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The X-Files – Teliko (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 very premise of Teliko is something that should probably have big flashing warning lights around it.

Teliko is an episode about an immigrant from Burkina Faso who celebrates his arrival by murdering within the African-American community. As such, it is the kind of story that the production team has to be very careful in handling. It could easily become a horrendously xenophobic anti-immigration story, a warning about the dangers of opening the borders to foreigners from cultures that are different to our own. And that is even before the episode decides to have the monstrous murderers turn his African-American victims white.

Top drawer...

Top drawer…

Writer Howard Gordon has navigated this sort of minefield before. Fresh Bones was a voodoo story set within a Haitian refugee camp. As such, it came with many of the same sorts of latent issues. It would be very easy to put a foot wrong, to turn the story into a collection of unpleasant and reactionary stereotypes that painted the foreign as inherently and undeniably horrific. Gordon’s script for Fresh Bones cleverly side-stepped a lot of these problems, becoming one of the strongest scripts of the second season.

While Teliko makes a conscious effort to avoid these potential hurdles, it isn’t quite as quick on its feet.

It's okay. Everybody gets a little airsick.

It’s okay. Everybody gets a little airsick.

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The X-Files – F. Emasculata (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

The wonderful thing about the second season of The X-Files is the spirit of experimentation. There’s a sense that the show is consciously pushing itself to try new things, to figure out what works. Watching the second season of the show, you can see the series’ outline beginning to take shape, even if it’s not full developed yet. The third season of The X-Files would seem a lot stronger and more cohesive, but it was building off the lessons learned during the second season.

Sometimes those experiments worked well. For example, the first stretch of the season demonstrated that the show could do an arc spanning multiple episodes. Colony and End Game established the foundations of the larger “colonisation” mythology even beyond “the government knows about aliens and they sometimes abduct people.” Episodes like Die Hand Die Verletzt and Humbug demonstrated that the show could do comedy stories and step outside its comfort zones.

Has everybody caught the Ebola bug?

Has everybody caught the Ebola bug?

Of course, there were a few narrative dead-ends as well, a few experiments that did not work as well as they might. Most notably, the tail end of the season leans rather heavily on science-fiction high-concepts. The elements introduced in Colony and End Game work well enough, but shows like Soft Light and Død Kälm feel almost like episodes of some other science-fiction anthology show. Still, there’s a sense that the show is trying to figure out what exactly it wants to be.

F. Emasculata is a wonderful example of that spirit of experimentation, effectively tapping into nineties health scares within the framework of a conspiracy thriller.

Everything burns...

Everything burns…

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