‘The Last Of Us’: the video game adaptation that’s worth watching

‘The Last Of Us’: the video game adaptation that’s worth watching | Soho House

Plus, a rundown of the books, films, music and more by Tortoise Media, the slow news agency

Sunday 26 February 2023 By Keith Blackmore

Even by recent standards, 2023 has been a golden year for long-form television. In the first two months alone, the BBC has given us the brilliant final series of Happy Valley, and two excellent police dramas, the aptly named Gold and Better. This week, ITV will offer a new series of Unforgotten, and next month Apple will air the latest episodes of the football comedy, Ted Lasso. Sky’s much anticipated fourth season of the media epic, Succession, follows 10 days later. But at year’s end the very best of this blizzard of excellence may turn out to be none of the above. Instead it will surely be The Last Of Us (Sky) the tale of a man and a 14-year-old girl trying to survive in a world all but destroyed by a deadly fungus.

Computer games, no matter how good in their own right, have usually disappointed as sources for televised or cinematic drama. Producers have tended to ignore the lack of plot in terrific games like Doom, Tomb Raider, Halo and Warcraft and film them anyway. The Last Of Us, however, is a glorious exception, winning just about every garland available to a PlayStation game. By putting its creator, Neil Druckmann, together with Craig Mazin, maker of the superb Chernobyl television series, the producers have struck gold.

The plot follows the desperate flight of Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) – the only person apparently immune to the deadly infection – across a devastated landscape populated, if that’s the word, by the ‘infected’ and murderous bands of survivors who kill anybody they think might carry contagion.

It may be another zombie story, but while it certainly has moments of pure horror and, as the announcer warns, some distressing scenes, it also has an abundance of heart and warmth. The third episode in particular has rightly attracted rhapsodic praise and might be the only thing we see this year that is better than the finale of Happy Valley. We are on episode six now, with three to come. If you are faint of heart, hide behind the sofa. But watch it.

Here are this week’s recommendations.

‘The Last Of Us’: the video game adaptation that’s worth watching | Soho House


Fleishman Is In Trouble (Disney+) 
What is Fleishman Is In Trouble about? A lot. It’s about the messiness of separation – the titular character Toby has just finalised his divorce with ex-wife Rachel. It’s about the different lives different types of love force us to live – Toby’s struggles include understanding how a failed marriage could have ever have contained love, the wrenching wholeness of his feelings for his two children and the lust-entangled love directed at his newly single self from thousands of women on dating apps in New York City. But at its core it’s a show about masculinity. It tells the tale of modern men doing modern men things, by embracing the humorous side of banality and befuddlement, so as not to fall into the expected trap of delivering a grand theory of where men might be going, but to paint a beautiful portrait of things just as they are. 

‘The Last Of Us’: the video game adaptation that’s worth watching | Soho House
‘The Last Of Us’: the video game adaptation that’s worth watching | Soho House


Siblings by Brigitte Reimann, translated by Lucy Jones 
Originally published in East Germany in 1963 as Die Geschwister, it’s taken 60 years for Brigitte Reimann’s semi-autobiographical novel to be translated into English. Based in the GDR in 1960, Siblings follows brother and sister Uli and Elisabeth as they’re drawn towards opposing ideologies. Elisabeth, despite clashing with party officials, ultimately believes in the socialist utopia promised in East Germany; Uli is more cynical and harbours ambitions to escape to the West. Practically the same age, Elisabeth and Uli are close, having grown up doing everything and going everywhere together, but the clash of worldviews – capitalism vs. socialism, democracy vs. dictatorship – in a state where such matters are the difference between life and death, in the end proves too much. I won’t give away the ending, but while viewed by many as a compromise in order to get the book published in the GDR, it still serves up a surprise.


Desire, I Want To Turn Into You by Caroline Polachek
Caroline Polachek has – for the rizla-using, Audre Lorde-obsessed music crowd – pretty much done it all. In ‘Chairlift’ (her duo with Aaron Pfenning), she cemented her indie bona fides. Collaborations with artists like Charli XCX saw her prove that ethereal has a place in pop. Heck, she’s recently made opera bearable. But in her second solo album, she proves that she can really, really sing. And write. And produce.

‘Richness’ in music usually refers to audio quality, but it can also mean songs where the wholeness of the sound masks all the different parts layered together: a wall hits you. Desire, I Want To Turn Into You is that wall, but instead of knocking you out, invites you to explore a new world – one crafted from screeching highs cut with quiet and expertly placed funk beats, that will leave you wondering how something so large could ever be stored just on a phone.

That’s all for now. Take care of yourselves and have a lovely weekend. 

Best wishes,

Team Tortoise
Edited by James Wilson

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