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188. The Truman Show (#177)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Kurt North, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Peter Weir’s The Truman Show.

Truman Burbank has the perfect life. He has a good job, a loving wife, a charming best friend. He lives an idylised existence, one where he wants for nothing. However, a series of freak occurences jolt Truman out of his blissful world and force him to confront a potentially horrifying reality: what if everything that he knows is just an elaborate lie?

At time of recording, it was ranked 177th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Fight the Future Minute #55 (“The Syndicate III”)

So The X-Cast reached the end of the show’s fifth season, and approached The X-Files: Fight the Future. This naturally meant it was time for another breathtakingly ambitious project, so the podcast is going literally minute-by-minute through the first X-Files feature film. I’m joining the wonderful Kurt North for two brief stretches featuring the Well-Manicured Man.

This episode wraps up my first stretch of episodes discussing Fight the Future, taking a look at the end of the conversation between the Well-Manicured Man and the rest of the Syndicate around him. It’s a fun discussion that finally gets to the heart of Fight the Future, bringing Mulder and Scully back into the story and communicating the stakes clearly to the audience munching on their popcorn.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Fight the Future Minute #54 (“The Syndicate II”)

So The X-Cast reached the end of the show’s fifth season, and approached The X-Files: Fight the Future. This naturally meant it was time for another breathtakingly ambitious project, so the podcast is going literally minute-by-minute through the first X-Files feature film. I’m joining the wonderful Kurt North for two brief stretches featuring the Well-Manicured Man.

The delineation between my second and third minutes on the project is a bit looser than the clear demarcation between the first and second, in that it is a continuation of the same scene. Still, Kurt and I take a little bit of a closer look at the character of Strughold, the special celebrity guest star “big bad” who is drafted in to provide suitable amounts of menace to Fight the Future and then never appears again – probably because Armin Mueller-Stahl was a bit above the show’s paygrade, even after it moved to Los Angeles.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

 

New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 2, Episode 22 (“The Fourth Horseman”)

The Time is Now is winding down its coverage of the second season of Millennium, and I was flattered to be invited to discuss the first part of the two-part season finale The Fourth Horseman with the fantastic Kurt North.

I’ve talked a lot about my love of the second season of Millennium, and I’ve argued that the show has one of the finest season (and arguably series) finales in television history. The Fourth Horseman and The Time is Now were episodes that really shattered my expectations of what was possible on network television in the nineties. They are bold, provocative and melancholy episodes of television. They remain one of the most evocative depictions of the end of the world that I have ever encountered in media. So it was a thrill to get to discuss them.

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

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Fight the Future Minute #53 (“The Syndicate”)

So The X-Cast reached the end of the show’s fifth season, and approached The X-Files: Fight the Future. This naturally meant it was time for another breathtakingly ambitious project, so the podcast is going literally minute-by-minute through the first X-Files feature film. I’m joining the wonderful Kurt North for two brief stretches featuring the Well-Manicured Man.

In some ways, this section of the film is an illustration of how tightly structured Fight the Future is, in terms of communicating exposition and character dynamics to an audience that may not be entirely up to date with the grand mechanics of the X-Files universe. So Fight the Future spends almost exactly a minute with the Well-Manicured Man before throwing him into conflict with the Syndicate. In doing so, it draws a contrast between the two that serves to very clearly define what distinguishes the Well-Manicured Man from his colleagues and partners.

Again, it would be too much to describe the storytelling here as elegant, but it does communicate things like character motivation quite clearly without distracting too heavily from the emotional crux of Fight the Future. Carter and Bowman both understand that the key is to communicate all of this as clearly and as quickly as possible, in order to get back to what is the movie’s real attraction, the movie-star tension between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. However, even with that in mind, the storytelling here is commendably efficient.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Fight the Future Minute #52 (“A Well-Manicured Man (Again!)”)

So The X-Cast reached the end of the show’s fifth season, and approached The X-Files: Fight the Future. This naturally meant it was time for another breathtakingly ambitious project, so the podcast is going literally minute-by-minute through the first X-Files feature film. I’m joining the wonderful Kurt North for two brief stretches featuring the Well-Manicured Man.

The Well-Manicured Man is – not so secretly – one of my favourite characters in the larger X-Files pantheon. This is partly because he’s played by the wonderful character actor John Neville, but also because he serves as an excellent analogy for the corrupting influence of the sort of power that runs through The X-Files. While the Cigarette-Smoking Man is transparently evil, and while the Elders are vaguely defined at best, the Well-Manicured Man is interesting in large part because he seems actually conflicted about what he has committed to.

In the first of this stretch of minutes, Fight the Future reintroduces the Well-Manicured Man in what is effectively a microcosm of the movie’s approach to storytelling. The audience is immediately given some understanding of who this character is, what he represents and what his motivations might be. It is more economical and effective than elegant, and a prime example of how Fight the Future was trying to position itself as a blockbuster rather than a cult film.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

 

New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 2, Episode 21 (“Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me…”)

I’m thrilled to appear on another episode of The Time is Now, discussing the second season of Millennium, which remains one of my favourite seasons of television ever. It’s a huge pleasure to have been asked back to discuss the last standalone episode of the season, Darin Morgan’s superb Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me, with the wonderful duo of Kurt North and Michael John Petty.

Somehow, Satan Got Behind me is a fascinating piece of television. It is effectively a miniature anthology episode, a collection of short stories, in which Frank Black doesn’t play a major role. Instead, Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me offers a decidedly off-kilter meditation on some of the core themes of Millennium in general and the second season in particular. These are stories about evil, but in its most petty and mundane forms. Four demons trade stories over coffee and pastry, reflecting on what mankind has made of the world that they were given.

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

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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 2, Episode 15 (“Roosters”)

I have had the immense good fortune to appear on The Time is Now quite a lot lately, but was particularly flattered to be invited on to talk about Owls and Roosters, the big “mythology” two-parter in the late second season of Millennium. It’s an honour to join Kurt North for the second part of this conversation.

Owls and Roosters are two of my favourite episodes of television, because they demonstrate everything that Millennium did so well. They’re incredibly densely packed with information, in a way that really captures the sense of modern living – a constant influx of often contradictory stimulae that the individual often struggles to parse or process. In many ways, the second season of Millennium has aged remarkably well, capturing a sense of information overload in a manner that resonates even more strongly today than it did on broadcast.

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

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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 2, Episode 14 (“The Pest House”)

I am in the middle of a run of appearances on The Time is Now at the moment, and taking the time out to discuss the rare second season episode of Millennium that I don’t consider to be a highlight. I’m discussing The Pest House with the wonderful Kurt North and the fantastic Adam Chamberlain.

The Pest House is an interesting episode. It’s written by the second season showrunners Glen Morgan and James Wong, and plays into some of their interests in the horror genre. It’s very much a celebration of slasher movie clichés, which would be reflected in their projects after finishing up on Millennium – from Morgan’s Black Christmas to Wong’s American Horror Story to their joint Final Destination. However, the episode often feels like a mess of tropes and ideas, at least two different episodes stitched inelegantly together.

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

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New Podcast! Make It So – Re:Discovery, Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2 (“The Vulcan Hello” & “Battle at the Binary Stars”)

The first season of Star Trek: Picard has wrapped, and so Make It So: A Star Trek Universe Podcast has turned its gaze backwards, looking at the start of the Kurtzman and Goldman era of Star Trek. I was flattered to be invited to join the wonderful Kurt North to discuss The Vulcan Hello and Battle at the Binary Stars, the two-part premiere of Star Trek: Discovery.

I’m generally quite fond of the first season of Discovery, although I think it comes a little off the rails towards the end of the season. However, I unequivocally think that The Vulcan Hello and Battle at the Binary Stars comprise the best first episode of any Star Trek series. They are a bold statement of purpose, largely serving as a eulogy for the Berman era of the franchise, typified by Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. Instead, these two episodes offer an immediate and distinct vision of what modern Star Trek might look like. There’s an incredible and infectious confidence at play, including a conscious effort to update the trappings and sensibilities of the franchise for a new era of television.

Anyway, it was a huge honour to be invited on, and I hope you enjoy. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.