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The X-Files – Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (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.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose is a masterpiece.

It is one of the best episodes that The X-Files ever produced. It is the only episode of The X-Files to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. It was the first episode to take home an Emmy for a performance on the show, with Peter Boyle winning the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. It was Boyle’s only Emmy win of ten nominations. It was the only episode of The X-Files to air on the 13th October, a symbolically important date for Carter (“1013”). It was also Friday the 13th.

No bones about it...

No bones about it…

As part of the recent resurgence in interest in The X-Files, the story has enjoyed even more focus. It was one of three episodes voted by fans to air as part of the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex Film Festival in 2013 as part of the series’ twentieth anniversary celebrations. Chris Carter himself chose it to represent The X-Files at the Austin Film Festival in 2012. It is very frequently ranked among the best the show ever produced.

And all of that praise is very well earned.

Crystal clear...

Crystal clear…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Prophet Motive (Review)

This September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

Now that Star Trek: Voyager is on the air, there’s a sense that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine can be more relaxed. The show was undeniably contrarian during the short period when it was the only Star Trek on the air, presenting a series of uncompromisingly cynical episodes to assure viewers that it would not be trying to fill the void left by Star Trek: The Next Generation. At the same time, there’s also a sense that show was acutely aware of it potentially wider audience watching during that window.

During that first half of the season, a new adversary was pushed to the fore, the show did a story about Klingons and featured three guest stars from The Next Generation – although not necessarily the guest stars anybody would have chosen. More than that, though, the show seemed to consciously avoid its more controversial types of episodes. Even by the show’s third year, it had become clear that certain “types” of episodes appeared a few times a year – a couple of “old favourites” for the writing team to fall back on while constructing a twenty-six episode season.

'Ear me out 'ere...

‘Ear me out ‘ere…

As such, it’s telling that the most divisive parts of any Deep Space Nine season were pushed into the second half of the season.  So Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe’s two Ferengi-centric scripts came after Voyager had premiered. Sure, Quark got to be the focus of the season’s third episode, House of Quark, but he shared that with the popular Klingons. The season’s two big Bajoran plot lines (Life Support and Shakaar) were positioned towards the end of the year.

Prophet Motive feels like the kind of Star Trek episode that could only be produced on Deep Space Nine as part of Ira Steven Behr’s unique vision for the show. It’s the kind of weird script that the show seemed to get away with by virtue of being “the other Star Trek on television.” That doesn’t mean that it’s particularly good, mind you, just that it’s distinctly a Deep Space Nine story.

Quark is a by-the-book Ferengi...

Quark is a by-the-book Ferengi…

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The X-Files – Duane Barry (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.

Duane Barry is Chris Carter’s directorial début on The X-Files, and it’s a staggering confident piece of work. From the opening scene where Carter’s camera stalks through Duane Barry’s run-down house through to the memorable abduction sequences and decision to play the episode’s big action sequence against a black screen, Duane Barry looks very impressive. It’s an episode that stays with the viewer, one that is every bit as visually distinctive as Blood earlier in the year.

It’s also a demonstration of how versatile The X-Files actually is. The show has already proven its horror bona fides, carving out a niche for itself on the Friday night line-up on Fox with a variety of spine-tingling adventures. While Duane Barry retains the show’s alien mythology, it arguably works best as a straight-up hostage suspense thriller. Mulder is drafted in to assist with a hostage crisis, and then finds himself getting more and more caught up in the story told by the raving gun man.

Duane's world...

Duane’s world…

This is pretty far outside the “procedural” format that has been loosely established by the show, and Duane Barry plays out rather differently than any of the earlier cases-of-the-week. Of course, The X-Files would go on to get more and more experimental in later seasons, but Duane Barry sees the show consciously stepping outside the box. This is a demonstration of how strong the show’s foundations are, proof that it can carry itself as a legitimate drama. Duane Barry is an episode that argues The X-Files is not cult television, but just good television.

It’s no wonder that Duane Barry picked up the show’s first two Primetime Emmy nominations and a significant number of Creative Emmy nominations on top. It’s also a damn fine piece of television.

The Truth is up there...

The Truth is up there…

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Ever Ben Lost?

I have mixed feelings about the Emmy awards. On one hand Bryan Cranston is awesome, but on the other Hugh Laurie is due a statue, albeit probably not for this lacklustre year. On one hand 24 deserved recognition, but on the other Anne Wersching was the best actress on the show – certainly not Cherry Jones. it was awesome to see Brendan Gleeson get some over due love. And there is one decision I’m glad that the Academy made. Michael Emerson deserved an award for his role of everyone’s favourite sociopath.

Ben, the two of us need look no more… We both found what we were looking for.

Where have you, Ben?

Where have you, Ben?

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