Do you remember Time Commanders?
English television is an odd beast. Filled with quality shows such as Broadchurch, Top Gear and Have I got News for You. It’s also filled with complete shite such as the X Factor and the One Show that make me genuinely ashamed to be human. Between the good and the bad lives some really weird stuff, the stuff that makes you question the makers sanity and how they ever managed to reach the position in life to do these things. Time Commanders is one of these shows.
For those of you who didn’t grow up in the early noughties (Do we call them that) allow me to explain what Time Commanders was. It was Rome: Total War. No i’m not joking, just watch.
Some producer in 2003 thought it would be a neat idea for a show if they took the game engine of Rome Total War (made by English developers Creative Assembly) and made a show around it, where by four people would have to play and win a historical battle to win prize money.
If you’re confused then that means you’re perfectly rational human being. The concept of the show is odd now, but at the time it was down right bizarre. You see Video Games and TV have never really seen eye to eye. For years, news media have blamed video games on various school shootings and the like out of some reactionary dislike for anything new. So when other parts of TV cover games it’s usually one of those “How insulting are they going to be” kinda deals.
Time Commanders manged to get past this issue by never once referring to what they were doing as playing a video game. Instead they tried their best to focus on the historical side of the battle, with two on-site historians who must have left each recording questioning their career in academia.
The thing is… It was a fucking awesome show. When I was younger I loved history, particularly historical battles. My love of history and the battles of it are what brought me to playing RTS games such as the Total War and Age of Empires series. I of course also loved Video Games, and here we had a show that combined my two greatest loves in the world (I had yet to discover writing or blow jobs at this age). I used to sit down and watch, eyes glued to the screen as this great battle would play out.
The best part was that my Dad liked the show as well, he would get into it, calling the contestants idiots and saying how he would have done it. To me this was the closest I’ve ever got to bond with my dad over video games. During my youth, he hated games, I mean really hated them. It was only thanks to my mum that I ever got a console of my own, and every time there was an argument about my grades, the issue of games would come up. There even came a time when all games where banned in the house (A ban that I got around pretty easily). As time went on he began to mellow and as It became apparent they I was looking for a career in games that he tried to engage with the subject more positively, mentioning bits of gaming news he’d heard and ask me about them. When ever he does it always makes me smile.
So yeah, that’s how great this show was, for an hour a week it managed to form a bond between a father and son who had nothing in common.