Podcast of the Week: THE SPIN-OFF DOCTORS
If you pay attention to video game criticism, you’re probably familiar with Jim Sterling, the overweight Brit whose crudeness and lack of filter have earned him plenty of fans and haters alike. When he’s not getting death threats over a review of BREATH OF THE WILD or ranting about Steam’s “jizzy bears,” he hosts a podcast with long-time collaborator Conrad Zimmerman about movies adapted from video games, or ones that heavily feature video games in the plot.
The first thing you’ll notice about THE SPIN-OFF DOCTORS is that the episodes are typically quite long. Each episode starts with the two hosts describing their personal experience with the original video games and their place in popular the conscience before diving into a deep, intensive, often hour-long plot summary, ending with thoughts and conclusions that last about 20 minutes or so.
Conrad and Jim have great chemistry, trading off interesting insights into the failures of a project with good intentions that may have misunderstood the source material, as well as hilarious conjecture about the thought processes that went into such baffling decision making as inserting footage of the video game into THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD and the worrying political implications of ANGRY BIRDS. They feed off each other’s love for movies and video games, both good and bad, which makes it all the more fun when Jim will just straight up admit his absolute apathy and disinterest about a movie they’re reviewing. This is a man that doesn’t realize a character is someone else’s son in WARCRAFT, and given that the son’s death becomes a major plot point, it becomes hilarious to hear Conrad rib him every time their familial linkage is mentioned and Jim has to admit it went way over his head.
Anyone interested in video games and the difficulties of translating them to movies should give THE SPIN-OFF DOCTORS a shot. To get started, I highly recommend POKEMON: THE FIRST MOVIE: MEWTWO STRIKES BACK for proof of their comedic chops as they ramble about the film’s hilarious hypocrisy, and their nearly four hour breakdown of the failings of PIXELS as a comedy and as a movie about video games for proof of their critical eye. These episodes aren’t short, but you can’t rush the work of good doctors.