TV Review: McMillions (2020)

Original Run: February 3rd, 2020 – March 9th, 2020
Directed by: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte
Written by: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte
Music by: Pinar Toprak
Cast: various

FunMeter, Unrealistic Ideas, HBO, 6 Episodes, 60 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

As a McDonald’s shareholder, a loyal customer for decades and a massive fan of the Monopoly game, this was a story that absolutely intrigued me. So seeing that HBO made a documentary series telling the story of how the McDonald’s Monopoly game was rigged was a must watch for me.

My only real gripe about this is that I never felt like the scheme was all that clear. I understood how they found people to be “winners” of the top tier game pieces (and it was fantastic hearing their stories) but I never clearly understood why the criminals behind the scheme did it in the first place.

Selling these lucrative prizes at a small fraction of what their actual value was, was kind of baffling. I feel like there had to have been a much better way for them to exploit the system and in the end, they got caught, anyway.

Also, I had always assumed that McDonald’s was involved in the shenanigans because the actual story and all the facts weren’t something I delved into before this. I had just always assumed that by giving the pieces to “friends and family members” meant that some McDonald’s exec was just doing that for personal or corporate favors.

This was interesting as hell though and I watched all six episodes in one sitting.

In the end, I’m glad that those who were roped into the scheme, didn’t have their lives ruined based off of the poor circumstances they were in when the schemesters chose them to exploit for their own gain.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other recent crime documentaries and series.

Documentary Review: Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story (2010)

Release Date: October 15th, 2010 (Anaheim International Film Festival)
Directed by: Kevin Tostado
Written by: Kevin Tostado, Craig Bentley
Music by: Larry Groupe
Cast: Zachory Levi (narrator), various

Tostie Productions, Rhino Films, Imageworks.tv, 88 Minutes

Review:

As a lifelong Monopoly master, I liked his documentary because regardless of how well I can play the game, I didn’t know much about its history. But I usually love documentaries like this that go into the background and origins of big pop culture things.

This documentary covers a lot of ground for something under 90 minutes.

It goes through the games creation, it’s evolution, shows how it’s penetrated pop culture and also focuses on some people who play the game in legitimate Las Vegas tournaments.

This also interviews a ton of people associated with all the different focuses of the documentary.

It’s well edited, well paced and, at times, an exciting film.

It’s also educational and does a wonderful job of cluing the viewer in on all aspects of the game, its history and what it means to so many across the world.

This is also free on Prime Video.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other fairly recent documentaries about unique pastimes and pop culture.

Book Review: ‘Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History Book’ by Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson & Sam Witwer

I never got to play Dungeons & Dragons, even though I was fascinated by it. My mum dumped the religion on me pretty hard and then by the time I was older and didn’t care about that, none of my friends really cared about playing D&D anymore.

I’ve always adored the franchise and everything within it, as I’ve always loved fantasy, especially sword and sorcery fiction and movies. I also dug the hell out of the cartoon when I was a kid, which I was actually allowed to watch for some reason.

This big, thick, hardcover masterpiece is a damn fine book to add to your collection. Even if you’re not a fan of the franchise, the artwork collected in this alone makes the book well worth the price tag.

One really cool thing about this is that it’s foreward was written by Joe Manganiello. Yes, that Joe Manganiello, who apparently was a massive D&D fan. Sam Witwer, another actor known for a lot of his sci-fi roles, also contributed to this.

This book covers a lot more than even its large size would imply. It shows the history of the property in just about all of its forms from early role-playing manuals to the animated series to video games to comics to books and just about every other medium and product that adorned the Dungeons & Dragons name.

I love this book. Right now, it’s on my coffee table. Granted, I should probably move it before someone with French fry fingers gets it all nasty. 

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: anything, from any media, about Dungeons & Dragons, as well as other big, hardcover art books on cool nerd shit.

Vids I Dig 290: Toy Galaxy: The History of ‘Magic: The Gathering’: From Hand-Made Cards to a Billion Dollar Phenomenon

From Toy Galaxy’s YouTube description: On this episode we take a look back at the phenomenon that is Magic: The Gathering, a pioneer in the trading card game space.

From its humble beginnings at Wizards of the Coast right on through its acquisition by Hasbro and it’s online introduction.

Vids I Dig 150: The Attic Dwellers: ‘Triopoly’ – The Most Difficult ‘Monopoly’ Game Ever!

From The Attic Dwellers’ YouTube description: Triopoly is a board game by Reveal Entertainment. It is much like Monopoly, but instead of the traditional two-dimensional board, it has three boards stacked on each other in a pyramid. This adds to the difficulty, and misery of the game.