Saturday, November 14, 2009

More TV show weirdness - Qué vida más triste

As a follow up to the Fathed Ted post, the same TVTropes entry on Pac Man Fever mentions a Spanish TV show called "Qué Vida Más Triste", or "What a Sad Life". From what I can gather, it's a show about a dude who sites in his room and talks directly to a camera, describing various aspects of his somewhat nerdy life. (Maybe this sorta direction is common over in Spain - when I was there over the summer there was an office comedy that was shot entirely from the point of view of a hidden camera in a vending machine.) The main character, Borja, also happens to be a huge video gamer, but as the TVTropes entry attests, the writers have a tendency to get some aspects horribly wrong. So take this:

Whaaaat! Yes, it's a whole episode devoted to Alex Kidd, the old Sega mascot that basically no one likes any more. Borja is a huge fan of it - check out his homemade TV shirt which even shows the Japanese Mark III artwork!! So he talks about this one Alex Kidd game that no one has even beaten, and he never had the balls to do it himself. Take note that the graphics used in the game were from the SMS version of The Lost Stars but he's playing it on a Genesis. So he tries it again, and eventually succeeds!

The only ending message is "You Win", which greatly disappoints Borja, except he wakes up the next day with all of Alex Kidd's powers, including super strength, telekinesis, and teleportation.

Wait, what? Alex can break blocks, but he never had those other two skills. Borja eventually dawns his own superhero outfit, per below:

It's so weird! They managed to dig up a rather obscure video game hero, and then proceed to entirely get him wrong. How did this happen? It seems like maybe they have one video game expert on staff to come up with this stuff, then the rest of the writers completely ignore him.

Anyway, there's another episode where Borja tries to tell his friend that he sees life like a video game. First off is Street Fighter II:

This is actually pretty funny!

He starts whacking his friend and his life goes down. Then his friend wallops him on head and his life goes down to near zero. Then the two get in a tussle and one executes a "fatality" on him. Never mind that it's mixing up Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, but we'll roll with it.

Next is a character customization from some random RPG. Here he's talking about wooing his lady friend Veronica.

Here's Super Mario Bros. 3 world map, as he travels around the neighborhood to buy flowers and such.

Except there's a competing suitor at her house! At this point it transitions to something like the sword fighting insult scenes from The Secret of Monkey Island, where dialogue options appear at the bottom, and the cursor selects one for Borja to say, after which he whaps his opponent with his flowers. (The bottom option, which his competitor eventually resorts to, translates to "I am rubber, you are glue.", the "failure" insult from Monkey Island, as if the Caribbean-ish music in the background didn't make it clear enough.

Finally, Borja chats up Veronica with little icons appearing above their head a la The Sims. The TVTropes dude seems offended by this, and lamented that they didn't use a visual novel instead, but I think The Sims bit is still acceptable and more easily relatable.

There are many more instances in the TVTropes entry on details it constantly gets wrong, including a bit where they go to the store to buy Mega Man 9. (Ooops.) What does interest me is that there's a TV show that actually sticks in some video game jokes. Sure, you'll see visual novel and Dragon Quest parodies fairly often in Japanese shows, but it's extremely uncommon outside the country.

The closest I've seen in any English show - outside of scenes with people playing uber popular games like Guitar Hero or Wii Sports or World of Warcraft, or a few broad parodies from The Simpsons or Futurama - is a scene in the (mostly regrettable but not intolerable) CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, where a character plays Mario 64 on an emulator. They even got the sound effects right! But the general problem with this show - and indeed, the reason why this kind of humor never pops up - is because it's not nearly mainstream enough. TV writers, you know, it's OK if not everyone gets the joke! You don't need to explain to us why nerds hate Joel Schumacher in the context of Batman!

So, here the videos below (unsubtitled) from Youtube, in case anyone's curious to see the whole episodes I've described.

(A good thanks goes to my girlfriend for translating most of this!)


  1. Hi,

    I'm from Spain and I have a small info to add. In Spain Alex Kidd is a fairly popular game character.

    Alex Kidd was the game that came as pack-in with the Master System, which, in Spain at least, was very popular. Not NES levels, of course, but every child of the era knew somebody who played that game or played it himself.

    By the way, the show is filmed that way because it tries to be a "video blog" parody.

  2. i'm from spain and this is is one of my fave shows out there now. Shame you can't follow it since it's not subbed at all

    but if you want to take a look anyway you can watch all the chapters in their own site for free

  3. I disagree with Wachinayn. In Spain, SMS sells the same (or even better) than NES. But but pure force of the Nintendo marketing & the influence of internet (where most of the retrogaming meme comes from USA, and are NES-Oriented), young people is starting to think otherwise. I was a teenager at the site and I can assure you that SMS got more media presence both in mags & tv, and more shelf-space at videogames shops.

    Anyway, both where outselled by Spectrum & Amstrad computers, and that was the main way of home gaming at the 80s.

  4. in the big bang theory they messed up with how they represented Halo and in the same Mario 64 episode he says in the begining "I EVEN HAVE MY MEMPORY CARD SO I CAN PICK UP WHERE I LEFT OFF IN 1996" Mario64 didn't use a memory card...

  5. Love the big bang theory though so we can let them off i recon!