the last time I’m not covering Players), I think I should do something revolving around the current incarnation of G4. Come back soon for more! In the meantime be sure to go back through the archives of Celebrating G4 and check out the various installments such as Part 11 focusing on Sweat!

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