• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

The X-Files – Young at Heart (Review)

Continuing on from Lazarus, there’s something about Young at Heart that feels very rote, very paint-by-numbers. It’s as if the show has worked so hard to define itself in the first half of the season that the second half of the first season has been dedicated to settling into routine. As far as Chris Carter scripts go, Young at Heart is roughly on par with Fire, and nowhere near as bad as Space, although that’s damning with faint praise. At this rate, Carter should begin to turn out episodes worth watching at some point in the fifth season.

Featuring yet another blast from the past, more gratuitous use of Deep Throat and reckless placing of Scully in danger, Young at Heart feels more like it was assembled from a rough blueprint of what an episode of The X-Files should look like, rather than because it was a story worth telling.

Keep it handy...

Keep it handy…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Lazarus (Review)

And, with Lazarus, we enter a long mediocre stretch in the second half of the first season of The X-Files. To be fair, none of the episodes in this run are anywhere near as bad as Space, but – with the exception of E.B.E., Tombs and The Erlenmeyer Flask – they all feel a little flat. It’s as if the first half of the season was more experimental, as The X-Files tried to figure out what it wanted to be, with the second half dedicated to settling into its particular groove.

Lazarus isn’t terrible. It just feels a little rote, a little paint-by-numbers, a littler average and safe. It’s a conventional enough supernatural (or psychological) thriller, but it lacks that extra “umph” to make it something particularly worthy of a viewer’s time.

The mask is slipping...

The mask is slipping…

Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Fire (Review)

Well, Fire is probably Chris Carter’s strongest script since The Pilot. I suppose we should be grateful for that, at least.

All fired up...

All fired up…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Fallen Angel (Review)

Fallen Angel is a remarkable episode. It’s really the point at which the show seems to say “huh, this conspiracy stuff is really exciting.” It’s also a complete reversal from the misfire that was Space, proving that there are people working on the show who can create monsters on a tiny special effects budget and create compelling secondary characters. Following Mulder’s investigation of a downed UFO – the eponymous “fallen angel” – the episode dives headlong into the murky world of cover-ups and secrets, kicking the show’s mythology arc into gear.

Shedding some light on the matter...

Shedding some light on the matter…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Space (Review)

And so we go from what is possibly the strongest episode of the first season to what is definitely the worst. Space is a colossal failure of an episode, with even writer and creator Chris Carter conceding that it was “one of our most unloved episodes.” However, none of these spectacular failures occur for any particularly interesting reason. It’s the wrong idea with the wrong script with the wrong director, and a result that can’t even claim to be “so bad it’s good” like so many of the series’ other lesser hours.

At best, it’s a cautionary tale, a firm establishment of what The X-Files isn’t. Like The Jersey Devil, it’s an indicator that maybe Chris Carter should have been focused more on show-running than writing. Even factoring in the quite decent pilot, Carter is hardly batting a thousand here. However, it also offers some small measure of proof that – despite show’s fixation on extraterrestrials and UFOs – The X-Files is not really a show about space.

... and the stars look very different, today...

… and the stars look very different, today…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Ice (Review)

Now we’re talking. It’s been a tough couple of episodes, but The X-Files bounces back with a strong contender for the best episode of the first season. Like the last collaboration between Morgan and Wong, Ice is one gigantic homage to a classic horror film. (Well, two classic horror films.) Shadows took its cues from The Entity, while Ice draws heavily from both John Carpenter’s The Thing and Howard Hawk’s The Thing From Another World, both based on the  John W. Campbell Jr. novella Who Goes There?

However, Ice works a lot better than Shadows. Part of that is down to the fact that Morgan and Wong seem genuinely enthused and engaged with their premise, rather than simply painting by numbers. Part of this is also down to the fact that this sort of horror and paranoia is more firmly in the show’s wheelhouse than the generic “protective avenging ghost” narrative from Shadows.

Ear, ear!

Ear, ear!

Continue reading