TFTD Marathon: “Let the Games Begin”

7-let-the-games-begin

Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! It’s no secret that at some point in our lives, we think about where we might end up after we die. We’re told that being good and pious will get us to Heaven, while being sinful and devious will send us to Hell. But have you ever wondered how that could be decided if you were to fall somewhere in between? Today’s tale gives us a possible answer in “Let the Games Begin.”

Harry Carson is a nice man who dies in his hotel room thanks to a heart attack. An angel and a devil appear to battle it out for his soul. The angel takes the form of Harry’s best friend while the devil chooses the form of his current crush. Before resurrecting him, they agree to one major rule: whoever is able to get Harry out of his hotel room first will be declared the winner and receive his soul. Will Harry end up in an everlasting paradise, or is he doomed to an eternity of torment?

This episode was cringeworthy. It was clearly trying to be lighthearted and comedic, but I just couldn’t bring myself to even chuckle once. The jokes just weren’t good, and when some of your material consists of faking a suicide attempt, you know it’s bad. More than once I wanted to stop the episode completely. The dialogue was extremely corny and the plot is mostly just back and forth between the angel threatening to kill himself and the devil trying to seduce Harry. And there is an overabundance of sound effects here, starting from the very first scene. You can audibly hear Harry’s heartbeat until the moment it stops, which could have been effective if it hadn’t gone on for so long. There are others that are even worse, but I’d be here for ages listing off all the little things in this episode that bugged me.

The characters are all goofy. The angel is overly dramatic as Harry’s friend Aldo and, again, his constant barrage of suicide threats/attempts annoyed me very quickly. The devil as Harry’s crush Dolores is constantly all over him. I thought she fared slightly better if only because the actress seemed to revel in playing the bad guy. Even then, though, her role was pretty cliched. Harry himself is an average guy and I thought he was the best simply because he annoyed me the least. He’s the straight man to the other two and at least gets a say over the situation towards the end, even if he’s oblivious to his death. I did think all three actors did the best they could with the material, but the direction they were given left a lot to be desired. I could see others enjoy the comedic elements that come from the personalities displayed here, though.

The twist is one I definitely didn’t see coming, and unlike the rest of the episode, it actually comes off as kinda sweet rather than corny. I do think all three actors had decent chemistry and this twist proved it to me. But it’s honestly the only thing I can say I remotely liked from this episode.

So, I didn’t like “Let the Games Begin.” It had a fun concept that could’ve easily been explored through a variety of genres, but the choice of comedy felt like a waste. The characters were hammy, the jokes weren’t funny to me, and while the twist felt genuine, it still felt like something better could have been there instead. I guess I was mostly disappointed in seeing this story adapted as a comedy. I think it would have been an interesting morality tale had the tone been a bit more serious or even darker. Some people might get a kick out of this one, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me.

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