As you start to get more and more into roleplaying games and more and more into the various machinations behind the screen you’ll pick up the handy tip that’s it’s okay and even sometimes encouraged to crib a few notes from movies, comics, television shows and books to flesh out your campaign. The question is what if you go too far, well then you get………………………………………….
Here we’ll see gamers running through stuff like ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Harry Potter’ Or more accurately a lawyer friendly stand in like ‘Prehistoric Playground’ or ‘Defenders of the Cosmos’. See the basic plot is that these all exist in a world where the source material doesn’t actually exist, a world without ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Game of Thrones’, no ‘Avengers’ and no ‘Harry Potter’. In said world these are all concoctions from the mind of a mad DM running stand alone game after stand alone game. Thus the sometimes illogical, weird and sick actions chosen by said characters are the result not of bad writing but role players going off track, sabotaging the game or just out for a laugh. Likewise the rushed endings, random plot leaps and seemingly randomised tone are the result of a dm trying to impart his will on people just after a simple minded good time. Though sometimes it’s the other way round like the GM trying to run a fun thrilling super heroic adventure featuring a grown up family of superheroes and the players want more backstory and science giving us Fan4stic.
For those of you who think this premise sounds similar to ‘DM of the Ring‘ or ‘Darths and Droids‘ well that’s because it is. The bright side to this is that ‘Screen Crashers’ doesn’t have to wade through an entire movie dragging itself down with the talky bits or indeed the sections that stand quite well on their own without any added commentary from the ‘players’. The down side is that instead of a full movie we get a fifteen to twenty minute highlight reel of the ‘game’. Thus its kind of less ‘Darths and Droids’ and more like their April fools spectacular which was likewise cool and novel but little more than that.
With a lot less freedom to do stuff like characterisation both for the ‘gamers’ and for the characters they play the series struggles to pull you back for part two such as for the GM’s crush or when relationships are destroyed and rebuilt over the course of a game and plenty of times when it seem to just be going through the motions, such as Jaynes distaste for River being played out in one hundredth of the time and with one hundredth of the motivation. In ‘Darths and Droids’ we got couples slowly getting together and discussing their future as they question life choices between session and sometimes in the middle. They also got to make the characters their own with a witty and helpful Jar Jar Binks and a corrupt Anakin Skywalker working into the mind of kindly old man Palpatine. Now granted that’s because it’s no doubt a lot harder to dub over a high def video clip than to paste a word balloon over a screen cap but still the point still stands. They have started to try their hand at this by playing those going up against the bride in ‘Kill Bill’ and the kids visiting Wonka’s chocolate factory but it’s hard to tell how well they’ve done at it with a fifteen minute run time.
As the episodes progress they get better and the adaptation of some of the big musical numbers work quite well to give some presence to the characters and there are more than a few characters. See while ‘DM of the rings’ and ‘Darths and Droids’ stuck to a regular cast adding and subtracting more as and when its needed ‘Screen Crashers’ has a quite wide range of gamers with enough that you could easily run a game one episode and another the next without any cross over of players. As I said these players aren’t completely fleshed out and seem to bend to the whim of the storyline but perhaps that’s the reason for such a high number of them. Now that’s not a terrible idea if you’re only after a gag a week but falls a little short if you want anything more. Likewise while I have no doubt the minds behind this are gamers it seems more bent toward the source material than the gaming unlike ‘DM of the Rings’. Not that either is wrong it’s just I know which one is more likely to be marathoned or simply draw you back next week.