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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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Non-Review Review: The A-Team

The A-Team is the latest in a long line of attempts to adapt successful television series (preferably from years or decades past) to the big screen. It essentially suffers from the same weaknesses as other adaptations – it struggles with tone. Much as attempting to remake Miami Vice as a dry and overly self-important drug movie was a mistake, or making Starsky & Hutch as a full-blown comedy misunderstood the appeal of the original series, The A-Team feels too much like it’s working with a premise that it isn’t overly familiar with, trying to fit it into the blockbuster mold – it’s essentially trying to cram a round peg into a square hole. The film does have its charms, but it feels distinctly uncomfortable and more than a little uneven.

"'old on lad's, I've... oh, wait, wrong remake..."

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I Love the Eighties: Blockbuster Edition

I am a child of the eighties. It’s a bit of an irony that I am too young to actually recall any of the decade, but still feel more than a pang of nostalgia about it. Evidently I’m not the only one. Perhaps it’s in recognition of the turn of a new decade or the rise of a younger generation, but even a cursory glance at the big budget blockbusters coming our way this summer reveal that the times, they are a-changing. No longer is our fascination with quirky seventies sex comedies or gritty urban cop dramas of that decade: this year, we’re going back to the eighties.

The Expendables is a blast from the past...

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