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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 7, Episode 11 (“Closure”)

The X-Cast is covering the seventh season of The X-Files. It’s an interesting and divisive season of the show, a season that seems to have been intended to serve as the end of the show’s run, but is now closer to the middle of the series’ run. Although the sixth season had wrapped up a lot of the mythology in Two Fathers and One Son, the seventh season still had some tidying up to do. I was thrilled to join Carl Sweeney and Chris Knowles for an episode doing some of that tidying up: Closure.

Samantha Mulder had haunted the show since the very beginning. In The Pilot and Conduit, Samantha’s mysterious disappearance was positioned as the reason for Mulder’s quest. Over the years, in episodes like Colony and End Game or Redux II, Samantha remained pivotal to the show’s central mythology. She was perhaps the biggest remaining plot thread as the show entered its seventh season. Closure is an attempt to wrap up that dangling plot thread, and to provide a satisfying answer once and for all to one of the show’s biggest remaining mysteries.

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

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – “Chris Carter’s Harsh Realm”

With The X-Cast moving on to coverage of the seventh season of The X-Files, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about Chris Carter’s Harsh Realm, the short-lived series that Carter launched in the wake of Millennium.

Harsh Realm is an oddity. The show was hyped as the next great American television show, developed by Chris Carter under a lucrative production deal with Fox. However, with the arrival of Doug Herzog, the network’s priorities shifted and Harsh Realm was effectively dead on arrival. The result is an interesting and disjointed run of episodes, brimming with potential that is never fully realised. In some ways, Harsh Realm is the forgotten Chris Carter television show, which offers an interesting snapshot of his sensibilities at this moment in time.

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

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New Podcast! The Spookies Podcast – “The Legacy of The X-Files”

I was thrilled to be invited to join the wonderful Michael and Stephanie Black for an episode of their new podcast, The Spookies Podcast.

It was a fun conversation, in which I got to chat a little bit about the legacy of The X-Files. In particular, we basically speedrun the X-Files filmography of writer John Shiban, who is perhaps the most controversial and divisive of the “classic” writers on the show. It’s an interesting and playful discussion about how the show has aged, some of its blindspots and why it feels so strange to revisit it today.

You can listen directly to the episode below or by clicking here.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 7, Episode 7 (“Orison”)

With The X-Cast moving on to coverage of the seventh season of The X-Files, and the legacy of Millennium lingering on, I was thrilled to be invited back on to talk about the episode Orison, which feels in many ways like Millennium folding back into The X-Files – it marks the first X-Files script from former Millennium showrunner Chip Johannessen and the return of the serial killer (“death fetishist”) Donny Pfaster.

Orison marks one of the rare times that The X-Files has returned to a pre-existing monster outside of the mythology; the only other major examples are the first season episode Tooms and the fifth season episode Kitsunegari. However, what’s particularly striking about Orison is that Donnie Pfaster is just one facet of an episode that has a lot going. In many ways, it feels like a companion piece to Johannessen’s third season scripts for Millennium, episodes like Saturn Dreaming of Mercury and Bardo Thodol.

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

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 7, Episode 4 (“Millennium”)

With The X-Cast moving on to coverage of the seventh season of The X-Files, and the episode Millennium fast approaching, it seemed like a good time to resurrect the Time is Now podcast. So I joined Kurt North to talk about the controversial episode.

Millennium is a very strange episode of television. It is designed to serve as a de facto series finale for Chris Carter’s Millennium while folding it into the mythology of The X-Files. However, it is an episode where two of the three credited writers have never worked on Millennium, and which builds to a climax of the mythology of Millennium which doesn’t really fit with anything that appeared on screen. However, it is also the episode that builds to the first on-screen kiss between Mulder and Scully, which creates an interesting tension in terms of the episode’s priorities.

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

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 7, Episode 2 (“Amor Fati X-tra: The Last Temptation of Mulder”)

With The X-Cast moving on to coverage of the seventh season of The X-Files, I was thrilled to join Kurt North and Marlene Stemme to discuss the seventh season premiere – The Sixth Extinction and The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati – in the context of Martin Scorsese’ The Last Temptation of Christ.

Scorsese’s biblical epic was one of the most controversial major studio releases of the late eighties, attracting death threats and protests for its portrayal of Jesus Christ. It formed the basis for Mulder’s journey in The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati, with the two-parter directly lifting several scenes from the film. It’s interesting to interrogate, in large part because – despite the influence of seventies cinema on The X-Files – it feels like the show’s only real point of intersection with one of the most influential filmmakers of the seventies.

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

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 6, Episode 22 (“Biogenesis”)

Coinciding with The X-Files‘ move from Vancouver to Los Angeles, there has also been a shift at The X-Cast. Tony Black is no longer running the show, but it is instead now being run by Sarah Blair, Kurt North and Carl Sweeney. I was thrilled to join Carl to talk about the sixth season finale: Biogenesis.

Following Two Fathers and One Son in the middle of the sixth season, Biogenesis is a very odd season finale for The X-Files. It’s the only season finale that doesn’t have the luxury of hanging on the central mythology and which isn’t designed to serve as a potential finale for the series as a whole. As a result, it’s a very odd episode of television, and offers an interesting prism on the tropes and conventions of The X-Files.

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

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New Escapist Video! On “WandaVision” and the Death of Ambiguity…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film channel – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, following the end of WandaVision, it seemed like an appropriate time to take a look at what the show said about contemporary pop culture, in particular the show’s approach to its “mystery box” format and its insistence on explaining every ambiguity without any willingness to leave space for interpretation. It’s a big, ambitious video essay that looks at everything from Lost to Twin Peaks to The X-Files to Doctor Who, and I hope you enjoy.

New Escapist Column! On “WandaVision” and the Death of Ambiguity…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With WandaVision ending just over a week ago, I had some thoughts about art, ambiguity and meaning. You know, small things.

One of the more interesting aspects of WandaVision was the way in which it presented itself, and was received as, a “mystery box” show. It was framed and treated as a puzzle to be solved. What’s interesting about this is the care that the finale took to carefully explain and confront each possible fan theory and speculation, to communicate very simply and very straightforwardly not only what its audience was supposed to take from this story, but also how they were supposed to feel in response to certain key plot beats.

This is arguably a reflection of a larger trend in pop culture, in which there’s a strong rejection of the idea of ambiguity and an embrace of the idea that everything has a fixed meaning that can be clearly determined and objectively derived. This ignores the reality that art exists in ambiguity, that there’s no simple, single decoder ring and that meaning is often something derived from conversation between the art and the audience consuming it.

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

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 6, Episode 12 (“One Son”)

Coinciding with The X-Files‘ move from Vancouver to Los Angeles, there has also been a shift at The X-Cast. Tony Black is no longer running the show, but it is instead now being run by Sarah Blair, Kurt North and Carl Sweeney. I was thrilled to join Carl to talk about one of the most important episodes in the show’s history: One Son.

With One Son, the show closes the book on one of the most important chapters in its history. Kind of. Sort of. A little bit. Of course, it was also about drawing down the curtain in other ways. There’s a very credible argument to be made that this mid-season two-parter marked the last time that The X-Files was truly event television. This makes One Son an interesting and complicated piece of television, a bit of ambitious storytelling that has to cover a lot of ground very ruthlessly. The result is an episode that isn’t entirely successful, but is still fascinating.

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

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