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The X-Files – Christmas Carol (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Part of the challenge of the fourth and fifth seasons is watching The X-Files adapt the speed of its mythology.

The mythology has a very clear momentum in the first three seasons. For all that Chris Carter and his writers loved teasing out new questions, there was a clear sense of momentum and movement. The show had gone from a series about an isolated alien abduction in The Pilot to a series with a date set for the alien colonisation of Earth in Talitha Cumi. For all that the series was accused of being ambiguous and mysterious, there was a sense that it was at least going somewhere.

And so this is Christmas...

And so this is Christmas…

Things changed during the fourth season, most likely as the prospect of The X-Files: Fight the Future loomed in the future. It was clear that Fox would not allow Carter to set an end date on the television show before transitioning to feature films, and that the series would have to stretch beyond Carter’s original roadmap for it. All of a sudden, the mythology started stalling. The fourth season’s mythology had no clear direction in which to go, as evidenced by the fact that the decision to give Scully cancer in Leonard Betts was an eleventh hour decision with no long-term planning.

The fifth season’s mythology comes with its own particular set of problems. The movie had been written during the fourth season and filmed during the gap between the fourth and fifth seasons. This is quite evident in the way that the movie carries over abandoned elements of the fourth season mythology like the bees, who do not register at all in the fifth season. However, this also meant that the end point of the fifth season was essentially set in stone for the production team. The End would have to lead into Fight the Future, no matter what happened in the intervening nineteen episodes.

Picture perfect...

Picture perfect…

This means a lot of things for the fifth season. It means that the fifth season is stuck with the “Mulder as a skeptic… sort of” setup until Fight the Future, even if the show generally ignores it as much as it can. It also means that the mythology episodes probably should not contain any earth-shattering revelations or introduce any major character who were not already written into the film. Although Patient X and The Red and the Black effectively throw out these constraints almost completely, Christmas Carol and Emily try to adhere to them.

The result is a mythology episode that adheres rather closely to the successful approach adopted by Tempus Fugit and Max, a story that takes the backdrop of what the show has already revealed about the conspiracy and then uses that as a setting in which it can tell a decidedly more intimate and personal story.

It's a Scully family Christmas...

It’s a Scully family Christmas…

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Non-Review Review: A Christmas Carol (2009)

I’m yet to be sold on the Robert Zemeckis school of “motion capture.” Don’t worry, I don’t hold a prejudice. I’m just waiting to be convinced, and I worry that Zemeckis – for all his championing of the technology – might not be the one to do it. For, as impressive as the technical merits of his technique might be, I think that Zemeckis has yet to find a story that truly needs to be told in that format, or at least a story that resonates in that format. Much as Pixar have somewhat validated computer-generated animation (a school of filmmaking that met with a ridiculous amount of cynicism in its early years), I think the key to proving the worth of this sort of approach lies in finding a story that connects with audiences, while demonstrating the strengths of the tool being used to tell it.

While it’s an enjoyable enough holiday film, A Christmas Carol simply is not that film.

Totally Scrooged...

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Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

Being honest, this Christmas special had me from the moment that Michael Gambon was announced. I might have been a little uncertain when it was stated that Stephen Moffat’s first Christmas episode would be essentially a re-telling of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, but I have to admit that I enjoyed it a great deal. That isn’t to pretend that it’s a perfect episode of Doctor Who or that there aren’t significant flaws with the hour of television, but it’s fairly entertaining, features fantastic performances and has a few clever concepts playing about – making it great for seasonal viewing.

The Ghost of Christmas past, present and future...

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Zemeckis Plans to Bust a Nut…

Do you remember when Robert Zemeckis used to make accessible films starring actual human beings? Films that were no less magical because filming was constrained by reality rather than computer generated imagery. Well, apparently that Zemeckis is long gone at this stage, as he’s announced that he’s going to be following up A Christmas Carol with The Nutcracker, a similar CGI adaptation.

nutcracker

So many inappropriate jokes, so little time...

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Is It Too Early for A Christmas Carol?

They say that Christmas gets earlier every year. I’m probably too young to remember this correctly (maybe it’s an aspirational dream I’m confusing with memory), but back in the day they used to wait until after Halloween to start selling Christmas stuff. Now I hear Argos Christmas catalog advertisements and visit the Christmas section in Marks & Sparks in early October. But, seriously, the releasing of A Christmas Carol in early November takes the biscuit.

christmas

Isn't it magical?

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Bah Humbug! Are We Past the Point Where Technical Wizardry Can Amaze?

Hmm… I bet Robert Zemickas was expecting a somewhat bigger reaction for the release of the first trailer for his version of A Christmas Carol (aka Jim Carrey plays almost everyone), the follow-up to The Polar Express (aka Tom Hanks plays everyone), than the collective ‘meh’ that it received. I’ve watched the trailer and it looks technically magnificent (and I’m sure it’ll be even more technically impressive in 3D) – but why should I care? If I’m going to put on a pair of glasses and look at something beautiful until it give me a mild headache, shouldn’t I at least be looking at something interesting and intriguing of itself? Are we past the point where technical wonders alone are enough to lure the geeks out in droves?

Here's hoping Santa can bring Zemickis a 150% return on his investment...

Here's hoping Santa can bring Zemickis a 150% return on his investment...

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