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New Escapist Column! On “Andor” as the Most Consistent “Star Wars”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Andor at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the Rogue One prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Rix Road brings the first season of Andor to an end, closing the cricle by bringing the primary cast back to where it all began. It’s a fascinating and compelling way to close out the season, underscoring how much these characters have changed by bringing them back to their starting position. Rix Road is a breathtaking and impressive season finale to what has been the most consistent run of Star Wars ever produced.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Review! “The Book of Boba Fett – In the Name of Honour”

I published a new review at The Escapist today. I’m reviewing new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett weekly, so this week I’m covering the season finale, In the Name of Honour.

In the Name of Honour is big. In the Name of Honour is bombastic. In the Name of Honour looks like people spent a lot of money on it. Unfortunately, In the Name of Honour is curiously hollow. It’s a season finale that bungles most of the season’s strongest thematic and character arcs, often descending into a chaotic mess of “stuff happening.” It’s a finale that has nothing of substance to say about its characters, the larger show or even the world that it depicts. It is spectacle, though.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.


New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 4, Episode 24 (“Gethsemane”)

So The X-Cast has reached the end of its fourth season coverage, and I’m delighted to be joining Tony Black to discuss the fourth season finale Gethsemane.

Gethsemane is an interesting season finale, and a defining episode of The X-Files. It opens with what appears to be the suicide of Fox Mulder, and then builds to that as a season-bridging cliffhanger. Of course, the audience knows from the outset that the cliffhanger will be Mulder’s death, and the audience also understands that Duchovny is going to spend the summer shooting The X-Files: Fight the Future. So there’s an incredible tension there, right at the moment when the series had become one of the most popular television shows of the decade.

More than that, though, there’s something very lyrical and poetic about Gethsemane, which eschews the sort of action and adventure beats that defined a lot of The Erlenmeyer Flask or Anasazi or Talitha Cumi. There is a sense that writer Chris Carter (working without partner Frank Spotnitz) is meditating upon some of the internal contradictions of the show, and trying to work through some of the tensions that simmered through a complicated and scattershot fourth season as a whole.

The truth is in here. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast X-Files Podwatch – Episode #102 (Sunshine Days/The Truth)

I’m thrilled to be a part of The X-Cast X-Files Podwatch, a daily snippet podcast rewatching the entirety of The X-Files between now and the launch of the new season. It is something of a spin-off of The X-Cast, a great X-Files podcast run by the charming Tony Black. Tony has assembled a fantastic array of guests and hosts to go through The X-Files episode-by-episodes. With the new season announced to be starting in early January, Tony’s doing two episodes of the podcast per day, so buckle up. And we’re at the end of the final season of the original series.

This is my last appearance on the podwatch, although hopefully I’ll be back before long on another X-Cast activity. It’s a pleasure to be joining Tony to discuss the last two episodes of the final season of the original run, Sunshine Days and The Truth. The X-Cast will be continuing beyond this to look at The X-Files: I Want to Believe and the revival, but this is the end of the line for me, at least for the moment.

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The X-Files – Existence (Review)

This October/November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the eighth season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen.

This is not the end.

But it really should be. At least for Mulder and Scully.

There was no season nine. What are you talking about?

There was no season nine.
What are you talking about?

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Millennium – The Fourth Horseman (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

The second season of Millennium has been consciously building towards an apocalypse.

Actually, that is not entirely true. The second season of Millennium has been building to an almost infinite number of apocalypses. The collapse of Michael Beebe’s home in Beware of the Dog, the destruction of an entire community in Monster, the dissolution of the tribe in A Single Blade of Grass, the potential loss of a child in 19:19, an author’s acceptance of his fading skills and relevance in Jose Chung’s “Doomsday Defense”, the stealing of a soul in The Pest House, the breaking of a spirit in A Room With No View. The second season is populated with apocalypses.

Everything dies...

Everything dies…

Ever since The Beginning and the End opened with Frank Black staring into space as he contemplated cosmic forces of entropy and decay, it has been clear that the second season of Millennium is about more than just the end of the world. It is about the end of worlds. Over the course of The Fourth Horseman and The Time is Now, Peter Watts loses his faith (and maybe his life) as Lara Means loses her sanity. Frank Black loses his father and his friends – and, ultimately, his wife. The Marburg Virus is just a blip on the radar compared to all of this.

The Fourth Horseman and The Time is Now combine to form one of the most interesting and compelling finalés ever produced. The two-parter is the perfect conclusion to the second season of Millennium. Indeed, it would be the perfect conclusion to the entire series. Perhaps the biggest problem with The Fourth Horseman and The Time is Now is the fact that The Innocents is lurking only a few months away.

Cracking up...

Cracking up…

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Millennium – Paper Dove (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.

Millennium is an odd show in a number of ways.

The most obvious of these oddities is the sense that each of the three seasons feels like a different television show. The first season is markedly distinct from the second, the second is clearly delineated from the third. It is a very strange structure, one explained by the fact that the three seasons were overseen by three different creative teams with three very different visions of the show. One of the results of this approach is that each season finalé becomes a de facto series finalé, an episode bidding farewell to a particular vision of the show.

This is what it feels like... when doves cry...

This is what it feels like… when doves cry…

Paper Dove bids farewell to the “serial-killer-of-the-week” mechanics of the first season. Of course, there would be later episodes that would feature serial killers. In fact, The Mikado is possibly the best serial killer the show ever did. The Beginning and the End seems explicitly about killing off the “serial-killer-of-the-week” so that the show can invest its time and energy in other pursuits. However, stripped down to its core, Paper Dove takes the show’s approach to serial killers to its logic conclusion.

Although the show has featured serial killers with motivations that might be easily understood and perhaps even pitiable, Henry Dion is the show’s first serial killer to becomes almost sympathetic; it is one of the rare times that the show manages to capture the banality of evil, as opposed to the show’s traditional approach – one that brushes up against (and occasionally crosses over into) a sensationalist or gratuitous approach to serial killer pathology.

Picture this...

Picture this…

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Space: Above and Beyond – … Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best (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.

Fox has a very weird (and perhaps even paradoxical) reputation when it comes to cancelling television shows. On the one hand, there is the tendency to run successful shows into the ground, missing the window of opportunity to transition them into big screen franchises. The X-Files and 24 are perhaps the most obvious example of this tendency. Of course, this isn’t unusual in American television. If a show is making money, it makes sense to keep on the air for as long as possible.

On the other hand, the network is notoriously ruthless when it comes to cancelling young shows. Although popularised by the cancellation (and subsequent revival) of shows like Firefly and Family Guy in the early years of the twenty-first century, the network had already demonstrated that it had little time for dead weight in the schedule. In hindsight, it seems like a wonder that The X-Files survived its first season, and was allowed to grow and develop into a massive cultural phenomenon.

We have met the enemy...

We have met the enemy…

Indeed, considering the abbreviated runs of shows like Profit or The Tick or The Ben Stiller Show or Harsh Realm or The Lone Gunmen, Space: Above and Beyond was lucky to get a full twenty-two-episodes-and-a-pilot run on Fox, even if it couldn’t count on the network to air the episodes at a consistent time on a consistent day. Space: Above and Beyond was undoubtedly treated shabbily by the network, but it could have been a lot worse.

That’s not the best eulogy you could write for a television show, but it is worth treasuring what we got.

President of the World...

President of the World…

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Non-Review Review: Futurama – Into the Wild Green Yonder

Interesting. It seems that Futurama has somehow (presumably unconsciously) incorporated one of the central features from its key sources, the Star Trek franchise. It’s frequently asserted by fans of that series that the television show spawned a rather inconsistent movies series. Some, such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, could stand tall and be measured along the best movies that science-fiction could offer; while others, notable Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (in which Kirk kills God in a story pitched and directed by William Shatner), were actually terrible. The consensus emerged that the even numbered sequels were great and the odd numbered movies were terrible. This is just a run of thumb, and it’s possible it has been reversed (the tenth movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, was pretty disappointing; the eleventh, Star Trek, was a blast of fresh air) or even completely deconstructed. While none of the four Futurama movies are “terrible” or even “bad”, the distinction between the “okay” and the “great” seems to fall on similar lines. The first and third, Bender’s Big Score and Bender’s Game, weren’t great, while the second and fourth, The Beast With A Billion Backs and Into the Wild Green Yonder, perfectly capture all that was great about the show.

Here we go-go again...

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Ashes to Ashes: Dust to Dust…

My name is Alex Drake… and your guess is as good as mine.

– Alex introduces us to the third season

Ashes and Ashes wound up last week. It seems to be the time of year for shows wrapping up. I could remark on how I’m hooked on this eclectic collection of British and American shows, but can’t find a decent Irish television show to watch week-in-and-week-out, but I’ll save that rant. It would appear that we have seen the last of the iconic Gene Hunt. And, you know what, it was nice. As nice as an attempt to give the old-fashioned politically-incorrect copper some closure could ever really be.

Gene Hunt takes some parting shots...

Note: This article will discuss the final episode of Ashes to Ashes and also has the capicity to retroactively spoil Life on Mars. You have been warned.

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