Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The X-Files, Episode 9.19 - "The Truth"

I never watched The X-Files as it was originally airing. That’s probably for the best – I don’t think I would have liked it as a kid. Would I have latched on to Mulder and Scully’s platonic relationship, or would I have spent the whole time annoyedly waiting for them to get together? Would I have endured the ‘freak of the week’ episodes that make up a majority of the series? Would the Syndicate and the alien conspiracy have held my attention? It’s hard to say. I did really love Lois & Clark, and would probably have made a comparison between the two shows. They’re similar shows on some levels, but The X-Files is unquestionably the better show. That said, it didn’t have Superman in it, so I probably wouldn’t have been quite as into it.

I’m glad I came to The X-Files when I did. As an adult I think I’m better equipped to handle the “slow burn” pace of the series, to tease out answers and clues from sentences half-spoken by cigarette-smoking men, to enjoy the silly one-off episodes and the heavier mytharc stories, and to appreciate the depth of the relationship between Mulder and Scully. The series was always about Mulder’s search for the truth, but over the course of nine years it became just as much Dana’s search, though she remained the more sensible one about it (what else would you expect from a scientist?).

The truth is over there, where they’re looking.

And so we have the series finale to The X-Files, the end of nine years of weekly monsters, shadowy figures, and Mulder’s quest for The Truth. A finale that, hopefully, wraps up the threads of those nine years and gives the characters – and the viewers – a satisfying sense of closure. It was a long trip for me to get here – not nine years long thanks to the wonders of home video, but long nonetheless – and I was looking forward to the end, even though I’d heard enough about it already not to expect everything to be wrapped up neatly.

And boy, what a mess it still was at the end.

This oversized episode is comprised mainly of two parts – Mulder’s trial for the murder of Knowle Rohrer (not at all how I thought his name should be spelled), and Mulder and Scully’s adventures after he escapes from military custody. The first part was enjoyable, in a ‘Fox Mulder, this is your life!’ kind of way. It reminded me of the series finale of Seinfeld, where they trotted out characters from previous episodes (“Look, it’s Andrea from The Walking Dead!”) and reminded you of how great the show once was. We even get to see some long-dead characters in the form of random Mulder hallucinations. Mulder’s plan was to use the trial to expose the Syndicate and the alien conspiracy. Needless to say, he failed, but it was a fun trip down memory lane.

The second part was kind of a mess, with Scully, Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, and AD Kirsch helping Mulder escape, and then Mulder and Scully taking off for New Mexico rather than bee-lining it to the border like any escaped felon would do. The others go to work the next day like nothing’s happened only to discover that stuff did indeed still happen and the bad guys know where Mulder and Scully are going and are on their way to kill them, thus giving Doggett and Reyes something to do for the rest of the episode. In the desert (you can’t remember your name), Mulder and Scully find the Cigarette Smoking Man hiding out in some old Pueblo ruins, and he confirms what Mulder and the quick-reading audience discovered in the first scene of the episode – that an alien invasion is scheduled for December 22nd, 2012 (so, two weeks ago this Friday). Then they leave, some military helicopters blow up the ruins and kill CSM, and that’s pretty much the end. Doggett and Reyes show up for a few minutes, too, but they really don’t serve much of a purpose.

”We’ll just stand over here and stay out of the way.”

Honestly, it’s more than a bit underwhelming. There’s very little to be satisfied about here. Things happen very fast, but at the same time nothing really happens at all. There’s no resolution to anything. Alan Dale is still a super-soldier and still a high-ranking government official. There’s no indication given of how our heroes might stop the impending alien invasion, just that they’re not going to give up. We get a return visit from Gibson Praise, a young mind reader who has been in hiding since the end of season 5, and we are told that his life could be in danger, but there’s never any threat made against him. Mulder has the aforementioned random visits from the ghosts of Krycek, the Lone Gunmen, and Mr. X, but it’s never explored why he would be hallucinating. Overall there’s absolutely no sense of urgency to what could and rightfully should have been an epic series finale.

That was really a problem for the whole ninth season, actually. The second-to-last episode of the series – what you would expect to be a direct lead-in to the finale, building towards some sort of a climax – was a standalone episode about a man who could make his house look like the one from The Brady Bunch. It was a very enjoyable episode, but at the same time, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Is that it? Shouldn’t you be doing something?’ I never felt like season nine was going anywhere. It’s unfortunate that the finale basically proved that feeling right.

Did you remember that Cary Elwes was on the show? Neither did I and I just watched it.

I will miss these characters, Mulder and Scully and Skinner and even Doggett and Reyes, who really grew on me once they started to be more fleshed-out. I understand that Chris Carter’s plan was to use the finale as a jumping-off point for a series of movies that have, thus far, never come to fruition. With the date of the alien invasion having passed, I would be interested to see what has become of our heroes. I’m still disappointed in how the series itself ended, though, not with a bang but with an unresolved whimper.

Friday, December 28, 2012


I think I am predisposed to like doctor shows. I have very fond memories of watching ER as a kid and of how engrossed I was in the characters’ lives and in the patients they saw every week. As far as I’m concerned, ER will always be the bar by which all other doctor shows are measured.

It’s inevitable, then, that I would want to compare Grey's Anatomy to ER. That’s not a fair comparison, though, since, while they’re both essentially doctor shows, they’re also completely different. ER was fairly serious drama about intelligent people saving lives. Grey's Anatomy, on the other hand, is a show centered around a group of narcissists who take turns sleeping with each other and occasionally pretend to be doctors in order to make themselves feel better about what messes they’ve made of their lives. The fact that any of them is a doctor is really tangential to the fact that they’re all completely stupid.

We're doctors! Woo!

Am I being hard on Grey's Anatomy? If I am, it’s only because no one on the show is doing it him or herself. Meredith Grey is a protagonist who consistently manages to make the problems of her patients instead about herself. She is so busy establishing metaphors between her patients’ ailments and her own trivial problems that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her practice any medicine. She talks to patients a lot, sure, but most of the other characters on the show are surgeons, and when the time comes to actually heal someone I feel like Meredith’s more likely to run off and talk to her therapist than she is to cut into someone’s abdomen.

The object of Meredith’s incessant crazy is Derek Shepard, who may or may not be a distant relative of Dr. Jack Shepard. Making a connection between this show and Lost makes it infinitely more interesting, and leads me to believe that Seattle Grace may actually be some hell dimension from which light and goodness cannot escape and where the Man in Black (Titus Welliver, not Johnny Cash) rules supreme. Apparently Derek Shepard is dreamy, which we know not because of anything particularly dreamy that he has done, but because Meredith and Christina Yang refer to him as McDreamy. Using the ‘Mc’ prefix is actually pretty apt here, as Derek is probably the most generic guy on the show – he’s protrayed by Patrick Dempsey, the McDonalds of actors, a poor man's Rob Lowe who resembles a good actor but is no where near as good as the real thing. The audience has the benefit of seeing Derek when Meredith and Christina aren’t around, and I wonder, if they saw all of the pissing and moaning that he does when they’re not around, if they would still find him as McDreamy. I would refer to him as McNugget.

Would you like fries with me?

Meredith’s best friend for some reason is Christina Yang, an actually likable person who helps make the show watchable. She has personality, intelligence, and she’s actually a good doctor. The thing holding her back for a few seasons was her attachment to uber-douche Preston Burke, played by real-life horrible person Isaiah Washington. Her decision to help him hide a hand tremor was a bad one, for sure, but it’s definitely not as bad as some of the decisions others on the show have made, and it resulted in her becoming a good surgeon. I also like how she occasionally yells at Meredith for being stupid. She should really do that more often. Did I mention that she gets impaled by a falling icicle at one point? Because that is a thing that happens, too. Don’t worry, it didn’t hit anything vital. Just her pride.

And then there’s Izzie Stephens, played by the Rainbow Killer herself, Katherine Heigl. As an intern, Izzie fell in love with a patient who needed a heart replacement. Rather than do what a normal person would do, she decided to stop his heart on purpose in order to speed up the necessity for his heart transplant. And then she did it. She stopped his heart on purpose. He received the new heart according to plan, but then died anyway when he had a stroke. Izzie quit the intern program after killing her fiancée on purpose, but then came back after she inherited 8 million dollars from her dead fiancée who she helped kill on purpose. She is now a full-fledged doctor, and not in jail or a mental institution like she should be for killing a patient on purpose.

And I'll do it again if I have to.

I could go on, about Karev also falling in love with a patient who happened to be an amnesiac, or about O’Malley and his uncomfortable sexual escapades, or how the show has forced a storyline where Callie Torres (O’Malley’s wife, for a brief time) is basically goaded by one of the male doctors to fall in love with a female doctor with whom she has zero actual on-screen chemistry. The actual adults on the show – Doctor Bailey, and the Chief (I don’t know his name, they just call him Chief, but he's actually FBI Assistant Director Kirsch from The X-Files, so that's pretty weird) – are pretty good, what with the being actual adults and taking their responsibilities seriously. They have their silly moments, sure, but they are never as laughably bad as the other characters on the show.

So why am I watching this show? That is an excellent question. Sometimes, after a long day at work, you just want to watch something that doesn’t make you think about anything. And since Jennie doesn’t like cartoons, we instead watch Grey's Anatomy. It’s basically a cartoon, but more ridiculous.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Felicity, Episode 1: Pilot

So, we decided to watch the pilot of Felicity tonight.  It’d been a long weekend and we were both pretty tired, and we wanted something we didn’t have to think about too much.  For some reason Jennie was not in the mood for anything funny (I know, what?), but when I suggested Felicity she was all over it.  That’s right.  I suggested Felicity.
I would probably not even think of watching this series if J.J. Abrams wasn’t involved.  It kind of boggles my mind that the guy behind Lost and Fringe is behind this show as well.  He wrote the pilot, and Matt Reeves (the director of Cloverfield, if I’m not mistaken) directed.  Keri Russell is the title character, in case you were under a rock in 1998.  The pilot also stars Scott Speedman as Ben, Amy Jo Johnson as Julie, and Scott Foley as Noel (pronounced ‘Knoll’, just so you know).  There are some other characters, but they’re not that important, this is really a four-person show at this point.

For a pilot, this thing really moved along.  It was only 44 minutes long, but it definitely felt longer.  I don’t meant that to sound like it was boring – I mean a lot of stuff happened.  There’s a thing in comic books called ‘decompressed storytelling’, or, put another way, ‘writing for the trade.’  It’s where two or three issues worth of story are stretched into six or seven issues so that it will be better able to be sold as a collected edition later on, and it is one of the main things that I hate about current comics.  Single-issue comic book stories are all but a thing of the past at this point, and it’s terrible.  The pilot of Felicity is the exact opposite of decompressed storytelling. It honestly felt like a season’s-worth of stuff happened.  Feelings are confessed more than once, friends betray each other, and Felicity has multiple nutball meltdowns throughout.  Storylines that could have been played out over the course of thirteen or twenty-two episodes are completely blown through, and it’s amazing.  There’s a lot of status to quo here, and they don’t waste any time doing it, and it’s incredibly refreshing.

"Basically, I'm crazy, is where we're at right now."

Felicity, as mentioned, is nuts, and also kind of a disaster at life.  I know she’s a teenage girl, with the hormones and the not thinking about things before she does them, but man, this whole thing is just a cluster almost from the moment we meet her.  She chooses to upend her life and go to college in New York, partly to spite her super-controlling parents, but mostly because she’s got it bad for Ben.  They’ve never been together.  They’ve hardly ever even spoken.  But after he writes some nice stuff in her yearbook, she decides that this is a healthy thing for her to do.  Then, when things don’t go exactly as she hoped they would, she waffles back and forth between going back home to do what her parents want her to do and sticking it out, trying to be friends with Ben and have a life of her own.  Ultimately she decides on the latter, but the road to get there is not pretty.  I hope she gets less bananas.  Then again, like I said, she’s a teenage girl, so what am I supposed to expect?

Ben seems like kind of a man-whore.  When Felicity first runs into him in New York, he’s got some girl on his arm, and they kiss and seem really close, and then we never see her again.  Then he’s hooking up with Julie after who knows how many dates (I’m thinking one).  Maybe he’s not really a man-whore, but I think he has man-whore potential.  He’ll bang anything that moves if it’s not Felicity.  That’s rough.

Noel reminds me of Xander Harris, in the best way possible. I have a friend who hates Xander, and there is something wrong with her because Xander is the most likable character ever, except for when he’s mean to Anya.  But in the ‘super-likable’ category, Noel fits right in, especially when he confesses his feelings for Felicity.  Jennie and I are both immediately on Team Noel.  Too bad I know that, in real life, he cheated on Jennifer Garner.  No man cheats on Agent Sydney Bristow and lives to tell the tale as far as I’m concerned.  Noel must inevitably die.

At no point in the pilot did Amy Jo Johnson duck off to morph into the Pink Power Ranger.  That made me sad.  She did, however, wear two different earrings throughout the episode.  That also made me sad.  Where does she do her jewelry-shopping, in people’s trash cans?

I could probably do more to tear into this, but, honestly, I enjoyed it.  I know there will probably not be any smoke monsters or parallel universes on this series, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.  It’s pretty brainless so far, no matter how hard the characters try to sound deep and smart.  Kids, amirite?  Also, I’m already ‘shipping Felicity and Noel, and I do enjoy a good ‘ship.  We’ll see how this thing goes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The X-Files: Jersey Devil

From what I remember, Mulder falls in love with a wild woman in this episode. That's...about all I remember.


Some family is driving along a deserted road, singing Bingo, which I didn't realize existed in 1947. They're having way too much fun but don't worry, soon they blow a tire so no more fun for them! The dad knocks his flashlight into the woods while he's changing the tire. He says "darnit," though, not FUDGE. Oh, man, he straight up gets dragged into the woods while his wife watches. Sorry, wife, he's probably dead.

The next day, some dogs and men scout the area but everyone knows that the dogs do all the work in this kind of situation. They find the dead dad, minus one leg, which was eaten off. Someone barfs and it wasn't me, I swear. They find someone, "as tall as a house," in a cave or something and because they're ascared, they all shoot it a million times with a million guns.



Hey guess what, it's time for Mulder to present a crazy case to Scully so she can shoot down all of his theories. Scully enters the office and finds Mulder reading a nudie magazine. At work. Sure.

The FBI's HR department is very lenient.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead

Previously on Doctor Who...the Doctor invited Rose to be his companion, she said yes, and they went to the future to fix some fucked up shit. So now, naturally, they're going to the past to (probably) fix some fucked up shit.

The episode opens with some guy wandering around an old-timey house. We discover he's an undertaker when he comforts a young man who is standing over the dead body of his old aunt or something. The undertaker gives the young man a moment to himself and that's when his aunt comes back to life, kills him, and then escapes from the funeral home.


The undertaker, whose name is Mr. Sneed, orders his assistant or maid or something, Gwyneth (not GOOP Gwyneth, but Gwen Cooper from Torchwood only not really never mind, but anyway, I'll be calling her GOOP) to go find the zombie lady. Meanwhile, the Doctor is telling Rose they're going to 1860 and, with her help, he lands the TARDIS. They fall to the floor (they need to work on the landing) and giggle because they are BFF.

Was it good for you?

Friday, April 1, 2011

The X-Files: Conduit

I don't remember exactly when I started watching The X-Files (I was 11 when the show started, and I doubt I was allowed to watch it then because, at the time, I wasn't even allowed to watch The Simpsons), but I think my mom had something to do with it. She came home one day with some of those X-Files VHS sets. You know, the ones that were like three tapes and each tape had two "important" episodes on them? I had a shitload of these. I might still have them somewhere, which is dumb, because I don't even have a VCR.

Well, Conduit, the fourth episode of season one, was on one of those tapes (along with the Pilot), but it was never one of my favorites. I'm not sure why now, because on rewatch, it's easy to see how important it is to the series. It's the first time you really see how much Mulder's sister's disappearance fucked him up, like, forever times a million, and I think it's the first time he acts like a pissy little bitch because Scully is concerned and tries to reign him in. I mean, it definitely won't be the last time, either, so poor Scully.

The episode opens with a family camping. The two kids are sleeping outside and the mom is sleeping inside the camper, but she wakes up when it starts shaking. There's a closeup of a cup of coffee and it's all Jurassic-Park-shakedown, and for a minute I wonder if I forgot there was a T-Rex in this episode.

coffee cup
Hold on to your butts.

One of the kids, a teenage girl named Ruby, is abducted, as her young brother, Kevin, watches.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Doctor Who, Episode 2: The End of the World

Netflix synopsis: The Doctor and Rose board the TARDIS and travel to the year 5 billion, the eve of Earth's apocalypse. As various alien emissaries gather to witness the end, one among them has deadly intentions.

The episode begins where the last one ended, with Rose running straight into the TARDIS. The Doctor asks if she wants to go to the past or to the future and here is where Rose and I differ: I would pick going to the past (because of dinosaurs) but she chooses to go to the future. They start by going 100 years into the future, then 10,000 (to the new Roman empire), but the Doctor says that's totally boring. Rose teases the Doctor all, "You think you're so impressive," and he's like, "I AM so impressive," which...yeah. He takes the bait, though, and sets the TARDIS for KICKASS.

They end up in what looks like a spa. But then big window appears and it turns out they are in the best spa ever, floating high above the Earth. IN SPACE. They're 5 billion years in the future, which is way more than 100 years (MATH). They watch the sun rise over the Earth and the Doctor welcomes Rose to the end of the world. Uh, downer. Nice view, though.

Best date ever?

It turns out they're on some space station called Platform One that's orbiting the Earth. Everyone is there for the big Earth Death party. In the future, rich people watch planets burn up for funsies and the Earth is set to burn in half an hour. You know, this seems like an odd place to take Rose for the first time. That's her home and it's about to burn up in the sun. Anyway, the Doctor explains this all to Rose very matter-of-factly, and Rose wonders whether that's what the Doctor does...runs in and saves the Earth at the last minute. Which...yes, but not this time. He says the Earth's time is up, but not to worry, because all the people have left. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DUCKS? WHAT OF THE POOR, BABY ANIMALS?!