Patrick Malahide as Magnus in the One Game: Friday

What, doesn't everyone crawl out of the river in the middle of the night?

What, doesn’t everyone crawl out of the river in the middle of the night?

In April, I wrote that Network DVD would be re-releasing The One Game at the end of June. Of course, that time has long since come and gone, and now it looks like they will be releasing it in May 2016. Hopefully they will. In the meantime, we’ve decided to take a more in-depth look at this excellent series since the original blog post on it is a bit terse, actually.

So here is a little recap on Patrick Malahide’s performance as Magnus in The One Game, Episode One: Friday

A Mysterious Stranger

But it's okay, because he makes friends easily

He makes friends easily

Admin: It opens with creepy synth music playing as a mysterious stranger, who has presumably been doing a spot of swimming, emerges from the dark. Rats are everywhere and he seems to get on well with them, picking one up. Awwww.

RF:  It’s also worth noting that our stranger is soaking wet to the skin, barefoot in pyjamas (and it’s very cold out, since we can see Mr. Malahide’s breath; kudos to him for what must have been a rather uncomfortable scene to shoot), and doesn’t appear to have had a haircut for a while.  But perhaps he’s the sort of eccentric who enjoys going for a midnight swim in his jammies.  😉  He also conveniently finds a pair of boots in just his size as he’s communing with the rats, so either the rats are extremely well-trained and brought them or someone left them for him.  But he’s Mysterious™,  so we’ll have to wait to find out.

Admin: He then goes to an abandoned mansion, well not too abandoned since a couple of beautiful Alsatian dogs are there. He feeds them tins of dog food and in a strange moment helps himself to some of the dog food. That is especially weird since we later see him with a glass of wine getting ready to watch a bit of TV. Who knew that red wine went so well with Alpo?

And yes, that can he's eating from does say "Top Dog" on it.

And yes, that can he’s eating from does say “Top Dog” on it.

RF:  The dogs seem to like our stranger and didn’t bark at his entrance, so I think we can guess that the mansion might be his.  As for his taste in cuisine, he should’ve gotten whoever left him the boots (and presumably fed the dogs while he was away) to at least leave him a tv dinner or something!  Also note that our Stranger gains access to the mansion by passing his hand over a small triangular opening next to the front door, almost like magic – no keys required.  Foreshadowing!  😉

What a waste of wine!

Admin: He flips the channels around a bit before settling on something starring Stephen Dillane who is talking about his video game company. When asked about the guys who make his video games, Nicholas Thorne (Dillane) makes an unscrewed gesture at his head. The mysterious man does NOT like that and chucks the bottle at the television….SMASH! And cue opening credits.

Admin:  Yep, that is our Magnus and it is a great intro. On later viewing, I realize how well it sums him up. We get a massive hint at how determined he is since he’s obviously been swimming in the cold (you can see his breath in the wharf air). He is clearly a friend of the animals which kind of speaks to his somewhat neo-Pagan / Arthurian vibe. And, he has issues with Thorne, which was hinted at with the bottle smashing. I love that bit. 🙂

Opening Credits

Opening Credits

RF:  Yeah, the outburst just comes out of nowhere since we’ve had no hint up to that point that the sight of Thorne on tv might make Magnus that angry.  But going by the size of the mansion and the furniture inside, he can probably afford another television or two.  Agreed that the entire opening scene – during which Mr. Malahide says not a word – is an excellent short sketch of Magnus’ character and the determination we’re going to see him put into action.

RF:  The opening title/credit designs, which have a sort of medieval illumination look to  them, are also rife with gaming, magic, and neo-Pagan/Arthurian imagery, as well as caricatures of characters  and events we haven’t seen yet (but will).  Lots more foreshadowing.  They’re really well done, as is the music, for its time.

Admin:  It has a really good soundtrack which combines Medieval sounds with a 1980s synth.  The effect is rather spellbinding and melodic.  You can listen to the opening music (Saylon Dola by Chameleon) here.

The Hacker Spiv

Admin: There are several scenes of Magnus associating with unsavory types who are shooting and/or stabbing mock-ups of Thorne. Magnus is clearly the type who is completely unafraid to go into the darker, scarier places of the city because he has no trouble finding ne’er-do-wells and getting them to do his bidding.

The Lobster, looking very animated as a 2-D cut-out, participating in target practice.

The Lobster, looking very animated as a 2-D cut-out, participating in target practice.

RF:  I have to laugh every time I see Magnus’ henchmen shooting those cut-outs of Thorne.  Magnus went to some trouble and expense having life-size cut-outs made of Thorne in suitably gormless-looking poses, just for his henchmen’s target practice.  😀  We can already tell he’s a sort of spare-no-expense Avengers-type villain (as in John Steed and Emma Peel), as he observes their shooting with what looks like grim satisfaction.  But at least he’s ditched the jammies for a very flattering all-black ensemble, including a very nice black leather jacket.  😉  He’s also had a haircut, or at least found a comb.

Admin:  Yes, one of the many things I love about this series is how it has that Avengers / The Prisoner type vibe about it, but clearly made for a 1980s audience.

Admin: And the ne’er-do-wells better do just as he says, or they might end up regretting it. Magnus is in a vacant building which has been wired for future yuppie development. There he meets a young man carrying a computer set up.   The youngster is a combination of hacker and spiv which is kind of funny to me. 🙂 Anyway, the hacker is not a trustworthy type since he’s clearly spied Magnus’ extra money and it is pretty clear that he wants it.

Hacker Boy is already blabbing that he's checked Magnus out, which makes one wonder how he did that, since there's no way Magnus would have been stupid enough to give him his real name.

Magnus pays the Hacker / Spiv / Chatterbox.

RF:  Mr. Hacker, who is indeed a unique combination of hacker and spiv, reminds me just a bit of Ray Daley (Gary Webster) in “Minder“, who took over “minding” Arthur (George Cole) after Terry’s (Dennis Waterman) departure.  And while any storyline involving technical or computer equipment inevitably becomes dated, I still can’t help but laugh at the giant-size “laptop” he’s carting around.  😀  I bet it has a whole 64 KB of RAM!

Admin:  1980s technology at its finest. 🙂

Admin: But, before there are any thoughts of money, he has to hack Magnus into an account. There are three passwords – one wrong guess and the system locks down! But, Magnus is a good guesser: DRAZIW – YNNEJ – SUNGAM. Someone picks terrible passwords. They should pick good ones like mine: LUFREEHC EILRAHC.

RF:   Oooohhh, the passwords!  😀  No one will ever guess those!  That’s Thorne’s idea of top security??  Also, I think we can see why Magnus employs a hacker.  Avengers villain he might be, but touch typing is not among his fortes.  He still hasn’t said a word, by the way.

Admin:  That’s OK.  The hacker lad does enough talking for the both of them.

If looks could kill…oh, they can!

Admin:  So, Magnus cracked it and the hacker’s work is done – or at least it should be. Instead he gets a bit greedy as his spiv side comes out and he uses a knife to try and menace the rest of the money away from Magnus. But, Magnus is something of a wizard, and he gets the knife away and stares down the young guy. I mean *really* stares him down. Magnus doesn’t even really need the knife to be completely intimidating. The kid really should have just stuck with hacking because he is so freaked out that he walks backwards out of an open window — splat!

Being threatened with a knife! Oh nooooeeess, he's terrified! Just look how terrified he is!

Being threatened with a knife! Oh nooooeeess, he’s terrified! Just look how terrified he is!

RF:  Well, Mr. Hacker clearly isn’t very SMRT.  He’s summoned to a remote location by a Mysterious Man in Black, who’s clearly very menacing-looking and loaded with cash, and thinks a knife will scare him.  He could’ve had a nice payday just by doing the hack job, but he got greedy.  But I wouldn’t argue with Magnus either, if he turned a Glare of Death on me like that!  I like how Mr. Malahide goes from an obviously fake “Oh, please don’t hurt me!” to instant menace in seconds, just by a subtle change of expression.  Also note that Magnus seems completely unperturbed by Mr. Hacker’s death.  Plainly he’s quite willing to incur some collateral damage to get what he wants, even someone dies.

Admin:  Lesson to be learned: Don’t mess around with the strong, silent type.

Good thing he brought his own boat anchor...

Good thing he brought his own boat anchor…

Admin:  Magnus takes the huge computer outside and ties it to the hacker, chucking it (and the hacker) into the water, but not before getting his money back from the dead man’s pocket. There is a very satisfying glub-glub-glub sound as he goes down with his hacking device never to be seen again.

RF:  And now we find out what giant-size Eighties laptops are good for:  boat and/or body anchors!  Very practical of Magnus to get his money back first before sinking the body, though.  He’s good at thinking on his feet.

Excalibur!

Admin:  You know, I was just thinking that years later when the development is up and running, they are going to be having all sorts of problems with a “ghost in the machine,” (like literally) and they’ll never know Magnus and a hacker are to blame. 😉

RF:  And no computer used in that room will ever run faster than 64 kbps.  😉

Admin:  Magnus casually leaves, chucking the knife into the water in a moment that is very Arthurian.   I really like Mr. Malahide’s silent acting in all this.  He has an incredible combination of menace, determination and serenity.

Except for the knife, which is next to go.

He looks pretty determined.

RF:  The knife in the water also echoes an earlier theme we saw during Thorne’s visit to Sorceror’s (his company) headquarters, in which an artist showed him some cover art featuring an Excalibur-like sword emerging from a lake.  Water is going to be a recurring theme.  Completely agreed that Mr. Malahide’s wordless acting is just wonderful; Magnus doesn’t even need to speak to convey the sort of man he is, or how determined he will be.

The Games Begin

His favorite number.

Admin:  It is soon revealed that Magnus took £2.1 million from the company account. Nick Thorne’s financial manager, Tom Darke (David Mallinson), discovers the theft. In a nice bit of symbolism, Magnus is shown playing a pinball game (the song Pinball Wizard is now in my head) to the score of 2,100,000. 🙂

RF:  Because I am entirely too curious about such things, I ran the amount through a converter and £2.1M in 1988 pounds would be approximately £8,350,677.56 today.  The more you know!  😉  Not as catchy a number, though.

Admin:  And much more difficult to score in pinball, assuming you can find a pinball machine these days.

Admin:  OK, so Nick goes to his ex-wife/business partner Jenny (Pippa Haywood) and notifies her of the theft. While there, he gets a call from his current girlfriend Fay (Kate McKenzie) telling him that a parcel has been delivered. He goes back home and there is a computer disc with a riddle on it which leads him to a local shopping center. There he is menaced by a group of punk rockers who had befriended (sort of)  Magnus earlier.

The punkers obviously respect a man with bone structure like that.

The punkers obviously respect a man with bone structure like that.

RF:  Magnus is pretty good at getting ne’er-do-well types to do his bidding.  Either he appeals to something they have in common, or he just glares them into it (and/or pays well).  I do think it’s funny that for a man who sells games for a living, Thorne is absolute rubbish at solving Magnus’ riddles and needs Fay’s help every step of the way.

Admin:  Meanwhile, Jenny is now in the back of a taxi and not having much luck getting to her destination. Instead, the cabbie (who had conveniently been paid off by Magnus earlier)  takes her to the same shopping center. She is then kidnapped in front of Nick who had been deliberately corralled by the punks to where he would have the best view. As the taxi speeds away, another envelope is chucked out containing a video.   The video features a very cheerful Magnus:

He *finally* speaks after thirty minutes of silence, to tell Stannis that he's now playing "the One Game", of his devising. Mwaaaa haaaaa haaaaa!

He *finally* speaks after thirty minutes of silence, to tell Stannis that he’s now playing “the One Game”, of his devising.

“Nicholas, my boy, my dear boy. We’ve got a new game to play, you and I. It’s called the One Game: the reality game that really works. I’ve cracked it, Nicholas, I really have, and we’re going to play it. In fact, we’ve already started, haven’t we?”

Admin: It is really kind of cute the way he calls Nicholas his “dear boy.”  Magnus doesn’t seem much older than Thorne, but it seems he is meant to be quite a bit older.  His cheerful, well spoken manner and warm voice seem a contrast to the steely, menacing man shown in all those scenes prior.  But, there is little doubt that he is very determined, and Thorne knows it well:  “Oh, Jesus, I knew it. It’s Magnus. He’s out.” The words “he’s out” never bode well, it seems. 🙂

RF:  Finally, Magnus speaks!  And we are not disappointed.  😉 Also note that Magnus is making a point of sitting in Thorne’s chair, in Sorceror’s offices, asserting even more psychological pressure and dominance than he has already and setting the tone for what’s to come.  He does indeed seem very cheerful, but I think we can guess it’s in the same way a cat really enjoys playing with a mouse.  He’s taking enormous pleasure in revealing to Thorne just who’s toying with him.  When he says “my dear boy”, he’s asserting his dominance even more, plus you know he means the exact opposite.  True that “he’s out” never bodes well, although the question is… “out” from where?  😉  Somewhere you get to wear jammies all day!  But we still need to find out exactly how Magnus and Thorne are connected, and why Magnus is out for revenge.

Wrap-Up

Admin: What a great opener.  The first episode does a fantastic job of introducing all the principle characters, especially Magnus.  He is enigmatic, powerful, and obviously going to be a very convincing enemy.

Watching Hacker Boy set up his equipment (and a nice glare).

Watching Hacker Boy set up his equipment (and a nice glare).

RF:  Completely agreed, it’s a great introduction to Magnus.  Mr. Malahide makes him a very strong presence throughout, even without (or perhaps because he’s without) any dialogue until the very end.  We know he’s ruthless, intelligent, charismatic, meticulous in his planning, can pull off seemingly magical feats, and thinks way, way outside of Thorne’s box.  The first episode definitely leaves us wanting to know more – and rooting for Magnus, but maybe that’s just us.  😉

Admin:  And I can’t help but notice a resemblance between Stephen Dillane’s Nicholas Thorne and famed Apple CEO Steve Jobs.  I suppose it is probably deliberate, but I’m not sure.  One thing is for certain, Magnus is absolutely nothing like the rotund and eternally good-natured Steve Wozniak so any resemblance ends there.  🙂

RF:  If Thorne is Jobs, then Magnus might be Gary Gygax, co-creator of “Dungeons & Dragons” – although a lot less nerdy and a lot more Avengers-villain-like, of course.  Hopefully Mr. Gygax never put any of his business partners through an extended reality game with real murder in it for revenge purposes.  😉

Gallery Courtesy of RFodchuk

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