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Sony Pictures Television is releasing 10 episodes of the twisted metal telecast on the Peacock streaming service on July 27.
The show is based on the game series where players engage in a demolition derby in a post-apocalyptic world of 2022. It was full of irreverent characters and deadpan humor amid life-and-death battles.
The 30-minute episodes are based on the Twisted Metal video game franchise originally co-created by David Jaffe as exclusive content for Sony PlayStation in 1995. The series has seen nine different game releases (and a few canceled games) through 2012.
Sony started making a movie based on the games in 2012, but it was canceled. Of course, it makes so much more sense to make it a TV series now, because video games have taken the world by storm and we’ve had great success with it. The movie Super Mario Bros. And The last of us on HBO. But there hasn’t been a Twisted Metal game in a while, and the quality will have to be there on the show, as there have been plenty of failures in the game’s alliance with Hollywood.
This show is from Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group.
The TV series got a new life as dead Pool screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have signed on to develop the series with Michael Jonathan Smith (Cobra Kai screenwriter) as showrunner, executive producer and screenwriter. And star Anthony Mackie served as executive producer. They seem like a perfect combination for finding humor in the apocalypse, just like the creators of the original game did.
Mackie plays the lead role of John Doe in the series, while Stephanie Beatriz, Thomas Haden Church, Joe Seanoa (Samoa Joe) and Neve Campbell are part of the cast. Will Arnett voices Sweet Tooth and Seanoa plays Sweet Tooth.
Sony describes it as a high-octane action-comedy, based on an original take by Reese, Wernick and Smith, about a motor-mouthed alien (Mackie) offering a chance at a better life, but only if he can successfully deliver a mysterious package across a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Heavily armed post-apocalypse cops (led by Haden Church and Campbell) and a deranged clown (Samoa Joe), who dominates “Lost Vegas”, driving an ice cream truck stand in his way.
While The Last of Us locked down the serious part of the zombie apocalypse, producers like Marc Forman wanted to make a binge-worthy action-comedy within the apocalyptic setting. Add in Twisted Metal’s car combat and it seemed like a great opportunity.
Mackie played the game as a kid, as he worked all summer and saved up to buy a PlayStation. Beatriz said in an interview with GamesBeat (in June, before the current cast member’s strike) that she hadn’t played the games, but admired its devoted fanbase and went down the rabbit hole on online news about the game. Gamers have intense and deep memories of playing it, and it’s action-heavy, something Beatriz has wanted to do for a long time. The show is a love letter to all those fans.
Beatriz was also drawn to the humor of the dark relics of Smith’s script, and she was dying to do a lot of action. She said she was surprised that so many successful video game adaptations have happened in such a short time, as the projects have been in the works for a long time and Hollywood and games have always courted each other.
The reason they’re successful, she said, “You can really tell they care about what they’re doing, and they want to do it right and then pay homage to the game. And do it in a way that honestly pays homage to the story, but also to its fans. And I think that’s what I think the Twisted Metal series does well.”
She feels the series will capture the adrenaline of the gameplay and she thinks Sweet Tooth will be “absolutely horrifying, played by the nicest guy. It’s a really interesting balance because it’s in this post-apocalyptic time, but it’s really silly and funny at the same time, which is kind of unexpected”.
In the series, the apocalypse has occurred and major cities like New Chicago have become fortified walls. Everyone outside the walls is a renegade. As Doe, Mackie must deliver a package from New San Francisco to New Chicago. Beatriz plays Quiet, and she tangles early on with Haden Church, who plays the villainous Agent Stone. She wants her revenge. She’s heavy on action and doesn’t talk much.
The creators of the series had carte blanche to build the world, the characters, and a narrative because video games had so little of that. The world is like an upside-down prison, where the people on the inside are the haves and the people on the outside are the have-nots, Reese said.
The other big characters in the series are the cars, according to Sony executive producer Carter Swan, who helped direct the series. Doe drives around in an orange Subaru WRZ named Evelyn. It was likely to have a name, as the show is set in a world where you can’t trust anyone, except maybe your car.
Haden Church told me in an interview (done in June, before the actor’s strike), that he didn’t know the game but liked the character when he was approached to do Agent Stone.
“Obviously the folks at PlayStation were a key part of the creative process. But it was really Michael and I who had a really good conversation about who Stone was. And you know, exactly what his story was going to be. Because I wasn’t particularly interested in playing a villain. And I don’t believe that. You know, like everyone else on the show, they’re capable of heinous acts, but Stone really believes he’s the strong arm of law and order. Not only is he a good guy. He’s the ultimate good guy, and he’s going to help restore society and legality.
Stone goes after criminals, and he’s not particularly interested in the seriousness of the crimes.
As for the humor, Haden Church said it was “Hilarious, vulgar. Absurd. Sometimes caricatural, especially with Sweet Tooth. But I think there’s a kind of morbid graphic novel humor in all the stories and with all the characters. When I read it, it made me laugh out loud at how ridiculously absurd some of the situations and dialogue are.
And compared to The Last of Us, he said, “Twisted Metal has a completely different tone, a completely different style of play. That suits a lot of people like Michael Jonathan Smith, who is in his thirties.
Haden Church thinks Hollywood’s executive ranks are now full of gamers, and they’re in a “position in the industry to translate games to a wider audience.”
David Jaffe’s point of view
I asked Jaffe, one of the original creators of Twisted Metal, what he thought of the trailers for the show. He thought the first trailer was “OK”, the second was “awful”, and the last trailer “captured the spirit of the early games”.
He added: “It feels like a very loud, violent, silly and fun midnight movie. So at this point they’ve released three trailers, they’ve been distinctly different, tone-wise, and so I don’t know what to expect.
The producer contacted Jaffe to see if he wanted to watch the episodes, but he hadn’t done so until now.
” I can not wait to be there. Fingers crossed,” Jaffe said.
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