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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 4, Episode 7 (“Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man”)

This was a surprise and a delight. Reteaming with Carl Sweeney, with whom I last discussed Unruhe, I’m back on The X-Cast this week covering Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man.

To tip my hand quite early, Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man is one of my favourite episodes of The X-Files. More than that, it’s one of my favourite pieces of nineties pop culture in general, the twisted evil twin of Forrest Gump and an exploration of the first half of the American Century through the lens of conspiracy theory. It’s a prime example of the sort of experimentation that made The X-Files such a great piece of nineties television, anchored in a playful and self-aware script from Glen Morgan and some great direction from James Wong.

So it was fantastic to get the chance to talk about it at length with Carl – even “Bad Carl” – on The X-Cast. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

You might be interested in our other reviews of the fourth season of The X-Files:

2 Responses

  1. About your old review of that episode… I admit I am not an X-phile and only watched very irregularly, but I never realized the episode was meant as any kind of a satire of conspiracy theories until I read that review. I mean, yes, obviously the idea that CSM single-handedly shaped basically the entire history of the United States from the early sixties onwards is completely ridiculous and over-the-top. But… so was everything else about that show. At the very least, so was everything else in the alien conspiracy mytharc. Preposterously conspiracist views of history that explain every wrong turn as the work of secret actors hiding in the shadows was X-Files’ entire shtick.

    • I don’t know. I think in context it’s very clear that Musings is doing something “more!” with the concept, pushing it up to eleven in comparison to the show’s usually more understated alternate history which colours at the margins as opposed to scribbling all over existing and known history. (Even Tunguska, while known to many with an interest in history, is relatively obscure compared to John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.)

      Indeed, one of the reasons that Musings was (and is) so controversial among fans of the show is that it very much amplifies these tendencies to a parodic degree. And I think the show was a big enough cultural force at that point that you could do that, you could assume that most of the audience had a strong enough read on what The X-Files was that you could do “The X-Files, but to eleven!” and count on the audience to get it.

      (Then again, Poe’s Law applies; it can be hard to distinguish a parody of a thing from the thing itself.)

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