Disney’s Most Forgotten Film, SNL’s Last Movie Ever, and the Greatest Video Game of the Decade?

May 15-21: Goldie Hawn helps Mel Gibson, Tim Roth loses an ear, Sofia Coppola redeems herself, Woody Allen breaks the bank, Shrek goes fourth, Greg Brady tells all, Robin Williams sells cars, Tom Green skips the road trip, NBC has all the romance, and the greatest finale in TV history, and no, it’s not Falcon Crest. All that and more this week on Thirty Twenty Ten, your weekly look back on the week that was 30, 20, and 10 years ago.

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5 thoughts on “Disney’s Most Forgotten Film, SNL’s Last Movie Ever, and the Greatest Video Game of the Decade?

  1. I found the Jeff/Annie relationship was really creepy to me as she was supposed to be 18. And I’m not crazy because Joel McHale also brings that up in his autobiography. He also talks about how much of a jerk ass Chevy Chase was so high recommend.

  2. OK, prepare for a long memory:

    2010

    I’m procrastinating. I should go back to work, but I take a quick peek in my bookmarked folder of nerdage sites. Surely organizing that is a productive use of my time!

    I delete the link for 8-bit Theater, as that webcomic is apparently, for reals, done-done. Shamus’s Let’s Play of Lord of the Rings Online just doesn’t have the same umph as his old DM of the Rings but it’s still just entertaining enough to make the cut. Order of the Stick is brilliant as always, and I’ll be sad when the author wraps everything up. And …

    “Gun-Horse? What is Penny Arcade making fun of this time?” I’m not as tapped into the gamingsphere as I used to be, so many PA jokes just go right over my head. This is one of those.

    I do a quick Google search and it looks like they are referencing a game called Red Dead Redemption. Huh. The game looks REALLY interesting. It has everything I never knew I wanted in a Western game: Horses! Duels! An achievement for exterminating the buffalo!

    If it were available on the PC, I’d buy it – but it’s not, so I give a mental shrug.

    I don’t even consider the possibility of buying a PS3; my wife is pregnant with our first child, after all. I’ve got more important things to spend money on than a new console. Anyways, Rockstar usually takes about a year to port their games to the PC, and I’m patient enough to wait that long.

    2011

    I push the stroller as fast as I dare, intent on getting to the children’s area as soon as humanly possible. Casey needs to get some play time in, stat. When it’s raining (and raining and raining), she’s denied the park outside our house as an outlet for her boundless energy. When that happens, well I’m a loving father so I say she’s being “emphatic,” instead of some other choice words I could use.

    Oregon’s grey months raise my own personal stay-at-home-dad difficulty level a full notch. Luckily my nearby mall has an indoor play area that Casey loves to clomp around on. I push forward, eager to get her out of the stroller and onto the back of a giant plastic turtle. I halt my march when GameStop’s display window catches my eye; RDR Game of the Year Edition? Wow, I had no clue about that expansion. Since Casey’s birth I’ve been completely disconnected from the pop-cultural landscape. Anything below the level of Charlie Sheen’s meltdown just doesn’t penetrate the baby bubble I’m in. But zombies in the Old West? That sounds really cool. Maybe I could …

    Crying. Lots and lots of “emphatic” crying.

    I push towards the play area.

    2012

    I finish watching the original version of True Grit and turn to my father-in-law. “I liked it! Honestly the remake was more enjoyable just because it had a more modern pacing as well as style and sensibility, but both were fun to watch. Probably because each one had pretty much every last Western trope you could want in a movie: horse-chases, poisonous snakes, bounty hunters, outlaws … huh.”

    As I’m talking, my mind starts to tingle. As I mention trope after trope, I’m oddly reminded of a game that I’ve never actually played.

    I finish talking with my father-in-law and leave to pop onto Steam (it’s amazing how I’ve been using that service lately). I see if I can buy RDR on the PC and … no, I cannot. That’s kind of odd. I see if there is any information about an upcoming port on the web. While I can find rumors aplenty, there is nothing definite. I’m getting paid well enough at my new job, but with a second baby due next month I’m not going to buy a console for just one game. I’ll wait.

    2013

    I leisurely walk around Fry’s and pass a display stand showing off the brand new PS3 model. It’s pricy but it comes with an embiggened memory and a copy of Grand Theft Auto V. Hmm … that game is the principle of this generation’s capabilities, a generation that I’ve mostly missed. I’ve wanted to play Skyrim and Arkham Asylum and Fallout 3 and a bunch of other games for years now, but my PC just can’t handle the power such games require.

    My job is going well and, despite the cost of two kids in day care, financially our family is doing pretty well. Maybe it’s time to splurge. Why, if I buy this bundle I could finally play those games and … oh yea! Red Dead Redemption! Man, I’ve been wanting to play that game for years now. I put the PS3 in my cart and push it towards the cashier. I don’t go more than ten feet before I stop.

    There is a thing called a “Steam Sale,” and the summer one is literally happening right now. I didn’t buy any of the games I saw on it earlier in the day because my rig couldn’t handle them. BUT what if I upgrade my PC instead of buying a new console?

    That would be cheaper. Plus the PS4 is literally going to come out next month. Do I really want to buy a console when it’s about to be obsolete? By getting a high-end graphics card, chances are I’ll be able to play most of the PS4’s early games in addition to all the PS3 games I’ve been wanting to play, except … .

    Except Red Dead Redemption. If Rockstar was going to port that, they would have done so already. But that is just one game, after all. I shouldn’t make my decision based on just one game. I put the PS3 back and head on over to the PC section. It’s the smart decision.

    2014

    I’m finally going to buy a PS3! I’ve hemmed and hawed for years and years but I found one on Craigslist for a price I feel comfortable buying, so I’m going to bite the bullet and just frickin’ buy one already! And the best part? It’ll come pre-loaded with Red Dead Redemption! The seller is a 30-minute drive away. I’m super busy with job/house/wife/kids/etc., but I can spare that much time. I can make it work. I can fit into … traffic jam! Probably the biggest traffic jam I’ve seen in five, maybe ten years! Frickin’ A!

    My car is at a dead stop. I have all the time in the world to think about how I don’t have time for this.

    After an hour and a half I finally arrive at the guy’s house. I try to wipe the frustration from my face and smile as I shake the seller’s hand. My smile turns into a grimace as I watch his PS3’s screen freeze as it loads up Red Dead Redemption. The guy says that this has never happened before! It’s a one-time thing! He can fix it! I continue to smile. Politely.

    My smile grows harder and harder to hold as the stranger fiddles and probes. My smile is fully gone when the stranger gives up. I politely excuse myself and leave. Did the seller know the system wouldn’t work fully? Was that why the price was so affordable? Was this just a mistake from the beginning? I shake my head. I don’t know if I’ll try this again.

    2015

    I watch, with rapt attention, a video of a guy running Red Dead Redemption on a PS3 emulator. Every justification for piracy I’ve ever read has seemed self-serving and disingenuous to me, but perhaps this might still be a way I could finally play RDR!

    I don’t want to break the law. I honestly don’t. But I’ve read that emulation in and of itself is not illegal; it’s the piracy of the software that is illegal. So if that’s true, then if I were to legally buy a copy of RDR and emulate a PS3 on my PC to play it, then both legally and morally I would be in the clear!

    No, wait. It’s a fake video. Reading through the comments, a PC emulating a PS3 playing RDR isn’t even remotely achievable at this point and won’t be for years and years. At best. Never mind.

    2016

    I’m smiling. It’s not the rapturous smile of pure joy I see on my kids at Christmas. It’s not the smile of a man who has achieved a lifelong dream. It’s not even the smile that naturally comes to my face when I’m hanging out with a good friend. But as John Marston races through the dusty Mexican highland in search of his latest bounty, as the background music swells, as I hear the neigh of the horses, as I see the sun crouch below a scenic bluff, as the setting, the mood, the ambiance of Red Dead Redemption gives me everything I had hoped it would, my smile is real and genuine. It is a smile of a man who feels perfectly satisfied with his decision to purchase a console to play a single game.

    It’s not that I have been thinking about Red Dead Redemption non-stop for the last six years. Rather it was that every time I saw something about the Old West, a small part of my mind thought, “Let’s have the debate about getting a PS3 to play RDR again! I’ll start! Wouldn’t it be cool to play the best game ever made in the Western genre? Wouldn’t it be neat to play RDR?”

    And I would agree with that part of my brain, but then decide, for various reasons, not to do it.

    But now I am finally, finally playing the game.

    And. It. Is. Great!

    43.2 hours into the game, and I’m not remotely bored with it. It’s still something I’m eager to claw time out of my busy life to play. I think that’s because RDR managed to distill the mythology of the West in such a way that …

    Pop-fiz.

    Huh. That’s odd.

    The PS3 shut itself off.

    I try to turn it back on.

    Pop-fiz.

    Huh.

    Don’t panic. I very methodically type the symptoms into Google. I discover with a blank face that my PS3 has contracted a case of “The Yellow Ring of Death.” That it is to say, the machine I finally purchased, after six years of waiting, has died on me when I was three-quarters of the way through Red Dead Redemption.

    I do some more research. There is no way to transfer save files from a broken PS3 to a new PS3. I haven’t just lost my PS3, I’ve lost my save file too.

    I keep researching. And researching. I read something.

    I read it again.

    I look at the screen. At the PS3. The screen. The PS3. Screen. PS3.

    I know what I have to do.

    I just don’t know if I can.

    1. “I just realized that I don’t care about this f*cking thing.”

      The expletive was not said in anger, but rather in a mild surprise, as if my wife had been eating strawberry marmalade and suddenly realized that she was utterly indifferent to that flavor of jelly. But we had not been eating sweet fruit jam for the past five hours. Rather we had been spending that time messing with thermal compound and trying to reflow the solder on my fat model PS3.

      Normally electronic repair was something I would be as likely to attempt as auto-brain surgery. If a piece of my gaming ephemera breaks, I usually sigh, throw it away, and then within ten seconds become distracted by some new shiny bauble. But after wanting to play Red Dead Redemption for six years, my PS3 gave me the Yellow Light of Death as I was three-fourths through the game.

      When that happened I had a vivid glimpse into my own future, and it was not a fate I wished to embrace. I was pre-actively wincing every time future-me encountered anything about Red Dead Redemption.

      It wouldn’t be an aching sadness. Future-me would never cry over it. But just as I had experienced a six-year-long itch of wanting to play Red Dead Redemption, so would future-me always think back to the unfinished game with just enough regret to get mildly irritated about the whole experience. Future-me would know how silly it was to feel disappointment and even anger about not being able to finish a game. Future-me would have far more important stuff in his life and plenty of other games to play. Future-me would watch the ending of the game on YouTube, and so he really shouldn’t care.

      But we are not the complete and utter masters of our souls. Every time future-me saw some mention of Red Dead Redemption in a web comic, article or VH1’s “I Love the 2010’s” special, future-me’s anger, regret and/or resentment would flow, whether future-me willed it or not. As real as any memory, I could see future-me sign as he (embarrassedly) mourned never finishing the game. He’d feel that twinge for years and years.

      If it annoyed future-me enough, he could buy a new PS3, right? Barring catastrophe, future-me would be able to afford some monetary splurge like that in the near-term. The true problem was that I didn’t think he’d be able to afford the time-splurge for a decade or two.

      I bought the PS3 three months ago, and in the 43.2 hours of gaming time I managed to squeeze in, 43.2 of them went to RDR. That 12.4 hours of gaming per month was me pushing hard against life to make time for one of my hobbies. Life is about balance, and everyone needs their downtime, but as I was fighting for every hour of playtime I was aware – oh boy was I aware – that every moment I was spending on gaming was time that I wasn’t spending on the big things in my life.

      While I could imagine future-me spending the money to buy a PS3 again, I could not picture future-me ever spending such a huge amount of precious free time on re-playing a game for the sole purpose of finishing the final quarter. Future-me wouldn’t think that was a wise use of his free time like. Future-me would instead play one of the literally 200 other new games he was meaning to “get around to” playing, leaving RDR as a permanent Road Not Taken.

      But what could I do to shield future-me from that doom? The PS3 was broken and transferring the save file to a new system was impossible. I thought I should just give up – and that anyone looking to take inspiration from my story should, too, because life is a big nothing.

      My issue was the infamous Yellow Light of Death which happens when the thermo wears out. This causes the system to register even refrigerator levels of temperature as over-heating, causing it to perform an automatic shut-down.

      But, well … huh.

      According to all-knowing Google, my PS3 might not be broken beyond repair. Possibly. Maybe.

      I printed out instructions on how to fix my PS3 in fifty easy steps.

      Fifty. “Easy.” Steps.

      Steps like:

      Be sure you are prying up on the retaining flap, not the socket itself.
      While lightly pulling the rear cover away from the logic board assembly, use the flat end of a spudger to release the clips along the top and bottom edges of the rear cover.
      De-route the fan cables from the plastic finger molded into the heat sink.
      The PRAM socket is delicate and has the potential to break off the motherboard. If possible, hold down the socket as you disconnect the PRAM battery cable.
      After applying brushable coating to the panels, you’ll need a corrosion-resistant metal stucco lath. If you can’t find metal stucco lath, use carbon-fiber stucco lath.
      Actually that last one is from Troy McLure’s “Half-Assed Approach to Foundation Repair,” watched with mounting dread by one Homer J. Simpson. It’s easy to mock Homer (fun too!), but if you are not technically inclined, following instructions like the above can be a genuinely daunting experience. I am not technically inclined. But with future-me firmly in my mind, I got to work.

      By which I mean I mean I asked my wonderful wife to help me. It didn’t require begging, or at least not much, as she’s often eager to fix things when they break. For her, fixing a broken object is not quite as enjoyable as doing, say a jigsaw puzzle, but it’s not like eating a grapefruit either.

      She was a huge help. For example, whereas I would have just started doing step one and then, once that was done, I would have gone onto step 2, she thought we should actually read all the instructions first to better plan our course of action. This turned out to be a wise move, as we needed to both buy a special heater and order a silver paste before we could get started.

      For the next week, my broken PS3 sat in my office, a looming presence of doom. Every time I saw it, a little decision loop would start in my mind:

      Do I really want to try and fix this?
      Yes.
      Can we fix this?
      I don’t know.
      Then is it really worth the attempt?
      That’s when I’d pause. I don’t have a lot a free time. Just attempting to fix the PS3 was going to eat up a huge amount of that free time – a weekend’s worth of free time, at least. If it was guaranteed to work, that would be one thing, but I was planning to spend a sizable chunk of down time doing something I found unpleasant for the mere possibility of finishing a game.

      And every time I came to the very precipice of quitting, I thought about future-me. I thought about his twinge. I thought about his wistful sigh. I thought about how he’d feel every time he was reminded of the what might have been if his past-self had just made more of an effort. And when I had him firmly in my mind, I said “yes” and got ready to embrace the suck.

      I’d like to say that, because I was working on a project with my wife, the repair was a joy. I’d like to say that I discovered the almost Lego-like pleasure of disassembling and reassembling a complex electronic device. I’d like to say that the experience wasn’t that bad. I’d like to say all those things.

      It was boring.
      It was frustrating.
      It sucked.

      I did it anyway. And as hour after hour passed with no end in sight, even my wife, with her tremendous perseverance, began to grow tried. After we had finished argument #33a (over what direction #33a meant) did she stop and say, “I just realized that I don’t care about this f*cking thing.”

      Again, it wasn’t said in anger. But outside of Candy Crush or Words with Friends, my wife isn’t a gamer. Her at a party playing a game of Wii Sports is the last real memory I have of her playing a console game.

      I briefly stopped to thank her again for helping me out. It wasn’t a long conversation, but she had put hour after hour into a project that she didn’t care about because she knew it was important to me. I wanted to make sure she knew much I appreciated her help. Then we got back to work.

      We tightened. We lathered. We detached. We re-attached. And finally, after every last second of free time for our weekend was spent, it was done. The PS3 was fully reassembled, with a new silver coating, and there was nothing to do but plug it in and turn it on.

      We did so.

      As of the moment of this writing, I am future-me. But I’m not the future-me the person in this story was worried about becoming. I’m the future-me who got to jump up and down with his wife when the PS3 turned on. I’m the future-me who whooped when Red Dead Redemption loaded up my save. I’m the future-me who guided John Marston to his final reward and earned what I think was the finest videogame ending I have ever seen in my entire life.

      I’m all those things because I embraced the suck. Because of that, today I can now look back on every frustration, every set-back, and every obstacle that was overcome with a smile. It’s not a huge smile, but it’s a smile that was definitely worth every second of discomfort.

  3. I’m disappointed that Sarah didn’t mention that during those Grey’s Anatomy episodes Meredith performed surgery while having a miscarriage and while her husband was having life-saving surgery after having been shot. It’s part of what makes the show so ridiculous but fun. And I like how over the years they’ve commented on her doing that is not normal.

    Everyone talks about the plane crash episodes as if they’re the peak Grey’s tragedy porn episodes but I prefer the active shooter, I feel like it’s just more intense.

  4. One of my favorite references to the Newhart finale is the final episode of Craig Ferguson’s late night talk show. They get to the end of his goodbyes and he realizes he never figured out who was in the horse costume playing Secretariat (running bit). The horse head comes off and it’s… well, here:

    https://youtu.be/XaEQRYeAF9w

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