Wednesday 25 October 2023
Monday 23 October 2023
Amazon have confirmed that their TV version of the Fallout video game series will debut on Amazon Prime Television on 12 April 2024.
The Fallout TV series will be set in Los Angeles, some time after a nuclear war that devastates Earth in the year 2077. It will not be based on any pre-existing video game, but will instead feature a new story beginning in Vault 33, where an inhabitant of the Vault finds themselves having to venture out into the post-apocalyptic world beyond. The TV show stars Ella Purnell (Arcane, Yellowjackets), Walton Goggins (Justified, The Hateful Eight), Kyle MacLachlan (Dune, Twin Peaks), Xelia Mendes-Jones (The Wheel of Time), Aaron Moten (Emancipation), Sarita Choudhury (Homeland), Zach Cherry (Severance), Johnny Pemberton (Ant-Man), Rodrigo Luzzi (Dead Ringers), Annabel O'Hagan (Law & Order: SVU), Michael Emerson (Lost, Person of Interest), Leslie Uggams (Deadpool), Frances Turner (The Boys), Moises Arias (Hannah Montana, Ender's Game), Mike Doyle (Oz, New Amsterdam) and Dave Register (Heightened).
The show was created by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest, Westworld) and will be showrun by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner (Tomb Raider, Captain Marvel).
The Fallout video game franchise began in 1997 with the titular video game, created by Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky for Interplay Studios. Interplay subsequently released Fallout 2 (1998), Fallout: Tactics (2001) and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004) before the company collapsed. The Fallout IP was subsequently bought by Bethesda, who then made and released Fallout 3 (2008), Fallout Shelter (2015), Fallout 4 (2015) and Fallout 76 (2018). They also licensed the rights to Obsidian Entertainment - one of the successor company to Interplay - to make Fallout: New Vegas (2010). The video games have also spun off a successful miniatures wargame, Wasteland Warfare, and a tabletop roleplaying game, both from Modiphius Entertainment, and two board games from Fantasy Flight Games.
Sunday 15 October 2023
Saturday 14 October 2023
More than thirty years ago, Skrull refugees on Earth reached a deal with Nick Fury and SHIELD that they would work undercover for the organisation, using their amazing shapeshifting skills, in return for SHIELD's help in locating a new homeworld for them. Unfortunately, some of the Skrulls are unhappy with the length of time it has taken Fury to deliver on his promise, and instigate a new plan: to take Earth as their new home. Fury and his old Skrull friend Talos join forces to defeat the rebels' plan, but find fighting an army of shapeshifters is incredibly hard, even with shapeshifters of their own to help.
Secret Invasion is, in almost all respects, a television series. It is six episodes long, and features sequential events that build to tell a story. If this sounds like a very dull and overly pedantic description, that's because Secret Invasion is possibly the ultimate example of Extruded Franchise Product: something that exists to make money and to keep fans ticking over until the Next Thing in the franchise appears to take their money. It does not dare to innovate, say or do anything interesting. It simply exists, without much in the way of passion or engagement.
Exactly how you make this premise the most boring entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date is a matter for conjecture. You have an outrageously good cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Coleman, Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Martin Freeman (in a much smaller-than-expected role), Emilia Clarke and a bunch of promising newcomers. The most notable of these is Kingsley Ben-Adir who shows some fire as main antagonist Gravik but is let down by the indifferent writing. Everyone else phones their performances in, apart from Olivia Coleman who is having more fun than everybody else on the show combined, and Don Cheadle, who gets a few great scenes as the sarcastic Skrull-disguised-as-Rhodey. Perhaps a sign that Cheadle should get more villainous roles in the future.
The show also has a remarkable air of topicality: the rebel Skrull plan is to trigger a third world war by undertaking attacks on Russian and NATO soil and getting them to blame one another. In one decidedly bonkers moment, we learn that Russian forces are moving into Ukraine (the show was written and partially filmed before the February 2022 invasion, but completed shooting and post-production afterwards). There is also a lot of commentary on how to handle refugees and deal with displaced populations. However, any potential for the show to speak to our current moment is lost by the writing resolutely steering away from such things, presumably because it just wants to be escapist entertainment (which is a bit hard when the show leans so hard into modern-feeling issues).
Still, you could still have a good show if anybody felt like they were actually invested in this idea. Much has been made of the opening title sequence, which was partially generated by artificial intelligence. I'm surprised there hasn't been more attention paid to if the script was written by artificial intelligence as well. It feels like a greatest hits of Marvel and thriller tropes thrown into a blender and the results fired at a wall to see what sticks, but with almost no passion or excitement about the ideas in play.
The show's biggest mistake is wasting Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson is a fantastic, charismatic performer, but here he is depicted as filled with self-doubt. On one level, it's great that the show allows Jackson's Fury to be human and flawed, and weighed down in the latter part of his life by everything he's done. But that would require an outstanding pedigree of writing and direction to pull off, which is not the case here. Jackson instead often comes across as bored, with flat line deliveries. He sometimes sparks into life, and the show is at its best when he and Mendelsohn are exchanging quips or he and Cheadle are engaged in dramatic face-offs. But these moments are relatively few and far between.
Secret Invasion (**) should be a home run: one of the most popular performers in the MCU in a (relatively) grounded, near-future thriller, packed with interesting and - if inadvertently - topical ideas. Instead it feels tired, bored and out of gas. There are flashes of quality, a few good performances, a couple of solid character scenes, some nice action beats, but these are separated by yawning voids of mediocrity. Easily the weakest MCU TV show to date and a strong claimant to being the weakest instalment of the MCU as a whole.
Friday 13 October 2023
The BBC have confirmed that the entire run of iconic science fiction series Doctor Who will be available on the BBC iPlayer streaming service from the start of November.
Returning showrunner Russell T. Davies has confirmed that he leveraged the deal as part of the conditions for his return to the franchise. Previously the BBC had only made the "new" run of the show - the one starting in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and subsequently carrying on through the David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker eras - available on the iPlayer whilst keeping the "old" run (from 1963 to 1989) available on legacy media or on the BritBox paid-for streaming service.
The move will see almost 800 episodes of Doctor Who available in one location for one time. Unfortunately, it will not be the complete run of the show: 97 episodes from the first six seasons (1963-69) remain missing following the BBC's junking policy of old episodes in the 1970s. Some of these missing episodes have been reconstructed for DVD and Blu-Ray with still photographs and audio recordings (the audio for all the episodes has survived), or the use of animation and the original audio tracks. It's unclear if these reconstructions will be made available as well.
It's also unclear if the episodes will include those that have been upscaled for release on Blu-Ray in the last few years, or just the standard versions. The BBC has confirmed that it will be adding subtitles, audio description and sign language to every single episode for the first time.
As well as both eras of Doctor Who, spin-off shows Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Class will also be available, along the 1996 TV movie (starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor), the various mini-episodes produced over the years, and every episode of behind-the-scenes show Doctor Who Confidential. The new service will also include some sixty new special features produced for the show's 60th Anniversary (due on 23 November), and thousands of documents and photographs, many rescanned at 8K for the first time.
So far the BBC has not confirmed if the two Doctor Who 1960s theatrical feature films - Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD - will be included.
Davies and the BBC have so far declined to confirm when three new episodes produced for the show's 60th Anniversary will air, except they will be in the month of November. David Tennant plays the Fourteenth Doctor, who has to find out why his new incarnation is identical to his Tenth. Ncuti Gatwa will take over as the Fifteenth Doctor for a Christmas Special airing in December, and then at least the next two full seasons of the show, the first to air in early 2024.
Davies has also confirmed that his plan is to produce at least nine new episodes of Doctor Who a year, with no more multi-year breaks between seasons, and there are plans for spin-off shows exploring other aspects of the setting (a new show revolving around Earth defence force UNIT is rumoured, but unconfirmed).