In this week’s first “normal” edition of The McNuttCast, we can’t entirely get away from talking Battlestar Galactica – while I had the privilege of collaborating with Devindra Hardawar and Meredith Woerner on the epic /Filmcast Series Finale discussion [LINK], the Elder McNutt didn’t get the same chance, so there’s a few minutes of BSG spoilers in here that are clearly marked.
The rest of the show, meanwhile, diversifies beyond television to the world of film, music and video games, as my readers get to see whether I actually know anything about these subjects. We discuss the genius of the Where the Wild Things Are trailer, delve into the latest release from local Canadian artist Joel Plaskett, and discuss the dominance and continued evolution of Nintendo’s current position in the video game market. And, of course, I still find time to discuss the state of NBC bubble shows, the Parks and Recreation testing “controversy” and the ratings for Dollhouse’s “Man on the Street.”
In our feature discussion, coincidentally only a day after 30 Rock made a joke about the Canadian Grammys, we discuss the biggest music-based awards show in Canada, the Juno Awards. Don’t worry, our international listeners: we contextualize our anger, and try to make sure that you don’t view the winners and nominees as representative of the best Canada has to offer.
We’re still working on getting onto iTunes (it’s our weekend project), but in the meantime you can listen and download below – full show notes are after the fold! If you have any comments or questions or suggestions of what you might want us to cover, send us an email: you can reach us through either of our sites, or by emailing us (for me, cultural.learnings @ gmail.com).
Okay, so turning a TV series into a video game has never been an easy proposition, at least not on the live action side of things. While we all have fond memories of the licensed titles surrounding shows like Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers, I think that Alias and 24 have shown us that these properties (Even ones that SEEM like good video game ideas) are not likely to ever turn out something overly compelling from a game design point of view.
But, MumboJumbo Games is out to change this perspective with a new perspective: rather than trying to create some sort of high-class experience from a dramatic property, tap into the casual gaming market with a game based on a popular comedy program. And thus, The Office: The Video Game is born.
It plans to turn “The Office” into a humorous game in which players have to handle jobs and play pranks at Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch.
“We were anxious to expand our audience with a property that has broad appeal and works well as a game,” said MumboJumbo VP of product development Mike Suarez. “It will help us to demonstrate that casual games are the true mass videogame market.”
MumboJumbo has likeness rights to the show’s cast, who will be portrayed as bobblehead-type dolls. Game will also feature audio and video clips from the show.
My personal thoughts on this? I wasn’t really clambering for a video game version of Dwight. I mean, I get what they’re trying to do here, appealing to a casual audience, but they will face one rather substantial problem: the audience of The Office is smarter than that. Licensed video games on systems like the Nintendo DS and Sony’s PSP (The two systems the game will appear on) are often crappy, but because they’re appealing to mostly a younger audience parents will buy them because they’re familiar.
In this situation, myself and most Office viewers know better than to pay $30 for a licensed title that likely isn’t very good. These cheap titles are designed to be just that: cheap to make, profitable for their publisher as a result. However, they rely on uninformed buyers purchasing them not knowing their poor quality as a result of that cheap development. And yet, I think that a majority of the possible audience for this title will know better.
But hey, I might be wrong: maybe people want to take on a Bobblehead version of Michael live on their portable system of choice or their PC. They’ll get their chance soon, as the game releases this fall.
Perhaps as the column on the right suggests, tonight is an interesting night for TV. NBC has created quite the phenomenon in Heroes this season, and they’ve done quite a good job of establishing it as event programming. However, for better or for worse, they’ve decided to leave it in its timeslot. The result? A one-on-one confrontation with Jack Bauer.
This is ballsy stuff from NBC, really. From what I’ve been witnessing on message boards, Heroes is going to have a tough time maintaining their entire audience with 24 in its timeslot. Regardless of Heroes’ success, the reality is that 24 is both riding momentum from last week’s four-hour extravaganza and offers a consistently large amount of drama. Although Heroes is returning from a lengthy hiatus, its “cliffhanger” was more of a prognostication of the future than an actual cliffhanger, and I don’t think it will be enough to defeat the realities of nuclear holocaust.
Let’s look at each side’s advantages
– Riding success of last week’s premiere.
– Recent media coverage has been supportive of its storyline.
– Provides a bit more weekly drama, less slow episodes.
– Returning from hiatus with strong marketing.
– Has the better lead-in (Deal or No Deal w/ Heroes preview vs. Prison Break)
My prediction: 24 takes the ratings win by a slim margin. I think that, though, any sign of a weakening storyline on 24 could reverse this trend. Either way, it’s a big story to watch for tomorrow. Us Canadians, however, don’t have to worry about it, as Global is airing both shows. Huzzah for the 49th Parallel!
Just a quick note and link for the purposes of saving something for tomorrow’s major piece. Newsweek, every year, puts together a roundtable of people related to the Academy Awards in order to look back at the past year in film and understand who its major players were. Last year was a feature on a series of directors (Spielberg, Haggis, Ang Lee, etc.) whose films were all very dark and full of depth. Coincidentally, their films were all nominated for Best Picture. This year, they decided instead to look at some of the actors and actresses (including a good number of the front runners).
The Lineup: Brad Pitt (“Babel”), Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Departed”, “Blood Diamond”), Cate Blanchett (“Babel”, “Notes on a Scandal”), Penelope Cruz (“Volver”) and Dame Helen Mirren (“The Queen”)
The result is a fascinating and humorous conversation that maintains a light hearted feel while really getting into some interesting discussions with these actors. Brad Pitt is in particular quite funny, as we could perhaps expect, and I think that it’s really interesting to note that they put them in front of an audience. Really, this is just one giant “Inside the Actor’s Studio” done for Oscar season, which I think serves its purpose well. In Awards season, these people become names on a ballot, not really allowing them to establish themselves as anything more. While someone like Pitt or DeCaprio might not feel this, someone like Forest Whitaker isn’t a celebrity to most people, and I think interviews like this one rightly balance the star hungry populace and those who want to learn more about the people who are being awarded by their peers.
Give it a read, it’s worth your time. And, tomorrow, myself and the elder McNutt will be previewing the Oscar Nominations in Cross-Blog Extravaganza, so stay tuned for that early tomorrow before the nominations go out.
So, here’s a short story. The new Nintendo Wii connects to the internet, where you can surf the web and download classic Nintendo games…oh, and check the weather! It’s a really neat feature that I tried out while home for the holidays, and one my brother continues to enjoy. There’s just one problem, you see: I can’t access it here at Acadia.
It’s really quite tragic. We’re not allowed wireless routers in residence, and my little USB Dongle thing that Nintendo released has a neat habit of crashing my computer into a blue screen of death. As a result, I am without a connection to the internet. Why do I lament this today? Because, sadly, today one of the classic games I would most definitely purchase has been released onto the Virtual Console.
Alas, it is true! The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of those games that I never got to really play, and one that while I started in emulator form (Evil, I know) I never finished it. As a result, I want it quite badly, and sadly have no internet connection with which to acquire it. Curses!
To help soothe my pain, and everyone else’s, here’s a YouTube “video” clip. Really, it’s just the game’s logo, but it contains perhaps my single favourite piece of video game music of all time, the theme to the game’s Dark World, in all its MIDI glory.
A little memo to the CW: I appreciate you renewing Veronica Mars, but I really wish you’d stop piling on the obstacles to the show getting a fourth season.
“Reality series Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, in which nine women compete for a spot on the hit singing group, will air for eight weeks starting March 6, Tuesdays at 9 ET/PT. Veronica Mars, which now airs in that spot, will take a breather then return for five non-serialized episodes — a first for that series — to finish out the season.”
Now, we knew the hiatus would be happening, but the “non-serialized” part scares me. I think the show can work without a serial plot, but I’m going to look in the direction of Alias on this one. Its fourth season was designed to be less serial, and it suffered greatly for it. I really hope that they at least apply enough personal drama to make the episodes work individually, and it should be an interesting challenge, but it’s clear that the network is not entirely behind the show. They already cut the episode order to 20 from 22, and now they’re testing out to see if it’s the serial nature of the show that’s the problem. Let’s hope, whatever happens, it survives.
(Also of note: Worst. Reality. Show. Ever. And I have no idea how they think it’s going to survive out of the Gilmore Girls lead-in,)
Box Office Update
Wooo! Man, my first weekend taking a stab at box office predictions and I don’t do half bad.
None of the major box officer predictors were putting Stomp the Yard in the #1 spot, so go me! The Hitcher just wasn’t resonating with audiences in my mind, and I felt that Stomp the Yard would follow the lead of films like ‘Step Up’ and continue to perform well over multiple weekends. My predictions will likely be a tad bit too high for The Hitcher, but my placement should be fine.
As far as limited releases go, Pan’s Labyrinth performed extremely well in limited release with $1.3 Million. I really need to get out and see that, especially since Meryl Streep liked it.
Quick note on Wario Ware: Smooth Moves (Wii) that just came out this week. I spent some time with Lucas’ copy on Wednesday, and “beat” the game in about 4 hours.
I’m glad I didn’t buy it, in the end. I think it’s a whole lot of fun, contains some moments of brilliant game design, but there just isn’t enough here. I am hideously disappointed in multiplayer, also. They killed Survival: One miss and you’re out? What the hell is that? It kills any chance of casuals getting into the game any further, and even the Lifeline mode that allows everyone to play never gets as hectic and the “winner” is quite random.
Speaking of which, where the frack are my stats? Does Nintendo have something against competition here, if they’re seriously not letting us keep our stats of how often we win in multiplayer?
The single player was solid, definitely quiet ingenious (The Dancing is every bit as amazing as YouTube promised), but nothing that got my overly excited. But really, compared to MegaParty Games, there isn’t enough depth to multiplayer (Although Bungie Buddies is a lot of fun). You have to have people of comparable skill level for Bomb/Balloon/Survival to work, and that just isn’t possible in a party game.
A little underwhelmed overall, but it’s definitely something I’ll go back to for multiplayer when people are around and Lucas is willing to part with it. It represents a solid step towards solid Wiimote functions, and I think it is therefore a solid addition to the Wii Lineup.
However, to get back to that dancing video, let’s head to YouTube to check it out. You play as the dancer in the back, and you have to follow all of the dance moves involved. Yes, all of them. It is insanely fun. And totally ridiculous.