I really quite enjoyed Ghostbusters: Afterlife, my spoiler-free review is right here. The short version is that I thought it was a really decent sequel to a much-loved IP. A little too heavy on the fan service and references at times, with the last third really just becoming a remake of the last third of the original. Yes, I am talking about Ghostbusters: Afterlife in this, very obviously, an article about the new series of GamesMaster… but why? Trust me, there’s a point.
Look, I loved the original GamesMaster. I even spend a year and a half researching, rewatching and writing up a very, very lengthy, multi-part retrospective of the original series in its entirety. So I guess it was inevitable that I would also cover the recent reboot of the classic gaming TV show. I watched the first show when it was released on YouTube and decided then that I would watch all three episodes before I offered my opinion. Well, all three episodes have now been broadcast (you can find them on YouTube) and so now I can put into words just how I feel about the return of GamesMaster.
Honestly, I’m very underwhelmed. I didn’t dislike it, I didn’t really love it either and I really didn’t see the point. When the show originally aired back in 1992, it was fresh and unique. GamesMaster was the first-ever fully dedicated video game TV show. Games and gaming had been featured on shows before but GamesMaster was 100% game-centric. Now? Everybody and their mother thinks they are a ‘pro gamer’ and YouTube exists. We are lost in an ocean of ever-increasing video game content these days. Twitch, Facebook Gaming and more. You can’t move for ‘content creators’ these days and as gaming has gotten more mainstream over the years, so has watching gaming.
GamesMaster is largely redundant these days, its uniqueness no longer exists and all it has going for it is a wave of nostalgia of a time long past. Here’s an interview with showrunner Céin McGillicuddy that brings up a couple of things I really need to explore. First:
“We’re not looking to recreate what came before.”
Yeah, that’s exactly what you have done. This new GamesMaster is a direct recreation of the original series. There is nothing new original here at all. It is a carbon copy of the original show in every single way Second:
“This is the gritty, edgy, subversive GamesMaster that we know and love.”
Yes and no. It is the GamesMaster that the fans know and love… but it is pretty damn far from being gritty, edgy or subversive. Maybe back in 1992, this would’ve been seen as gritty, edgy or subversive but these days, saying a couple of very mild swear words is pretty much standard.
See, this is where my Ghostbusters: Afterlife analogy comes into play. As I said, I thought the film was really good. I loved the first and second acts as they felt new, while still being firmly planted in a much-loved IP. It was the final act where the film disappointed me, as it just recreated the final act of the original film. This is exactly what this new GamesMaster does, it is the final act of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Cheeky Scottish presenter? An English TV icon as the GamesMaster? Early CGI stylised intro? And so on. Heavy on the nostalgia and very light on actual worthy or interesting content.
This new GamesMaster does absolutely nothing new. Yeah, I get that they wanted to please fans of the original. Fine, but don’t go labelling your show as being ‘gritty, edgy and subversive’ when it is not. Call it a lazy copy instead. Honestly, I found this reboot extremely lazy and I seriously failed to see the point of it being made. It’s not 1992 anymore, we have hundreds, thousands of options to us for gaming content. And that is what this show new feels like… just another gaming show, one that is a pale imitation of a true classic too.
As I said before, I rewatched the entire show to do a retrospective. All seven series covered, all one hundred and twenty-six episodes. To do my retrospective, I had to watch all of those episodes multiple times too, usually three or four times. I had to watch a hell of a lot of GamesMaster over the year and a half it took me to finish my retrospective. When you do that, you can really see the show’s decline. Series five was where the rot began, series six was where the decay really kicked in and series seven was the show’s death-rattle. This new version feels very much like series six of the old GamesMaster, it just feels like it is decaying in front of your very eyes. It feels stale even though it has only just begun.
It’s old hat, it’s passé and dated… and it’s only three episodes old. It feels long-winded too. You’re looking at forty-five minute episodes when it really doesn’t need to be. Challenges on the show last a few minutes, some only seconds. The rest of the show is seriously padded out with filler. There’s a section explaining basic gaming knowledge to a (supposed) non-gamer. Let me ask you this… why? If you are not a gamer, why would you be watching a show that is dedicated to gaming? There’s several minutes that could be cut from the runtime right there. If you are new to gaming and want to learn more, why would you watch a several minutes long section on GamesMaster when there are hundreds of better YouTube videos out there that explain elements of gaming far more concisely?
Most of the challengers are streamers and YouTubers. It all feels like a plug for their channels and not genuine gaming challenges. I miss the likes of the everyday guy (or gal) on the street being the contestants. Let’s have more of Adam from Cock Alley, Calow or Tracy from Shitterton, Dorset… carefully hidden swearing and naughty slang… edgy (according to Céin McGillicuddy). Now we have DJ (insert stupid name here), don’t forget to like and subscribe, give that bell a smash. The show is the gaming TV equivalent of this gif…
It really does feel like a thirty-year-old relic trying to be relevant by repeating what worked three decades ago, throwing in some YouTube talk and just hoping for the best. I can really only repeat what I stated earlier with: I didn’t dislike it, I didn’t really love it either and I really didn’t see the point. Maybe the show is just not for me? I did like Trevor McDonald as the new GamesMaster though, he really works. He said ‘bollocks’ in the last episode… edgy!
But nope, I really don’t see me tuning in for more if/when this returns for a ‘proper’ series next year. Some relics are just better left in the past and only really work as nostalgic memories.