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Star Trek: Voyager – One (Review)

One is a solid episode.

Indeed, One is so solid that it is the rare episode of Star Trek: Voyager to be repurposed for Star Trek: Enterprise. The prequel series tended to borrow stock Star Trek plots, but it tended to borrow most heavily from Star Trek: The Next Generation and even Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Oasis was Shadowplay, Vanishing Point was Realm of Fear, Dawn was Darmok. However, One would be reworked as Doctor’s Orders, another pseudo-horror bottle episode in which a member of the cast finds themselves driven insane by isolation.

Everything’s gone askew…

However, One has an in-built advantage over Doctor’s Orders, in that it is centred on a character who practically begs for this sort of treatment. Seven of Nine is effectively a reformed Borg drone. While Jean-Luc Picard was assimilated in The Best of Both Worlds, Part I and recovered in The Best of Both Worlds, Part II, and while Chakotay brushed up against a pseudo-collective in Unity, Seven of Nine is the first franchise regular to have spent the bulk of her life inside the Borg Collective. The nature of the Borg means that Seven is perfectly suited to a story about isolation.

One is a messy and clumsy episode in a number of ways, particularly in its drive for big action set pieces and tangible threats. In particular, the penultimate act of One feels awkward, as if the production team do not trust the audience to engage with a purer breed of psychological thriller. However, One leans very heavily on the character of Seven of Nine and on the performance of Jeri Ryan. Luckily, both character and actor are up to the task.

Voices in her head.

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The X-Files – Sunshine Days (Review)

This December, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the ninth season of The X-Files.

Well, here’s hopin’ the TV stays off and he learns how to love the real world.

– Doggett stops just short of adding “… and that goes for you as well.”

The X-Files was always a more romantic show than it would readily admit.

The popular image of the show might be Mulder and Scully walking through darkness searching for a truth that may never be revealed or a hideous monster preying upon innocent victims. Chris Carter’s most successful work might be rooted in the dual betrayals of Watergate and Vietnam. The characters might stalk car parks late at night or explore the darkest corners of the urban landscape. Mulder and Scully might be abducted by forces beyond their control, and subjected to the cruel whims of uncaring fate. The show’s motto might be “trust no one.”

"Let's call it a day..."

“Let’s call it a day…”

Nevertheless, that cynicism is offset with a deep-seated romance. “Trust no one” is one of the defining mantras of The X-Files, but there are other more optimistic catchphrases; “I want to believe” and “the truth is out there.” Optimism outvotes cynicism by a two-to-one majority. It is not quite a decisive victory, but it is something in this cynical and chaotic world. While Mulder and Scully might never actually find the truth which they so desperately seek, they did find one another. That is more than either could have hoped and than some people can claim.

Sunshine Days is a staggeringly romantic and optimistic piece of television. Indeed, it suggests that the cynicism of The X-Files was really just a practiced veneer. As the title suggests, Sunshine Days allows the central cast to smile more frequently over forty-five minutes than most have in the course of their entire run on the show. As with the rest of the show, Sunshine Days is rooted in the culture of the seventies. However, there is something quite heartwarming in how Vince Gilligan eschews All the President’s Men for The Brady Bunch.

Out of this world...

Out of this world…

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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 X-Files – Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Then there are those who care not about extraterrestrials, searching for meaning in other human beings. Rare or lucky are those who find it. For although we may not be alone in the universe, in our own separate ways, on this planet, we are all alone.

– Darin Morgan takes his bow

It came from beyond the stars...

It came from beyond the stars…

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