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Space: Above and Beyond – Level of Necessity (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.

Coming hot on the heels of Who Monitors the Birds?, Level of Necessity was almost destined to be a little disappointing. Who Monitors the Birds? is perhaps the quintessential episode of Space: Above and Beyond, encapsulating the show’s core themes and utilising its world in a clever and constructive manner. In contrast, Level of Necessity seems almost rote. It is an episode that might have been written for any other nineties science-fiction show.

There are some nice ideas here, but Level of Necessity feels far too generic. In fact, it seems like the episode is centred around Damphousse not because the story makes any more sense for her than it does for any other character, but because she is the only character who has yet to occupy the centre of a story. Thomas J. Wright directs quite well, and Richard Kind makes for a solid guest star. However, Level of Necessity suffers from the fact that it could be an episode of any other show.

Stars in his eyes...

Stars in his eyes…

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The X-Files – Beyond the Sea (Review)

Ah, Beyond the Sea. My favourite episode of the first season. Maybe my favourite episode of the first two seasons, although I’ll confess that my opinion is prone to change. I’m in good company. Darin Morgan points to it as his favourite episode. Chris Carter has (again and again) singled it out as the best episode of the show’s first season – a piece of television that works “on every level.”

It’s easy to point out all the exceptional stuff in Beyond the Sea. Gillian Anderson is phenomenal, as we’ve come to suspect from spending half a season with her. David Duchovny is quite happily relegated to a supporting role, willing to allow his co-star room to breathe. Brad Dourif is sensational. Glenn Morgan and James Wong’s script is phenomenal. David Nutter’s direction is absolutely top-notch.

However, what always struck me about Beyond the Sea was just how incredibly confident and casual it was. It was bold and clever and provocative, but it was also tight and controlled. It’s brilliant, but it never feels like this isn’t a level of craft the show can’t consistently hit.

We are the dead...

We are the dead…

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The X-Files – Squeeze (Review)

Squeeze is the first “monster of the week” episode of The X-Files, and also the first episode that wasn’t written by creator Chris Carter. Instead, Squeeze came from the word processors of James Wong and Glen Morgan. Wong and Morgan would become a hugely influential (if not always successful) writing duo during the nineties. They’d write some of the best scripts for The X-Files, but they’d also leave (briefly) to run their own short-lived science-fiction drama in Space: Above & Beyond.

After Fox cancelled that show, the pair would briefly return to The X-Files before taking over Chris Carter’s other Fox drama Millennium, for that show’s second season. I’d argue that Wong and Morgan’s Millennium was one of the most inventive and insane seasons of television produced by any network in the nineties, and it’s a shame that Carter would have to re-assume the reins for the show’s third and final season. After that, the pair found considerable success creating the Final Destination film series.

However, all of that was in the future, but you can clearly see their creative talent at work here. Squeeze isn’t just the first episode of The X-Files unrelated to the show’s alien mythology, it is also one of the most memorable episodes ever written, creating a monster so iconic that he would wind up bookending the first season when he returned in Tooms.

Eye see you...

Eye see you…

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Non-Review Review: Final Destination

I am actually quite fond of the original Final Destination. Don’t get me wrong, it has its flaws (and some very fundamental ones at that) and the sequels drove the concept into the ground, but it actually has a fairly original premise for a teen horror movie. I’m fond of horror as a genre, and I’ll freely admit that I’m quite exhausted by the perpetual cycle of slasher movies or ghost stories or ghost story slasher movies. Instead of adhering rigidly to the conventions of the teen horror film, Final Destination feels like something of a breath of fresh air. It’s a well-constructed teen horror movie, even if it does fall into many of the same traps and issues.

Ali onboard…

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Non-Review Review: Final Destination 5

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, the rather wonderful film festival organised by Vincent and everybody else over at movies.ie. It was well worth attending, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Good job all.

Okay, if you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that it means you’re interested in the Final Destination series. I mean, at a fifth instalment, it’s hard to argue that the audience doesn’t know what to expect – especially in a series like this, which is build around a particular gimmick. In this case, the gimmick happens to be turning the entire world into a Rube Goldberg Machineof death. So the question isn’t really whether the film works as a self-contained entity, or whether the entire concept works. We’ve had four films to determine whether the very idea of Final Destination 5 appeals to you, so let’s just focus on – if you’ll pardon the pun – the execution this time around.

It's a grave matter...

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This is no time to argue about time, we don’t have the time…

The early reviews for Terminator: Salvation seem to be in – and they are not as bad as I thought they would be. Apparently if you leave your brain at reception, you might enjoy it. Still, it’s got me thinking. The original Terminator was one of the few Hollywood movies to deal with time travel relatively well. How come Hollywood seems to have such difficulty wrestling with such a common science fiction trope?

Warning: thinking about time travel might make your brain melt

Warning: thinking about time travel might make your brain melt

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