• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

The X-Files – Salvage (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.

Salvage is another mid-season “monster of the week” that doesn’t quite work.

As with Surekill, it is possible to imagine the interplay between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson elevating this episode had it been produced in the seventh season, as was originally planned. The Doggett and Scully pairing lacks that easy dynamic that made so many generic episodes flow so easily. That is not to say that Robert Patrick and Gillian Anderson don’t work well together, simply that they don’t replicate the once-in-a-lifetime chemistry that Randy Stone found with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

Testing his metal...

Testing his metal…

That said, Salvage has more severe problems than Badlaa or Medusa. In many respects, Salvage feels like a first season episode of the show that arrived seven years too late – in terms of tone, design and aesthetic. There is a clumsiness to the execution, an awkwardness to the presentation, that feels like the show has forgotten many of the lessons that it learned in its time on television. If it is fair to argue that the eighth season is as much the first season of a new show as the last season of the old one, Salvage is the most “first season” episode of the bunch.

Salvage has a host of interesting concepts and ideas, but it lacks the skill and confidence that the show would need to pull off a story like this. Salvage is one of the handful of season eight stories that would arguably have worked better in season seven, albeit only barely.

Scrap that...

Scrap that…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Signs and Wonders (Review)

This November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the seventh season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Harsh Realm.

Religion is a major part of The X-Files. After all, what is the show but a meditation on faith?

In a way, this is an aspect that dates the series. While the show’s conspiracy theories and surveillance culture paranoia resonate as effectively in 2015 as they did in 1995, the show’s religious themes seem innocent and naive in the wake of 9/11 and the War on Terror. Signs and Wonders was broadcast towards the end of January 2000. It is hard to imagine the episode being produced even two years later, once the world had been so thoroughly shaken by acts of religious zealotry.

Snaking along...

Snaking along…

The X-Files exists as a product of the nineties, pre-dating what many have termed “the new atheism.” It exists against the backdrop of the Clinton era, in the space between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the start of the War on Terror. There are points when the shew resonates beyond that; The X-Files is often a profound and thoughtful meditation on issues like trust and faith. However, there are also points where The X-Files almost seems fused in time; where it seems like a moment has been captured in celluloid like a mosquito trapped in amber.

Signs and Wonders feels like one of those moments, sitting between the failed impeachment of President Bill Clinton and the triumphant election of President George W. Bush. This is what the last gasp of the nineties looks like.

Snake handling...

Snake handling…

Continue reading

The X-Files – The Goldberg Variation (Review)

This November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the seventh season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Harsh Realm.

Jeffrey Bell does whimsical very well.

The Rain King and The Goldberg Variation are perhaps Bell’s two strongest contributions to The X-Files, and they stand as some of the show’s most light-hearted episodes. In a way, Bell was the perfect new writer for a show moving from moody Vancouver down to sunny Los Angeles, with his best contributions to the show managing to preserve the weirdness that fans had come to know and love while turning up the brightness at the same time. They were episodes that felt much more applicable to the show’s new home in California.

Eye see...

Eye see…

The Rain King and The Goldberg Variation are bright episodes, and not just in a literal sense. There is an optimism that runs through both scripts, suggesting that maybe the world is not an inherently hostile place and maybe not every X-file is plotting to eat your liver or carve out your cancer. Strange things happen in the world on every day, and some times those strange things can be wondrous as well as terrifying. While quite far removed from the aesthetic of the first five seasons, The Rain King and The Goldberg Variation are no less true to the spirit of the show.

The Goldberg Variation is light entertainment. It is so light that there are points where it almost seems ready to float away. That may not be such a bad thing.

Sometimes you have to play the hand you're dealt...

Sometimes you have to play the hand you’re dealt…

Continue reading

The X-Files – Alpha (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

After a couple of misfires in the first few seasons, The X-Files had most steered clear of “classic” monsters. The first season had struggled with werewolves and ghosts and cryptozoology in Shapes and Shadows and The Jersey Devil respectively. 3 had been the show’s first “true” vampire episode, and had ended up as a bit of a mess. Perhaps it indicated that The X-Files was not a show that did “traditional” monsters particularly well; or maybe it was just a sign that the creative team were still figuring out how to make the show.

There was some evidence that the show might have been getting better at this sort of thing. In the fourth season, Elegy had been a (mostly) effective traditional ghost story. In the fifth season, Bad Blood had demonstrated that it was possible to make a good episode of The X-Files about vampires. Perhaps it was time to try another werewolf story. After all, the budget on The X-Files was bigger than it had ever been. There would likely be no better time to tell a classic werewolf story. Sadly, Alpha is anything but a classic werewolf story.

Hungry like the wolf...

Hungry like the wolf…

Continue reading