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New Escapist Column! On The Lingering Ambiguity of “The Sopranos”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the rapidly approaching premiere of The Many Saints of Newark, it seemed like as good a time as any to take a look back to The Sopranos.

The Sopranos remains a towering accomplishment in modern television. It is a show that ushered in what has been described as “the Golden Age of Television.” It is a show that has endured, recruiting new fans in the years since it went off the air. It is a show that is still hotly contested and debated, with fans still arguing over what particular scenes or episodes mean. This is particularly true of the show’s famous ending scene, but the truth is that The Sopranos was always deliberately ambiguous, trusting its audience to reach their own conclusions about these characters and how they operate.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 7, Episode 11 (“Closure”)

The X-Cast is covering the seventh season of The X-Files. It’s an interesting and divisive season of the show, a season that seems to have been intended to serve as the end of the show’s run, but is now closer to the middle of the series’ run. Although the sixth season had wrapped up a lot of the mythology in Two Fathers and One Son, the seventh season still had some tidying up to do. I was thrilled to join Carl Sweeney and Chris Knowles for an episode doing some of that tidying up: Closure.

Samantha Mulder had haunted the show since the very beginning. In The Pilot and Conduit, Samantha’s mysterious disappearance was positioned as the reason for Mulder’s quest. Over the years, in episodes like Colony and End Game or Redux II, Samantha remained pivotal to the show’s central mythology. She was perhaps the biggest remaining plot thread as the show entered its seventh season. Closure is an attempt to wrap up that dangling plot thread, and to provide a satisfying answer once and for all to one of the show’s biggest remaining mysteries.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Escapist Column! On The Enduring Appeal of “Marvel Zombies”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. With the release of What If… Zombies!?, What If…? finally brought the Marvel Zombies into the larger continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Marvel Zombies are an interesting piece of Marvel Comics lore, essentially imagining a world where all the superheroes have been transformed into flesh-eating monsters. While these sorts of alternate universe stories are common enough in comic books, Marvel Zombies have endured much longer than the zombie movie revival that likely inspired them. So why did the Marvel Zombies catch on? Why do they endure? Why are audiences so compelled by them?

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… Zombies!?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the fifth episode of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Podcast! The Time is Now – Millennium in Comics (“Immaculate” & “Mini-Series”)

I’ve been really honoured to be a recurring guest on The Time is Now across its coverage of Millennium, a vastly underrated and under-appreciated television series. The podcast has finished its coverage of the show, but I was thrilled to join Tony Black for a discussion of the tie-in comic books published after the show finished up.

To be fair, it seems like Millennium only really came back as an extension of IDW’s management of the larger X-Files brand, as the publisher tried to figure out if the market would support an X-Files-adjacent comic book as hype built around the franchise’s return to television. Still, the results were interesting and worth discussing on their own merits, an effort to bring Frank Black and the Millennium Group into the twenty-first century.

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

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – “Chris Carter’s Harsh Realm”

With The X-Cast moving on to coverage of the seventh season of The X-Files, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about Chris Carter’s Harsh Realm, the short-lived series that Carter launched in the wake of Millennium.

Harsh Realm is an oddity. The show was hyped as the next great American television show, developed by Chris Carter under a lucrative production deal with Fox. However, with the arrival of Doug Herzog, the network’s priorities shifted and Harsh Realm was effectively dead on arrival. The result is an interesting and disjointed run of episodes, brimming with potential that is never fully realised. In some ways, Harsh Realm is the forgotten Chris Carter television show, which offers an interesting snapshot of his sensibilities at this moment in time.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the fourth episode of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – What If – “… Earth Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the third episode of What If…?, streaming on Disney+.

New Podcast! The Spookies Podcast – “The Legacy of The X-Files”

I was thrilled to be invited to join the wonderful Michael and Stephanie Black for an episode of their new podcast, The Spookies Podcast.

It was a fun conversation, in which I got to chat a little bit about the legacy of The X-Files. In particular, we basically speedrun the X-Files filmography of writer John Shiban, who is perhaps the most controversial and divisive of the “classic” writers on the show. It’s an interesting and playful discussion about how the show has aged, some of its blindspots and why it feels so strange to revisit it today.

You can listen directly to the episode below or by clicking here.

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New Escapist Column! On “What If…?” and “Mary Sues”…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. I’ve been covering What If…? for A Marvelous Escape, and it’s been a very fun experience. However, I have noticed that’s there’s a weirdly pervasive school of criticism that argues that the show has turned characters like Peggy Carter and T’Challa into “Mary Sues”, a criticism that has become increasingly common in discussions of modern franchise media.

Of course, it’s often very hard to come with a clear definition of what a “Mary Sue” is that doesn’t manage to encompass characters that the person using the description would never describe using such a term. It often seems like an “I know it when I see it” accusation, which can apply to Rey Skywalker but not Luke or T’Challa but not Steve Rogers. More to the point it demonstrates how blind some observers are to the appeal of these sorts of empowerment fantasies, and the double-standard that they appear to hold in an era where most franchise media is effectively fan fiction.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.