Standards for game movies are pretty low. The "meh...it's ok...I guess" response that Prince of Persia managed to garner was considered an unmitigated success by the standards that previous films have set. We're looking at you, Street Fighter: The Movie.
Amazingly, as bad as game movies are, the television programs based upon them are even worse. It doesn't matter who was involved or what the game was, the TV shows downright sucked.
Hey, it’s the granddaddy of all video game TV shows! Pac-Man was created in 1982, an era when the arcades were kicking, disco was dead, and America was bed-ridden with “Pac-Man Fever.” Being the first video game based TV show, it was a bit of an experiment—a failed one.
Pac-Man didn’t follow in the fantasy super hero team format that was popular at time. The creators of the show didn’t feel the need to fill Pac-Man with powerful villains and super computers. Instead, Hanna-Barbera (the show’s creator) created a show in the mold of its own run-away hit cartoon--The Smurfs.
Pac-Man is pretty much a clone of The Smurfs – a cartoon about a group of tiny blue men (and one woman) who fight off an incompetent evil wizard – but it somehow makes even less sense. For the cartoon, Pac-Man became a blue collar guy whose job was “chomping” the ghosts that were constantly threatening “Pac-Land’s” supply of power pellets. Each episode, Pac-Man and his wife, Pepper (who had hair, but no beauty mark – was Ms. Pac-Man his second wife?) would foil the plans of Mezmaron, an evil villain who was basically an amalgamation of the Smurf’s villainous Gargamel and Darth Vader. The end result is downright bizarre and in retrospect only explained by 1980’s excess or a writer’s-Ambien fueled fever dream.
However, what really elevates Pac-Man from bad into the pantheon of the truly terrible is its inadvertent racism. The American writers of Pac-Man apparently didn’t known that the cutesy pet name Pepper has for her “hubby” is a terribly offensive racial slur in many parts of the world – particularly those populated by Indian and Pakistani people. We’re not so crass as to repeat it here, but we nearly shot beer through our noses the first time we heard a kid’s cartoon character start dropping slurs like a drunk-driving Mel Gibson.