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New Podcast! The X-Cast X-Files Podwatch – Episode #57 (Travelers/Mind’s Eye)

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. It’s going to be fun.

My third (and penultimate) episode of the fifth season reteams me with the great Chris Knowles, a man who has forgotten more about The X-Files than I will ever know. We’re talking about the episodes Travelers and Mind’s Eye, both somewhat underrated fifth season episodes that (we think) tap into some of the show’s core strengths.

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The X-Files – Mind’s Eye (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.

Likely as a result of the peculiar factors around its production, the fifth season of The X-Files is a rather strange cocktail.

There are only twenty episodes in the season. Seven of those are mythology episodes – Redux I, Redux II, Christmas Carol, Emily, Patient X, The Red and the Black, The End. The rest of the season devotes considerable space to experimentation and adventurous storytelling. Episodes like Unusual Suspects and Travelers take the focus off Mulder and Scully. Shows like The Post-Modern Prometheus and Bad Blood are experimental in their storytelling. Episodes like Chinga and The Pine Bluff Variant focus almost exclusively on one or other of the leading duo.

Locked out...

Locked out…

Even the remainder are not what might be described as typical “monster of the week” stories. Both Detour and Folie a Deux focus on the relationship between Mulder and Scully as much as the monster at the heart of the story. Kill Switch is an episode written by a special guest writing team, one that defines itself by how odd it feels. All Souls is a meditation on Scully’s faith. The fifth season doesn’t really have a lot of room left for the classic episodic no-frills-attached “monster of the week” stories.

Which is part of what makes Mind’s Eye so fascinating. In any other season, Mind’s Eye would stand as a pretty solid example of the form – a pretty solid “this is what The X-Files does” episode of television like Pusher or Leonard Betts before it. However, the fifth season is so strange and weird in structure and form that Mind’s Eye stands out all the more. The best of the season’s straight-down-the-middle standalone stories, Mind’s Eye throws the rest of the season into contrast. It demonstrates just how odd the fifth season actually is.

A bloody disaster...

A bloody disaster…

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Non-Review Review: The Conjuring

The Conjuring feels like a culmination of the nostalgia trip that we’ve seen with recent horrors like Insidious or Sinister, a conscious attempt to move away from the gore-laiden or found-footage-heavy approach to contemporary horror. Indeed, The Conjuring owes a fairly sizeable debt to director James Wan’s previous horror effort, Sinister. Not only does the film inherit leading man Patrick Wilson, it also follows roughly the same structure, right down to “paranormal investigators explore the house in a briefly humourous interlude.”

However, The Conjuring flows a lot easier than Insidious and is spared the third-act problems that plagued Sinister. The film is stronger for the honesty of its nostalgia. Even the title card is rendered in a font that looks like it could have been used for a forgotten seventies possession horror. The Conjuring doesn’t really push the boat out, and there’s nothing that will startle hardcore horror veterans, but there’s a very clear skill in its construction, an honesty to its affection and a sincerity to its charm that helps the film rise above so many contemporary horrors.

They ain't afraid of no ghosts...

They ain’t afraid of no ghosts…

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