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The Lone Gunmen – The “Cap’n Toby” Show (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.

In its own way, The “Cap’n Toby” Show feels like an appropriate farewell to The Lone Gunmen.

The “Cap’n Toby” Show was not the last episode of The Lone Gunmen to be produced, but it was the last episode to air. It was broadcast three weeks after All About Yves closed out the first season of the show and more than a fortnight after news of the cancellation first broke. It aired with very little fan fare, avoiding even the modicum of publicity that FX earned as it burnt off the last six episodes of Harsh Realm only a year earlier. Just in case there had been any doubt, or any hope held out, The Lone Gunmen was definitely dead.

No need to get crabby...

No need to get crabby…

There is a melancholy to The “Cap’n Toby” Show that fits quite comfortably with The Lone Gunmen. The episode had clearly been held back in the hops of airing it during a hypothetical second season. Ideally, it would have given the production team a little lee-way at the start of the next season, perhaps even allowing the three title characters to pop over to The X-Files. The ninth season of The X-Files would be launching without Mulder, so some friendly faces would not be amiss. Airing The “Cap’n Toby” Show in mid-June puts paid to that optimism.

However, even allowing for all these issues, there is an endearing pluckiness and romance to The “Cap’n Toby” Show that feels at once entirely in keeping with the show and the characters. What better way to make a cancellation than with a forty-five minute ode to the nostalgic joys of television?

"Bye bye."

“Bye bye.”

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The Lone Gunmen – All About Yves (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.

The broad consensus would seem to suggest that All About Yves is the best episode of The Lone Gunmen.

While this is perhaps unfair to Madam, I’m Adam and Tango de los Pistoleros, it is certainly a defensible position. All About Yves is one of the tightest shows of the season, and marks the first time since The Pilot that a plot has managed to actually build momentum and tension across its run-time. As effective as the climaxes of Madam, I’m Adam and Tango de los Pistoleros might have been, the first season of The Lone Gunmen doesn’t really offer much in the way of dramatic stakes.

"This looks familiar..."

“This looks familiar…”

In a way, that is to be expected. The Lone Gunmen is, first and foremost, a comedy. There are points in the first season where it feels like The Lone Gunmen exists primarily as a silo to store all the displaced comedy that the production team stripped out of the sombre eighth season of The X-Files. (Cynics might suggest that there wasn’t quite thirteen episodes’ worth of comedy to be re-homed.) It is hard to feel too stressed when Langly is threatened in Bond, Jimmy Bond or when a poacher points a gun at Byers in Diagnosis: Jimmy.

That is the beauty of All About Yves, managing to create a growing sense of tension and unease without sacrificing any of the show’s humour. Indeed, with the addition of guest star Michael McKean to the cast, All About Yves winds up funnier than about half of the preceding season.

The truth is out there...

The truth is out there…

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The Lone Gunmen – Tango de los Pistoleros (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.

In the late nineteenth century, tango reigned not only in brothels and dance halls, where it served as both simulation and stimulation to entertain the men waiting their turn for commercial sex, but also in dance academies, vacant lots, and barrio streets where improvised dances were performed to the tune of the hurdy-gurdy. It was also played in men-only cafés. In these original settings, tango lyrics were very simple and mainly focused on the joys and pains of the arrabales, where the cult of courage and the skilful use of knives were combined with the workings of local political bosses and the police. The main characters were guapos, or tough guys; prostitutes; pimps; and compadritos, men who imitated the tough style of pimps and guapos yet most of the time worked for a living.

Tango was danced by men and women in pairs but also by men alone as they waited their turn in the brothels. It was, above all, a dance of the margins.

– Diego Armus, The Ailing City

lonegunmen-tangodelospistoleros1

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The Lone Gunmen – Diagnosis: Jimmy (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.

Diagnosis: Jimmy is another formulaic piece of episodic television.

To be entirely fair, this is a logical part of any first season. While the production team is trying to figure out the identity of a young show, it makes sense to apply templates that have worked in the past. It was an approach that The X-Files adopted in its early seasons, with episodes drawing from popular and successful films. This worked out quite well in some cases, with Ice offering a skilled take on The Thing while Beyond the Sea played with The Silence of the Lambs to great effect.

A lotta lolly...

A lotta lolly…

With that in mind, it seems perfectly reasonable for The Lone Gunmen to attempt something similar. Writer John Shiban compared Eine Kleine Frohike to The Ladykillers. The characters within Maximum Byers all but acknowledged that it was the obligatory “prison episode.” If the writers don’t have to worry about the basic story ideas and beats, there is more room to develop character and flavour. With that in mind, Diagnosis: Jimmy positions itself as a twofer. It is both the standard “hospital” episode and a gigantic homage to Rear Window.

Unfortunately, it’s not a particularly inspired piece of television.

Fox has got the show in their sights...

Fox has got the show in their sights…

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The Lone Gunmen – Planet of the Frohikes (A Short History of My Demeaning Captivity) (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.

Planet of the Frohikes is Vince Gilligan’s only solo script for The Lone Gunmen. It is also a story about a super-intelligent chimpanzee who adopts the voice of veteran British character actor Edward Woodward. This can be a very strange television show.

All captions to be read in the voice of Edward Woodward.

All captions to be read in the voice of Edward Woodward.

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The Lone Gunmen – Madam, I’m Adam (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.

Arriving just before The X-Files returns with DeadAlive, it seems like Madam, I’m Adam has found the perfect tone for The Lone Gunmen.

Madam, I’m Adam is the first episode of The Lone Gunmen to really hone in on a unique and distinctive tone for the show and its characters. A lot of Lone Gunmen episodes can seem very generic or bland, engaging the lead characters in wacky capers that lead to familiar jokes that are not necessarily funny enough to sustain forty-five minutes of television. Madam, I’m Adam seems to understand that The Lone Gunmen needs to be more than just silly imagery and bodily function gags if it wants to sustain itself.

Men at work.

Men at work.

Melancholy is threaded through Madam, I’m Adam. This seems perfectly suited to these characters and their world, elegantly capturing a sense of disconnect and disaffection. Madam, I’m Adam is not the first time that the writers have adopted this approach to the characters. Byer’s desperate loneliness served to make Unusual Suspects so very affecting. The short scene in the bathroom between Frohike and Anna in Eine Kleine Frohike might have been the most effective emotional beat of the first five episodes. Madam, I’m Adam just extends that across an episode.

Madam, I’m Adam is also notable as the first credited teleplay to be written by Thomas Schnauz. To quote Byers from the episode itself, “As first stories go, this one’s a doozy.”

Wild blue yonder...

Wild blue yonder…

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The Lone Gunmen – Three Men and a Smoking Diaper (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.

Three Men and a Smoking Diaper might just be the worst episode of The Lone Gunmen.

It is also the only episode to be written solely by Chris Carter, who had also contributed to The Pilot.

Good advice...

Good advice…

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