Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Video Games SUCK at Endings

In 8 days, March 6th, 2013, it will be the anniversary of me "swearing off" video games. The game was Mass Effect 3 and the ending killed all interest in gaming.

The Mass Effect Trilogy was a lot like The Matrix Trilogy in that it had a strong opening and a weak ending (which is an understatement). If you've played the ME trilogy, you will know exactly what I'm talking about and how it relates to the Matrix Trilogy, including the terrible "Child God of the Machines" (which I'm fairly sure is where Mass Effect writers got the idea).

Despite my "swearing off" video games, I decided I wanted to give another game a try, that game was Dishonored.

I first fell in love with this game when I saw an amazing CGI trailer that made the game look like a dystopian steam punk story had a hot drunken threesome with Assassin's Creed and a wizard, then the next morning she was knocked up with twins. The tag line at the end... "Revenge solves everything" caused chills to run down my spine.

I love a good revenge story.
My first run was a blast. I chose to play the "High Chaos" way which meant I killed, a lot. Even though it's a game, I still play with my own set of morals, so I only killed people who were in my way and were armed. Not a single civilian died.

Regardless, I got the bad ending.

I liked the fact that I thought I was at the end, then a few of my allies, up until that point, betray me, leaving me for dead. When I fight my way back through the city to our old base, I find out they assassinated about half of our team and re-kidnapped the Empress. The final mission is a stormy, futuristic, Shinra-like Lighthouse that I must fight my way up to save the Empress and to make it worse, they've turned on each other. Oh, and my boatman was pissed I was so "evil" so he lights off a flare after dropping me off to get me killed.

The very final scene was great. I'm at the tippy top of the lighthouse. The final bad guy has the Empress and he's standing at the edge, ready to throw himself and her off. I kill him and dash to the edge to grab the Empress' hand before she plummets to her death.

I was very psyched.

Then I got treated to a 30-second cut scene telling me how, despite saving my daughter, the Empress, everything still went to shit. So I restarted the game to do a "good" run.

This is where the game fell apart and made me realize why I hate video games. Technology isn't to the point that we can truly offer choices and a sandbox environment in a game. Give gaming about 30-40 years and we will have interactive games at that level.

In my good play through, the differences were few. The game was easier because I had to deal with less rat swarms and "weepers" (zombies), the final level was sunny instead of rainy, and I didn't get treated to an epic confrontation at the top of the lighthouse. Instead the final bad guy just "gave up."

My first issue wasn't with such a lackluster ending, but with the quality of the writing. The bad guys had no motivation for what they did.

In the evil run, the bad guys motivation was as follows:

"We helped a deadly assassin escape prison who has then gone and murdered hundreds of watch guards as well as most of the cities leadership all in the name of revenge for his lost love. If anyone finds this out, we will be hanged! Lets fake his death and claim we rescued the Empress and restore our empire to its glory!"
That's obviously some great motivation.

In the good run, the bad guys motivation just doesn't work:

"We helped Lord Protector Corvo escape from prison and, with his help, exposed and brought to justice (not killed) every conspirator responsible for the murder of his love, Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, and kidnapping of his daughter, Empress Emily Kaldwin. If anyone finds this out, we will be hanged! Lets fake his death and claim we rescued the Empress and restore our empire to its glory!"

Uh... What?! I guess it's better than Red/Blue/Green endings, but not much. Maybe next year, when I buy a PS4, Watchdogs can make me remember why I used to love video games.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 14 TV Shows That Needed More Than 1 Season...

Everyone has favorite TV shows that get cancelled too early. I've known many people who refuse to watch TV shows that don't have more than 1 season. It’s an understandable rule. People hate when beloved TV shows get ripped away without warning. Often times, these TV shows end on cliffhangers which only makes your love for the show/hate for the broadcasting company worse. 

For me, the latest TV show to get cancelled was “Do No Harm” which I was shocked to find out about after only two episodes aired. Sometimes, TV shows need a few episodes and some better marketing to get them going. Here’s my Top 14 TV shows that were cancelled too soon.

Number 14 – Wolf Lake
If this show aired today, I don't think it would get cancelled. This show was ahead of its time and a little too dark and soapy for the 90's.

The show starred Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba), Mia Kirshner (The L Word), Paul Wesley (Vampire Diaries), Tim Matheson (Heart of Dixie), Bruce McGill (Rizzoli and Isles), Graham Greene (Twilight), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (New Die Hard movies, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer)

Where to Watch: DVD - No Streaming Options Currently Available

Number 13 – Kindred the Embraced

I'm a huge fan of White Wolf and the World of Darkness. As campy as this TV show was, I loved it. Oh, it also had the incredibly sexy Kelly Rutherford!

Kindred the Embraced starred C. Thomas Howell (Red Dawn), Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl), Mark Frankel

Where to Watch: DVD - No Streaming Options Currently Available

Number 12 – Over There
War drama set during the opening of the Iraq War. Panned by critics for not taking a stance on the war, but this show was about the characters, not the war.

Over There starred Josh Henderson (Dallas 2012), Luke Macfarlane (Brothers and Sisters), Erik Palladino (ER/666 Park Avenue), Sticky Fingaz (Blade the Series), Omid Abtahi (Argo), and Nicki Aycox (Dark Blue)

Unfortunately, I cannot find a trailer for this TV show.

Where to Watch: DVD, Amazon Instant

Number 11 – Blade the Series

Watch the lovely Jill Wagner before she was on Wipeout. While Blade wasn't the greatest show created, this was a fun TV adaptation.

Blade the Series starred Sticky Fingaz (Over There), Jill Wagner (Wipeout), and Neil Jackson (Make It or Break It)

Where to Watch: DVD, Hulu, YouTube

Number 10 – The Good Guys

I will never be able to get over how much Colin Hanks reminds me of Tom Hanks. He's not a spitting image of Tom, but his voice and mannerisms are spot on.

The Good Guys starred Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), Colin Hanks (Dexter), and Jenny Wade (Reaper)

Where to Watch: DVD, Amazon Instant, Netflix

Number 09 – Fastlane

A late seasons rating dip as well as the extreme cost of each episode was a death sentence for Fastlane.

Fastlane starred Peter Facinelli (Twilight), Bill Bellamy (Any Given Sunday), and Tiffani Thiessen (White Collar/90210)

Where to Watch: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Number 08 – Drive

Nathan Fillion appears a couple times on this list. I'm glad he ended up on a successful TV show eventually. Drive is more serious and less comedic than Castle and was still a fun show.

Drive starred Nathan Fillion (Castle), Emma Stone (Zombieland), Taryn Manning (Hawaii Five-O), Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men), and Kristin Lehman (The Killing)

Where to Watch: Amazon Instant

Number 07 – My Own Worst Enemy

For whatever reason, TV shows involving multiple personalities never make it. MOWE was fun in the same way that Mr. and Mrs. Smith was fun.

My Own Worst Enemy starred Christian Slater (Cuffs), Mike O’Malley (Glee), Saffron Burrows (The Bank Job), Madchen Amick (Twin Peaks), Alfre Woodard (Memphis Beat), and Taylor Lautner (Twilight)

Where to Watch: DVD, Amazon Instant

Number 06 – Moonlight
Great/Fun vampire TV show. It was a little more serious than Angel but a little less serious than most other vampire shows.

Moonlight starred Alex O’Loughlin (Hawaii Five-0), Sophia Myles (Underworld), Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars), and Shannyn Sossamon (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

Where to Watch: DVD, Amazon Instant

Number 05 – The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
I’m a huge fan of Bruce Campbell and as a result, I’m a huge fan of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. After his father is killed, Brisco is hired to track down his killer, the notorious John Bly. The series had a blend of genres including Western, Science Fiction, and Steampunk. Critics loved the show but after a viewer drop-off toward the end of the first season the series was canned by Fox. Many believe the main reason was the high cost per episode led to cancellation.

The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. starred Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness and Burn Notice), Julius Carry (Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place), Christian Clemenson (CSI: Miami), Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl), John Astin (The Addams Family), Billy Drago (The Untouchables), and John Pyper-Ferguson (Alphas)

Where to Watch: DVD

P.S. If you recognize the song in the intro, it's because it was recycled for one of the Olympic Games recently.

Number 04 – Kings
Kings was a bold and wonderful alternate reality TV series. I was totally engrossed until they cancelled it temporarily and moved the remaining episodes to the summer. Like Firefly, this TV show was ahead of its time. If Kings were filmed and aired a few years from now, I think it would’ve been a more successful show.

Kings starred Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides and Deadwood), Christopher Egan (Letters to Juliet), Susanna Thompson (Arrow), Allison Miller (Terra Nova),Eamonn Walker (Chicago Fire), and Sebastian Stan (Once Upon A Time and Captain America)

Where to Watch: DVD, Amazon Instant, Hulu

Number 03 – The Unusuals
This was, in my opinion, one of the best new cop dramas in a long time. Usually, it takes a while for me to warm up to cop shows and I only watch them after they have a couple of seasons aired. A lot of these shows get cancelled too quickly and it takes some time for me to like the characters. With The Unusuals, I fell in love with the characters quickly. 

My favorite duo was Banks and Delahoy (Parrineau and Goldberg). Detective Leo Banks is a 42-year old detective who’s afraid he’s going to die just like his father, his grandfather, and his uncle who all died at the age of 42. He’s overly cautious. He wears a bullet proof vest wherever he goes and he even has all-plastic inflatable furniture. His partner, Detective Eric Delahoy has a brain tumor that threatens to leave him disabled and possibly dead but he chooses to hide his condition from everyone. He has somewhat of a death wish which makes him the perfect partner to Delahoy.

The Unusuals starred Amber Tamblyn (House and Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants), Jeremy Renner (Bourne Legacy and The Avengers), Harold Parrineau (Lost), Monique Gabriela Curnen (Lie to Me), Terry Kinney (NYC 22), and Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan and NYC 22).

Where to Watch: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Number 02 – Undercovers

I’m a huge JJ Abrams fan and loved the premise of the show. It was essentially True Lies: The TV Series. I wish this show hadn’t been cancelled after a single season. As vain/racist as this may sound, it may have had something to do with the casting of the leads. I thought they were excellent and their chemistry was electric but some shows with minority leads tend to struggle.

Undercovers starred Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Touch), Boris Kodjoe (Resident Evil 4 and 5), Ben Schwartz (House of Lies), and Gerald McRaney (Simon & Simon and Major Dad)

Where to Watch: Pirate, seriously, this show isn't available on Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix as a DVD or Stream.

Number 01 – Firefly
Most people know this show; so much doesn't need to be said. Firefly was before its time. This show should've been a hit that lasted many seasons. Terrible marketing and scheduling as well as an overall mishandling of the show by Fox ruined this series.

Firefly starred Nathan Fillion (Castle), Gina Torres (Suits), Alan Tudyk (Suburgatory and Tucker & Dale vs Evil), Morena Baccarin (V and Homeland), Adam Baldwin (Chuck), Jewel Staite (Stargate Atlantis), Sean Maher (Make It or Break It), Summer Glau (Terminator The Sarah Conner Chronicles), and Ron Glass (Barney Miller).

Where to Watch: DVD, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant

Final Thoughts
No single network can be blamed for cancelling these great TV shows. While Fox holds the title for cancelling the most (6) of these shows, no network is immune to bad decisions. ABC, NBC, CBS, Spike, and FX shows all appear on this list.

I know I've probably forgotten some TV shows that should be in this list somewhere. It's a shame when TV shows with a lot of potential get dropped too early, leaving us wondering what could've been. Meanwhile, the networks seem to be force feeding us garbage "reality" like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Jersey Shore, Amish Mafia, All My Babies' Mamas, 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and Stars In Danger: The High Dive; just to name a few.

Recently I started to re-watch the original X-Files. I wonder how the X-Files, which had somewhat of a glut in ratings through episodes 4-7, manage to not get canned by Fox? The writing wasn't that great in the initial season as well. Eventually, Scully and Mulder developed great chemistry that turned the series into a classic. What happened after the 1993-1994 TV season that Fox became so cancel happy?