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The X-Files – Resist or Serve (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.

The X-Files disappeared rather quietly from television.

Despite the talk of launching a film series, the franchise was allowed to lie fallow for a couple of years. There were a number of reasons for this. Immediately following the broadcast of The Truth, Chris Carter disappeared out into the world. The creator and executive producer had worked for almost a decade without any real break. It made sense for the writer to avail of the opportunity to get away from it for an extended period of time. A breather felt more than justified after overseeing more than two hundred episodes of television.

Game on...

Game on…

The band broke up. Members of the production team took jobs elsewhere. Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan worked with veteran director Michael Mann on Robbery Homicide Division. John Shiban joined the writing staff on the second season of Star Trek: Enterprise. There was a sense that The X-Files had faded into the ambient background radiation of popular culture, its constituent elements – whether writers or directors or even themes or storytelling techniques – ready to flavour a new generation of television production.

However, there were signs that the show might linger on. Even if the sequel to The X-Files: Fight the Future had yet to materialise, it lurked just over the horizon. Critical and fan consensus was starting to form around the show. Although The X-Files might have been finished, its legend was still being solidified. Resist or Serve is very much a part of this process. Released on Playstation 2 in March 2004, Resist or Serve was a very disappointing video game. However, it was also a very instructive insight into just how the legend of The X-Files was shaping up.

Feels like going home...

Feels like going home…

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The X-Files – Scary Monsters (Review)

This December, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the ninth season of The X-Files.

Scary Monsters is the episode that was in production when The X-Files was cancelled.

Due to the fact that news broke to the public at roughly the same time that it broke to the production team and that the ninth season was fond of shuffling episodes up and down the broadcast order, Scary Monsters aired almost three months after the cancellation was announced to the public. However, the production team were informed while they were working on the episode. Given the low ratings and muted reaction to the ninth season, the cancellation seemed inevitable. Nevertheless, it was quite a blow.

Doggett's burning down the house.

Doggett’s burning down the house.

That is perhaps the most notable fact about Scary Monsters, which is a disappointingly bland episode of television. As with Underneath before it, this is not an embarrassing episode by any measure. It just lacks any real energy or verve. Watching Scary Monsters, there is a sense that the production team were going through the motions, that the reserve of energy that drove the show through its finest seasons had been depleted. The show was running on empty, the production team’s imaginations all but empty.

It feels like the show should have something smart or ironic to say about a kid who can conjure monsters from his own limited imagination. Sadly, it is just a rote monster of the week.

"Now I know how Mulder felt during the season eight credits..."

“Now I know how Mulder felt during the season eight credits…”

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The Lone Gunmen – Madam, I’m Adam (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.

Arriving just before The X-Files returns with DeadAlive, it seems like Madam, I’m Adam has found the perfect tone for The Lone Gunmen.

Madam, I’m Adam is the first episode of The Lone Gunmen to really hone in on a unique and distinctive tone for the show and its characters. A lot of Lone Gunmen episodes can seem very generic or bland, engaging the lead characters in wacky capers that lead to familiar jokes that are not necessarily funny enough to sustain forty-five minutes of television. Madam, I’m Adam seems to understand that The Lone Gunmen needs to be more than just silly imagery and bodily function gags if it wants to sustain itself.

Men at work.

Men at work.

Melancholy is threaded through Madam, I’m Adam. This seems perfectly suited to these characters and their world, elegantly capturing a sense of disconnect and disaffection. Madam, I’m Adam is not the first time that the writers have adopted this approach to the characters. Byer’s desperate loneliness served to make Unusual Suspects so very affecting. The short scene in the bathroom between Frohike and Anna in Eine Kleine Frohike might have been the most effective emotional beat of the first five episodes. Madam, I’m Adam just extends that across an episode.

Madam, I’m Adam is also notable as the first credited teleplay to be written by Thomas Schnauz. To quote Byers from the episode itself, “As first stories go, this one’s a doozy.”

Wild blue yonder...

Wild blue yonder…

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