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The Lone Gunmen – Pilot (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.

It is meant to be a joke.

It is an episode known as The Pilot, because it is a proof of concept for a new series that can be shown to executives in the hopes that they might green-light it and give the production team a series order. That is, after all, what a television pilot is. It is the first episode of a television show to be filmed, usually with considerable space between it and the rest of the first season. There is time for network notes and feedback, to determine what works and what doesn’t. There is space for recasting and reshooting, which becomes more problematic on a weekly schedule.

Rocket man.

Rocket man.

However, the fact that the first episode of The Lone Gunmen is called The Pilot is also a rather wry punchline. It is a self-aware reminder that the show takes itself considerably less seriously than Millennium or Harsh Realm. After all, even if this weren’t the very first episode of a new television show, it might be called The Pilot. Based purely on the plot, the episode might have been called The Pilot. It is an episode about a sinister plot to hijack planes using advanced technology. So calling the episode The Pilot is a cheesy and goofy bit of wordplay.

Of course, there is very little funny about it in hindsight.

Don't leave us hanging...

Don’t leave us hanging…

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Non-Review Review: The Walk

“It is not real,” Philippe Petit reflects quite early in The Walk.

Resting his chin against one of the steel supports running the height of the World Trade Centre, Philippe stares upwards into infinity. Up until that moment, the Twin Towers had existed as a conceptual object for the young French tightrope artist; he had only seen them in photographs and sketches, framed in comparison to the Eiffel Tower to afford them a sense of scale. Appreciating the majesty of the World Trade Centre in the flesh is almost too much to process. Making them more real has somehow made them less real.

Walk on the wild side...

Walk on the wild side…

Philippe could just as easily be talking about the film that surrounds him. Director Robert Zemeckis might be best known for his work on Back to the Future, but a lot of his twenty-first century filmography has been fixated upon the unreal; Zemeckis has become known for his fascination with motion-capture and computer-generated imagery, the illusive pursuit of verisimilitude through the uncanny valley. The special effects used to realise The Walk are superb and top of the line, but there remains a feeling of unreality to the whole film.

It would be impossible to film The Walk in a real location using real stunts. The Walk is an ode to New York City, but to a version of New York City that no longer exists. Tourists cannot visit it, although perhaps it might be found on a postcard or trapped in a photo. The Walk cleverly and consciously refuses to downplay that feeling of unreality, feeling almost like a nostalgic memory recalled through the fog of time. Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk between the Twin Towers was so effective because it was real; The Walk is so effective precisely because it is unreal.

Stepping out...

Stepping out…

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