Monthly Archives: August 2015

Re-Opening The X-Files: Humbug, The Calusari

the_x_files___humbug_by_jjlendl-d8j4e4x

Mr. Nutt: You took one quick look at me, and decided that you could deduce my entire life. Never would it have occurred to you that a person of my height could have possibly obtained a degree in hotel management.
Mulder: I’m sorry. I meant no offense.
Mr. Nutt: Well then why should I take offense? Just because it’s human nature to make instance judgments of others based solely on their physical appearances? Why I have done the same thing to you, for example. I have taken in your All-American features, your dour demeanor, your unimaginative necktie design and concluded that you work for the government. An FBI agent. But do you see the tragedy here? I have mistakenly reduced you to a stereotype. A caricature. Instead of regarding you as a specific, unique individual.
Mulder: But I am an FBI agent.

Humbug

Since the beginning The X-Files was a show with a sense of humor.  Most of that sense of humor was displayed by Mulder’s quips and observations on things.

But it’s with “Humbug” that the series goes for an all-out comedy instead of just the occasional quip to break the tension.  And it succeeds in spades. Continue reading

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Big Finish Review: Doctor Who: Spare Parts by Marc Platt

Doctor Who: Spare Parts (Big Finish Audio Drama, #34)

As Big Finish celebrates its 200th main Doctor Who range release, I decided to take a look back on some of the old favorites and see if they still held up.

Intended as the Cybermen version of “Genesis of the Daleks,” “Spare Parts” is one of the more revered stories from Big Finish. And yet as I listened, I couldn’t recall when or if I’d heard this one before. I feel like I should have heard it when it first came out, but I couldn’t recall many details beyond superficial ones.

Arriving on Mondas in the last days before the population became fully Cyber-ized, the fifth Doctor and Nyssa find themselves embroiled in the politics that helped created the earliest Cybermen. Listening to “Spare Parts,” I couldn’t help but feel that Marc Platt has crafted a superb prelude to “The Tenth Planet” and that I should dust off that DVD and visit the classic serial again.

What could have been a simple imitation of “Genesis of the Daleks” becomes something a bit deeper and different. There’s no one unifying voice for the Cybermen as there was with the Daleks. Instead we see various members of the population and how they react to the developments taking place within their society and on their world. Platt allows us a bit of time to get invested and interested in these characters before he begins changing them into what will eventually become the Cybermen. (If you’ve seen the new series, there are certain sequences from the story that were used in the return of the Cybermen there, though I’d argue they are more effective here). Continue reading

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Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything

Sydney’s older brother Peyton was the jewel of his parent’s and the community’s eyes. Outgoing, fun-loving and seemingly on a course to have anything he wanted out of life, Peyton and his family’s life came to a screeching halt one night when he got behind the wheel of a car while impaired and hit a young man riding home on his bicycle.

Now Peyton is serving his sentence and Sydney and her family are left to pick up the pieces. That includes Sydney having to sacrifice her last few years of high school at a private school with her friends and heading to public school this fall. It also means that Peyton is feeling a bit distant from her parents — particularly her mother who seems to be focused on how to reconnect with Peyton and making sure he doesn’t feel like his family has forgotten about him.

Sydney is also wracked with guilt over what Peyton did and the impact that it had on the young man and his family. Thanks to the power of the Internet, Sydney is able to see how the young man is doing and even to contemplate reaching out to him in some kind of gesture. Continue reading

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Way Back Wednesdays: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

waybackwednesday

It’s been a couple of weeks since I did a Way Back Wednesdays (hosted by A Well Read Woman).  This meme was originally intended to look back at those books we’ve read that made a big impact on us.  But I’ve decided to expand the scope of my (occasional) entries to look at things from pop culture that were memorable in some way.

Buck_Rogers_Movie_Poster_01Today I thought I’d look at one the cheesiest series from the late 70’s: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

At the time when I was all of six or seven, this show didn’t seem cheesy in the slightest.  It seemed like a lot of great fun and the chance to see something like Star Wars every single week on my television screen.

There are a couple of things I clearly recall about the show: Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Fearful Symmetry, Død Kalm

x-files-season-2-18-fearful-symmetry

Scully: Mulder, what do you know about free radicals?
Mulder: Is this a quiz?

Fearful Symmetry

As I said after watching the end of the Scully is taken arc with “One Breath” there are times when going back to the good ol’ Monster of the Week episode seems like a bit of a step back.   Part of that is that after having some huge revelations in the mythology episodes, it’s hard to see our heroes go back to the day to day investigations without necessarily seeing much or any impact from the previous installments.  It’s hard to believe that after recovering his faith to keep looking for his sister that Mulder is willing to put that on the back burner while he investigates invisible elephants.

It doesn’t help that the episode immediately following “Colony” and “End Game” is this one.   It’s an episode that has some interesting ideas and a great teaser — invisible elephant goes on a rampage.  But overall the pieces don’t quite all add up.  It feels like the writer has some good ideas that are sprinkled into things but they’re never quite developed.   Questions are brought up but never really explored.  Instead, it feels like the episode is just building to that next commercial break with something new to shock us or keep us tuned in.   And yet, despite all of that, it never gets much more interesting that the invisible elephant in the teaser. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Auto Buy (or Put on Reserve) Authors

toptentuesday2

This week’s edition of Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) looks at those authors that are on our auto buy list.  Since I tend to use my library a lot, I carried this over to authors whose new books I automatically put on reserve.

1. Stephen King
2. Peter David
3. Elizabeth George
4. Laura Lippman
5. Michael Connelly
6. Garrison Keillor
7. John Scalzi
8. Jim Butcher
9. Charles de Lint
10. Neil Gaiman
11. Sally Kilpatrick
12. Donald Miller
13. Robert Whitlow
14. Philip Gulley

Couldn’t narrow it down to just ten this week!

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Colony, End Game

End_game_x-files

Scully: Did you find what you were looking for?
Mulder: No. But I found something that I thought I’d lost. Faith to keep looking.

Colony/End Game

Looking back on the X-Files, it’s easy to forget the time when mythology episodes were exciting and one of the biggest reasons to watch the show.   In those early days, it felt like maybe Chris Carter and his writers had some long-term plan for where all this was going and were slowly giving us pieces of the story every time it was time to start and end a season or during sweeps.

Unfortunately, the deeper we get into the show, the less sense the mythology makes.  But watching through the show again, I can’t help but be swept up in the “something awesome is happening” feeling of those early mythology pieces.  The first eight episodes of this season did that as do “Colony” and “End Game.”

At the end of season one, Mulder began to doubt his quest because of the lack of quantifiable answers and/or evidence.  And while Mulder has kept going in his crusade, it wasn’t necessarily motivated by the personal demons that drove him in season one.   In the first part of the season, he was driven by his need to find and save Scully.   Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Fresh Bones

Fresh_Bones

Back in college, while I was trying to get my apartment-mates to watch The X-Files and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, one of my apartment-mates tried (successfully, I might add) to get me to watch Murder One.   The series was one that took a murder trial and let it unfold over the course of an entire season.  The star of the show was (at least the first season) Daniel Benzali.  Benzali’s character on the show was completely awesome (at least we all thought so) and it was fun to tune in each week to see the intensity he’d bring.

Benzali started honing his intensity and all around super bad-ass-ness in this episode of The X-Files.

Now, I’ve got to be honest here.   In my reviewing the show as we head into the new series in January, I’ve got to admit that “Fresh Bones” feels more like an episode I’m re-watching as we get to the really good stuff that’s to come for the rest of season two — namely the next two installments of “Colony” and “End Game.” Continue reading

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Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

Armada

It’s ironic that two highly anticipated second novels hit shelves on the same Tuesday — one by Harper Lee and one by Ernest Cline.

Having read both, I’d argue that Cline’s fans came out better than Lee’s. For one thing, Cline intended to publish Armada all along. For another, the book is just a lot more fun to read than Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Part of that could be that Armada is a completely separate novel from Ready Player One so even if it was terrible, it wouldn’t necessarily be seen as tarnishing the legacy of the original.

Armada is Cline’s take on the 80’s classic The Last Starfighter with a bit of Ender’s Game thrown in there for good measure. Like Ready Player One, Cline is quick to acknowledge and embrace his inspirations in pop culture. Armada is more steeped in the world of video-gaming, but even if you’re not an avid gamer, this one is still a lot of fun. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Die Hand Die Verletzt

x-files die hand

Scully: I think this case is an example of a murderer taking advantage of local folklore. I mean there’s nothing odd about– {frogs start raining down}
Mulder: So… lunch?
Scully: Mulder, toads just fell from the sky.
Mulder: I guess their parachutes didn’t open. You were saying something about this place not feeling odd?

Die Hand Die Verletzt

In an interview for the X-Files Files podcast, writer Glen Morgan revealed he and James Wong decided they wanted to have an episode that featured a giant snake consuming a person.   The duo put that beat on a card and then worked to build an episode with that moment in it.

The result is “Die Hand Die Verletzt.”   It’s the duos swan song as they exited the writing staff to develop and produce their own series Space: Above and Beyond.   And you can see that the two are throwing everything and the kitchen sink into this one to make it both creepy (because again — giant snake eats a guy!) and a bit fun (Mulder’s reaction to the raining frogs is priceless).

The episode is one that plays with a lot of conventions.  It starts off with the PTA meeting ending with prayer — only in this case it’s a group of Satanists who somehow manage to call up the dark one in the form of a substitute teacher.  Seems this little group has fallen out of practice with their faith and the devil has arrived to exact his toll.   Continue reading

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