Sam Brooks

Sam Brooks is a playwright, journalist and critic. Email him on sam@thespinoff.co.nz

Television
Apr 21, 2018

Why Prime Suspect's Jane Tennison is one of TV's greatest ever characters

All seven seasons of Prime Suspect drop on Lightbox today, and Sam Brooks is here to tell you why its central character Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) is one of television's most significant characters – ever.

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Gaming
Apr 19, 2018

What is Fortnite and why do people keep talking about it?

Welcome to the Cheat Sheet, a clickable, shareable, bite-sized FAQ on the news of the moment. Today: what is this Fortnite: Battle Royale thing that your kids keep talking about? Gaming editor Sam Brooks has you covered.

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Television
Apr 18, 2018

Ranking the Dancing with the Stars NZ contestants based on their promo videos

With all 12 contestants now announced, Sam Brooks already knows who is going to win based on their promo videos alone. These are his absolutely correct predictions.

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Gaming
Apr 17, 2018

Jade Empire is the black sheep of BioWare’s library

Xbox have announced a re-release slate of old games, including one that is little spoken of now: the mythic Chinese fantasy Jade Empire. Sam Brooks writes about the game's reception 13 years ago, and why it's all but forgotten now.

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Television
Apr 16, 2018

Buck House was an edgy cable drama wrapped up in a 70s sitcom

Buck House was an edgy sitcom from the 70s that manages to still be edgy and different now, though not for the right reasons. Sam Brooks muses upon the distinct pleasures of Buck House.

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Television
Apr 13, 2018

The icons, the eyebrows: Who is playing who in Feud: Bette and Joan

The new show by Ryan Murphy, Feud: Bette and Joan, hits Lightbox next week. Sam Brooks runs down which great current-day actor is playing which star of Hollywood's golden age, and where to check out their best work.

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Television
Apr 11, 2018

The weirdest and wildest things that happen to the characters on Modern Family

After seven seasons, the characters of Modern Family have gotten themselves into some wild, wacky and straight-up weird situations. Sam Brooks collects the best of them.

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Music
Apr 10, 2018

Kylie Minogue’s new album is a rare disappointment

On her new album, Kylie Minogue goes acoustic and courts a sub-Sheeran faux-country sound. It does not go well. Sam Brooks reviews.

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Gaming
Apr 10, 2018

Suikoden was Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones

Despite five numbered entries over eleven years, Suikoden remains a much loved but little known RPG series. Sam Brooks writes about one of his favourite video game series ever, and what makes it so special.

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Television
Apr 8, 2018

Killing Eve is a weird gem of a show and a triumphant comeback for Sandra Oh

A spy thriller by the woman who wrote Fleabag starring the woman who made you cry as Cristina Yang. Why wouldn't you want to watch that? Sam Brooks reviews.

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Gaming
Apr 6, 2018

Far Cry 5 shows off Ubisoft’s mastery of open world gameplay – and little else

With the latest entry in the Far Cry series, Ubisoft has shown they can master open world gameplay – but when are they going to actually master how to tell a story? Sam Brooks reviews.

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Gaming
Apr 3, 2018

A Way Out: A forward-looking game held back by macho bullshit

A game where two dudes break out of prison isn't groundbreaking, but A Way Out still tries to play with expectations. But is it successful? Sam Brooks reviews.

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Television
Apr 3, 2018

Was Melody Rules as bad as everybody says it is?

Wikipedia has it on its list of the worst sitcoms of all time. But how bad is it? Sam Brooks watched the first episode of Melody Rules to find out if the notorious Kiwi comedy has been unfairly maligned.

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Television
Mar 29, 2018

An extremely detailed play-by-play of the new Dancing with the Stars promo

Last night, the Dancing with the Stars NZ Facebook page dropped the first bizarre, post-apocalyptic and surprisingly dance-free promo for the new season. Sam Brooks watched it very closely.

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Television
Mar 29, 2018

The Spinoff guide to watching free-to-air TV this long Easter weekend!

Sam Brooks picks out what you should watch this long Easter weekend when you're too full of chocolate and can reach no further than your trusty remote.

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Gaming
Mar 28, 2018

Yakuza 6 is a big-hearted end of a gaming era

In the space of 13 years, the Yakuza series has turned from a clone underdog into a cult classic, and the latest game is their most anticipated yet. Sam Brooks reviews Yakuza 6.

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Television
Mar 28, 2018

What would Suits look like… in New Zealand?

The second half of season seven of Suits hits Lightbox tomorrow! But what would it look like... in New Zealand? Like real, flyover country New Zealand. Sam Brooks imagines this beautiful scenario.

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Television
Mar 28, 2018

Anika Moa’s new show proves she’s one of NZ’s great interviewers

Anika Moa's new show Anika Moa: Unleashed launches today at midday on TVNZOnDemand with an interview with National deputy leader Paula Bennett. It's a perfect showcase for two strong personalities, writes Sam Brooks.

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Gaming
Mar 27, 2018

#WarGames demonstrates what is wrong with writing in video games

The latest from Sam Barlow pushes the form of both video games and TV – but the writing lags behind it, Sam Brooks writes. Back in 2015, I was a big …

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Television
Mar 26, 2018

Radio Waves is a time capsule of big hair, loud shirts and questionable feminists

Sam Brooks continues his dig through the NZ on Screen archives and the history of New Zealand drama with 1978’s Radio Waves, a half-hour maybe-comedy about the travails of an Auckland radio station.

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Television
Mar 25, 2018

Stan is about as raw and real as this kind of documentary can get

Candid, considered and confronting, Three's story of singer Stan Walker's battle with cancer transcends the famous-person-facing-adversity form, writes Sam Brooks.

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Television
Mar 19, 2018

New Zealand’s first soap opera was as white and as British as warm tea

Before there was Shortland Street, there was Close to Home. Sam Brooks dug through the NZ on Screen archives and found the first episode of New Zealand's first soap opera.

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Gaming
Mar 13, 2018

Can the new Tomb Raider movie live up to the original series?

The new Tomb Raider film comes out this week with a bright new reboot and plot. Sam Brooks goes back eighteen years to see what made the first films so successful – and how they've ruined video game movies ever since.

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Gaming
Mar 11, 2018

The soothing power of the perfect Let’s Play

Sam Brooks is a devoted consumer of Let's Plays – to the point where he uses them to sleep. He explains what it is about narrated playthroughs, and one kind in particular, that he loves so much.

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Television
Mar 6, 2018

From countess to future princess: playing six degrees of separation with Lightbox

It takes a certain kind of obsessive mindset to want to play six degrees of separation – even more so to try and link fictional nobility to soon-to-be-actual royalty. Sam Brooks did it, and did it with Lightbox shows.

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Television
Mar 2, 2018

You’re the Worst is the best love story on television right now

The tar-black anti-rom-com You're the Worst hits Lightbox today. Sam Brooks explains why the show is the most authentic, beautiful and relatable romance on television today.

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