Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint about rewiring things and punching people, I'm on a weekly gaming podcast called The Crate & Crowbar, I wrote these two short stories in the Machine of Death collections, and I used to write articles like these for PC Gamer. I'm now prototyping two new games, Heat Signature and one about grappling hooks.
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Aaron Sorkin’s current show about a TV news show was panned by reviewers, but I quite liked its first episode and thought its problems were fixable. The reviewers had seen the first four. I now see what they were talking about.
It’s such an extraordinary mix of exciting potential and staggeringly clumsy writing that I’ve had trouble stringing together a sentence about it that uses the word ‘but’ fewer than five times. So I’ll give up on a coherent overview and just list the things I like and don’t like. Continued
That leaked Aaron Sorkin script I wrote up a while back is now a show, called The Newsroom. It goes behind the scenes of a nightly news show with a grouchy celebrity anchor, and revolves around him, his new executive producer and the crew. This means I would watch it religiously even if it wasn’t a Sorkin thing – I have no particular interest in the news, but every show or film made about it seems to be great. Continued
Boss is the evil West Wing: a political drama about a powerful figure concealing a degenerative illness, but one in which no-one is likeable or trying to do the right thing. It’s still about smart people working hard to do their job well, they’re just terrible, terrible people with horrible, horrible jobs. Continued
The Shadow Line is finished now, and it was good until it got a bit wanky at the end. It’s nice to have something with a plot that genuinely requires some processing between episodes, and the cast has made me a fan of four of five actors I’d never seen before. Continued
Graham: I’m reading the pilot script for Sorkin’s new show. I will send it to you, but as a preview, simply close your eyes and imagine that Aaron Sorkin was writing a TV show. Bingo! You now have all the contents of this script in your head. Continued
“Based on what these people saw in those two episodes, the FX-centric viewer just rated it lower in areas such as intensity, suspense, sexiness. When you talk to the USA-type viewer, they rate it lower than their favorite shows because it’s not a land in which every babe is hot, and the sky is incredibly blue, and everybody lives in an apartment three times as big as they could legitimately afford, and everything comes out great in the end. What we ended up with—and this is a much more nuanced and complicated answer—was a show that somehow fell between two brands.”
FX president John Landgraf Continued
The first entry of a Minecraft diary I’m starting just went up on PC Gamer – it’s just a short one to start with, but this might turn into a long-running thing. It’s about playing with a sort of permanent death rule: if I die, I have to delete the whole world and everything in it, then start again from scratch in a new one. It’s also starting from when I first played the game, so I know virtually nothing about how it works. The next entry will go up first thing tomorrow, and it’ll probably be every other day from then on. Continued
This made me laugh.
Povenmire and Marsh still found themselves fighting for some of their more surreal material. In several episodes, for instance, a character named Major Monogram interjects—apropos of nothing—the phrase “Ever since… the Academy.” A Disney executive quickly flagged the line, arguing (correctly) that it was utter nonsense. Povenmire assured him that it was exactly the kind of nonsense kids would parrot to one another at school. In fact, he felt so confident, he told the executive he expected to one day hear children repeat the line. The skeptical exec pledged to give Povenmire $100 for every time Povenmire heard it (unsolicited, of course). Continued
Almost anything that features a master criminal fancies itself as a battle of wits between him and the star detective. In practice, all that usually means is the bad guy leaves no evidence, then blunders into an obvious trap by the cop. Death Note actually is a battle of wits, though: the entire series revolves around two people desperate to eliminate each other, but prevented from doing so directly by the complicated mathematics of suspicion, guilt and uncertainty. Continued
I was pretty rude about the plot when writing about the pilot episode, but impressed by everything else. This is a quick update to say that, in the four episodes since then, that simple set up has changed dramatically every episode, and led to some superb twists and tense situations. Continued
Prohibition-era Sopranos. Steve Buscemi is a corrupt county treasurer in Atlantic City in the 20s, and it’s lovely to see him play a position of power. I’ve got so used to him as a snivelling loser that it’s surprising how well his perpetual sneer works as one of superior disdain. The tone is just right, for me: Buscemi’s character is a villain, but not repulsive so far. It’s possible to enjoy the early twentieth century opulence of his life without being put off by the guy himself.
Opens on a conversation between two unappealing men in a pickup. A few lines into it, I know I’m going to love this show. Nothing about the premise is interesting or original, and the plot of the pilot is so over-familiar it could have been traced. But smart writing shows instantly, shows constantly, and never stops being a pleasure. Continued