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New Escapist Column! On “Andor” as the Most Consistent “Star Wars”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Andor at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the Rogue One prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Rix Road brings the first season of Andor to an end, closing the cricle by bringing the primary cast back to where it all began. It’s a fascinating and compelling way to close out the season, underscoring how much these characters have changed by bringing them back to their starting position. Rix Road is a breathtaking and impressive season finale to what has been the most consistent run of Star Wars ever produced.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 8, Episode 2 (“Without”)

The X-Cast is covering the eighth season of The X-Files. This is one of my favourite seasons of television ever, in large part because it’s a season that manages to build a convincing narrative and character arc around a very challenging production reality, and in doing so forced the show itself to evolve and change. I’m thrilled to join Sarah L. Blair for a discussion of the second half of the season premiere.

Without is a very meditative piece of television, which is a bold and interesting choice for the second half of a season premiere. It is essentially an episode about absences, about the lack of resolution or even meaningful linear progress. It’s an episode that is about confronting the reality that The X-Files no longer has one of its two leading characters available to it. What does that version of The X-Files look like? Without is essentially a story about wandering through the desert.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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Non-Review Review: Last Christmas

Last Christmas certainly has its heart in the right place.

On paper, there’s a lot to recommend Last Christmas. Paul Feig is one of the most reliable comedic directors working today, and his work on films like Spy and A Simple Favour deserve consideration among the best comedies of the decade. Emilia Clarke is coming off an extended run as one of the two primary stars of genuine cultural phenomenon Game of Thrones, and has proven herself a likable romantic lead even in solid-if-unremarkable projects like Me Before You. Tony Golding has charisma to burn, as demonstrated by his supporting turn in Crazy Rich Asians.

Things are looking up.

Unfortunately, none of this really coheres as well as it should. Given the talent involved, this comedy should go down a festive treat. While it’s hardly a lump of coal, it is decidedly underwhelming. The problem isn’t a lack of surprises. After all, Last Christmas aspires to comfort rather than novelty. The problem is that Last Christmas is built around the assumption that it has the perfect festive surprise waiting for its eager and bright-eyed audience members to unwrap. Unfortunately, it vastly over-estimates how much some wrapping paper and bow can disguise a familiar outline.

Last Christmas feels far too pedestrian and far too predictable for what it is trying to do. There’s a potentially interesting premise here, but Last Christmas never really tries. It gives up the ghost too early.

Elf help.

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