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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 1, Episode 14 (“The Thin White Line”)

As ever, a delight to stop by The Time is Now to talk about Millennium, this week with the estimable Christopher Knowles.

This week, I got to show how deep my love was for The Thin White Line, the last episode of the first season to be penned by James Wong and Glen Morgan. As with Force Majeure, this is one of my favourite episodes of the first season. It is interesting, because it’s also one of the last “serial killer of the week” stories in the season. It is also among the very best of that subgenre, and deals thematically with ideas that the show will explore in the season ahead.

This was a fun, broad discussion. As ever, you can listen to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 4, Episode 13 (“Never Again”)

I had the pleasure of popping by The X-Cast again, this time to discuss Never Again with the wonderful Deana Ferrer.

Long-time readers of the blog will know (or at least suspect) that Never Again stands out as one of my favourite episodes of The X-Files. Most days, it’s a toss up between that and One Breath. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I think the most obvious is that – as I’ve gotten older – I’ve found myself identifying more with Scully than with Mulder. Scully’s anxieties and uncertainties here, her self-doubt and her insecurity, all resonate with me more and more as I get older. More than any other X-Files episode, I understand the feelings that drive Never Again.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. It is also a fantastically constructed episode of television, an interesting illustration of how continuity is an external construct in long-form narratives, and something that pushes very strongly at certain ideas of what The X-Files is and what The X-Files is about. So it was a pleasure to join Deana to discuss the episode, to break it down and to try to make sense of it all. I know it’s a controversial episode, so I simply hope that we make a relatively coherent argument for it.

As ever, you can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 4, Episode 7 (“Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man”)

This was a surprise and a delight. Reteaming with Carl Sweeney, with whom I last discussed Unruhe, I’m back on The X-Cast this week covering Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man.

To tip my hand quite early, Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man is one of my favourite episodes of The X-Files. More than that, it’s one of my favourite pieces of nineties pop culture in general, the twisted evil twin of Forrest Gump and an exploration of the first half of the American Century through the lens of conspiracy theory. It’s a prime example of the sort of experimentation that made The X-Files such a great piece of nineties television, anchored in a playful and self-aware script from Glen Morgan and some great direction from James Wong.

So it was fantastic to get the chance to talk about it at length with Carl – even “Bad Carl” – on The X-Cast. 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 #41 (Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man/Tunguska)

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.

My first appearance of the fourth season is covering the episodes Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man and Tunguska with the fantastic Zach Moore. It’s actually the last hurrah of this particular pairing, but talk about going out on a high note. Well, half a high note. Half a high note and a really weird Senate-driven cliffhanger.

 

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The X-Files – Season 10 (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

The six episode revival miniseries is a strange beast.

It is hard to think of it as the tenth season of the show. In fact, the marketing of the DVD and blu ray sets describes it as “the event series”, perhaps a tact acknowledgement of that fact. There are a number reasons why it is difficult to think of these six episodes comprising a tenth season. Most obviously, the season is only six episodes. Even in the current context of truncated episode orders and split season, that is a short season. By modern standards, it would be a short half-season. Referring to it as the tenth season of The X-Files feels like false advertising.

xfiles-homeagain56a

However, there are other reasons that it is difficult to think of these six episodes as constituting a season. Quite frankly, the six episodes are wildly variable in tone and quality, to the point that it is difficult to distill a singular unifying theme or meaning from. They are six random episodes of television, some good and some less good, with one masterpiece and one boldly ambitious mess. It is almost easier to talk about the episodes individually than it is to discuss them as a single season television.

Then again, that’s what makes them feel so much like The X-Files.

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The X-Files – Home Again (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

If Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster demonstrates the strengths of this six-episode miniseries format, then Home Again makes a case for the weaknesses.

Home Again is not a bad episode of itself. However, it does suffer from two glaring weaknesses of the revival format. The most obvious is that the revival is only six episodes long, which means that everything is truncated and reduced. This was quite clear in My Struggle I, which was essentially a mythology two- or three-parter with all the non-exposition bits cut out. However, it is also clear with Home Again, which feels like two great episodes that have been combined to form one good episode.

"This one has a monster in it."

“This one has a monster in it.”

Glen Morgan is also the weakest director of the four directors working on the revival miniseries. Morgan is a phenomenal writer, but he lacks the stylistic flourish of Chris Carter or the dynamism of James Wong. He does not tailor the script for Home Again to suit his directorial sensibilities in the way that Darin Morgan does with his scripts for Jose Chung’s “Doomsday Defense” or Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me. Morgan is a good director, but one of the most under-appreciated ingredients of The X-Files was its murderer’s row of great television directors.

As a result, Home Again is an episode that is much stronger on paper than it is on camera.

"Mulder and Scully, FBI."

“Mulder and Scully, FBI.”

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The X-Files: Season One (Topps) #9 – Shadows (Review)

We’ve recently finished our reviews of the nine seasons of The X-Files. Along the way, we tried to do tie-ins and crossovers and spin-offs. However, some of those materials weren’t available at the right time. So this week will be spent finishing Topps’ line of “Season One” comics, published during the fifth season in the lead up to The X-Files: Fight the Future.

And, with Shadows, the Season One line comes to a close.

Although The X-Files was at the very peak of its popularity between the fifth and sixth seasons, the Topps line of comics was winding to a close. Although Topps had turned a very tidy profit on the line, Ten Thirteen had been less enthused by the relationship. The production company decided not to renew their contract with Topps, and so the X-Files line of comics was quietly retired. Shadows was published in July 1998, a month following the release of The X-Files: Fight the Future.

A shadow of itself...

A shadow of itself…

It was not the last X-Files comic book to be published by Topps. The company would release one more issue of the regular series – Severed – shortly before the start of the sixth season. There was little indication that Topps expected the contract to come to an end; the publisher had actually solicited two further issues of the Season One line beyond Shadows, adaptations of The Jersey Devil and Ghost in the Machine. These were somewhat lackluster first season episodes, but episodes with the sort of impressive visual ideas that might translate well to the comic book medium.

An adaptation of The Jersey Devil and Ghost in the Machine would certainly have made for a more visually satisfying final issue than an adaptation of Shadows.

What we do in the shadows...

What we do in the shadows…

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