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The X-Files – Season 3 (Review)

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.

The second season of The X-Files was quite experimental in nature. Not all of that experimentation was intentional or planned, but the second season worked quite hard to demonstrate what the show could do. Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy forced the show to plot a relatively long-form arc, with Scully getting abducted and the X-files remaining closed for the first six episodes of the season. In essence, Anderson’s absence forced the show to embrace serialisation.

Other second-season experiments seemed more relaxed. The show discovered that big two-part mythology episodes did well during sweeps. Die Hand Die Verletzt and Humbug proved that the series could do comedy. David Nutter, Rob Bowman and Kim Manners became the show’s go-to directors. The show’s alien conspiracy arc became a recurring thread rather than a subset of the monsters of the week. There was a lot learnt during that second season.

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The third season of The X-Files feels a lot more relaxed, and a lot more comfortable. The third season seems to be largely about reinforcing the lessons learned during the second season. The third season gives more work to writers, directors and actors who made an impression during the second season. It works hard to solidify the concept of The X-Files. It seems like Chris Carter and his collaborators have finally figured out exactly what The X-Files should be, and are delivering it consistently.

The result is one of the most impressive seasons of television produced in the nineties, beginning a hot streak for the show. Chris Carter and Ten Thirteen would manage to produce three consistently fantastic seasons of television between September 1995 and May 1998. The third season of The X-Files really gets that ball rolling in a very profound and meaningful sense.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Transfigurations (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

In way, what is so interesting about Transfigurations is how incredibly generic the story is. It’s a cookie-cutter Star Trek story, a collection of the narrative elements one associates with the franchise – mysterious aliens, energy beings, metaphors about tolerance and fear of the unknown – all loosely sorted into something resembling a linear story.

There’s none of the cheeky subversive charm from early in the third season. This isn’t a deconstruction of “energy being” stories in the way that The Bonding was a deconstruction of “red shirt” deaths. This is just a straight-up story about an alien species learning an important lesson about tolerance, dressed up in a science-fiction mystery, with a romantic subplot thrown in for Beverly because the show hasn’t really done much with Gates McFadden since she returned.

The result is as bland as you might expect, with a sense that everybody involved was just exhausted by the production difficulties that had haunted the third season, and desperately trying to make it to the hiatus. Transfigurations is nowhere near as bad as The Price or Ménage à Troi. It’s just forgettable and average.

Mellow yellow...

Mellow yellow…

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