Monday 15 March 2010

Overrated:Underrated - Miscellaneous

Welcome once again to Overrated:Underrated, where E14 smashes some of those sacred cows people have come to know and love (sometimes to an unhealthy extent) and alerts you to those things you may have either never heard of or otherwise just let die off in your mind. To the cows!

Overrated: Family Guy.

Ultimately, Family Guy started off as a funny show. The first three seasons were responsible for some tremendously funny moments. Who can forget the episode where Peter enters Joe in the "Special People's Games" only for them to fall out over how to handle Joe's publicity? Tom Tucker's dialogue alone is worth the price of admission. What other show can cast Adam West in such a genius role as the eccentric and sometimes deranged Mayor of Quahog?

However, since Season 3, where the show was cancelled for a longer hiatus than previous times, the show has become very much a hit-and-miss affair, with increasing reliance on one-note jokes and repeated referrals to funny stuff that happened previously. The South Park episode taking the piss out of the show was great, because it essentially just repeated what people have been saying for ages in an over-the-top way.

It's a shame, because I like Seth MacFarlane - I get a vibe that he's a pretty cool guy. I just find it hard to enthuse about a show where it just reverts to the same joke across several episodes. On the plus side, he seems to have some awareness of what is getting tiresome, which is why Stewie blew away the two old-time entertainer guys with a gun and said "that's it, they're dead and never coming back." The problem is that this just doesn't happen every time, and sometimes it's fucking tiresome to watch.

If you don't believe me, or think I'm wrong, I have five simple words for you: The bird is the word.

Underrated: Futurama.

I've been watching a fair bit of Futurama recently, as I've been playing the role of nursemaid while my girlfriend recovers from surgery, and understandably she's having to occupy her time with some TV. It's made me realise quite how awesome the show is. The thing is that it seems to me an awful lot like Futurama has been pushed to the wayside simply because it's not as popular as its predecessor, The Simpsons.

Now, granted, The Simpsons is an absolute classic show, and worthy of its place in the annals of comedy legend. Even with its more recent seasons being a little under-par at times, it's been going for absolutely years and can be forgiven for falling into the trap of believing in their own hype. Besides which, they managed to create another original and funny show (something that Seth MacFarlane seems to have had trouble doing since Family Guy) in Futurama.

This show has everything: originality, a compelling and rich cast of characters, each of whom has their own episodes devoted to their storylines. The setting of the year 3000 allows for almost unlimited scope, much in the same way as the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

That, and there are few characters created that are funnier than Dr. Zoidberg.

Overrated: Resident Evil

This is by no means a slight on the entire Resident Evil series. I've had some superb gaming experiences with the series. I'm a huge fan of the storylines in all the different games, and I think the series has progressed in a sensible way with the newer, more action-focused titles.

However, can anyone explain to me quite why they're so highly regarded in many cases? The first few games suffered from camera issues as far as the eye could see (and the eye in this case most certainly could not see very well when it came to which way to run) and in the case of the original game suffered from some absolutely horrendous dialogue. Don't believe me?

The subsequent games improved somewhat in terms of camera and dialogue, and Resident Evil 4 made a massive change in altering the camera to a third-person behind the head viewpoint. However, the camera change hasn't made up for the awkwardness of the controls. If anyone can explain to me why it is that you can't shoot AND move at the same time, that'd be great.

The controls, which have become known as "tank" controls in the video game media, don't allow a character to move forwards and use their weapon. Instead, players are required to stop moving and aim their weapon. Now, the more recent versions have certainly made this process a lot easier, as fighting with the knife on the first few games was an absolute chore, and running out of bullets is a surefire way to die in Resident Evil games.

As if that wasn't enough, the films made haven't really done the series justice. From the first movie, whose idea of fan service was to reference Nemesis once, to the terrible sequels that distanced themselves further and further from the series canon completely unapologetically, the live-action film versions haven't really kept true to the series. The animated movies, meanwhile, have been hit-and-miss at best.

Anyone wanting a decent survival horror experience who happens to own a Wii would be wise to track down a copy of the remake of Resident Evil, which was rebuilt from the ground-up for Nintendo Gamecube (which is Wii-compatible). It's a superb game, and thankfully the dialogue has been addressed and tidied up quite happily.

Underrated: Silent Hill.

The Silent Hill series has spawned half a dozen home console versions, as well as a couple of PSP games, a feature film and a comic book line among others, but the chances are that a few people will have never heard of it before, or at least will never have appreciated the games that launched the universe.

It sort of goes without saying once you've read this that the original Silent Hill will find its way into The Greatest Games I Ever Played before too long. Responsible for some of the creepiest moments in my gaming history (not in some wrong way where I was playing naked or anything), these games go about creepiness and evil in a completely different way to games like Resident Evil.

Whereas the Resident Evil series places the emphasis on gunplay and zombie action, Silent Hill creates a mood for its scares. The transition between "normal" Silent Hill and the twisted, alternate reality that you find yourself in can be terrifying at times, as the few monsters that you do meet are so bizarre and otherworldly that you find yourself wondering what's coming next.

Add to that some amazing use of sound (with the radio going to static every time a monster's nearby, causing some truly tense moments) and a truly superb score by Akira Yamaoka, the composer on all the games and the film, and you have yourself a truly immersive horror experience worthy of inclusion in an E14 article.

Oh, and the film was the tits. It satisfies two of the main criteria for awesomeness in that:
1) Sean Bean is in it.
2) He survives to the end.
Described by the media as “thrilling” (Bizarre), “scary and believable” (Sci-Fi London), and “a seriously shocking chiller for our times” (Alan Jones, Frightfest), Salvage, the stunning debut feature from director Lawrence Gough, is a brand new British horror film that redefines the genre with a strong female heroine and a topical plot that positions the terror right on our doorstep.

It’s Christmas Eve and a quiet cul-de-sac is suddenly plunged into a world of violence, terror and paranoia when a group of heavily armed military personnel storms the area, sealing off the close and ordering the residents at gunpoint to retreat inside their homes.

Unsure if this is the first sign of a terrorist attack, or something worse, one local single mother, Beth, finds it in herself to fight to save her estranged daughter, Jodie, who is visiting her for the holiday but is now stranded across the street in a neighbour’s house. However, with growing dread, the trapped residents soon discover that the imminent threat is far more monstrous than any of them could possibly imagine. Only one thing is certain… survival is no longer guaranteed.

Thanks to our friends at Revolver Entertainment, we've got three copies of Salvage to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Monday 22nd March (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!


  1. You are spot on about Futurama being underrated: I find that it just can't quite get out from under the shadow of The Simpsons even though I actually think it's better in many ways. And I really do like Futurama, a lot. How strange is that? :-/

    "That, and there are few characters created that are funnier than Dr. Zoidberg."

    "Woob, woob, woob!"
    Nuff said! ;)

  2. While I'm ALL for promoting 'Futurama' in any way possible, as it is, without exception, my favourite television show OF ALL TIME, I find it hard to believe that anybody could think of it as 'underrated'.
    Everybody I know and everybody I have ever spoken to about 'Futurama' absolutely LOVES the show. I have honestly never heard anybody have anything bad to say about 'Futurama' that was harsher than 'the feature length episodes aren't as good as the regular show... but they're still awesome'.
    Where are all these 'Futurama' haters? I've certainly never encountered one...

  3. I'd have to agree with Paul in that I've never known anyone actively bash Futurama, that's for sure. But at the same time, as John states, it never really achieved the popularity it deserves. If it isn't "underrated", it's certainly "underappreciated".