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The X-Files: Season 10 (IDW) #16-17 – Immaculate (Review)

This June, we’re going to be taking a look at the current run of The X-Files, beginning with the IDW comic book revival and perhaps taking some detours along the way. Check back daily for the latest review.

Immaculate is perhaps most notable for reintroducing the character of Frank Black.

One of the more interesting ironies of Millennium is the fact that show had a smaller fanbase than The X-Files, but also a much more vocal campaign to resurrect the series. Outside of a few die-hards eagerly hoping for a third film, X-Files fans had only really begun to clamour for the series to return following the hype around the show’s twentieth anniversary. In contrast, fans of Millennium had been angling for a continuation of their beloved series for years in a number of high-profile ventures.

Familiar demons...

Familiar demons…

Perhaps the most obvious of these campaigns was the Back to Frank Black campaign, which was even endorsed by series star Lance Henriksen providing an introductory voiceover to the Millennium Group Session podcasts urging listeners that “the time is now” and which put out a wonderful series of critical essays and interviews concerning the series in October 2012. As recently as August 2015, they were organising a campaign to bring a revival to Netflix. When the return of The X-Files was announced, one of the big recurring questions was “what about Frank Black?”

As such, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Frank Black turned up in IDW’s monthly X-Files comic book series.

Baby on board.

Baby on board.

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The Simpsons – The Springfield Files (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.

A young network hungry to find its place in the American television market, Fox managed to produce two of the television shows that defined the nineties. Both The X-Files and The Simpsons were bold and innovative television shows that captured the zietgeist perfectly. Both shows offered an insightful, innovative and occasionally subversive look at American pop culture in the last decade of the twentieth century. Both have endured quite well, speaking to a generation that came of age in the nineties.

While The X-Files wound itself up in 2002, The Simpsons endures. The show has been running for almost a quarter-of-a-century at this point, and there is no sense that it will ever let up. While there are stock criticisms to be made about how The Simpsons is not as funny as it once was, the series has continually and perpetually reinvented itself. The success of these various iterations has varied. The Simpsons was a different show in 1989 than it was in 1992 or 1996 or 2000.

"Mulder and Scully. FBI."

“Agents Mulder and Scully. FBI.”

However, the show was in the middle of an incredible hot streak in January 1997. The show was in its eighth season, and on the cusp of overtaking The Flintstones as the longest-running prime-time animated series in the United States. This was a phenomenal accomplishment, and there was no indication that the show was in decline. Although fans will argue about exactly how long the so-called “golden age” of the Simpsons actually lasted, the series was still in the middle of it by January 1997.

So The Springfield Files makes a lot of sense as an obvious overlap between the two most important weekly shows airing on Fox at this moment in time. The Springfield Files was treated as a big deal at the time. It aired two weeks before Superbowl XXI, which would help give The X-Files its highest-ever ratings with Leonard Betts. It was sent to the press for review before it aired, to help generate word of mouth. The result is a delightfully satisfying intersection of two massively successful and influential shows.

Reading the scene...

Reading the scene…

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The X-Files – Our Town (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

A rare “monster of the week” script from Frank Spotnitz, Our Town could be seen as a mirror to Humbug. Humbug seemed to mourn the way that eccentric little communities seemed to be fading into history in the nineties – the loss of unique and distinct little hamlets. Our Town seems to offer a counterpoint, suggesting that perhaps the intrusion of the outside world into these tightly-knit communities is not a bad thing.

Inspired by the classic Spencer Tracy film Bad Day at Black Rock, Our Town sees Mulder and Scully investigating a small-town disappearance that eventually leads the duo to uncover a horrifying secret at the heart of the local community.

Fresh bones...

Fresh bones…

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The X-Files – Red Museum (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

While Firewalker is a solid episode ill-served by its position in the schedule and its similarity to an early episode of the show, Red Museum is just a mess.

The production issues with Red Museum are infamous. It was intended as the first part of a crossover between The X-Files and Picket Fences, both airing on Friday nights. The idea was that fans could tune into The X-Files on Fox for the first part of the story, and then move over to CBS after the credits rolled to pick up the case on Picket Fences. It was an ambitious effort – too ambitious. Although showrunners Chris Carter and David E. Kelley agreed on the idea, CBS vetoed it. It resulted in two orphaned hours of television, Red Museum and Away in the Manger.

Well, not quite. The result is something of a malformed two-parter composed of two individual malformed episodes.

He likes to watch...

He likes to watch…

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The X-Files – Blood (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

It’s interesting to get The Host and Blood produced back-to-back. Both episodes serve to draw writer Darin Morgan into the world of The X-Files. Brother of staff writer Glen Morgan, Darin Morgan would go on to become one of the most unique and distinctive voices to work on Chris Carter’s television shows – his scripts for The X-Files and Millennium stand out among the very best episodes the shows ever produced, with a very subversive and wry approach to the subject matter.

Morgan enjoyed one of the most surreal paths to the writers’ room imaginable. An actor with a few scattered credits on eighties television, including various shows his brother worked on like 21 Jump Street and The Commish, Morgan was cast as in the thankless role of “Fluke man” in The Host. However, he also found himself drawn into the production of the next episode, Blood. An episode with some production difficulties, Darin Morgan offered some ideas on how to develop the story.

Blood work...

Blood work…

Ultimately, Darin Morgan didn’t write Blood. The script was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, with Darin receiving a “story” credit on the finished episode. However, his ideas had impressed producer Howard Gordon, who would later propose that Darin Morgan join the writing staff. Morgan would accept the invitation and write Humbug later in the second season, before producing two genuine classics during the show’s phenomenal third year. (And also War of the Coprophages.) Darin Morgan would later write two more scripts for Millennium.

As such, Blood isn’t really a Darin Morgan episode. As it was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, their own sensibilities shine through on the broadcast episode. However, Blood does contain a few of the wonderful trademarks of Darin Morgan’s approach to the show, not least of which a very post-modern cynicism about cynicism. Blood feels like a rather subtle and incisive critique of the culture of paranoia that The X-Files thrives on, refusing to offer clear-cut answers and suggesting that Mulder might be just a little bit off-balance.

A very calculated title drop!

A very calculated title drop!

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