What Worth Watching: Atari: Game Over -- How ET Ruined Everything

Damian Holbrook
Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Atari: Game Over

Atari: Game Over (Thursday, April 16, 8:30/7:30c, Showtime)

It is known as one of the worst video games ever: 1982's Atari 2600 adaptation of Steven Spielberg's hit alien flick, E.T., a mess of cheap effects, murky rules of play, and zero charm. How Atari—"the gateway drug to lifelong video game addictions"—screwed the pooch is almost as big a question mark as whether the gaming company actually buried a mass of unsold cartridges in a New Mexico landfill, as has long been rumored.

Both of those mysteries are solved in this fascinating doc from screenwriter Zak Penn (The Avengers) that drops a slew of nerdy nuggets about the hard partying birth of the game-console industry and the botched plan to cash in on E.T.'s insta-success while cameras track a team of "punk archeologists" searching for the mythical burial ground of the failed game. If you've ever spent hours feeding quarters into a machine at the arcade or espousing the appeal of Pong to people half your age, this is the movie to phone home about.

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