X-Files

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Thad
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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:24 pm

Some of the ones I put under "Mythology" are pretty borderline too; my list of what constitutes Mythology and what constitutes MotW doesn't always match others'.

And of course my list doesn't necessarily match up with other people's, either. As I said above (and in the blog), Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man is a particular favorite of mine, but is largely hated by the fandom. I put it under "Mythology" because it fleshes out the CSM's backstory (albeit unreliably), but it's essentially a done-in-one.

And I'll add more to the list as I watch more of the show; I keep meaning to get back to it. I remember some guest stars particularly fondly -- I already mentioned Michael McKean; there's another good one with Burt Reynolds; and there's a haunted-house episode with Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin as ghosts. There's also a pretty great Rashomon episode with Luke Wilson. And there's an episode with Garry Shandling that I recall being pretty fun.

There's also a list for Millennium (tl;dr you can skip most of the first season) and I intend to add one for Lone Gunmen once I get to it. You don't really need to jump into Millennium, especially if you're just going to be picking and choosing X-Files episodes from here on in (in which case you can just skip the backdoor finale for Millennium).

Also: you're reading Monster of the Week, right? It's only up through season 4, and since it hasn't been updated in a year and a half I wouldn't count on it ever being finished, but it's a good ride while it lasts.

(Also: the Humble Bundle is still on and it's worth tossing in at least a buck and checking out Year Zero.)

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Re: X-Files

Postby Friday » Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:19 pm

Decided to watch based on online rankings by season. (So I'm basically just watching the best of the best.)

Thought I'd give my thoughts on season 6's best three:

Drive: Bryan Cranston guest stars as a man on the edge of everything, and instead of being corny, he pulls it off believably. Gotta go west, gotta go west. Fun fact: This role directly led to him being cast in Breaking Bad.

Monday: The groundhog day episode. But unlike most groundhog day episodes that tend to be lighthearted or at least hopeful, this one focuses on how hellish a concept like this can be. Mulder and Scully are caught up in the loop just like everyone else, and though Mulder starts to get inklings near the end, they're not the ones who remember. Instead it's Pam, a run down woman just trying to escape the Hell she's suddenly found herself in.

Field Trip: WHAT IF WE'RE ACTUALLY IN TEH MATRIX?! AND TEH MATRIX is, uh, eating you alive while drugging you to make you think it's not eating you alive. The show doesn't pretend the audience doesn't know Mulder and Scully are trapped, and instead focuses on exactly what they both WANT: (in the form of what the drugs are showing them, ripped from their own subconscious) To be right, to be vindicated in their beliefs. Mulder's is pretty straight forward: He finds his proof in a small little cute alien grey that he can communicate telepathically with. He keeps it in his spare room, and he gets to show it to Scully, and she tells him he was right all along. Tellingly, he doesn't like that she does, and begins to question the fantasy.

Scully's fantasy is more subtle: Mulder dies, and everyone agrees with her that there was nothing paranormal about it, and instead they just parrot back to her her initial guess as to what was going on (just plain old regular murder). Even the Lone Gunmen. The key thing here is Mulder's death: In order for Scully to be right about her worldview, Mulder can't be in that world. His whacky shit just doesn't mesh with. Of course, she doesn't accept the fantasy either. But it turns out that just knowing you're being drugged, living in a hallucination, and kept captive doesn't actually mean you can escape.

Season 6 also has the body swapping ep, (Dreamland I and II) which is pretty good (and directly leads to Waterbed Monday). Season 6 is when the X-files moved to LA to film, so there's a change of tone (and a lot of the audience at the time disliked it) but I think there's still plenty of decent eps.
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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:38 pm

Following an episode where Mulder is implicated for murder immediately after an episode where Skinner is implicated for murder (again!), I thought of something: I really want a story about the lawyer assigned to the X-Files.

I mean, yeah, Scully goes around collecting clues and exonerating Mulder in this one, but it occurs to me that given the sheer number of times Mulder, Scully, and Skinner are implicated in a crime or have to testify before Congress or are otherwise in some kind of big trouble, they really should have a lawyer to help them out with this stuff.

I've always loved stories about characters with mundane jobs in the middle of fantastic settings. I want to see what sort of person would represent the X-Files division. It would have to be somebody who's willing to put up with a lot of bullshit and not dismiss crazy goings-on outright, but also need to be laser-focused on coming up with plausible explanations for shit that are backed up by evidence and will convince ordinary people.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Wed Dec 23, 2015 3:45 pm

Welp, that's season 4 wrapped up.

The finale, Gethsemane, makes the list, but definitely not because of its script.

The script is generic cliffhanger-finale fare (though the first act has some nice bits with Mulder, briefly, expressing skepticism), but it's got some truly gorgeous mountain shots that make a great argument for the widescreen HD remaster, some of the coolest creature effects of the series, and some great dramatic work from Anderson. But don't get too excited when you see "John Oliver" in the credits; it's not the John Oliver you're (probably) thinking of.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Mon Dec 28, 2015 2:10 pm



Lots of minor spoilers (and one larger but very welcome one, as the Lone Gunmen appear for about 3 seconds at the end), so don't watch it if that's a thing that bothers you. But I quite like the conversations -- the actors talking about getting back into the roles, the writers talking about what's changed and what's still the same, etc.

Pretty cool seeing the band back together, not just Anderson, Duchovny, Pileggi, and Davis, but also Carter, Wong, and the Morgan brothers. The practical effects are great too. (Christ, they're still actually lighting people on fire? Even after scarring Duchovny?)

A little disappointed by the lack of Doggett, but not surprised since he's over doing Scorpion, and anyway his arc got resolved in a way that Mulder and Scully's never will. (Hell, even the comics, which are not constrained by actor availability, brought Doggett back just to have him get abducted and disappear.)

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:49 am


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Re: X-Files

Postby Friday » Sat Jan 16, 2016 6:27 am

Yeah, that's always been the funny thing about the X-Files: Mulder and Scully can't actually ever completely win a case. A lot of the time they don't really accomplish anything at all.
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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:39 pm

Unusual Suspects definitely goes up on the list.

Season 5, Episode 3: Unusual Suspects

The first episode to focus on the Lone Gunmen as its main characters (with Mulder in a minor role and Scully not present at all) tells their origin story and would eventually lead to their own spinoff. Written by Vince Gilligan, directed by Kim Manners, and for some reason guest starring Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch. (Which I guess puts X-Files, Lone Gunmen, and, by extension, Millennium in the Tommy Westphall universe.)

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:44 am

Also, since I am now aware that X-Files and Law & Order take place in the same universe, I would like to expand my "I want to see some stories about the X-Files' lawyer" pitch to "I want to see a series called Law & Order: EBE where they have to prosecute cases involving alien abductions and vampires and stretchy dudes and shit." (I guess hillbillies gang-banging their quadruple-amputee mother would be more of an SVU thing.)

It would still be more realistic than CSI: Cyber.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Mon Jan 25, 2016 12:40 am

Welp, that was a perfectly respectable first day back at the office. Could have used more Skinner. I can forgive that nothing much really happened because, y'know, it's been twelve fucking years (or, okay, eight if you count I Want to Believe, which I didn't hate as much as everybody else did) and they had to spend some time putting the pieces back into place and setting up the new status quo.

And I expect it'll piss the shippers off but I love Mulder and Scully's new relationship. Separating them for most of the episode is a surprising choice but I think it worked out well, because it gave us some time to see how she really feels -- and leaving him because he's a self-destructive, bipolar obsessive is an interesting direction to take their relationship, and one that's true to their characters. And to, y'know, people getting old.

Lots of nice little touches -- I love that you can see Mulder has tape over the camera on his laptop. (And his pencils are still in the ceiling.) They (briefly) call back to the 2012 plot, and do a solid job blending the real-life conspiracies (the military-industrial complex selling war and commerce to keep the masses in their thrall) with the X-Filesy stuff.

James Wong episode tomorrow. Then next week is the Darin Morgan episode! Which is called Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster!

And the thumbnail over at TVDB has Mulder sitting against a tombstone that says "In memory of Kim Manners." That made me awwww.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:05 am

Season 5, Episode 5: The Post-Modern Prometheus

So before I go and recommend this one, there's one caveat I need to get out of the way: this is an episode where two women are drugged and impregnated without their consent, and then the ethical implications of this premise are barely acknowledged.

And it's a shame that this episode has that ick factor hanging over it, because aside from that it's a delight. Carter handles both the writing and direction on this one, and it's an homage to classic monster movies, beautifully filmed in glorious black-and-white and guest-starring Seinfeld's John O'Hurley as its mad scientist. It delivers what its title promises: both a Frankenstein pastiche and postmodernism. It's weird, it's melancholy, it's funny, it's got Cher on its soundtrack, and there's more than one moment that feels like a Mel Brooks homage. If its morality is a little muddy, I'm inclined to be charitable and chalk it up to the episode's heightened reality. The plot doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense, but it's not supposed to; it feels like a dream and it prioritizes style over substance. And it is stylish as hell.

And man, that ending is beautiful.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Spooky Skeleton » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:36 am


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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:04 pm

Monster of the Week is back for season 10.

Still no plans to go back and do 5-9 unless her Patreon hits $2,000. Given that it's currently at $885, don't hold your breath. But hey, new Monster of the Week!

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Re: X-Files

Postby Spooky Skeleton » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:23 pm

Is the community guy a Gleck Beck parody? I figured he'd be more of an Alex Jones type for obvious reasons but I haven't actually seen the new season yet.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:06 pm

I'd say it's a bit of both. He has a TV show, which makes him more like Beck (at least, Beck a few years ago) than Jones, but his conspiracy theories hew closer to Jones's than Beck's.

I assume the reason Shaenon namechecked Beck over Jones is that Beck is better-known.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:49 am

Season 10, Episode 3: Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

Darin Morgan's still got it. A roaringly funny monster mystery guest-starring Rhys Darby, Kumail Nanjiani, and Tyler Labine, featuring Morgan's usual narratives-within-narratives and Mulder's midlife crisis. X-Files at its absolute goddamn finest -- and a pleasingly standalone episode, though longtime fans will enjoy a couple of callbacks to Clyde Bruckman and a nice tribute to the late, great Kim Manners.


And, speaking of Darin Morgan and callbacks to previous Darin Morgan episodes, if you're a fan of Jose Chung's From Outer Space, it's worth checking out the followup episode on Millennium, even if you've never watched that show:

Season 2, Episode 9: Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense

While it doesn't quite live up to Jose Chung's From Outer Space, Chung's second appearance is a lot of fun, and a great showcase for Charles Nelson Reilly. While it lacks stop-motion kaiju and its unreliable narratives aren't quite so twisty, it reuses a lot of the devices from that first outing and does a great job of maintaining its tone.


And if you're not a fan of Jose Chung's From Outer Space, I can only conclude that you need to watch Jose Chung's From Outer Space. And then watch Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Friday » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:43 pm

Just watched the new episodes. Wasn't completely sold on it until Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster. Man, Darin Morgan is fucking amazing. Great episode, easily the equal of the best the series had to offer previously.
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Re: X-Files

Postby Spooky Skeleton » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:16 am

The show has felt pretty hokey to me so far. Mulder doesn't seem in character and that first episode was REALLY wack. The part where they were talking about the new conspiracy back and forth based on... Mulder having seen a fancy ship in a hanger so now he knows everything? It didn't make any sense and I honestly wasn't sure if they were serious through the whole discussion. I thought maybe Mulder was trying to catch the Alex Jones guy in a lie or something. Then suddenly, the army blows up the spaceship almost comedically and a ufo takes away the girl. The tone was very off for me.

Darin Morgan's episode was good. It was very silly, but it had me genuinely laughing multiple times. The only thing hurting it was Mulder's performance, which again feels a little off. I loved the twist of the monster being a were man and not the other way around, though I sort of wished that they had explained the real murderer a little more. Has he been unintentionally cursing other animals into facing the rat-race, lying their way through each work day only to reflect in horror the next night upon what they've done and what they've been through?

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Re: X-Files

Postby Thad » Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:39 pm

I'd say the first two episodes were not very good but I liked them anyway because of Duchovny and Anderson's chemistry. They're not going on the list but I don't feel like I wasted two hours of my life either.

Were-Monster goes on the list; I think it's in the all-time top 10 and maybe top 5.

I'm not sure what you mean about Mulder's performance being off, unless you mean his transformation into a middle-aged sad-sack, which I thought both the script and Duchovny handled really well.

Now, there's a downside to doing the "someone tells Mulder the government made the whole thing up to discredit him, and he loses faith" plot, and it's that they did it in season 5. On the one hand, I think you're right that My Struggle didn't do its job in selling Tad O'Malley's conspiracy theories as enough to convince Mulder (again!) that everything he thought was real was a lie, and a part of me is holding out hope that the finale will reveal that he never really swallowed Tad's bullshit. On the other hand, I like resigned fiftysomething David Duchovny handling the crisis of faith a lot better than I like late-30's David Duchovny handling it in season 5.

And, as silly as Were-Monster is, I love the idea that it's a goofy monster-of-the-week case that helps get Mulder back to his old self. There's a sort of current of melancholy and hopelessness that runs under most of Darin Morgan's episodes (and this one is no exception, really; just look how that poor creature's life was ruined when it was cursed with human consciousness), but there's also a sort of giddy celebration of all things weird that goes all the way back to his first episode, Humbug, and it's fitting that this episode ends on the latter note.

I could be overthinking things in saying that this episode feels like a love letter to all the weird, funny, one-off monster-of-the-week episodes. But given how meta Morgan's gone in the past, I'm willing to bet it was intentional.

And there's something kind of wonderful about the idea that Mulder sticks with this stuff for the same reason I do: not because he's obsessed with finding out what happened to his sister, but because there's just so much crazy, ineffable shit going on in the world and he wants a front-row seat.

Of course, there's another explanation, too, that's been hinted at and which I'd kinda like it if they'd just come out and say it: Mulder is bipolar. Scully mentioned a depression diagnosis back in My Struggle, which gets us halfway there.

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Re: X-Files

Postby Friday » Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:07 pm

I'd say the first two episodes were not very good but I liked them anyway because of Duchovny and Anderson's chemistry. They're not going on the list but I don't feel like I wasted two hours of my life either.


Yeah, that's basically how I felt. The magic didn't return for me until Were-Monster, but the first two eps were enjoyable enough, like you said, mostly carried by the chemistry of Mulder and Scully. (Which can also be said for, like, most of the series.)

Were-Monster goes on the list; I think it's in the all-time top 10 and maybe top 5.


It's top five for me for sure. I'm not going to say it's better than Clyde or Jose Chung, because it probably isn't, but it's of the same caliber as those episodes.
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