The X-Files – My Struggle

Spoilers will be in this post so if you didn’t watch The X-Files last night, don’t read.

We’ve been lied to. What we believe about aliens and what we think we know about aliens has all been a lie. It’s all  been a big cover-up in order to create a new world order. Nothing is known anymore.

That’s what viewers found out about half way through last night’s return of a six run episode of The X-Files. Thirteen years after the series went off the air, fans were treated to seeing old favorites back on the little screen again. No it wasn’t perfect, but it was so good to hear those opening notes of the theme song and to see Mulder and Scully again was everything I hoped it would be.

Mulder, living out in the middle of nowhere, is contacted by Scully in order for the two of them to meet with Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), a radical right-wing, tv host who is also a racing conspiracy theorist. O’Malley brings Mulder and Scully to meet a girl who claims to have been repeatedly abducted by aliens who also impregnated her and stole her babies several times over. The meeting appears suspect and the girl seemingly coached by O’Malley. Mulder later goes back to her house and to see if he can get the truth out of her. It’s from this meeting that Mulder’s new world order theory comes about.  He believes all the work he and Scully did in the past and the things they found out were lies. The little green men were just humans dressed up as aliens. Everything has been a cover-up in order for a select few to take over the world.

Mulder believing so quickly in this new world order theory may seem a bit far fetched and convenient plot wise, but Mulder has always had a desperate need to believe. He wants to believe and he’ll do anything to find out the truth.  Is it so hard to believe he’d be convinced of a new idea? What do we know about Mulder from the time we last saw him to now? Nothing really. The world has greatly changed over the past 13 years – cell phones were barely a thing when the show first started airing. Mulder’s search for the truth hasn’t offered him much in terms of answers, so him clinging to a new idea isn’t that hard for me to believe.

What’s harder for me to get on board with is Sully’s implied relationship with O’Malley.  While I like Joel McHale, I don’t think his character quite fits into The X-Files. He’s too brash, too in your face, too much too much.  Why Scully would be involved with this dude is beyond me. He seems more like a way for the writers to say “hey, we know that these crazy, brash, t.v. hosts get a lot of viewers now-a-days, let’s make one who is like that but has a little bit of nuttiness to him.” I’ll be interested to see how his role plays out and how he influences the outcome or ideas of Mulder or Scully.

Overall I was thrilled to see The X-Files back on.  Mulder and Scully are played perfectly and it’s what I’d expect to see after a 13 years hiatus. I was never a Mulder and Scully shipper and I always liked how the show portrayed their romantic relationship as being right on the fringe of everything.  We didn’t really see them together as a couple and the show was so much better for it (see The Vampire Diaries for an example of how main characters getting together and becoming plot can ruin a show). There’s still that biting dynamic between the two. I loved an opening scene when O’Malley pulled up and Scully turned towards him, and the shot showed Mulder looking at Scully for a beat or two without her knowing. It was an excellent way to show their relationship without showing it.

We only get six episodes but that’s Okay. I believe a slightly bumpy start will even itself out and once we find out more about what is really going on, we won’t be bothered by O’Malley’s brashness or Mulder’s new theory.

How about you? Did you enjoy the episode as much as I did? What did you like or not like? I’d love to hear what others have to say!

 

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The X-Files – Trailers

Last night Fox aired two new trailers for the upcoming mini X-Files season, links here and here.

While I didn’t watch them when they aired, I did view
them afterwards and loved it. What do these brief trailers tell us?  Well, not much really. Other than Scully is surprised to get a call from Mulder, Skinner’s got a beard, and we get a glimpse of the nefarious cigarette smoking man (actually, just his cigarette). Who could ask for more!?

Fox is doing a great job at hyping the return of The X-Files – from their 201 Days of X-Files campaign to reaching to fans on Twitter – and I for one am buying into it.  Sad you say? I don’t care.  The return of The X-Files is a wonderful thing for this t.v. junkie and even if the mini-season doesn’t live up to the hype, I’m Okay with it.

The X-Files premieres Sunday, January 24th, after the NFC Championship game on FOX.

Shows Worth Watching: The X-Files

Welcome to a new monthly feature that I’ll be doing: Shows Worth Watching. Once a month I’ll write about a t.v. show that I think is worth the time it takes for viewing.  Shows will be a mix of old ones (i.e., no longer broadcasting), and current ones.  Hope you enjoy it (and if you can think of a better feature name than Shows Worth Watching, I’m open to suggestions 🙂 )

Picture from Wikipedia page

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Fox Mulder: image from Wikipedia

The first t.v. show I’d like to discuss is The X-Files.  A ground breaking show that aired on Fox from 1993 to 2002 and came from the mind of Chris Carter.  Why am I starting with a show that is over 20 years old? Well, if you have to ask, you clearly have never seen The X-Files. All jesting aside, The X-Files is the first because, 1) I love it, 2) it was an excellent show that achieved cult status fairly quickly and then became really popular, and 3) it combined a lot of topics that were interesting, compelling, controversial, and thought-provoking.

FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are teamed up to investigate unsolved cases that appear to be paranormal in nature – know as The X-Files.  Mulder is a skilled profiler and has an unyielding belief in the existence of extraterrestrial life.  Part of this belief is steeped in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his sister, Samantha, whom he believes was abducted by aliens when he was 12-years-old.  Scully is a doctor and a skeptic to events of the paranormal and alien life.  The FBI teams these two up as a balance to one another, and as a way to possibly debunk any of Mulder’s proof of paranormal or alien existence.  This teaming works well – the chemistry between the two actors was evident and the characters respect each other as well as their ideas, enabling both to see the others viewpoint.

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Dana Scully: Image from Wikipedia

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The Lone Gunmen: Image from Wikipedia

Their boss, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), FBI assistant director, works well in his role too.  At first he seems not have too much interest in any of Mulder and Scully’s cases.  As episodes progress, Skinner starts to side with the agents and becomes more than a boss, often helping them when he can and sometimes even covering for them.  The Smoking Man (William B. Davis) is the main nemesis of Mulder and Scully throughout the series.  He seems to be one who is hiding a lot of information and gets in Mulder and Sully’s way whenever they seem to be on the verge of discovering something.  It is eventually revealed that The Smoking Man is part of the Syndicate, a group of men who appear to orchestrate many lies and cover-ups, providing the basis of a government conspiracy to cover-up the existence of alien life that will be featured frequently throughout the life of series.  Another group of characters that needs to be mentioned, who showed up periodically, and became fan favorites is The Lone Gunmen.  Known mainly by their last names: Langly, Frohike, and Byers.  They were conspiracy theorists and often assisted and provided information to and for Mulder and Scully.  The Lone Gunmen became allies and friends of the agents and were always delight to see when they appeared in an episode.  The Lone Gunmen had a brief stint in a series of their own, but it didn’t last long (and truthfully, I don’t even remember it).

A major plot line that ran throughout The X-Files was Mulder’s search for his sister.  Mulder’s sister was seemingly taken by aliens when he was 12. This incident stayed with Mulder and is part of the reason why he is so adamant about the existence of alien life. Several episodes focus on clues about her disappearance and a growing suspicion that the FBI and the government know a lot more than they are willing to admit.  This really becomes the overall mythology of The X-Files and carries from season to season, culminating in the series finale.

When not focusing on the mythology of aliens, The X-Files featured episodes about the paranormal, unbelievable, and unexplained.  A few of my favorite non-mythology episodes were: Miracle Man, Duane Barry, Dod Kalm, and Home.  These episodes ranged from the spiritual, to the grotesque, to the legend and lore, and everything in between. The tag line of The X-Files was “I Want to Believe”. Something that Mulder was desperate to stay true to and something that fans of the show took to heart.  As a viewer, the show made you want to believe.  The conviction of Mulder’s beliefs combined with Scully’s level head-opinions and the government conspiracy threaded throughout the series made believing seem realistic.

The last two seasons of the series were a little less likable.  David Duchovny has mostly departed the show and Robert Patrick stepped in to play Agent John Doggett. Patrick is a fine actor but the departure of Duchovny and the lack of focus on the mythology of the series was disappointing.  Duchovny did come back for a few episodes and the series ended in the 9th season to a somewhat satisfying conclusion. The show also spawned two Movies: The X-Files (Fight the Future) and The X-Files: I Want to Believe.  The first film was the much better of the two with the focus being on the mythology, but any fan of The X-Files was content with even a mediocre second film.

So, if you are looking for a series to watch that is in the sci-fi realm, The X-Files is for you.  Like most series, the first few episodes are a little rough in terms of look and production value with improvements evident as the series progresses.  The acting is good throughtout the run and some excellent appearances by well known and loved actors (Bryan Cranston, Tony Shalhou, Lucy Lawless, and CCH Pounder to name a few) are well worth the viewing.  I’m obviously a fan and of the show and hope that you will become one too (if you aren’t one already!).

Sleepy Hollow – Surprisingly Good

Three weeks ago Fox debuted the new mystery-adventure drama Sleepy Hollow.  I had my doubts about this program but the first three episodes have been thoroughly enjoyable.

Sleepy Hollow is a new interpretation of Irving Washington’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (full disclosure that I’ve never read the book and have only a basic knowledge of the story).  Ichabod Crane is resurrected 250 years after his death and is tossed into an investigation of the headless horseman, who just happens to be part of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  To quote a fellow blogger “the premise is preposterous” (Sidekick Reviews).  True, however, the writers have done a great job and the show is entertaining, enjoyable, and has a good pace.

Ichabod Crane, played by Tom Mison and his modern-day partner, Detective Abbie Mills, played by Nicole Beharie have great chemistry and their stories link up fairly well.  Abbie Mills and her sister had a scary encounter when they were younger which caused Abbie’s sister to be institutionalized and Abbie to pursue a path in law enforcement. This encounter is linked to Ichabod’s past along with his wife.  Orlando Jones, who plays Captain Frank Irving, also has great chemistry and fits well.  The series deals with the occult and has religious tones to it, which lends it to a nice creepy vibe.

My favorite thing so far is how the writers deal with Ichabod’s assimilation to the modern-day – they don’t dwell on it or make it a major plot line.  Ichabod in the car moving the automatic window up and down; Abbie leaving post-it notes on the various items in the hotel room so Ichabod knows what they are and what they will do.  All done very well, not dwelling on this topic and avoid dragging the show down.

I thought the most recent episode “For The Triumph of Evil” really had a The X-Files vibe about it.  Abbie and Ichabod were in the basement and the Captain finds them there.  Both Abbie and Ichabod say they like the basement and think it would be a great place to have an office and the Captain agrees.  X-Files fans will know that Mulder’s office was in the basement and that he and Scully investigated alien and paranormal cases, with Mulder steadfastly wanting “to believe.”  Sleepy Hollow deals instead with the occult and religion in place of the paranormal, and Ichabod and Abbie being a new, fresh version of Mulder and Scully.

After three episodes I’m a fan of Sleepy Hollow.  It’s been excellent viewing so far and Fox just announced that it’s already been given a second season.  Good news for those who are attached to the show already.  I think this is one of the Falls new hit shows and I’m looking forward to future episodes.  If you haven’t watched the show yet, catch-up on-line and then watch the rest weekly.  If you like the occult and enjoy mystery dramas, this show is one to watch.

 

The Following – Season Grade: B- (contains spoilers at the end)

Last night was the season finale of The Following the suspense drama on Fox.  My overall grade for this is a B-  The series started out strong and was very compelling yet disturbing at the same time.  The first five episodes were jam-packed with action and “no way” scenes that kept the pace moving at such a fast rate it seemed like the episode was only on for 20 minutes.  The use of flash-backs in these first episodes was done in a very useful way – short enough that it didn’t take away from the main story line but gave just the right amount of info so the viewer could get a glimpse into someone’s past and slowly figure out the “why” of the character.  Also, this show is filled with lots and lots of gore and beyond disturbing scenes – I covered my eyes countless times due to some of the graphic images (but yet loved the graphicness at the same time).

Then episode six happened – The Fall.  That’s where The Following fell to a D.  This episode took the “no way” scene to a new level and insulted the viewer.  I was so angry and sad – how could the writers do this to a show that I loved and couldn’t wait to see each Monday.  The best comparison to offer is with the tv show 24.  This was one of the best shows on tv – Jack Bauer was the ultimate protagonist and gave me use to turn his name into a verb (Ryan Hardy “Jack Bauered” those followers).  But CTU had to be the most inept counterterrorism agency ever.  Holy bad hiring – how many inside agents were there and how often did the agents other than Jack miss their target.  The Fall made CTU look like geniuses.

The next two episodes were a bit shaky.  I felt the collective disgust of fellow viewers in thinking “they better not do that crap again.”  The one thing that kept me going (other than my tv junkie sensibilities) was the acting and chemistry of Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy.  These two actors were meant to be together – Bacon played the tortured soul so well and with such emotion, while Purefoy seemed to be the quintessential sociopath.  Their chemistry made the ridiculous tolerable and showed there was hope for the series.

As the season progressed things got better and I started to love The Following again.  The use of flash-backs dropped off in later episodes and the pace slowed a bit but that is expected.  No tv show can maintain a break-neck speed.   And the season finale did not disappoint.  The pace was back, the graphic violence returned, Joe Carroll killed with reckless abandon, Ryan Hardy “Jacked Baured” a Follower again.  We knew that Hardy would save the girl but wondered how could there be a second season.  The last few minutes gave us the answers in a shocking way – we don’t know if our protagonist or his great love will make it and where the hell did Emma run off to?

Overall, The Following was a decent show but the slap in the face to the viewers really brought it down and the recovery was a slow.  I will follow this show next season, there is enough here for me to still love.  Just hope that the writers know pushing the viewers to insulting levels is not the way to go.  I’m looking forward to season two in the fall.

The Following – almost lost

I’ve been a fan of the new Fox t.v. show The Following.  I’ve enjoyed the suspense that each episode has had and thought the use of flashbacks was very effective (quick peeks into what happened in the past but not disruptive to the storyline).   My enjoyment was put to the test with last nights episode “The Fall.”  The episode started out good, some banter between Ryan Hardy and three of his antagonists, but the last twenty minutes was almost insulting to viewers.  The Following isn’t the best show out there, a sort of weak plot line with some obvious turns, but the fast pace, suspense, twisted characters, and good acting by Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy allowed you to look past those items.   I’ve read complaints that the show is too dark – really? it’s about a serial killer who has found a way to torment his ex-wife and the man who put him prison, and you expect it to be all sunshine and happy? – and that the FBI is inept at their jobs.  My previous thought was of: if this was an actual portrayal of how a case goes in the FBI I don’t think there would be a need for Hardy as the protagonist and the show would be called a documentary airing on the Discovery channel or History or something along those lines.

With all good shows I think there is some element of obvious disbelief, that moment when you say “come on, how could that possibly have just happened” but if the show is good enough, you are able to overlook and ignore that moment (Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, insert name of any good t.v. show that you like). Last night I was not able to overlook that “come on…” moment.  Joe Carroll’s followers are everywhere and the writers appeared to have lost their minds with “The Fall”.  Joe’s people get into everything and inserting them into or having them overcome some elite tactical teams was ridiculous.  I know there has to be substantial followers out there for Joe Carroll’s plan to work out, but the last 20 minutes of “The Fall” was over the top.  When writers take a show too far, it sets the show up to fail.  I’m hoping that next weeks episode returns to the form of the first five episode – fast pace, suspense, gruesome but watchable.  If not, I’m afraid I’ll be forced to say “nevermore…”

The Following – worth following?

Last night (1/21/13) Fox debut a new t.v. showed called The Following.  The show is about a former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) who is called back to work the case of the killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) he captured in 2003 and who has recently escaped.  The premise of the series is Joe Carroll has built a cult following of fellow serial killers who communicate and connect with each other to commit gruesome murders.  An interesting spin on the serial killer plot line.

I have to say that the first episode did a really good job of drawing me in and keeping the suspense going.  I was appalled at the ways the first victim met their end – which is a good thing to say when talking about a crime series.  Joe Carroll is a former teacher who is obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe and this obsession played out with the murders that put him into prison to begin with, as well as the murders that will happen after his escape.

As with all t.v. shows, there are few things that could be better – the female FBI agent seems like she’s trying too hard and the other FBI agent seems suspiciously suspect (maybe I’m just seeing a connection that’s not there).  Overall, I would say this was worthy first episode and look forward to seeing how the series plays out.  The Following has at least one follower so far.