Games: Fallout on Prime Video is the bomb

The new TV spin-off from Jonathan Nolan and co more than does justice to the post-apocalyptic games series

Walton Goggins as The Ghoul in Prime Video's Fallout
The Ghoul (Walton Goggins) (Neil)

Fallout (Prime Video)

While Christopher Nolan beavered away on Oppenheimer - his take on the father of the atomic bomb – wee brother Jonathan was assembling an apocalyptic sandbox set in the aftermath of nuclear war.

The result, Prime Video’s eagerly-anticipated Fallout TV show, arrived last week in a binge-worthy eight-episode payload.

Based on the celebrated videogame franchise, Prime Video is hoping to replicate the success of HBO’s The Last of Us - and I can safely say it’s the bomb.

Fallout has been a gaming staple since 1997, and though there’s no specific plot to hang the show on (unlike The Last of Us), Prime Video’s original story is at least canon with the games’ lore, offering the kind of desolate horror known only to shoppers in Craigavon’s Lidl.

Sellafield with the California weather, its ‘50s Americana plays out like Pleasantville meets Hiroshima in a future where nuclear technology paused society at the height of Eisenhower-era kitsch.

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Ella Purnell as Lucy in Fallout
Ella Purnell as Lucy

When a crisis forces Lucy, dweller of Vault 33′s picket-fence utopia, to leave the saccharine safety of her underground community, she crosses paths with the atomic wasteland’s hardened inhabitants, including the Brotherhood of Steel and a mysterious bounty hunter known only as ‘The Ghoul’, each with their own scores to settle.

It’s all a far cry from my generation’s atomic disaster telly, 1984′s Threads, which depicted nuclear winter on the mean streets of Sheffield. In truth, Fallout is the Walton Goggins Show, and the wildly underrated actor goes full Clint as one-time Western star Coop Howard and - with CGI nose job - his post-atomic incarnation, the gun-slinging Ghoul.

Walton Goggins (The Ghoul) in Fallout
Walton Goggins (The Ghoul) in Fallout (Courtesy of Prime Video)

Meanwhile, Kyle MacLachlan drowns a man in a barrel of pickles and the ever-reliable Matt Berry puts in the odd cameo.

Jonathan Nolan, who created Westworld and co-wrote the Dark Knight trilogy with his Oscar-winning sibling, is no slouch when it comes to brainy sci-fi, and by transferring Fallout’s post-nuclear pleasures to the small screen, the director cannily recreates the franchise’s iconic production design.

Ella Purnell (Lucy) and Kyle MacLachlan (Overseer Hank) in Fallout
(L-R) Ella Purnell (Lucy) and Kyle MacLachlan (Overseer Hank) in Fallout (Courtesy of Prime Video)
Aaron Moten (Maximus) in Fallout
Aaron Moten (Maximus) in Fallout (JOJO WHILDEN/JoJo Whilden/Prime Video)

From its snazzy blue jumpsuits and hulking power armour to the Nuka-Cola bottle caps and Pip-Boy wrist computer, Fallout captures the games’ retrofuture vibe to a blockbuster tee.

Shot-through with golly-gosh atomic optimism, Fallout’s grindhouse Western is mixed with slapstick, surreal parody and splatterific gore that fully embraces the humour of the games, while its soundtrack is stuffed with period needle-drops.

The new Fallout TV series has re-ignited interest in the games
The new TV series has re-ignited interest in the games

And the success of the series has renewed interest in the games. The decade old Fallout 4 became one of the most popular games on Steam last weekend, just in time for the series high point to be lavished with a free next-gen update - all silky 60fps and increased resolutions - on April 25.