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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 1, Episode 19 (“Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions”)

Wrapping up a late-first-season exploration of Millennium with the incomparable Christopher Knowles, I was thrilled to pop onto The Time is Now to discuss Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions.

In case the title doesn’t give the game away, Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions is a delightfully weird episode of television. It finds Frank Black confronting the loss of his best friend Bob Bletcher by becoming embroiled in an epic and existential conflict that exists at the very limits of his understanding. It might involve a ritualistic killer and a corrupt lawyer, but it may also involve renegade angels and the forces of hell operating on the mortal plane. The beauty of Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions lies in the ambiguity.

Indeed, that ambiguity was a huge part of the fun in discussing the episode with Chris. I think we both had slightly different reads on what the episode was about and where it was coming from, which speaks to its strength as an episode of television. It’s a staggering piece of work, one that obviously lays the groundwork for Patient X and The Red and the Black in the fifth season of The X-Files.

As ever, you can listen to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! Not Another X-Files Podcast Podcast #717 – “all things”

Last year, I stopped by Not Another X-Files Podcast Podcast to discuss Vince Gilligan and Rob Bowman’s all-time classic, Drive. So I was thrilled to be invited to join Carolyn and Vanessa to discuss all things.

Positioned towards the tail end of the awkward seventh season of The X-Files, all things is an interesting beast. It is written and directed by series star Gillian Anderson. Unlike Duchovny, Anderson had never really expressed an interest in writing and directing beforehand and hasn’t really embraced that career subsequently. As such, all things is a very strange piece of television, primarily a way for Anderson to explore themes and ideas that were clearly of interest to her.

I’ve always had an awkward relationship with all things. It is not, on its own terms, an especially strong episode. However, it has a strong central vision and an interesting approach to its material, produced with an energy that is largely lacking from the season around it. It’s an oddity in many ways. It is not entirely successful, but it is interesting. It was great to get a chance to hammer it out with Carolyn and Vanessa.

You can check out the podcast here, and past episodes here. Or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 1, Episode 18 (“Lamentation”)

As ever, a delight to stop by The Time is Now to talk about Millennium, this week as part of triptych with the great Kurt North and the wonderful Christopher Knowles.

An interesting installment this week. Kicking off a loose two-parter that effectively serves as Millennium‘s version of a mythology episode, Lamentation offers a clear escalation in the stakes of the first season. It’s a fascinating episode that seems to mark a clear transition in what Millennium is about, a strong signalling of creative intent from the production team. It’s a weird and eccentric episode of television, a real showcase of what Millennium could do when it set its mind to it.

I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of opinion on here, with each of the three of us having very different takes on the episode’s strengths and weaknesses. As ever, you can listen to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 1, Episode 17 (“Walkabout”)

As ever, a delight to stop by The Time is Now to talk about Millennium, this week reteaming with the fantastic Christopher Knowles.

As the show moves through the second half of its first season, it becomes progressively more adventurous and ambitious. While complaints about the “serial killer of the week” format might be a little unfair to the first fourteen or so episodes, the final stretch of the season embraces a more experimental aesthetic. Walkabout centres on a drug trial, one in which Frank appears to have been a participant. His memory foggy, Frank struggles to figure out what he might have been doing there. As tensions rise with both Catherine and Peter, Frank becomes convinced there’s more to the situation than meets the eye.

It was a joy to discuss the episode with Chris. As ever, you can listen to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

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Star Trek: Voyager – Renaissance Man (Review)

Renaissance Man is a poor episode of television. However, it is not an especially misguided one.

The flaws with Renaissance Man are largely structural and familiar. They are the flaws that define Star Trek: Voyager, from a storytelling point of few. The plotting is loose. The characterisation is threadbare. There are good ideas, but the manner in which those ideas are developed and explores leaves a lot to be desired. There are flashes of a much better episode, but it is unclear that even the production team realise what those flashes are. The pacing is awkward, with act breaks positioned very poorly. There is an unnecessary secondary climax that muddies the episode.

Leaps and bounds ahead.

However, Renaissance Man largely avoids the more fundamental philosophical problems that have haunted so much of the seventh season before it. Renaissance Man seems cobbled together from stray ideas seeded in earlier episodes of the season, but those ideas are not inherently toxic or bad. Following on from the deeply uncomfortable isolationist and xenophobic triptych of Friendship One, Natural Law and Homestead, there is something refreshing in the fact that Renaissance Man is not explicitly about how people should keep to themselves.

Renaissance Man is underwhelming, but it is not a spectacular misfire. At this point in the season, that counts for much more than it really should.

I, EMH.

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Star Trek: Voyager – Homestead (Review)

Homestead represents the culmination of certain impulses within Star Trek: Voyager.

To be fair, some of those impulses were baked into the show from the outset. The end of Caretaker immediately and effectively established the central premise of the series. Voyager was to be a story about a crew trying to get “home.” Of course, the question of what “home” actually meant was always up for debate. Perhaps “home” could be the unlikely bond that this crew formed with one another, a strange alliance of misfits who found a way to belong together in a way they never could apart; the idea of “home” at the heart of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, for example.

“Home.”

However, over the following seven seasons, the idea of “home” came into sharp focus. “Home” was not so much about finding an abstract place where a person might belong. “Home” was about returning to a point of origin. “Home” was a not place that could be created or developed, it was a nostalgic ideal. “Home” was not somewhere that could be found on “the final frontier.” In fact, it was the exact opposite. It was a fixed place that was (by definition) as far from the frontier as possible. This theme was heavily articulated in the show’s seventh and final season.

Of course, this very narrow and rigid definition of “home” creates a problem for one member of the cast. Voyager repeatedly and consciously assumes that all of its cast belong in the Alpha Quadrant, because they originated there. It does not matter that Tom Paris never fit in at home, or that the Maquis characters never integrated into Starfleet. It does not matter that Seven of Nine cannot remember Earth. These characters are going back to their point of origin, because that is what “home” means. What, then, of Neelix? How does Neelix get to go “home”?

“Home.”

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 4, Episode 15 (“Kaddish”)

Always a delight to stop by The X-Cast again. This time discussing a (relatively) underrated fourth season installment, Kaddish with the fantastic Russell Hugo.

Kaddish exists at a very weird point in the fourth season of The X-Files. It arrives following a blockbuster run of episodes, including Leonard Betts, Never Again and Memento Mori. Those are big episodes in the context of the show’s larger run the kind of stories that people have very strong opinions about. Kaddish follows those episodes, and so tends to be overlooked. In fact, it explicitly avoids dealing with any of the fallout from those episodes, at least directly. However, on its own terms, it’s a very lyrical and abstract story, a tale that is perhaps more timely now than when it was broadcast, a gothic fairy tale that hints at the big themes of the stories around it: about life, love, mortality, and loss. It’s beautiful in its own intimate way.

As ever, you can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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