After last week’s installment of The X-Files, I was concerned that Chris Carter wouldn’t be able to stick the landing for this six-episode event series.
And that concern, unfortunately, was realized with the muddled mess that was “My Struggle II.”
Beginning things with a voice-over monologue by Scully of things we learned just five weeks ago is not a good sign. Pile on the typical mythology trope of separating our two heroes for much of the episode and then wrapping it all up with little or no closure and a cliffhanger ending and you’ve got — well, you’ve got a mess that was the final few seasons of this show.
Watching the episode on my DVR, I kept pausing things, thinking — oh great, it’s going to run over and I didn’t pad the recording time enough so that I’ll see how this all winds up. Except that Carter wasn’t really interested in giving us resolution so much as he was about trying to keep us on the edge of our seats, not give us any answers and then leave us wanting more. Continue reading
Nobody but the FBI’s most unwanted. I’ve been waiting 23 years to say that!
Ever since season three, it feels like Chris Carter has been trying to compete with Darin Morgan (and later to some extent Vince Gilligan) for the title of funniest X-Files writer. And every time that Carter has tried to prove that he can be funny too, it feels like his episode goes over a bit like a lead balloon.
It’s not that Carter can’t find humor in things and that he hasn’t done some pretty interesting things to stretch himself a storyteller and film-maker, but I just have to think that going for the funny bone may not be exactly up his alley.
Watching “Babylon” I couldn’t help but think that this was an episode that was trying to on the one hand be funny, on other hand be an observation about our current world and political climate and on another hand, an attempt to set up a spin-off should the schedules of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson not coincide any time in the near future for an eleventh season of the show. Continue reading
While a lot of the early success of The X-Files can be attributed to series creator Chris Carter, I’ve always felt that the real credit for fleshing out Scully as more than just the “skeptic” to Mulder’s believer came from the pen of Glen Morgan and James Wong. Looking back on season one, it’s Morgan and Wong who really take the time to deepen Scully into something more than just the woman sent there to de-bunk Mulder’s work.
No where is that more evident in the first truly great Scully episode “Beyond the Sea.”
Interestingly, that’s one of the ten installments that Carter recommended fans visit again before the mini-series kicked off.
And while some fans may have been hoping that “Home Again” was a sequel to Morgan and Wong’s most infamous hour “Home,” I have to admit I was far more satisfied to see this one be a continuation of the character exploration of Scully that began all the way back in “Beyond the Sea” and served as the lynch-pin for the entire series run (even when it went completely bonkers in seasons eight and nine). Continue reading
Mulder, the Internet is not good for you.
When it was announced that Darin Morgan was part of the X-Files revival, my interest in the project was peaked. All four of Morgan’s previous offerings for the show were among my favorites of the series with “Clyde Bruckeman’s Final Repose” ranking not only as my favorite hour of the show, but one of my favorite episodes of television ever.
But even as I was enthusiastic to see Morgan back on the show and had “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” circled in my mind as the “must see” installment of the new season, I have to admit I felt a bit of apprehension. I wondered if Morgan could return to the fold after a break of nearly twenty years and capture the magic again.
Thankfully, it only took the teaser on this week’s new installment to affirm that Morgan was back and that this episode could be something special. Continue reading
When The X-Files finally closed thirteen years ago, I’ve got to admit part of me was a little relieved. In the eighth and ninth season, the series had become a pale imitation of the series I loved and made appointment television for its first six to seven years. The mythology had become so convoluted that I no longer looked forward to it and the stand-alones had become a bit weaker than we saw in the early days.
When news broke that Fox was going to revive the series, my first thought was — please, don’t let me it be as unmemorable as seasons eight and nine. And the more I heard about who was being brought back for this six episode run, the more intrigued and, dare I say it, excited I became. Maybe, just maybe this six-episode mini-series could channel the series at its best and find a way to send Mulder and Scully off with dignity and grace.
After watching the first installment of the mini-series, I have to admit the results are a bit mixed. Continue reading
Mulder: Modell psyched the guy out, he put the whammy on him!
Scully: Please explain to me the scientific nature of the Whammy.
Vince Gilligan’s second episode of The X-Files is not only a superb monster-of-the-week story, but it can also be looked at as a rough draft for Breaking Bad. There are elements of Walter White in Robert Patrick Modell — cancer, a “little” man who wants to be something more. And both characters give us a quotable through line. In Walter’s case it’s “I’m the one who knocks” and with Modell it’s “Cerulean blue.”
OK, so maybe I’m reading a bit too much into things and being overly analytical. But I can’t help it because “Pusher” is one of my favorite “stand alone” episodes of the show.
Part of what makes the story work so well is the connection we see between Mulder and Modell. If Modell were just your average monster of the week, I’m not sure he’d be so memorable. The fact that he gets under Mulder’s skin so and takes such a personal interest in Mulder is what makes the episode work. Modell is an ordinary guy who dreams of being something more — in this case, he wants to be a ninja warrior. He wants respect, he wants power and he’s willing to put his own life on the line to do it. Continue reading
Scully: I’m just constantly amazed by you. You’re working down here in the basement, sifting through files and transmissions that any other agent would just throw away in the garbage.
Mulder: Well, that’s why I’m in the basement, Scully.
Scully: You’re in the basement because they’re afraid of you, of your relentlessness, and because they know that they could drop you in the middle of the desert and tell you the truth is out there, and you’d ask them for a shovel.
One of the things my re-watching The X-Files has done is remind me of just how good the early mythology episodes of the series could be. These episodes had just a bit of extra buzz and hum to them that set them apart from the monster of the week stuff that was the show’s bread and butter from week to week. And no where is that more evident than in the mythology episodes from season three.
We get a lot of mythology in season three — no less than seven episodes are devoted to the on-going arc. It’s also a time when it felt like the creators had some idea of what the end game for all of this was and were slowly layering in elements that would pay off at the big eventual reveal. It felt like the Syndicate had a plan and it was only a matter of time before Mulder uncovered the truth behind everything.
And then it all started to go horribly, horribly wrong. Continue reading
Scully: I’m driving. Why do you always have to drive? Because you’re the guy? Because you’re the big, macho man?
Mulder: No. I was just never sure your little feet could reach the pedals.
Today’s look back gives us guest appearances by two actors who will later be part of Fox’s That 70’s Show. I’ll leave you draw your own assumptions…
Or as I like to think of it — Chris Carter tries to write like Darin Morgan. And doesn’t really quite succeed.
Coming right after “War of the Coprophages” this installment feels like Carter is trying to emulate the quippy one-liners that are (just one of) the highlights of the Darin Morgan episodes without necessarily understanding what makes those episodes funny. Part of what makes Morgan’s episodes work is they are poking fun at the series’ conventions and tweaking them a bit. This one, by contrast, just seems a bit more mean-spirited in how it depicts the characters — not just Mulder and Scully but everyone we meet in the small town of Comity.
I recall that when this one first aired, fans began to wonder if there was some kind of rift developing between our two leads. It could have started in “Revelations” with Mulder’s lack of support in Scully’s belief and continued to develop to this point. And while we can look back and see that the mean-spirited lines and tension between these two are because of the phase of the moon that is creating the havoc in this small town, it still doesn’t seem to be done for any other reason than to make jokes at the other’s expense and have Scully get jealous — again. Continue reading
Mulder: Bambi also has a theory I’ve come to acro…
Mulder: Dr. Berenbaum. Anyway her theory is…
Scully: Her name is Bambi?
Mulder: Yeah. Both her parents were naturalists. Her theory is that UFO’s are actually nocturnal insect swarms passing through electrical air fields.
Scully: Her name is Bambi?
I recall loving “Revelations” a lot more when it first aired than I did on watching it again this time around.
Part of that may because this episode is just one more step in Scully’s journey back to embracing her faith. And part of it could be that I have jumbled together elements of this one and “Oubilette” into a single, better episode.
A serial killer is targeting people who claim to be stigmatics. He’s killed eleven of them, including a memorable preacher in the teaser played by R. Lee Ermey. The twelfth is a boy who may be the real thing. He’s shown signs of this before, causing questions to be raised about his parents. His father ended up in an institution and Mom is taking care of him now.
I like that it’s a serial killer case that brings Mulder and Scully to the scene. And I like that we get a bit of role reversal here with Scully believing and Mulder being skeptical. Continue reading
Mulder: Come on in.
Scully: What are you watching?
Mulder: Something that just came in the mail.
Scully: That’s not your usual brand of entertainment… What is it?
Mulder: According to the magazine ad I answered, it’s an alien autopsy. Guaranteed authentic.
Scully: You spent money for this?
Mulder: $29.95… plus shipping.
Scully: Mulder, this is even hokier than the one they aired on the Fox network, you can’t even see what they’re operating on!
After a string of decent but not great stand-alone episodes, it’s nice to see the X-Files get a bit of its swagger back with this two part mythology episode. It’s also a reminder of just how cool the mythology episodes could be this early in the run when you got the feeling that the creators had some idea of where this all might be heading and were slowly introducing threads that would later all come together into some kind of tapestry.
I will also admit that part of my love for “Nisei” when it first aired was that the location we see in the teaser is Knoxville, Tennessee — a place I lived at the time. Yes, I knew that the show was filmed in Vancouver and there were no train crossings in Knoxville that I could even use my imagination to suppose were the actual footage seen in the show. But it was still cool to see my town referenced in the show. Continue reading