“If you insist on staying, then you will have to adapt” — these were the words uttered by a bespectacled elderly man, whose eerie tone was made all the more unsettling through some dramatic red key lighting, towards our supposed protagonist during the middle of a recently posted teaser trailer for Amazon’s upcoming television adaptation of Bethesda’s iconic Fallout video game series. The moment was punctuated by a dog chewing up a radroach and followed with the words, “…the studio behind The Boys & Free 2-Day Shipping.” After that, a jump cut to a military aircraft landing on a desiccated landscape floods the screen as Nat King Cole’s “I Don’t Want To See Tomorrow” begins cascading into the background. As the song continues, a tonally juxtaposing montage consisting of dogs with disembodied limbs in their mouths, power armours, nose-less villains, and sounds of gunshots coupled with splatters of blood across a 50s-era jukebox ensues. The two and a half minute teaser ends, in tandem with Mr. Cole’s tender vocals, on an establishing shot of a city wherein a massive explosion has just erupted.
Last week, while writing about The Witcher author’s comments during a recent interview wherein he spoke about his lack of involvement in Netflix’s adaptation—a decision not of his making—I mentioned the disrespect by Hollywood studios towards the creators of the source material from which so many of their lacklustre film and television adaptations stem from. I wrote that if a studio is not willing to work with the original creator, then having a production team that have a thorough understanding of the source material is imperative.
Having so not only gives the product credence due to its screenwriters at the very least having respect for the original work, but allows for purposeful creative liberties to be taken to alter the material to best utilize the medium they’re adapting to. Using HBO’s miniseries Station Eleven as a recent example of an adaptation done right I wrote, “[Patrick] Somerville’s thorough understanding of the overarching themes, as well as the tone of the story Mandel had penned…allows him to take bold creative liberties. Liberties that, if taken by someone without said understanding, could be detrimental to the adaptation.”
It’s this very concept that makes this teaser trailer for Amazon Studio’s upcoming Fallout series work. Though trailers should never be taken as an indicator for a film or television show’s quality, it can set a tone for what to expect. And the tone that was set with this trailer perfectly embodies what the Fallout series is. Director of Bethesda Game’s Studio, Todd Howard, who serves as an executive producer on the series, said in a behind-the-scenes exclusive with Vanity Fair that, “we had a lot of conversations over the style of humor, the level of violence, the style of violence.” When speaking of the tone of the game series he says, “look, Fallout can be very dramatic, and dark, and post-apocalyptic, but you need to weave in a little bit of a wink….I think [Amazon Studios] threaded that needle really well on the TV show.”
That wink, that juxtaposing nudge, was very well-fitted into the trailer. Though I would have liked to see some more “retro” in that retro-futuristic aesthetic the series is so well known for, I can’t help but be excited to see how this series unfolds on April 12th, 2024. To know that the series is also being helmed by Westworld’s Jonathon Nolan puts my adaptation anxiety even more at ease. Still, though we’ve had a fairly decent run of late when it comes to video game adaptations, we also live in a world wherein Paramount+’s Halo series exists (and for reasons I cannot fathom, has been renewed for a second season). Nevertheless, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic, so here’s hoping Pip-Boy’s television outing doesn’t disappoint.