Unskippable was a weekly web series hosted on The Escapist, that ran from November 19, 2008 to March 30, 2015. Graham and Paul snark over the opening cutscenes of various video games, in a style inspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000.
The show was born as part of the Escapist Film Festival, where its pilot episode garnered enough votes to become a regular feature. It proved successful with the site's audience (who liked a bit of game humor).
Cutscenes are chosen based on several factors (and yes, they can be skippable). Terrible writing, poor pacing, and Cliche Storms are a plus, but even great cinematics can get the Unskippable treatment if the duo can think of enough silly things to say about them.
In 2009, Unskippable finally took on Hideo Kojima, the king of overwrought cutscenes, with Metal Gear August, a satirical look at Guns of the Patriots. As expected, the game was so cutscene-heavy that it took them 5 episodes to get through an amount equivalent to most of the other games they review.
The episodes can be found here.
In 2015, after six years of episodes, Graham and Paul ended the series along with their departure from The Escapist, for reasons that are best gotten from the horse's mouth. Their final episode covered Metal Wolf Chaos as a send-off to the show. Graham and Paul can still be seen in their other shows.
The snarkers in question, Graham Stark and Paul Sanders, are also the creators of LoadingReadyRun. They have also experimented with a live Let's Play, found here. This morphed into a new series called Graham & Paul Let's Play, found here.
A Spiritual Successor to the show separate from the Escapist began in 2017; Running Start is a blend of Unskippable and the aforementioned Graham & Paul Let's Play. The two snarkers once again tackle the beginnings of games in their usual style, with two main changes: first, in addition to the intro cutscenes, they also go through the first ~20 minutes of actual gameplay to see what else astounds them. Second, they lean more towards games that they have little to no experience with, resulting in unscripted commentary without losing the Unskippable flavor.
This series provides examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: Noted in Magna Carta 2: "Schuenzeit, Rzephillda, and... Alex?"
- Alternate DVD Commentary: The whole point of the series. Directly parodied in their Wolverine review:Narrator: In the not-too-distant future...Graham and Paul: (singing) Next Sunday, AD...
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Invoked. Graham and Paul interpret Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland's Totori as the worst roommate ever thanks to some dialogue in the opening cutscene.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: In their Damnation video:"I don't think that shirt is historically accurate.""And the robots are?""...Yes?""Okay."
- All Men Are Perverts:
- Watching Bayonetta:Paul: Are we allowed to keep watching this?Graham: ...I hope so!
- Also during their Dark Messiah review. After complaining about the touchy master wizard twice, they change their tune when a succubus is summoned.Graham: Did I say workplace touching was inappropriate? I was wrong.
- Paul hints at it with a comment about the girls' outfit in the Vanquish review.
- Watching Bayonetta:
- Artifact Title: Originally the idea was to make fun of actual unskippable cutscenes, but they now mock skippable cutscenes as well, and even not-particularly-interactive first-person sequences. This is usually Lampshaded, such as in the Quantum of Solace episode, and the Left 4 Dead episode.
"And so begins the adventure of an unlikely hero. But he got killed, so now we get to watch his girlfriend get clothes from the blacksmith."
- Venetica Part 2's Stinger;
- Big "NO!": In their Red Faction: Guerilla video, when the brother dies
- Book-Ends: Since the very first episode there's been a Running Gag (as noted by the show's title) with them not being able to skip cutscenes, or not knowing how to. In the final episode, they finally manage to skip a "cutscene" of sorts.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Subverted. They doubted other countries would do much better against the demon invasion in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege.
- However, in an episode of their Legaia 2 Let's Play, they joke that the "Flag of Retreat" that they just found is France's flag.
- Cluster F-Bomb: They tend to mock its use as filler or generic intensifies, often by pretending its literal meaning is intended.
- Color-Coded Characters: Parodied in the E3 2010 trailer of TRON: Evolution: The Video Game.
- Continuity Nod: These are usually the same as their running gags. The Grandia III episode included a throwaway reference to a joke from their The Getaway episode.
- And again in the The Bouncer episode with a reference to their Dirge of Cerberus vid.
And that was the seventh time I died.
- And again in their Digital Devil Saga episode. This appears to be a trend.
- The Darkness spawned a running tally on the theme of "And that was the Nth time I died", for whenever the protagonist loses consciousness while in first person.
- It even popped up in the first episode of Spoiler Warning (a Let's Play of Mass Effect), done by fellow Escapist contributors, Shamus Young, Josh Viel, and Randy Johnson.
(laughs) I don't think we can use that joke, Randy.
- Many references to Samanosuke from Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, and "That guy from Lost Odyssey". "Well hello there, Mister Resilient. Didn't he just get blown up? Twice?"
- And the shouting of "MATILDA!!!" when the planes took off in Haze, a nod to an emotional cutscene from Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation.
- Flowers coming from "scenic Tenuto"
- A reference to the "Bernie" cutscene character from Lost Planet, which goes all the way back to the pilot episode (which some viewers might not have seen, because the pilot wasn't available among the regular episodes initially).
- When they did Jak II: Renegade, they equate the Dark Jak transformation with a Werehog. When they actually do Sonic Unleashed, One of the lines used for Sonic's transformation scene is "I'm gonna kill Praxis!"
- Their riff of Grandia III' involved them mistaking a particularly hot mom for the main character's older sister. The very next video had them purposely going out of their way to avoid referring to the characters' relationships to avoid a repeat mistake.
- From their Battlefield: Bad Company episode: "And thus is the curse of the controllable vehicle section at the beginning of first-person shooters. The Darkness, Far Cry 2, Bad Company... you will never end one conscious."
- Several times now, if a crow (well, it was a raven once) shows up in the cutscene, they refer to him as "Russell," and even act as if this is the same bird throughout the various games.
- In the episode for Mortal Kombat 9, they refer to an undead vulture as "Russell's evil brother from the Netherrealm."
- Dead Rising. "It's quiet." "Yes, almost strangely quiet..."
- Lost Odyssey: "Hey, I thought you said puddles don't make waves."
- Dishonored: "So these were the guys that attacked Bayman in DoA 5! It all makes sense now!"
- And again in the The Bouncer episode with a reference to their Dirge of Cerberus vid.
- Crazy-Prepared: The bandits from the Fist of the North Star game, who evidently put up cages in ten foot increments across the entire desert.
- Credits Gag: Since most of the cutscenes that they lampoon are the intros, they get a lot of mileage out of this type of joke.
- Crossover with Zero Punctuation. Yahtzee joined them for Star Ocean, and in return Graham gave a brief X-Blades review as an opener for Yahtzee's Halo Wars video.
- Cutscene Power to the Max:
Paul: You know, this seems like a really fun game to play. Maybe we could get to do that at some point.Graham: Yet somehow I suspect when you actually do get to play the game, you can't do any of those things.
- In the Dirge of Cerberus video, when Vincent jumps up, flips over a helicopter, and shoots it out of the sky.
Graham: Wait, he has a Healing Factor?! That's not part of the gameplay!Paul: Unfortunately it only works on sex scratches. Most enemies don't do that to you.
- Also in the video for DmC: Devil May Cry, when Dante activates a power he doesn't have to heal a bunch of cuts on his back after a night of rough sex.
- Dark Reprise: Graham gives the main Katamari Damacy theme one in Cabela's Survival: Shadows of Katmai
- Deadpan Snarker: Two of them. Plus a third in the episode where Yahtzee shows up.
- Defcon Five: Averted in their review of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2:(screen lists Defcon 4)Paul: (sarcastically) Oooh, Defcon 4. Just so you know, Defcon 4 is not that scary. The US is currently at Defcon 3.Graham: Defcon 3 is worse, by the way.
- Designated Villain: Invoked often, usually when a game opens with a battle between two sides the player knows nothing about and has no stake in, but the game clearly expects the player to take sides anyway.
Paul: You know, the more I hear about these guys wanting to exterminate the Heishi, the more I realize we only have these guys' word to go on that the Heishi are the bad guys.
- In the episode for Genji, the expository narration lays out that the villainous Heishi have already been defeated, and the opening cutscene is basically an extended conspiracy by the Genji clan, who are supposed to be the heroes, to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign against the no-longer-a-threat Heishi. This leads the guys to a sudden realization:
Graham: Now, 'cause of the music we're immediately biased against the dragons, but this is just two sides going to war. We don't know what's up. Maybe the humans are invading the dragons' airspace.
- Also used in Arc Rise Fantasia.
- Diagonal Cut: In Genji. "Good to see this game's hitting on all the right cliches."
- Disturbed Doves: Commenting the wedding at the start of Final Fantasy XII must have had a John Woo fight scene in there.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: The guys declared the chicken in the opening of Fable III to be the "most compelling" character of any cut scene they watched.
- Fake Nationality: In the episode for Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta, as the credits list off American-sounding names of voice actors playing Middle Eastern characters, like "Jeff Rosick as Faris Jawad."Graham: Also starring really white sounding people as really not-white sounding people!(And later...)Graham: It's refreshing to see non-white protagonists. It is kind of funny to me that they sound whiter than we are, and we're Canadian.
- Fake-Out Opening: Done for their April Fools' Day 2010 episode. Instead of Final Fantasy XIII, they riff the opening cinematic and credits for Final Fantasy III (USA).
- Faux to Guide: Their 100th episode was about how to make more cutscenes like those they mock.
- Flat "What":
- Their response to the weird ending to the opening of Cursed Crusade.
- Their response to a horse doing a barrel roll in the opening of Dynasty Warriors 8.
- Forgot I Could Fly: Mocked in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) when Sonic stands there as Robotnik's ship flys off.Paul: That ship is going really fast. You'd need some kind of super speed running power to keep up with it.
- Franchise Zombie: In-Universe comment. "You get the impression Sonic Team really wants to be making other games, but they aren't allowed to, so they keep having to ram Sonic into the games they'd rather be making?"
- Freud Was Right: Credits Gag in Shadows of the Damned: "Let's just say what the developers were all thinking: PENIS PENIS PENIS PENIS"
- Fridge Logic: Invoked in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged video. "Were these guys briefed?" "Why would you arm your men with weapons you know won't hurt him?", etc.
- They also wonder where all the skeletons that make up Nito, First of the Dead came from if there wasn't anyone to die and make skeletons.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Thoroughly mocked in several episodes. In their Devil May Cry video, they actually took a moment to demonstrate this.
- Genre Savvy: They sorta have to be to spot all the clichés.
- Gilligan Cut: Double Subversion. In Jak II: Renegade, they called one, it didn't happen, but another cut happened, and they were happy.
- Good Morning, Crono: Mentioned in the closing stinger for Tales of Graces ."There are two ways to start a JRPG. Being woken up by your mother is one of them. This note is the other."
- A Good Name for a Rock Band:
- From the video for The Getaway, "Eyebrows and the Thugs" (though said to be light contemporary jazz, not rock) which is re-used in several more videos.
- Subverted in the Magna Carta 2 video:"...formed by Count Alex and the lords of neighboring cities.""Despite the name, Lords of Neighboring Cities is actually a solo artist, he and Alex used to be roommates, so they formed an army."
- "The Power The Baby Gave Me" in Metroid: Other M.
- Dark Souls gives us "The Witch of Izalith And Her Daughters Of Chaos", as well as the indie rock band "Furtive Pygmy" and Graham's Furtive Pygmy cover band, "Foggy Forest."
- Not to mention their cover band from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, "Backblast Problem".
- Disgaea 2 gave them "Massive Demon Power Vacuum".
- Gratuitous Ninja: Civil War Ninjas in Damnation.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Mocked in the episode for Haze.Game Character: You don't want a liability in the field. Believe me, buddy.Graham: Does having senior ranking infantry not wear helmets on active duty count as a liability?
Paul: Can we wear helmets this time?Graham: Yeah, I mean, I know it's canon and all, but I feel really vulnerable over here.
- Also mentioned in the video for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Used for a quick joke in their Bayonetta video:Bayonetta: You look tired. Let me tuck you in.Paul: By which I mean, punch you in the face repeatedly.Graham: (verbal shrug) That's how my mother used to tuck me in.
- Homage: Noted in the video for Hunted: The Demon's Forge.
- Hostile Show Takeover: Graham took over Zero Punctuation on April Fools' Day 2009 (Yahtzee regains power less than two minutes in).
- Ho Yay: Hooo boy, Dante vs. Nero. "Stop it, now I'm seeing symbolism in everything!"
- Hurricane of Puns: The Bionic Commando video. "All right, you guys might wanna settle in, we got a million of these."
- Insistent Terminology: Like a fair portion of the old-school Sonic fans. From the Bayonetta review: "It's Robotnik!"
- Lame Pun Reaction: In the Arc Rise Fantasia video, the hero and a dragon are falling from the sky, and Paul says the game should be called "Arc FallFantasia". Graham imitated a shout, saying "Get off the stage!".
- Laughably Evil: A variant. They think Vaas would be fun to hang out with 75% of the time, and "ungodly terrifying" the remaining 25%.
- Left the Background Music On: Played with in Radiata Stories, but also in Genji: Days of the Blade: "Oh, there's an actual flute in the scene. I thought that's just what Japan sounded like at night."
- Made of Iron: That chicken at the start of Fable 3. Hoo boy. However...
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Eventually its luck runs out.
- Memetic Badass: They think the dog in Dead to Rights is way more badass than his owner and suggest that to underscore this there should have been a scene of the dog lapping up whiskey out of a bowl.
- Memetic Loser: Quite a few, but notably Capell the Soother from Infinite Undiscovery, who becomes their baseline comparison for any particularly stupid or wimpy protagonist.
- Moral Dissonance: Discussed with Genji: Days of the Blade, when they note the good guys were apparently trying to commit genocide.
- Mum Looks Like a Sister: The two were rather surprised and somewhat disturbed when they learn that Miranda of Grandia III is actually Yuki's mother rather than sister as they originally thought.
- Mundane Made Awesome: "FRANK WEST, ACTION PHOTOGRAPHER"
- Mundane Utility: In the episode for Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, upon seeing Samanosuke summon a tornado from his sword in order to land safely after jumping off a giant monster, the guys comment that they like the idea of a character using their ultimate attacks for practical purposes.
- My God, You Are Serious: Paul and Graham mention in the first episode for Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, that when they first heard about the game they thought the person telling them about it was just making fun of the franchise.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mocked in the [PROTOTYPE] episode. "Gent- *sigh* ...Has anything good ever come out of a company called Gentek?" "No. Not once."
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: (From Damnation) "What, mechs and Lincoln?! Fingers crossed for Mecha Lincoln!" And later, Zombie General Mecha Grant.
- No OSHA Compliance: From Fable III.Graham: This looks like an armageddon factory! What do they make here?Paul: Fire.
- No, You: From Digital Devil Saga.Graham: That's a terrible strategy.Paul: YOU'RE a terrible strategy.Graham: ...Ouch.
- Obviously Evil: From their Star Wars: The Old Republic episode.We know he's a Sith, but just to make sure, let's make him look like Satan.
- Only Six Faces:
- In the episode for Lollipop Chainsaw, where they comment that all the girls in the photo of the San Romero cheer squad look the same, but with different hair. The stinger claims they were created by the "Sexy Archetypes Cloning Program."
- Also One Piece Unlimited World Red.Graham: It's kind of curious how the two women are exactly the same except for their hair, and all the other characters look like they were designed by a random number generator.
- Reference Overdosed: There are more episodes with at least one reference, than episodes with none.
- Running Gag:
I'm only a couple of years older than you, stop calling me the elder.
- The line "And that was the [number]th time I died," every time a cutscene ends with the main character's apparent death. Discussed in the stinger for The Darkness 2 where they mention they considered retiring the gag but it just comes up too often.
- Also from Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus: "I've got my eye on you, moon."
- Today's soundtrack brought to you by Eyebrows And The Thugs.
- This is Three Dog, Aooooo!
- "Hey X, you're a Y." "So are you. Shut up."
- " That's the second [adjective]iest [noun] that I've ever seen!"
- The frequent appearance of a crow named Russell to talk to the audience whilst he eats dead bodies. Apparently the pun in Russell's name wasn't even intentional, but once they realized it they decided they had to go with it. Also Lampshaded in their Final Fantasy XII video.
- "You know, I never noticed how many crows there are in cutscenes."
- "(I) blame the taint." referencing the unfortunate namefor the forces of evil from the Two Worlds intro cutscene
- "Traffic chopper nine, we have serious [event] here" whenever a helicopter appears.
- Evil porpoises, and of course their relatives, the vampire whales from Vampire Rain.
- Whenever a character is named in front of them (Example: Jack in Syndicate), they say, completely deadpan, "Hello X".
- Whenever a Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot is used, they'll sing "Rip-off, this is a rip-off! Get to the show!" to the tune of the Star Wars theme.
- Whenever someone is referred to as the elder, they'll insist the elder is not that old.
- Not used quite as often, the name Chad gets mocked quite often, particularly in the episode for X-Men: Destiny, when they declare that both male playable characters are clearly named Chad.
- Say My Name: Thoroughly mocked in the Devil May Cry 4 video."Nero!""Kyrie!""Dante!""KRATOS!""SPAARRTAAA!"
- Shooting Superman:
"Your knife is not doing anything! Stop trying to use it!"
- Commented on in the video for X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged. "Were they not briefed?"
- In the [PROTOTYPE 2] review they call out James Heller for his repeated attempts to kill the near-invincible Alex Mercer by stabbing him despite this not even messing up his jacket.
- Shout-Out: Many.
- To The Goon Show, of all things:Game: "She's a spy!""She's a shepherd.""SHEPHERD SPY!"
- And in the Dark Sector episode Six String Samurai.
- In the Valkyria Chronicles episode:Alicia: Flowers, bugs and fish.Graham and Paul: Oh my.
- There's a subtle one in the Assassin's Creed 2 video.Game: "Time is precious, doubly so these days."
- In the Tales of Graces F video, there's one to HomsarPaul: (in a Homsar voice) I do what I'm told.
- To The Goon Show, of all things:
- Skewed Priorities: Commented on in the video for Call of Juarez: The Cartel.Character: Listen, I have another meeting to get to.
Graham: More important than this meeting? What, was a different government building bombed?
- Space Western:
- When seeing a duster-and-fedora-clad man pull out pistols in the trailer/opening cutscene of Star Wars: The Old Republic, they remark that Star Wars was always a Space Western, but they'd never seen it have a space cowboy before.
- Also mocked in the episode for Starhawk. The guys joke that the cowboy-themed outfits are the result of a villain stealing everyone's clothes while they were at a cowboy-themed costume party, thus forcing them all to wear their cowboy costumes full time.
- SpaceX: If a spaceship was full of slaves, they should be rowing with space oars.
- Special Guest: Ladies and Gentlemen, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, of Zero Punctuation. Graham returned the favor.
- Steam Punk: "Oh man, I wish steam power was this cool."
- Sticks to the Back: Mocked in the Two Worlds episode.
- Stock Scream:
- Mocked in the intro of Red Faction: Guerilla.
- Also in the Bionic Commando intro, when there is a particularly out-of-place Wilhelm scream.
- Stopped Reading Too Soon: The episode for Death By Degrees plays this straight during the discussion of an upcoming spy mission.Character: ...execute a video recon...
Paul: Execute! Got it!
Graham: No, no, no! Execute reconnaissance, not just execute! Stop... stop killing people!
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: When a woman in the Vampire Rain intro feels like she's being followed on a brightly lit street, she ducks into a dark alley. The crew comments that in horror movies, this is clasified as a suicide.
- They Fight Crime!: The protagonist setup in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: "Huh, I guess arrows are for sissies, real men throw swords."
- Translation Convention: "Why is it that everyone was speaking English in feudal Japan, but now in modern day France they're speaking French?"
- Unnecessarily Creepy Robot: A variant, they question the choice in Defiance to have the EGO interface manifest as a creepy ghost that appears behind you.
- Unnecessarily Large Interior: Really called on Vanquish for having this on a space station.
- Unskippable Cutscene: Sort of.
- In the Quantum of Solace video, Graham suddenly realizes that there's a Press A To Skip prompt in the corner and seemed embarrassed.
- Likewise, in their review for Left 4 Dead, both are taken by surprise at the ability to skip the cutscene that they scramble looking for the controller, only to find it has run down its batteries, forcing them to continue to watch.
- For their Let's Play of Legaia 2 Graham noted that he was pressing every button he could to try and skip the opening.
- In the episode for Dead Island a "Press O to Skip" prompt appears in the corner, but the guys refuse to press it for fear that it's a trap.
- Unstoppable Rage: Wolverine Uncaged - "Good lord man, do you have a stabbing quota?"
- Useless Protagonist: A lot of protagonists from the games they do are accused of this, often rightly. Used by name to describe Rush Sykes from The Last Remnant, calling him the "useless, nameless protagonist."
- Villainy-Free Villain: Combined with Alternative Character Interpretation for the villainous kidnappers in The Last Remnant.Graham: *as monsters appear from a portal in the sky* Wait, is this who their parents sent to pick them up?!
Paul: *in a growling voice* Did somebody order an Evil Taxi? We'll take you where you want to go but be unnecessarily evil about it!
- Wall of Text: Zoids Assault. "Did you load a book into the 360?"
- Weird Moon: A Running Gag is that the moon in (especially JRPG) cutscenes is "so big that if real, the Earth would long ago have been torn apart by tidal forces". Seeing a big moon in a non-JRPG game sometimes causes them to quip "Is this set in Japan?"
- What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Jak II: Renegade shows content they say makes parents regret buying this cartoony game.
- Why Don't You Marry It?: Joked about in Star Ocean: The Last Hope.
- X Called; They Want Their Y Back: "Todd McFarlane called. Spawn wants his cape back." to Vincent's cape in Dirge of Cerberus.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Made fun of in the Two Worlds episode.
- Your Mom: courtesy of Yahtzee:Oh yeah? Well I think I gave his mum a "small straight" last night. AND SHE LOVED IT.
Narrator: What was once green and fertile was now soured and barren.
- In the Viking video, Paul does this to himself:
Paul: Hey! Leave my mom out of this!