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The Lone Gunmen – Maximum Byers (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.

With Maximum Byers, it seems like The Lone Gunmen has wandered back into the wilderness.

Madam, I’m Adam and Planet of the Frohikes suggested a show that had found its own voice and figured out how best to tell stories featuring theses characters. Those two episodes worked by eschewing the caper-driven hijinks of episodes like Like Water for Octane and Three Men and a Smoking Diaper in favour of character-driven melancholy. Planet of the Frohikes might be the single funniest episode of the show’s short run, but it mostly works because it is underpinned by a sense of genuine tragi-comedy. Its characters felt real; even the talking monkey.

"Thank you very much..."

“Thank you very much…”

Maximum Byers seems to set the clock back to the early first season, sending the Lone Gunmen on a wacky self-aware adventure designed to evoke classic episodic television. It is a model very similar to that employed by scripts like Eine Kleine Frohike or Diagnosis: Jimmy, where the objective is to drop a major character into an unlikely situation and hope that the plot (and the laughs) take care of themselves. After all, “Byers undercover in prison!” seems as compelling as “Frohike undercover as a woman’s long lost son!” or “Jimmy in hospital!”

For most of its runtime, Maximum Byers is fairly bland and inoffensive. It is not particularly memorable or hilarious, but it is not close to the worst episode of the show. Unfortunately, then the ending happens. One of the more frequent criticisms of The Lone Gunmen is that the show had difficulty balancing its tone. While there is an element of truth to this observation, it is never quite as clear as in the final act of Maximum Byers. Then again, it is probably quite tough to do a comedy set on death row.

Critics couldn't wait to (bed)pan the episode...

Critics couldn’t wait to (bed)pan the episode…

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