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Millennium – Human Essence (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

Human Essence is the second (and final) script from Michael Duggan. It is also, notably, the first episode of the third season not to credit Duggan as an “executive producer” before the final credits.

Human Essence is a terrible episode of television. However, it is interesting to note that it is mostly terrible in ways that generic television can be terrible. The third season of Millennium is often terrible because of decisions or realities imposed by or resulting from creative decisions relating to the show itself. In the case of something like Through a Glass Darkly, the terribleness results from a perfect storm of vices associated with Millennium as a show. The Innocents and Exegesis are hobbled by choices made about the direction of the show.

Here there be monsters...

Here there be monsters…

Human Essence is terrible in a much more generic way. It would be a terrible episode of just about any television show. One of the problems with the episode is that it feels like it could easily be a terrible episode of just about any television show. With some light revisions, Human Essence could easily become a terrible episode of The X-Files or a terrible episode of Law & Order. Change the character names, tweak the dialogue a little. It wouldn’t take more than some light scrubbing to remove any hint of Millennium from the script.

However, it would take significantly more scrubbing to get the smell of crap off the script.

Yeah. We're hip.

Yeah. We’re hip.

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Space: Above and Beyond – R & R (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.

R & R is what might be described as a “monkey’s paw” situation.

Space: Above and Beyond finally gets to air on Friday nights. It had been promised a Friday night slot in early development, before Fox moved it to Sunday to make room for Strange Luck. Glen Morgan and James Wong had been promised the coveted Friday night slot again in January 1996, but it never materialised. Finally, late in the season, Fox manage to air an episode of Space: Above and Beyond on a Friday night. That episode would even air directly before The X-Files. And not just any episode of The X-Files. Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”, a classic.

Everything is Coolio!

Everything is Coolio!

However, as the Host himself points out in R & R, everything has its price. Here, it seemed like Fox had chosen the most stereotypically network-friendly episode of Space: Above and Beyond to air in that Friday night slot. So there were hot young people at night clubs, celebrity cameos, romance, angst, melodrama, absurdity. It is one of the most grotesquely heightened episodes of Space: Above and Beyond ever produced, to the point that Hawkes picks up and drops a drug addiction as only one of the episode’s three primary plot threads.

R & R is not a good episode of television. It is the weakest that Space: Above and Beyond has been in quite some time, and the weakest it would be from this point onwards. It seems like a cruel irony that it finally managed to get that Friday night slot it so desperately wanted.

Chalk it up as a misfire...

Chalk it up as a misfire…

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The Flash (1987-2009) #12-14 – Velocity 9/Savage Vandalism/Wipe Out (Review)

So, I’m considering reviewing this season of The Flash, because the pilot looks interesting and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Scarlet Speedster. I’m also considering taking a storyline-by-storyline trek through the 1987-2009 Flash on-going series as a companion piece. If you are interested in reading either of these, please let me know in the comments.

Does anything date a mainstream superhero comic worse than the almost obligatory anti-drug issue?

In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC made a rather conscious effort to engage with younger readers. Some of these worked, but quite a few were cringe-induncing in execution. On paper, introducing more diversity into the shared universe via New Guardians was a good idea; in practice, these diverse characters were little more than stereotypes. On paper, killing Barry Allen and replacing him with the younger Wally West was worth doing; in practice, it seemed like the company had no idea how to make him relatable.

Drugs are bad, m'kay?

Drugs are bad, m’kay?

Quite a few of the comics published around this time have dated poorly. They seem like awkward attempts to reengage with the cultural zietgeist, without understanding that zietgeist at all. Mike Baron had given fans a younger and more grounded version of the Flash, but immediately had the character win the lottery and move to the Hamptons. There was a sense that the comic wanted to dispel criticisms that DC was old-fashioned or stuffy, but had no idea of how to actually go about that.

This leads to stories like Velocity 9, the obligatory “winners don’t use drugs” story that tries to be timely and cutting edge, but simply doesn’t work.

Tripping himself up...

Tripping himself up…

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