Chaturday: The Jack Thompson Reboot

This Chaturday I want to talk about Jack Thompson, because as we all know Hollywood and that means endless reboots and sequels of franchises, the kind we wish would have gone away after the last sequel flubbed in theaters.

The Jack Thompson reboot comes nearly ten years after the film franchise ended what was an otherwise spectacular and gripping series finale. Thompson, perennial anti-gaming lawyer of the series, played an opportunistic attorney and from 1997 to 2007 made himself into the anti-hero of sorts, chasing digital ambulances and wasting no time in taking advantage of murders to forward his zealous campaign against the evils of violent games. We got to see Thompson’s trademark “bad cop, incompetent cop” routine as he took all roads necessary to get results, from harassing defendants to intimidating witnesses, quoting non-existent studies and generally making false statements. We enjoyed Thompson’s antics because, much like Wacky Racer’s Dick Dastardly, at the end of the day he was destined for failure. The modern day Al Bundy.

And in 2007 we learned that the Jack Thompson series would come to a close with a gripping series finale in which Thompson was brought before the Florida Bar and disbarred for his various activities over the series, from making false statements to disparaging lawyers, and even that short mid-season spinoff where Thompson was practicing law outside of Florida. We were left with Thompson sitting on his motorcycle, driving off into the sunset with one parting message. “I’ll be back.”

Granted I could be mistaking the Jack Thompson show with something that happened in real life.

The season premiere has been covered by Rolling Stone, Jack Thompson has officially returned to prime-time television and this season is starting off with Thompson returning to offer his assistance in a school shooting in Marshall County, Kentucky in which a fifteen year old shot and killed two students, injuring 21 others. The shooter, it’s discovered, may have been a violence-addled video game addict and only one man is up for the job.

Thompson (the character, not the actor) is still trying to get back on his feet after we saw him ride off ten years ago. Without his license and with his credibility still in shambles, Thompson took the classic TV approach and offered his work pro-bono, mailing just about anyone involved with an authority and functioning mail box. And who can forget that heart-wrenching climax when he turned to the camera and said:

“What happens in the case of heavy users of video games is that when they have the virtual reality taken from them, they will set out to make it real reality,” Thompson told the newspaper. “They do this without being fully appreciative of what they are about to do.”

An AV Club review of the episode notes this statement as forced scripting, noting that an educated adult, even one with Thompson’s established history of false statements, would posit that the murder was the result of the shooter getting his video games taken away. Perhaps a decade of absence has made us forget the absurdity of the original source material.

With The Walking Dead not returning to AMC until the end of this month and Brooklyn Nine-Nine likely on hiatus until April, it looks like Primetime television may have put up just the show it needs to keep viewers attention until something more interesting comes on.

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