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The X-Files – Triangle (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate Triangle.

The episode gets a lot of attention for its wonderful use of long tracking shots. According to Chris Carter’s commentary, there are only twenty-four individual shots stitched together to produce the forty-five-minute episode. Considering the amount of split-screen action at the climax, that is not a lot. Triangle is an artistic tour de force for writer and director Chris Carter. The success that both Birdman and True Detective enjoyed in 2014 due to their extended takes suggests that Carter was significantly ahead of the curve.

Dragging up the past...

Dragging up the past…

There are other aspects to note. Triangle also ushers in a new mood and tone for the sixth season of The X-Files. The show had moved to Los Angeles, and would struggle with how to retain its identity in the new (and bright) surroundings of California. The Beginning and Drive had both answered the question in their own way, but Triangle ushers in a whole new approach to storytelling. Triangle is the first of a series of light and breezy episodes in the early stretch of the sixth season where The X-Files almost turns into a paranormal sitcom.

However, there is one other reason to celebrate Triangle. It is an extended forty-five minute pun on the word “ship.”

Cigarette-Smoking Nazi...

Cigarette-Smoking Nazi…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Fortunate Son (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This January, we’re doing the first season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Fortunate Son is a solid premise ruined by an overly simplistic execution.

One of the more interesting aspects of Star Trek: Enterprise is a chance to return to the pioneering spirit of the original Star Trek. It’s an excuse to imagine what the early years of humanity’s exploration of space must have looked like. More than any other spin-off except Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this show lends itself to world-building and expansion. What does space look like before the Federation was established? How was it regulated before a gigantic conglomeration of space-faring races decided to impose their own laws and rules upon the spaceways?

Well, that sucked the air out of the room...

Well, that sucked the air out of the room…

Broken Bow made a big deal about how the Enterprise was the first human ship capable of travelling at warp five. In essence, it is the beginning of the Star Trek franchise as fans know it. The speed that engine brings and the distance the ship can cover serve as a gateway to the wider Star Trek universe. So, logically, if Enterprise is the first step in that direction, the ship must be emerging into a universe that looks radically different – a culture that is very distinct from that depicted on the other Star Trek spin-offs. With slower engines, fewer ships, less known about the universe, this should be an entirely different world.

Fortunate Son touches on this idea a little bit, throwing Archer into conflict with the crew of a long-haul space freighter over intergalactic piracy. The problem with the episode is that it feels very much like Archer is arguing from a position grounded in the Star Trek franchise as it is yet to develop, rather than the current status quo. In his debates with Ryan, Archer gets to be right for two contrived reasons: Ryan is written as an idiot; and Archer’s philosophy applies to the status quo of over five hundred other episodes.

Beaten to the punch...

Beaten to the punch…

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‘Ship Shape or Ex-Files? Mulder, Scully and Paranormal Romance

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.

It is very hard to talk about The X-Files without talking about the relationship between Mulder and Scully.

This goes without saying. After all, David Duchovny was a regular for seven years of the show, making a few appearances across the final seasons. Gillian Anderson was in the primary cast for all nine seasons. Both movies have centred around the characters. The recent comic book “Season Ten” returns to the classic Mulder and Scully dynamic. It is impossible to imagine The X-Files without Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.

xfiles-pilot8

Given how frequently the possibility of a revival comes up, one suspects that the biggest problem with potentially rebooting or relaunching the series is the fact that it would be impossible to book Duchovny and Anderson for twenty-odd episodes in a given year. Surely some enthusiastic executive has pitched a new X-Files show (“the neXt files”, perhaps?), only to have the idea shot down because it fails to consider how big a deal Mulder and Scully are to the show.

Indeed, given how important Mulder and Scully are to the show, it seems inevitable the discussion would turn towards the possibility of a romantic relationship between the two. They are two very attractive straight people of opposite genders with great chemistry. Romance seems all but assured between the two. Of course the possibility of a romance between Mulder and Scully became a fault line in X-Files fandom.

xfiles-endgame3

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Star Trek – Romulans: Pawns of War by John Byrne (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Where were the Klingons? That seems to be one of the most frequently asked questions when a modern writer re-visits the early part of the first season of Star Trek. It makes sense. The Klingons are the franchise’s flagship aliens, and their long-term relations with the Federation mark one of the show’s earliest examples of continuity. The Organian Peace Treaty from Errand of Mercy is mentioned once or twice, but it informs a lot of the appearances of the Klingons in the classic Star Trek, as the warriors are prevented from engaging in direct warfare with the Federation.

However, when first introduced in Errand of Mercy, towards the end of the first season, the Klingons have just declared war on the Federation. However, it seems like this has been expected for a long time. Kirk speaks of the Klingons like old enemies. Kor knows that captain of the Enterprise by name. There’s a sense of a pre-established history, which makes their appearance towards the tale-end of the season all the more perplexing. Apparently they have been there all along, even if we haven’t seen them before.

John Byrne’s Alien Spotlight issue might have been themed around the Romulans, and the collected edition might be Romulans: Pawns of War, but it seems more devoted to exploring what exactly the Klingons were up to behind the scenes between their appearances on Star Trek.

Cry havok, and let slip the dogs of war...!

Cry havok, and let slip the dogs of war…!

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