Did We Watch The Same Fallout Show?” – A Potential Title Rewrite

Millions of people have watched the TV show in the week and a bit since its release, and now they’re turning to the games. Everyone except me. I was very surprised, then, to learn the fervour with which fans were praising it.

I read reviews that labelled it as the “best video game adaptation since The Last of Us”, and all I could think about was how being better than Halo’s second series is the lowest possible bar to clear. I enjoyed it! The characters were good, Walter Goggins makes an excellent ghoul (but was his performance *really *BAFTA-worthy?

), Ella Purnell’s American accent is incredibly convincing, and the show’s central premise was intriguing. I wanted to watch more, and that’s a good thing. But it’s not a show I can see myself ever watching again.

Whoever was in charge of casting Matt Berry as Cogsworth deserves a raise. People like Fallout because it’s a competent depiction of the game series they love. But I didn’t see anything great.

The script was alright, the humour didn’t get any laughs from me, and the references were a little bit “omg it’s that thing from that game”. He called the dog Dogmeat! There’s a bobblehead on that shelf!

That doesn’t a great TV show make. If gamers see a competent TV adaptation that stays true to the heart of a series, they hail it as the best thing to hit our screens since The Wire. By virtue of simply Not Being Bad, there is nothing Fallout can do wrong.

It is perfect, unblemished, unparalleled. When you hold it up to other adaptations, The Last of Us notwithstanding, it does look good. But it deserves the respect of being measured against all TV, not just the fact it rises above the mediocrity of gaming TV.

All this got me thinking: what’s important to fans when it comes to an adaptation? Why is Fallout being praised so much? Why are fans lapping up something that made me feel so little?

It’s because the Fallout show understands the universe it’s set in. While The Last of Us is obviously great – and I preferred it to Fallout, despite liking Fallout games more than Naughty Dog’s portrayal of the post-apocalypse – it followed the game’s story beat for beat, sometimes word for word and shot for shot. It’s no coincidence that its best episodes were the flashbacks in which it extrapolated on hints the game left behind.

But to create a brand new story in the Fallout universe and get fans on board, the show needed to understand the wasteland. A bombed out city in the Fallout show. The dangers of the Fallout universe are always evident.

It clearly shows that everyone, from the three protagonists to the side characters they come across on their travels, is out for themself. The violence of the New California Republic is perfectly balanced by the misguided honour of the Brotherhood of Steel and the cultish capitalist scheming of Vault-Tec. In the middle of this messed up world are three engaging, likeable characters.

Yes, even the Ghoul is likeable, in an anti-hero kind of way, and he carries some of the series’ most emotional scenes. All you need to get fans on board is well-written characters in an established universe that stays true(ish) to its source material. That’s fine!

It’s good, even. I’m glad that people are enjoying the show. As a Fallout fan myself, however, I just don’t buy into the hype.

I liked it, I hope it gets a second series, but I hope a renewal forces it to improve. I’d like a better script, for starters. I’d like fewer Leonardo di Caprio-pointing-at-the-screen references.

I’d like more emotional scenes involving Cooper Howard and his daughter. But I worry that the rave reviews will encourage an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mindset. Fallout won’t fail if it continues as is, I and millions of others will continue to watch.

But it will never move from good to become truly great.

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