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Night Stalker – Three (Review)

This January, to prepare for the release of the new six-part season of The X-Files, we’re wrapping up our coverage of the show, particularly handling the various odds and ends between the show’s last episode and the launch of the revival.

Three is an interesting episode of Night Stalker, representing a threat that certainly feels less generic than that proposed by episodes like The Five People You Meet in Hell or Burning Man.

Three is the story of a house that is haunted by “the ghost of an emotion.” Given the fact that this is very much a horror show, and the themes already outlined in The Pilot and The Five People You Meet in Hell, it makes sense that the emotion in question is “fear.” Opening with a hazing ritual conducted by a secret society inside a derelict house, Three confronts the guest characters with their greatest fears. It is a very direct way addressing the underlying themes of Night Stalker, the fear and disconnect of modern urban living.

Top of the world...

Top of the world…

However, despite a good premise and solid execution, Three demonstrates the difficulties that Night Stalker is having finding its own unique voice. Three makes a conscious effort to flesh out its main characters, giving its central players personal conversations and introducing a new recurring character to help Kolchak in his investigations. However, this focus on character only emphasises how generic the show’s ensemble is. It is unfair to blame the cast and crew for something as intangible as the lack of chemistry, but it remains an issue for the series.

Three gives Stuart Townsend and Gabrielle Union banter, but it only serves to demonstrate that they lack the palpable chemistry that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson had. The script slots Jain into the role of comic relief, but this raises questions about what exactly his function in all of this is meant to be. The central characters seem lost in the episode’s shuffle, with Three demonstrating that a solid monster-of-the-week can only really succeed when built on a firm foundation.

Hide and seek...

Hide and seek…

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The X-Files – 3 (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.

3 is the first absolute misfire from the second season of The X-Files.

It’s easy enough to account for the problems with 3. The production on the episode was a mess. It was the first episode produced without one of the show’s two lead characters. It existed to plug a hole in the schedule caused by factors outside the control of the production staff. Writers Glen Morgan and James Wong were working on both this and One Breath simultaneously. And it’s also a traditional monster story, which is something that The X-Files had struggled with and would struggle with again.

Vamping it up...

Vamping it up…

To be fair, 3 does what it says on the tin. It is the episode between Ascension and One Breath, a forty-five minute breather that fills a broadcast slot and allows the show to continue on while Gillian Anderson takes maternity leave. The fact that there was only one slot to fill without Anderson is a testament to both the production team’s organisational skill and Anderson’s work ethic. Really, all that 3 needs to do is exist.

Even with that in mind, 3 still feels like a disappointment. Given how Anderson’s pregnancy managed to spur the production team to create a compelling long-form story for the show, culminating in stories like Duane Barry and One Breath, it’s disappointing that her absence doesn’t inspire the same creativity. Seeing The X-Files without Scully should be the opportunity for a fascinating adventure or insightful character study; it could play with audience expectations or the show’s rigid format. Instead, the result is just a mess.

"All by myself..."

“All by myself…”

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Three is the Magic Number: Why Do We Like Trilogies?

Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing all three films in the Matrix trilogy. I sat down yesterday, watched all three back-to-back and wrote reviews of them. As I did, I found myself thinking about how nice the concept of a “trilogy” is. It’s even a nice word – it sounds much better to say “the [insert film name here] trilogy” than it does to say “the [insert film name here] tetralogy” (or, to quote the Alien films, “quadrilogy”) or even the more generic “[insert film name here] series.” So what is it about sets of three movies that we like so much?

Looking for a stellar trilogy...

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