Recommendation Roulette – December 2020

The end of this year is one to celebrate, as this point in our lives will be immortalized in textbooks for generations to come. However, we are not at that point yet and are still twiddling our thumbs as to how to stay sane in a world of walls. Thankfully, the bois have come together to give 2020 a spectacular send off with their personal recommendations. This time around they’ve played and watched a lot, so hopefully this little slice of distraction may help a bit as we say hello to 2021.

Mike’s Pick:

To The Moon – Video Game

To The Moon is an indie game from 2011 in the style of a 16-bit top-down RPG of the Super Nintendo era. You play as two doctors, Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts, representing a corporation that is tasked with implanting artificial memories in the minds of patients on their deathbed to give them the illusion that they have achieved their life’s goal before they pass on. Your patient, Johnny, is an elderly man whose life goal was to go to the moon. The two doctors travel backwards through Johnny’s life back to his childhood in order to find a way to make this dream a “reality” and also discover the reason behind why he wanted this in the first place.

Though it is in the style of a Final Fantasy or Earthbound game from a visual perspective, there are no combat encounters or fighting mechanics in this game. Even having a humorous fake combat encounter at the very beginning as a way of subverting the type of game that a game in this style would be expected to be. A majority of the gameplay, for what little there is, revolves around finding different significant mementos, and completing a fairly simple tile puzzle at the end of each section. None of this sounds entirely exciting on the surface, but the real substance of the game comes from the beautiful and emotional character’s journey, coupled with the absolutely serene music and visuals that takes a grand, high-concept Christopher Nolan-esque sci-fi premise, told with the heart and emotion of a Pixar story (Up specifically comes to mind).

To the Moon is playable on Mac and PC, and has recently been ported to the Nintendo Switch.

Louis’ Pick:

Black Christmas (2006) – Movie

So, I put off watching this movie for a very long time. I’m a huge fan of the original Black Christmas (1974) and the horror remakes of the aughts weren’t exactly known to be high-caliber. Not to mention the fact that the most recent attempt at remaking this film was painfully bad. However, I’m glad I finally got around to check this out because it is a super fun holiday horror movie. While the original is smart and beautifully filmed, this movie is dumb, ugly, and crazy. Have a few drinks and take this one in with the homies. It will not disappoint.

Jack’s Pick:

Saved by the Bell – TV (Peacock)

Saved By The Bell may be one of those shows that has a catchy theme song, but not all that memorable of one. Whenever I would watch it on TBS reruns before jetting off to Middle School they would never play the titles. But the theme song is back, and so is almost the entire original cast in Peacock’s reboot of Saved By the Bell. It’s 20 years or so since Zack and Kelly got married and now as Zack Morris bears so much resemblance to another blonde underachieving sociopath, it would only make sense that he becomes Governor of California. But since he fucks up the budget, half the schools in California close and have to merge their student bodies whether anyone likes it or not.

Props to this new adaption for its diversity in casting and the new cast does a hell of a job being likable, charming, and stupid as only teens in a sitcom can be. It’s an interesting mix of kids each given their own problems and identities either establishing them as new parts of the show or separating them for whichever original characters are their parents.

Where this new show trips up is in its overdone, and maybe a bit out of touch, social messaging. It’s not wrong at all to call out disparities in class and education between prominent white school districts and underfunded districts with predominantly BIPOC populations. But, the show never stops talking about it once. Much like the middle aged white ladies it parodies, the show just doesn’t understand how to do diversity and tries way too hard as it acts like it’s telling you all of this for the first time ever. I’m guessing all these actors of color did not want to come on the show and have every other line they recite be about how impoverished and downtrodden they are.

And that’s a bit of the thing. Bayside is rewritten as this place of insane privilege and wealth. And while Zack Morris certainly got away with everything because he’s a rich white asshole, doesn’t mean that the other characters were that at all. Bayside never felt like any real high school on Earth but the joy of the show was that it could (hopefully) make every kid feel like it was their high school. That it was so fantastical it could almost be a ridiculous fairytale utopia high school and you could just melt away into it for an hour. But Lisa and Slater weren’t just token characters of color, Kelly wasn’t wealthy, Jessie dealt with and addressed adversity (And often maybe got too “excited” about it.), and Screech……well Screech is in space in this new series.

Saved by the Bell is a lot of fun and should be applauded for its great casting and wonderfully energetic and touching characters but come Season 2 I expect to see these kids having some fun and living their lives. As Zack Morris once lied…..

“Having fun is what high school is all about.”

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