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The X-Files – Tunguska (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

The show’s conspiracy plot line is rapidly approaching critical mass.

It is quite clear at this point that while colonisation might have a schedule, Fox had just thrown Chris Carter’s out the window. The X-Files: Fight the Future looms large on the horizon. Indeed, Tunguska is credited to Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, who would end up writing the screenplay for the feature film over the Christmas break. However, while Carter had originally conceived the movie to put a cap on the television series, Fox wanted it to tie more aggressively into the series. It would not be the end of the journey, but a middle chapter.

Flagging the danger...

Flagging the danger…

As such, the larger conspiracy plotline that had been gathering momentum since the end of the second season spends two years largely spinning its wheels to keep the feature film relevant. The film was written midway through the fourth season and shot in the gap between the fourth and fifth seasons. So, there is a lot of stalling required. To use the “cancer” metaphor that is cleverly (and almost subconsciously) woven through the fourth season, the central conspiracy plotline seems to go into remission for a while.

This isn’t inherently a bad thing. Indeed, the stalling allows the show to take stock and to devote space in the mythology to more personal stories like Tempus Fugit and Max or Christmas Carol and Emily. However, it also means that episodes like Herrenvolk, Tunguska, Terma and The End felt like attempts to buy time – offering the illusion of dynamism and change while only inching the plot along.

Wired up...

Wired up…

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Star Trek – Journey to Babel (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Journey to Babel is pretty influential, as episodes of Star Trek go. It is an episode that really cements idea of the Federation that came to be at the heart of the franchise, suggesting that the organisation really is a diverse intergalactic alliance of diverse alien species, rather than a union between Earth and Vulcan. More than that, the episode suggests that the individual members of the Federation might not exist in perfect harmony with one another, but may each operate with their own agenda and motivations.

However, what is really remarkable about Journey to Babel is how much of this unfolds in the background. All this world-building and -embellishing is very much a secondary concern for writer D.C. Fontana. Despite its scale and its scope, Journey to Babel is a decidedly personal story about a family in crisis. It works remarkably well, offering viewers a bit more insight into Spock as a character and where he came from.

Party on, Gav...

Party on, Gav…

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Space: Above and Beyond – Eyes (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Eyes is perhaps the most ambitious that Space: Above and Beyond has been to this point in the season.

Eyes develops scraps hinted at in The Pilot and The Farthest Man From Home into a complex web of intrigue, with an assassination plot playing out against all sorts of institutionalised prejudice and suggesting sinister conspiracies at work behind the horrific war that drives the show. The last episode of Space: Above and Beyond credited to Glen Morgan and James Wong in 1996, the episode feels like it is solidifying the series. Six episodes in, enough foundations have been laid that development can begin.

An unstoppable killing machine.

An unstoppable killing machine.

Eyes is rather epic in scale, and massive in scope. It is a story about politics and scheming, unfolding quite far away from the front lines. In episodes like The Pilot, The Farthest Man From Home and even Ray Butts, it often felt like our lead characters were quite divorced from the big decisions. It seemed like the show was very much preoccupied with a day in the life of a space marine, rather with the larger forces at play seen only in glimpses and shadows.

Eyes is a show that does a lot to build the world of Space: Above and Beyond, doing a much better job than The Dark Side of the Sun or Mutiny at giving a sense of this dark future. While the script is perhaps a little too cluttered for its own good, it is a very well-constructed paranoid conspiracy thriller.

That's not at all fascist.

That’s not at all fascist.

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