I thought about going with “Aaron Sorkin is yesterday’s news,” but that seemed excessively mean. And probably inaccurate.
A recurring subplot in Sorkin’s previous worst show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, dealt with a character who was developing a TV show about the United Nations, which he was planning to put on HBO because it was too highbrow for the network TV audience — an idea that Amanda Peet’s fake programming director tried to dissuade him of. So it’s probably telling that now, after Studio 60 collapsed under its own baggage and Sorkin himself got to put a show on HBO, his big idea was apparently to make Studio 60 again.
The Newsroom works considerably better than Studio 60 did, largely because it doesn’t have to sell the idea that a fake version of Saturday Night Live is somehow central to the soul of American society. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t seem to advanced its analysis of the news industry much beyond a few wistful lines about how much better America was when a bunch of old white men told us what to think every night.
On paper, I’m an ideal candidate to be annoyed about Mass Effect 3‘s ending. After all, my complaint about Dragon Age II was that the game gives the player a ton of choices and then goes out of its way to make them all seem meaningless, which is not far off from the most coherent complaint about ME3. I also don’t like deus ex machina endings, and I was already kind of annoyed at the game because I kind of saw one coming.
And yet, it didn’t really bother me.
In this week’s edition of me gainsaying io9, I’m taking a look at this piece, in which Charlie Jane Anders wonders if the second season of Game of Thrones will live up to the first. I’m going to be counter-contrarian and say that it will.
The article makes some great points, which amount to the fact that everything that made the first season hard will make the second season harder, plus they’ll need more special effects. But I think the first point Anders raises is both wrong and the reason why I think the show will actually work.
I really liked Dragon Age II. I liked the way they streamlined the combat, I liked that Hawke had a voice, and the dialogue wheel won me over pretty quickly. I could forgive the way they recycled dungeons because they seemed to have learned not to make them so monotonously huge, in the way that had destroyed Origins‘ replay value. Right up to the final battle, I was sure the game was head and shoulders better than its predecessor.
Then the game ended. There was like a three-minute cutscene, Cassandra says something cryptic, and it fades to black. There’s no denouement, no epilogue, the credits don’t even have music. It’s like they just stopped making it.
I got to thinking about this after I came across Kirk Hamilton’s reflections on the game in Kotaku. Because I’ve learned not to pay much attention to what people say about games on the Internet, I’d largely missed the backlash against the game while I was playing it.
While I understand some of the other complaints about DA II, but I think they’re overblown. But for all the work the team did to overhaul the gameplay, the best element of Origins — its story — is where the sequel fell down.