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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.

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

I’m back on The X-Cast this week, covering Unruhe with the incomparable Carl Sweeney.

Unruhe is an interesting episode. It is an episode of The X-Files focusing on a serial killer at the point in time when Chris Carter had just launched Millennium to deal specifically with that menace. In fact, it served as something of a trial run for writer Vince Gilligan, who would write another (more popular) episode focusing on a serial killer later in the fourth season with Paper Hearts.

Unruhe is often overlooked in discussions of the fourth season, and it is easy to understand why given the quality of the episodes around it. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating piece of work that speaks to a lot of the core interests of the series and also reflecting a lot of the work of writer Vince Gilligan. As such, it was a thrill to be asked to discuss the episode.

The truth is in here. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 4, Episode 1 (“Herrenvolk”)

I’m back on The X-Cast this week, covering Herrenvolk with the one and only Tony Black, kicking off the podcast’s fourth season coverage.

Herrenvolk is an interesting episode, arriving at a pivotal time in the history of The X-Files. Chris Carter’s attention was divided over the fourth season, split between the first season of Millennium and the pre-production on what would become The X-Files: Fight the Future. As a result, the fourth season is a particularly disjointed and unfocused point in the show’s run, but one that contains no shortage of treasures.

It was, always, a delight to talk over the episode with Tony. I’m always honoured to be asked back. We also talk a little bit about the fourth season of the series as a whole, about its reputation and legacy and about where it would rank personally. I hope you enjoy it.

The truth is in here. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 3, Episode 24 (“Talitha Cumi”)

I’m back on The X-Cast this week, covering Talitha Cumi with the one and only Tony Black, a nice companion piece to last week’s episode covering Wetwired.

Talitha Cumi is a controversial and divisive episode, particularly among fans of the series. It is relatively unique as far as season-finales go, in that it is perhaps the only season finale in The X-Files that could not also serve as a series finale as well. It is very poetic and very lyrical story, but also one that largely eschews a lot of the structures and rhythms that audiences expect from narratives. I have always had a soft spot for it, and I think I get a chance to articulate why on the podcast. As little sense as the actual plot of Talitha Cumi makes on a beat-by-beat basis, it works very well as a thematic piece meditating on big ideas.

It was, always, a pleasure and an honour to discuss the episode with Tony. I’m always flattered to be asked back. There were a few recording hitches with the episode that meant we had to record it, and some of that giddiness shines through a little bit. I hope it’s enjoyable to listen to, as it was one of my favourite podcasting experiences. We also talk a little bit about the third season of the series as a whole, about whether it is the best season and even how we measure such things. It’s quite an extended episode, but I hope you enjoy it.

The truth is in here. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 3, Episode 23 (“Wetwired”)

I’m back on The X-Cast this week, covering Wetwired with the one and only Tony Black. We took you into this season, and we can take you out of it too.

Wetwired is a curious beast. It’s an episode that a lot of people compare to Blood, but I’ve always seen it as being a lot closer to the first half of Anasazi. Which perhaps makes sense, if you consider it part of the third season finale in spirit. Wetwired is also an episode about which my opinion has shifted a great deal in recent years. I thought it was pretty fine when I reviewed it a few years ago, but – like a lot of The X-Files – it seems increasingly prescient in the modern context.

The truth is in here. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Todd VanDerWerff and Zack Handlen on “Monsters of the Week”

This was fun.

I occasionally guest on The X-Cast with Tony Black, discussing The X-Files. I’ve been very proud to be part of the show’s discussion of individual episodes and also to participate in its ambitious beginning-to-end podwatch. However, this episode is particularly exciting for me, because it’s an interview that I managed to organise with critics Todd VanDerWerff and Zack Handlen on their new book Monsters of the Week.

Todd and Zack wrote about The X-Files at The A.V. Club over the past decade, and their reviews are some of the most engaging and insightful examinations of the series ever written. They were hugely influential on my own work, and are still a joy to read. Indeed, I had access to an early review copy of Monsters of the Week for the interview, and it is a joy to read.

The interview itself is broad. We cover everything from Todd and Zack’s early history with the show, through to debating its place in the television canon and even discussing a little bit about the current state of television criticism as a whole. Along the way, we discuss the show’s legacy, the challenges in approaching it in the current era, and how the Trump administration as made a surprisingly convincing case for the show’s status as an enduring television classic.

I’m very happy with the interview, and very thankful for Todd and Zack’s generosity with their time. You can check it out here, click the link below, or just play it from this post.

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 3, Episode 19 (“Hell Money”)

I’m back on The X-Cast this week, covering Hell Money with the great Carl Sweeney.

This is an interesting one. Everybody has their own personal underrated favourites, whether in film or on television or in any other media. Pieces of art on which we feel much more strongly than the consensus, and in which we see a bit more than our fellow audience members. In my case, this is true of quiet a few episodes of The X-Files, typically episodes that meet with a shrug from the collective audience, but with which I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love. Hell Money is one of those episodes.

The truth is in here. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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