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The X-Files – Max (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Reportedly, Tempus Fugit and Max took twenty-eight days to shoot. Assistant director Tom Braidwood described the two-parter as a “pretty challenging” effort for the show. The series built an air plane cabin specifically so that it could film those fantastic abduction sequences. There are fields and hangars strewn with dead bodies and the wreckage of a passenger air plane. By just about any definition, Tempus Fugit and Max comprise the most ambitious and large-scale two-part episode that the show has produced to date.

Paradoxically, this is also the smallest two-part episode that the show has produced to date. It brings back a minor guest star from a first season episode, only to kill him off casually in the teaser for the first episode. None of the big players show up for the drama. The most significant consequence of Tempus Fugit and Max is the death of Agent Pendrell. In many ways, Tempus Fugit and Max is the post-mortem story of a little guy who was crushed by the weight of something much larger than himself – caught between forces of immeasurable power.

In-flight serve will now resume...

In-flight service will now resume…

Tempus Fugit and Max do very little to advance the central mythology arc, which has stalled somewhat in the fourth season. However, they manage to encapsulate so many of the core themes of that central storyline. This is a story about the victimisation of the weak by the powerful; this is a tale about the sacrifices that are made in pursuit of the truth; this is a reflection on the appeal of conspiracy theory; this is a morality play about balancing lives against “the greater good.”

In many ways, Tempus Fugit and Max are the quintessential mythology episodes, despite not being that closely related at all.

Things are looking up...

Things are looking up…

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Space: Above and Beyond – … Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best (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.

Fox has a very weird (and perhaps even paradoxical) reputation when it comes to cancelling television shows. On the one hand, there is the tendency to run successful shows into the ground, missing the window of opportunity to transition them into big screen franchises. The X-Files and 24 are perhaps the most obvious example of this tendency. Of course, this isn’t unusual in American television. If a show is making money, it makes sense to keep on the air for as long as possible.

On the other hand, the network is notoriously ruthless when it comes to cancelling young shows. Although popularised by the cancellation (and subsequent revival) of shows like Firefly and Family Guy in the early years of the twenty-first century, the network had already demonstrated that it had little time for dead weight in the schedule. In hindsight, it seems like a wonder that The X-Files survived its first season, and was allowed to grow and develop into a massive cultural phenomenon.

We have met the enemy...

We have met the enemy…

Indeed, considering the abbreviated runs of shows like Profit or The Tick or The Ben Stiller Show or Harsh Realm or The Lone Gunmen, Space: Above and Beyond was lucky to get a full twenty-two-episodes-and-a-pilot run on Fox, even if it couldn’t count on the network to air the episodes at a consistent time on a consistent day. Space: Above and Beyond was undoubtedly treated shabbily by the network, but it could have been a lot worse.

That’s not the best eulogy you could write for a television show, but it is worth treasuring what we got.

President of the World...

President of the World…

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Is Children of Earth about the Recession?

I’ve been thinking about the tendency of science fiction to use allegories and metaphors for morals and lessons. I’ve also been thinking about the rather epic and excellent Children of Earth miniseries that the Beeb ran last week and the Americans are receiving next week. With the report from An Bord Snip Nua being released today, it got me thinking about where the recession would force us to make cuts. And who would be the victims. It got me thinking: Is Children of Earth about the recession?

What a load of bankers...

What a load of bankers...

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