Can a Fallout TV Series Even Work?

While technically old news, Amazon is bankrolling a Fallout TV series. The newer news is that it starts filming this year. The guy behind Westworld is doing the first episode, and… well, if say much more, this paragraph will be longer than the original article.

Fallout is one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time. I have played all the major releases, including less popular ones like Brotherhood of Steel and, ahem, Fallout 76. It really wasn’t until the release of Fallout 3 before I realized that that was the sort of experience I had been waiting my entire life for: post-apocalyptic hoarding simulator. I didn’t need to have a quest to be motivated to explore a cave – the possibility of extra duct tape and aluminum cans was enough. And chasing that similar sense of satisfaction fueled my drive into and through practically every survival game that has been released.

I have zero clue how in the world they will translate Fallout to the TV screen.

Some people have mentioned that Fallout might be well-positioned to capitalize on the cultural zeitgeist of the day, e.g. the dangers of unrestrained jingoism. But that actually seems more like a problem: it’s going to seem too on-the-nose despite the source material always having those elements of dark irony. Vault-Tec running unethical experiments on their customers doesn’t quite cut the same way when we have Facebook and other social media doing similar things in the real world.

This is to say nothing on what sort of tone they will go for. I could easily see a Fallout TV ending up more of a slapstick apocalypse romp, with Bottlecap mines, Fat Man launchers, and Stimpaks magically healing broken limbs. Or I could see them trying to leverage more of the darker side of the series, Father in the Cave and similar tragic pathos. But in the latter case… where does the Nuka-Cola, caps as currency, Pip-Boys and the like come in? Super Mutants and Mr. Handy? If you aren’t including that sort of thing, I’m not sure what the point of it is being branded Fallout.

I just don’t see it. The world of Fallout could support little mini-arcs World War Z-style (the book), but an overarching narrative? Or even following the events of one of the games? New Vegas probably has the most coherent plot and story beats, especially if they include some of the DLCs. Well, maybe not the one where your brains are scooped out and you end up getting a teleportation device. Fallout 4 is a more modern tale, especially with the notion of synths and the philosophical questions surrounding them… but also prominently features teleportation by the end. It works in game form, but I don’t see it getting a pass on the screen.

God, I just imagined the first time they bring up a VATS-like effect and aim a Railway Rifle round at someone’s eyeball. There’s no way this doesn’t end up being goofy nonsense. Which I guess will be on brand, but nevertheless feels like the worst of all possible worlds. Which… is also on brand.

Posted on January 10, 2022, in Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Gut reaction was it won’t work, for the reasons you mentioned, Fallout at its best is both super serious and dark, and complete comedy. If the show isn’t both, and nails both, I don’t see it working.

    That said Westworld (season 1 anyway) kind of pulled this off, where the robots lead a serious life but the people at the park went to mass murder etc, and it was fun. Then season 2+ happened…

    Like

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