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‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

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‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Fri 15 Dec - 15:12

‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review: Mulder and Scully Return, and The Results Are Genuinely Exciting

No spoilers, but based on the first five episodes of the show's 2018 return, the show feels far more in line with the Emmy-winning drama it was during its prime.

Liz Shannon Miller
32 mins ago
@lizlet



When “The X-Files” returned to Fox in January 2016 after lying dormant for years, no one was really quite sure what to expect. After all, sometimes when a beloved franchise dusts itself off for a new run of episodes, it works. But sometimes, the end result is best described as, well, dusty — which was the case with Season 10 (or, if you like, a special Fox “event series”), a mixed bag of episodes which reunited stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny with creator Chris Carter, but at best was clumsy and at worst a pale echo of the once-great drama.

In reviewing the Season 10 cliffhanger finale, “My Struggle II,” IndieWire noted that if the show had ended there forever, it would have been a real tragedy for the show’s legacy. However, the season overall was enough of a disappointment to leave us nervous about what would happen when Fox (inevitably) greenlit a follow-up season.

While the show returns the first week of January, Fox has now provided critics with screeners for the first five episodes. And let’s get this out of the way first: The season premiere, entitled “My Struggle III,” is not good — specifically, it’s not good in the same ways as the previous two “My Struggle” episodes, with slightly better pacing but a few bonus moments of bad choices and confusing plotting.



Following up on the events of the Season 10 finale (to some degree), the Chris Carter-written-and-directed installment is our re-entry point into the show’s completely tangled mythology, but the storytelling is messy and unfocused. In addition, it ends with a reveal that won’t endear the show to longtime fans, and (depending on how the show follows up on it) could prove deeply problematic.

That’s the bad news. However, there’s some very good news: The following four episodes made available to critics, which follow the case-of-the-week model, represent a true return to form for the series. With a confidence that was lacking in the six episodes that made up Season 10, there are some intriguing mysteries, some eerie moments, solid action, and — praise the Lord and little green men — a fantastic comedy installment written and directed by the always-amazing Darin Morgan.

In the Peak TV era, there’s a question to be asked about what role procedurals still have in the current landscape, and why they are still so popular with certain audiences. It’s an issue which might initially make for an easy “Oh, those shows are for moms” dismissal. But that’s not really true, because anyone can get sucked into a procedural under the right circumstances.

When a majority of these first episodes of Season 11 operate in this framework, “The X-Files” presents example after example of why the format can be so engaging. With procedurals, we know that by the end of the episode, a crime will be resolved in some way; the anticipation which drives us to watch is driven by the opportunity to see a mystery solved, as well as the opportunity to watch beloved characters solve it.


Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in “The X-Files” Season 10.
Ed Araquel/FOX

The episodes of Season 11 which fall under that umbrella very much embody that concept, especially when the writers and directors make the bold choice to let Anderson and Duchovny share multiple scenes together. While there are many instances of Mulder and Scully going off on their individual pursuits, the best moments we’ve seen so far in these new episodes all feature this legendary duo working in sync.

In fact, Anderson and Duchovny’s chemistry has rarely been better in the 20-plus years they’ve been playing these characters. While, during much of Season 10, they seemed a bit hamstrung and subdued by the fact that both professionally and personally, their characters were no longer involved, Season 11 allows Mulder and Scully to stay on the same page. And the duo really let their characters’ deep history play out on screen, showcasing their natural familiarity and reminding us just why this show has kept its fans engaged for so long.

Season 11 so far isn’t flawless, but it’s a lively, character-focused affair that feels far more unified than we’d ever anticipated, a massive improvement over Season 10 that gives us genuine hope for the second half. For the first time in a while, we’re truly excited to see more.

Grade: B+

“The X-Files” Season 11 premieres Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. on Fox.


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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Mon 18 Dec - 11:52

Dec 18, 2017 @ 11:55 AM 359

'The X-Files' Season 11 Review: Starts Bad. Gets Better.

Merrill Barr , Contributor


Robert Falconer/FOX
THE X-FILES: The all-new 10-episode installment of THE X-FILES will once again be executive-produced by creator Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny (L) and Gillian Anderson (R) returning in their roles as iconic FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. The event series will air during the 2017-2018 season. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.

Ratings:

In 2016, the return of The X-Files took the TV world by storm, scoring far higher than anyone expected (and better than basically any other fan-favorite return has since the trend came into vogue).

However, much of that traction could be attributed to the season premiere being paired with Fox’s biggest non-Super Bowl NFL event, The NFC Championship Game.

The viewership of that bout gave 2016’s X-Files premiere a healthy live viewership of 16.9 million viewers. 5 million of which was lost between weeks one and two.

This year, the show doesn’t have a powerful lead-in to kick off the return. It just has the power of its own buzz.

Of course, Fox would be happy if the show debuted with just the 7.6 million viewers it ended last season with. Those kinds of numbers are still hit demos in modern-day broadcast television. But, in the end, it’s all rather meaningless.

Like before, these new episodes are going to create new interest in syndication and streaming deals for the massive library of existing episodes. No matter what happens, Fox has already made its money back multiple times over with this one.

Review:

The first episode of The X-Files’ 2018 return is bad. It’s as bad as you feared it would be following a cliffhanger that did nothing more than write the show into a corner getting out of was going to be damn near impossible.

It’s the kind of episode that makes one wonder if there’s hope for the franchise anymore. But, then it passes and we move forward.

That great thing about having more episodes this season (ten vs 2016’s six) is there are more opportunities to create the kind of episodes that made the original series such a runaway cult-hit.

Especially in the fifth episode are we reminded how beautiful The X-Files can be. It’s the kind of episode fans will be saying stands up to anything the pre-feature film run had to offer.

Additionally, in the first five episodes of the season we get some offerings of extreme comedy on the level of last season’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” and plot-points that leave us with a lot to ponder heading into the remainder of the season.

When the show is firing it’s firing. But, when it’s not… you can feel it.

One episode, in particular, feels a lot like The Last Jedi in terms of its message to the audience. It’s an episode that will leave one wondering if it’s time to let go of the past and just accept the existing product for what it is: a wacky paranormal adventure with characters we just can’t get enough of.

The best advice one can give fans for the latest run of the Fox favorite is don’t be dissuaded by a premiere that’s going to be one of the most divisive episodes of the series ever produced. Things do indeed get to a place of wonder by the mid-point of the season.

The X-Files premieres Wednesday, January 3rd at 8/7c on Fox


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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Thu 21 Dec - 13:03

The X-Files Review: The Truth Is Here—the New Season Is Good

by Chris Harnick | Thu., Dec. 21, 2017 11:00 AM


The truth is out there, and you're going to like it: The X-Files is back—again—and this time in true fighting form. Yes, it appears second time is the charm for Mulder and Scully.

Fox's second (and possibly last) event series for the iconic show starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully is 10 episodes this time, and it seems Chris Carter and Co.—which includes new writers and directors—have found their footing after the 2016 run of six episodes. Without spoiling key plot points, The X-Files tackles the modern landscape—both technological and political—and propels the show and characters forward. The first return felt like the show was relearning to walk; now it's off and running.


Fox

Of the five episodes made available to review, the season 11 premiere is by far the weakest. There are some questionable story choices, but I want to believe Carter and his team of writers know what they're doing here. While "My Struggle III" was a bit of a stumble, the other four episodes are strong outings in The X-Files lore. The standalone episodes serve to further both the overarching conspiracy storyline and the dynamic between Mulder and Scully in a way the first revival season failed to do. These episodes successfully built on the stories before them while feeling original and timely.

Just wait until episode four, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," airs. It's a Darin Morgan offering and that means it's truly bizarre in the best way possible. The episode may or may not include the phrase "leprechaun taint" and several mentions of the Shaquille O'Neal flick Kazaam. Need I say more? Well, this specific episode also tackles the new times we live in, the era of "fake news." President Donald Trump's presence is felt throughout the episodes and his stance on the FBI is wisely used to the show's advantage. Now Mulder and Scully are federal agents on the outs for other reasons besides being assigned to the X-files.


Fox

The force that keeps The X-Files buoyed is the same thing that made it a hit the first place: the chemistry between Anderson and Duchovny, and that translates to the spark between their characters. The two seem more engaged with the material this time around, from an intense action scene to the comedy aspects that have always been a part of the series. Who knew Mulder using slang, like the non-word "adorbs," and Scully calling somebody "bro," both somewhat ironically, would work? The series also changes the dynamic between Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and our two heroes in a nostalgic way that works.

If this is the last time The X-Files comes back for either a while or ever, which seems to be the case based on Anderson's comments, and the remaining five episodes remain solid, the series is poised to go out on top.

Be sure to come back to E! News for more on The X-Files, including interviews with Carter, Duchovny and Anderson.

The X-Files returns Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. on Fox.


E! Online

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Thu 21 Dec - 13:20



The X-Files Season 11 Review: Series Benefits from Age and Experience

Carissa Pavlica at December 21, 2017 2:00 pm.



We're less than two weeks from the return of The X-Files Event Series - Second Chapter, the official term given to The X-Files Season 11 by Fox.

Critics received the first five episodes the second chapter, and herein I'll share thoughts on what we've seen so far.

Going by the numbers only, it seems likely the first half of the season will be better than the second, but even then, it should hold up well in comparison to the First Chapter of the Event Series. Here's why.


When speaking with Chris Carter at New York Comic Con, he noted that within the ten episodes we would be receiving three mythology episodes instead of the two. Bookends and one hybrid monster-of-the-week/mythology in the middle.

The problem with that from what I've seen so far is My Struggle III, the premiere of The X-Files Season 11, is by far the most ill-conceived of the five offered for review.

Not only is it unclear who is struggling during the episode, but the ramifications of the latest mythology "updates" could rock the series and fandom in ways never before experienced. Of course, with two remaining mythology installments left during the final five episodes of the season, what's up for grabs is anybody's guess.

What's done could be undone, redone, or reinvented entirely. It's all at the whim of Chris Carter.


Three of the remaining five episodes available for review felt like old times with The X-Files but with characters who have grown to love and respect one another.

It is the first time Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are all in as Scully and Mulder, not because of anything they are doing differently, but because the writing is allowing for it.

The maturing of Mulder and Scully is the best thing about the second chapter, and in the first five episodes, the two are together more often than not, relying on one another hesitation. They're well beyond the period of reuniting, and their partnership is stronger than ever.

There is a wide range of writing, too, allowing for them to have emotional moments topped immediately by the silly, the behavior they became known for so well during the initial nine-season run.

The X-Files Season 11 Episode 2, "This," written and directed by Glen Morgan is a wonderful episode reuniting Scully and Mulder with an old friend in an impossible way. The hour feels like a call-out to Black Mirror reminding Charlie Brooker who held the reins on the past, present, and future long before he entered the race.


The X-Files Season 11 Season Episode 3, "Plus One," is written by Chris Carter and directed by Kevin Hooks and features the return of Karin Konoval who starred as the mother in one of the most frightening hours of television ever aired, The X-Files Season 4 Episode 2, "Home."

While I don't think it will have the same effect as her previous role, her dual role does leave a lasting impression.

The X-Files Season 11 Episode 4, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," is written and directed by Darin Morgan, examining The Mandela Effect, in which large groups of people remember an alternate history. Brian Huskey guests as "Reggie Something," and the crowd will go wild.

It's of a different nature than The X-Files Season 10 Episode 3 and the Were-Monster, but equally as enjoyable. It's easily the highlight of the first five in terms of originality, use of the full scope of the series' history, and the downright fun that's had while watching.


"Ghouli," The X-Files Season 11 Episode 5 is written and directed by James Wong features a modern monster-of-the-week type format that ties into information that could lead Scully and Mulder to their son, William. This, it seems, could be the hybrid, but I'm hesitant to call it that since it's not written by Carter.

If it's not the hybrid mythology hour, it should surely lead into it given the involvement of William. It will be nice to get some continuity because up to this point, things flow quite merrily along after an opener that shakes the foundation of The X-Files.

But the mythology issues are not enough to dampen the spirit here. Not even wondering about an appearance from Barbara Hershey apparently keeping in step with her role on the defunct Damien (woman in a clandestine organization) can turn heads from the strength and cohesion of The X-Files Season 11.


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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Thu 28 Dec - 4:12

The X-Files Season 11 Spoiler-Free Review

The X-Files is shockingly more relevant than ever this season.



Chris Longo
Dec 27, 2017

There’s a moment in The X-Files season 11 where Fox Mulder gazes at the tombstone of an old ally and verbalizes the paradox we’re all currently in. “He’s dead because the world was so dangerous and complex back then,” Mulder says. “Who’d have thought we’d look back with nostalgia and say that was a simpler time?”

It’s right there that Mulder cracks the case of why these revivals still appeal to viewers and why The X-Files will once again return with new episodes in 2018, when all logic points to the contrary. Two years after the show was revived to sometimes harsh, sometimes mixed, and in the case of one episode, glowing reviews, the story continues in the 10-episode X-Files season 11. We’ll get this out of the way: It’s a marked improvement over season 10. What’s more encouraging for fans is that The X-Files, against all odds, has taken on a new sense of purpose, one that got lost during the short tenth season.

In speaking with Chris Carter back in September, the series creator told Den of Geek that capturing the zeitgeist in today’s news climate was about as hard as hitting a UFO with a paintball gun: “You actually wonder if what you're writing today will have any bearing on reality when it airs six months later. The zeitgeist seems to be morphing on a daily basis.”

Thankfully for Carter, paranoia and skepticism of the government, hallmarks of the seminal sci-fi series, have grown exponentially since Mulder and Scully left our televisions in 2002. Not only that, but less than a month before The X-Files’ January 3rd premiere, The New York Times published an expose on a top-secret Pentagon program that studied unidentified flying objects, with one high-ranking official going on record to say he believes aliens exist and UFOs have visited earth.

“Now that this story has come out, it is some validation,” Carter told EW after the bombshell New York Times report dropped. “But I still say it’s being treated like it’s tabloid news.”

The story will have little effect on season 11 since it broke while Carter was finishing production of the season finale. However, this season of The X-Files still has plenty to say about the current relationship between the people and its government, the amplification of conspiracy theories and fake information, and maybe best of all, the ongoing beef (to be polite) between the White House and the FBI. 

The X-Files picks up season 11 with “My Struggle III,” in some ways a continuation of the maligned mythology episodes of season 10, and in others a much talked about “reset.” The episode, written and directed by Carter, improves upon the first two “My Struggle” installments by streamlining the mythology into a more coherent good vs. evil battle, setting up the William storyline, and keeping the focus on the major players (Mulder, Scully, Cigarette Smoking Man, and Walter Skinner…. And even Monica Reyes.) Many of the same “My Struggle” problems are still there. For one thing, the pacing feels breakneck and out of sync compared to some of the great Carter-directed mythology episodes of the original run. 

Some of that is made up for with deeper characterization in the second episode, written and directed by Glen Morgan, which acts more like a continuation than a monster-of-the-week episode and finds Mulder and Scully on the run and communicating with an old friend (you can guess who by watching the trailer) in a way I can only describe as Black Mirror-esque.



The Carter-penned third episode, “Plus One,” feels like a throwback monster-of-the-week episode with eerie, offbeat performances, but more importantly it continues to develop Mulder and Scully’s relationship, a theme we’ll see throughout the first half of season 11. That idea is totally flipped on its head in the fourth episode, written and directed by fan-favorite Darin Morgan. I dare to say “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” stars Brian Huskey with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson relegated to supporting roles. The humorous episode might make you question everything you thought you knew about The X-Files, in the best and most light-hearted way possible. Believe it, somehow Morgan topped “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster.”

The early part of the season all leads to “Ghouli,” written and directed by James Wong. All I can say there without spoiling it is that it expertly handles a key part of X-Files lore.

The X-Files comeback had as difficult of a job as any show during this revival era. Forget the question posed to all show revivals, whether we even needed The X-Files to resurface in the first place after nine seasons, two films, and countless comic books, novels, and video games. Chris Carter needed to update the show for the 2010s in a way that didn’t feel tacky, get the agents back into the FBI, wash over the great alien invasion of 2012 that never came to fruition, and drum up new mythology that didn’t retcon the stuff of old. It didn’t pan out quite like he envisioned it. This time around, with what Carter calls a “running start,” The X-Files season 11 sets out to tell a complete story and is halfway to accomplishing that. There may be no perfect end to this story, but it’s a huge win for fans that they’re allowing the smaller character moments to shine (even Mitch Pileggi's Walter Skinner will get a backstory!), when relationships often were overlooked because the monsters or aliens were so blinding. 

The X-Files is shockingly relevant again and tackling current affairs better than it did in its original run and has a lot of fun doing it. That’s a real feat… or is it? That reminds me of a Mulder quote from season six when he was pressed for answers by Assistant Director Kersh. “I’ve had answers for years,” Mulder posits. “Nobody ever listened.”

3.5/5


Den of Geek US

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Fri 29 Dec - 8:00

‘The X-Files’ review: Season 11 is uneven, but mostly pleasurable


David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson star in "The X-Files." Photo Credit: FOX / Robert Falconer

By Verne Gay
verne.gay@newsday.com @vernejgay
December 29, 2017 8:58 AM

THE SERIES “The X-Files”

WHEN|WHERE Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox/5

WHAT IT’S ABOUT Spoiler alert! The world is not yet coming to an end, as indicated at the conclusion of the six-episode 10th season — or reboot of the original (1993-2001) — that aired last February. That doesn’t mean danger isn’t still imminent. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) desperately need to find their lost son, and the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) remains a danger. Meanwhile, there are still X files to get through. This 10-episode season opens with a so-called “mythology” episode (about alien DNA) and closes with one. The other eight will be about individual cases.

MY SAY Most critics savaged the 10th season of “X-Files.” Most viewers were another story. The reboot averaged around 8 million, which is huge on any network these days. Fox — the network, not Mulder — then had to do some fast thinking because the 10th season really was intended to be the end of the truth-is-out-there road. Recall the closing seconds, as Scully stared balefully up at that flying saucer, with an alien virus ravaging the planet. Close to credits, and end of this stemwinder . . . forever.

Then an 11th season got ordered. (Hey, there’s money to be made here. Why not?) Consequently, the opener (“My Struggle III”) has the look, feel, pace and pulse of a show that’s trying to dig itself out of a hole as fast as possible, and running out of shovels in the process. Without giving anything away, there’s stuff about aliens, Smoking Men, DNA, a missing kid and global contagions that come up with every shovelful. Best not to pay too close attention to the details in case “X” has to change them all over again for a possible 12th season.

But by now it should be obvious that we didn’t come to this reboot to square some old circle about alien DNA. You came for the memories. You came for the old friends, two in particular. You came primarily for the non-mythology episodes. At its best, “X-Files” always was an anthology with Dana/Fox as the common thread. The alien conspiracy business was bait held just out of reach, always with the promise of some sort of profound resolution. But, with a nod to Pete Townshend, we should all pick up our guitars and play — but won’t get fooled again. The mythology arc is absolute rubbish.

Fortunately, this new season appears to suspect that and, after that rocky opener, gets down to business. Soon enough, Scully and Mulder are puzzling over a simulated world where great brains like Steve Jobs “live” for eternity. A strange doppelgänger is stalking people. That sounds like a job for the X-Files team.

The best of the five offered for review is very good indeed, and it too is a curtain call from an old friend: Darin Morgan, who wrote so many memorable light “Files” over the years, and returns to write “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” airing Jan. 24. Revolving around the idea of “false memories,” this one doesn’t take long to launch into a brilliantly inventive parody of President Trump and Trump’s America, where Mulder himself finally concedes that “the world has become too crazy for even my conspiratorial powers!” With a cast of characters that includes someone named Reggie Something — played by terrific veteran comic actor Brian Huskey — “Forehead Sweat” is subversive, smart, intricate, bizarre and, above all, hilarious. It’s also a vivid demonstration of why “The X-Files,” after all these years and all those aliens, still deserves our attention and sporadically, even our love.

BOTTOM LINE After a ragged start, “X” gets down to business, and the result is mostly pleasurable.


Newsday

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Fri 29 Dec - 8:05

'The X-Files' Season 11: TV Review

6:55 AM PST 12/29/2017 by Daniel Fienberg


Courtesy of FOX

The truth is that it's still inconsistent.

1/3/2018

Fox's 'The X-Files' is back again with more cumbersome mythology from Chris Carter and another dazzling Darin Morgan standalone.

When The X-Files returned to Fox for its six-episode 10th season in early 2016, the results were quite a roller coaster.

A disheartening and sluggish start with the Chris Carter written-and-directed premiere was followed by increasing optimism for three monster-of-the-week episodes from X-Files veterans James Wong and Glen Morgan, peaking with the third episode, Darin Morgan's silly-and-inspired "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster."

Then with two more Chris Carter-driven mythology episodes, the season fell back into a muddle; the finale closed in such a mess of aliens and viruses that another season was practically required.

That 11th season, this time boosted to 10 episodes, premieres Jan. 3.

Through the season's first five episodes sent to critics, I can affirm that if nothing else, fans and more casual viewers now know what to expect from the new X-Files, so there are no qualitative surprises.

Once again, the series returns with a disappointing mythology episode written and directed by Carter. Make that "a frustratingly disappointing mythology episode," given how the cliffhangers of the last finale are resolved.

The shift from mythology-to-monster X-Files episodes was always a bit on the whiplash-y side. That applies even more so in these condensed Fox seasons that require Mulder (still David Duchovny) and Scully (still Gillian Anderson) one week to be facing a massive, extinction-level event that somehow involves extra-terrestrials and Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and their absent son William, and then the next week have them chilling on the couch watching TV and poking around for oddball occurrences, only to be like, "Oh right! The world is ending!" the week after that.

Yes, that was always the way the show worked, and it always had appreciators who didn't care at all about the grand mythology stuff and just watched for the crazy, contained episodes. Then there were other advocates who put up with the oddballs and freaks just to get one step closer to The Truth. The transitions feel more jarring now, as does the gap in quality.

To give credit, the mythology episodes this season are clearer and more effectively pandering to the audience. Leaving aside the annoying cliffhanger resolution, clunky scene-setting exposition and one horribly staged car chase, the premiere conveys a lot of somewhat new information and keeps repeating the name "William" over and over again so that you're certain Mulder and Scully's kid is going to be central to this run of episodes. It introduces a new character played by Barbara Hershey who has some wide-reaching goals that will impact the rest of the season. It gives the illusion of progress on some fronts, which is probably what fans want. It's the only one of the five episodes Chris Carter directed — Carter wrote the third episode, but Kevin Hooks helmed — and it's the worst of the five episodes by a wide margin.

It takes about two seconds into the second episode, Glen Morgan's "This," to notice the renewed attention to camera placement, sound design and the general atmosphere of paranoia that lapsed in the premiere, even if the plotline involving a reality simulation and a returning character from Mulder and Scully's past isn't very exciting.

There's more improvement in that third episode from Carter and Hooks, "Plus One," especially the work from Karin Konoval, previously seen in the classic episode "Home." It left me feeling like Carter is more of a problem for the franchise as a director than as a writer. When he's left wearing only one hat, his script has a few jokes, and with different guidance, Duchovny and Anderson are giving more relaxed performances.

And so, once again, after a weak opener optimism builds in the lead-up to the episode from Darin Morgan, and once again the Darin Morgan episode is the one episode I'd tell viewers to tune into regardless of their feelings about anything else happening on the show. And, once again, it's an episode that can be seen without watching any of what came before.

"The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is basically plotless, a series of monologues on the Mandela Effect and on the declining power and relevance of truthseekers like Fox Mulder in a "fake news" era. It may come across as more of a brilliant and twisted Twitter thread than a TV episode, but it's funny, insightful, and features a great guest turn from veteran character actor Brian Huskey. It made me wonder if I really need to bother watching future X-Files episodes that come from writer-directors other than Darin Morgan. But that may also be the subtext of the episode, so that's OK.

The last of the five episodes sent to critics is "Ghouli," a solid mythology-monster hybrid from James Wong. It's not as entertaining as the Darin Morgan episode, but few things are. Like "Plus One," "Ghouli" is spooky instead of scary and these early episodes definitely aren't steering into the show's more horrifying territory, if that happens to be what you most enjoy.

Speaking generally, Duchovny and Anderson are more at ease in these five episodes. There's more banter and more flirting, should that be the thing you watch The X-Files for. Mitch Pileggi's Skinner is better utilized, though not for flirting. There's also more of a sense that The X-Files is taking place in 2017 and not just resurrecting old scripts (or, in the case of "Were-Monster," scripts intended for different TV shows). That's evident both in the ways the show acknowledges Donald Trump (without naming him) and in a planned or unplanned mirroring of contemporary events, with an executive branch threat on the FBI (and therefore, our heroes).

Still, anybody hoping for more consistency from The X-Files in this latest resurrection should probably get used to this being what the series is. Since the show is Chris Carter's baby and he isn't going anywhere or loosening up on the reins, you either find the bursts of inspiration and spookiness worth the plodding stretches of perfunctory mythology or you don't.

Network: Fox
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Creator: Chris Carter
Airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.



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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Fri 29 Dec - 8:11

The new season of ‘The X-Files’ is both classic and relevant in the fake news era


Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the "This" episode (Episode 2) of The X-Files. (Fox)

By Caitlin E. O’Conner, Times Entertainment News Editor
Published: December 29, 2017
Updated: December 29, 2017 at 09:51 AM

If you want to believe in The X-Files in 2018, then I have good news. You should.

The 2016 six-episode revival was solid, but Season 11 really hits its stride, flexing the full range of X-Files muscles (horror, sci-fi, mystery, comedy, romance) and fully embracing its aging heroes and place in the age of fake news.

Wednesday’s premiere shows the series mythology or mytharc both at its worst and best, doling out answers to long-held questions (about Mulder’s parentage and the Smoking Man’s motivations) while opening up a dozen more or providing alternative answers no one wants (the episode’s end, ugh). The fast pace, supernatural elements and rapidly complicating web are dizzying, keeping you enthralled but also confused, just where creator Chris Carter wants you as he makes you doubt any and everything he’s already made you believe.

Most confusing is how the events in "My Struggle III" relate to last season’s finale, "My Struggle II," which two years ago ended on a cliffhanger with Mulder suffering in the middle of a bridge from an alien disease unleashed by the Smoking Man. The finale-that-couldn’t-be-a-series-finale left open a million questions about aliens, loyalties and Mulder and Scully’s long-lost son, and even after all this time, you will sadly still wait for answers.

But in the meantime, enjoy a smorgasbord of classic X-Files monsters of the week. After the tumultuous premiere, the next four episodes Fox provided for review are delightful — "back to our bread and butter," Mulder quips.

Episode 2: A wild cyber case. Mulder and Scully versus the NSA, plus a revival of a long-gone character that is well-executed though it seemed impossible.

Episode 3: The X-Files staple investigation of small-town wacky phenomenon — deaths preceded by seeing a doppleganger — with equal amounts horror (beheading!) and humor (flung dookie!).

Episode 4: The full-on Darin Morgan zaniness of episodes like "Jose Chung’s From Outer Space" and last season’s "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster." Laugh at the conspiracies, wacky characters and CGI-or-lack-thereof.

Episode 5: Monster of the week elements in a teen case seemingly inspired by the Slenderman stabbing in Wisconsin. But also ties into key plotlines of the mytharc conspiracy.

Season 11 also reopens the case of Mulder and Scully’s relationship status after they seemed indefinitely broken up. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have never seemed more in synch as a Mulder and Scully who are comfortable, questioning, together against the world and redefining how they fit together.

If classic in style, Season 11 also presses hard to be current and relevant.

There are several rather pointed references to Donald Trump — tensions between "the executive branch" and the FBI come up and, played for comedy, an alien explains in purely Trumpian terms why they’d build a wall to keep humanity out — but the show seems even more interested in fake news.

More than one character uses fake news as a reason that their outlandish conspiracy hasn’t yet been exposed; in such an era, characters argue, who would believe stories of aliens and secret government programs? "Believe what you want to believe. That’s what everybody does nowadays anyway," one says. Belief and "alternative facts" have long been prime X-Files fodder, but has it ever been more relevant than now?

Now if only we can get answers to a
few … more … questions …

Contact Caitlin E. O’Conner at
coconner@tampabay.com.


. WATCH THIS

The X-Files

Season 11 premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Fox. Read recaps Thursday mornings at tampabay.com/blogs/media.


Tampa Bay Times

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Fri 29 Dec - 14:38

Hyped-up ‘X-Files’ returns before finding the truth of the series


Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the new season of “The X Files,” premiering Wednesday on Fox.”

By Rob Lowman | rlowman@scng.com | Daily News
December 29, 2017 at 6:28 am

Midway through the first episode of the 11th season of “The X-Files,” FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) clutches her head and moans, “What’s going on here?”

We can sympathize. Up until then, the episode had played like a frenetic trailer, filled with crazy action and angst. In subsequent episodes, the Chris Carter series settles down to familiar entertaining territory, but there is a danger you might turn it off before then.

The first episode deals with the ongoing conspiracy of the Earth being secretly taken over by extraterrestrials, and it tries to extricate itself from the tricky cliffhanger last season’s six-episode series left it in, setting up who’s good vs. who’s evil. It does so enough to have it be an underlying current until returning to it in the final episode of the 10-part series.

In the eight in-between episodes, “The X-Files” returns to its roots — offbeat paranormal stories and the quirky relationship between Scully and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). In the second episode, apparently exhausted by the hectic pace of the first, the two are passed out on a sofa together when they are contacted by phone by the Lone Gunman, long since dead, warning that bad guys are on the way.

When they visit his grave, Mulder observes, “He’s dead because the world was so dangerous and complex back then. Who’d have thought we’d look back with nostalgia and say that was a simpler time?”

This season, the series, which turns 25 in September, rolls out current news images — North Korea and President Trump, among them — to remind us of those dangers. Still, it doesn’t let that overpower the basic appeal of the show.

This may be the last season of “The X-Files,” although that’s been said before. In any case, it has seemingly brought everyone back. If you can bring the dead back, the others can’t be so hard. We even learn more about Mitch Pileggi’s Walter Skinner background.

And what would the series be without the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis)? Back, too, are Annabeth Gish as former FBI agent Monica Reyes, Veronica Cartwright as Cassandra Spender, Chris Owens as Jeffrey Spender.

Of course, the ongoing question is, Will Scully and Mulder get back together? They had been for a while, enough to produce a son, who was given up for adoption in Season 9 but has disappeared. The search for him proves pivotal this season, although who the father is remains in question.

The partners have been separated as a romantic couple for some time now, and the space between them is fraught with regret and possibility. In this season’s third episode, “Plus One,” there is a fanciful moment where Scully and Mulder speculate whether they will be around for each other when the inevitable happens and they are older with Scully wondering if Mulder would want a younger woman.

“I’ll be there to push you around in a wheelchair,” cracks Mulder — undoubtedly solving “X-Files” cases. You know, the truth is still out there.

‘The X-Files’

What: 10-episode second season (and 11th overall) of the revived series returns with David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis, with appearances by Annabeth Gish, Robbie Amell, Lauren Ambrose, Karin Konoval, Barbara Hershey and Haley Joel Osment.
When: Premieres 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Fox.




Orange County Register

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Sun 31 Dec - 3:32

TV Tidbits: 'X-Files' returning after two-year haitus

By Tim Clodfelter Winston-Salem Journal 11 hrs ago

With the coming of the New Year, we’re getting a bunch of new and returning shows.

One of the most anticipated shows this week is “The X-Files,” which picks up from a huge cliffhanger that has left audiences waiting almost two years. At the end of “My Struggle II,” which aired back on Feb. 22, 2016, a mysterious virus was threatening humankind and Scully (Gillian Anderson) was staring into the lights of what appeared to be an alien starship.

The return episode, “My Struggle III,” (8 p.m. Wednesday on Fox) picks up on that plot, but in ways that may infuriate some viewers and intrigue others. I found it a mess, but the show picks up steadily after that, so fans should power through.

This is the first of 10 new episodes for an eleventh season of “X-Files,” with a mix of episodes that tie into the show’s aliens-and-government-conspiracies arc and ones that are more self-contained.

A recurring theme in season 11, which was largely ignored in season 10, is the search for William, the missing son of Mulder and Scully, who may play a role in the conspiracy (of course).

I’ve seen five episodes of the new season, and it’s all uphill after this week’s mediocre return. My favorite so far is episode four, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” scheduled to air Jan. 24. It is a comical story written and directed by fan favorite Darin Morgan about the “Mandela Effect,” a real-world phenomenon where people share the same false memory. Brian Huskey, a prolific character actor and UNC-Greensboro alumnus, plays a bumbling man who is convinced he is being erased from the memories of everyone around him.

Also notable are the second episode, which finds a fascinating way to revisit a character who died in the original series; and the third episode, with Karin Konoval — who played a memorable, unsettling role in the 1996 episode “Home” — taking on a new role.


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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Sun 31 Dec - 11:20

‘The X-Files’ should not have been brought back again

Scott D. Pierce • Season 11 proves that not all TV shows should be revived.


(Photo courtesy of Frank Ockenfels/Fox) William B. Davis, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Mitch Pileggi star in a new, 10-episode season of “The X-Files,” which premieres Wednesday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. on Fox/Ch. 13.

By Scott D. Pierce ·  2 hours ago

Nearly a quarter-century after it premiered and almost 15 years after it went off the air, “The X-Files” returns — for the second time — and proves one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt: Not all TV shows should come back.

If only Fox would do us a favor and stop bringing this one back. Fans get their hopes up, only to see them crushed again.

It’s not that Season 11 of “The X-Files” is entirely terrible. Just parts of it are terrible — like the fourth episode. Which is supposed to be a comedy. But isn’t.

But it’s also not good. After screening half of the 10 episodes coming our way beginning Wednesday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. on Fox/Ch. 13, my overwhelming feeling is boredom. Even stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson seem to be sleepwalking through much of what happens. The time of “The X-Files” is clearly past.

In 1993, a show about conspiracy theories was out there. Today, conspiracy theories are just part of our everyday lives.

On a related note, if you’re a fan of the current occupant of the White House, you’re not going to like Season 11 of “The X-Files.” There are repeated, unflattering references to America in the age of Donald Trump.

There’s even a play on Trump’s statement that Mexico is “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

If “X-Files” had something new to say, or if it could recapture the old magic, it might be worth reviving. But it doesn’t and it isn’t. And the scenes of romance between Mulder and Scully feel forced — and, worse yet, feel like pandering.


(Photo courtesy of Shane Harvey/Fox) Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the "This" episode of “The X-Files,” which is scheduled to air Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. on Fox/Ch. 13.

There’s a lot of that going on. The episodes reach out for the old fans — even bringing back dead characters — but will scare away any potential new fans, who will find them often indecipherable.

The first episode deals with the ongoing alien conspiracy, and there’s a BIG REVELATION. (No spoilers here.) Except, of course, that it might just be another lie. Which is part of the corner executive producer Chris Carter and his team wrote themselves into midway through the show’s original nine-season run.

Back in 1999, a very grumpy Duchovny dissed the show himself.

Each week something happens to Mulder and/or Scully that is completely life-changing, and yet we come back the next week as if nothing has happened,” he said. “And nobody ever comments on that because these are [the] kinds of lies that are necessary to serialize television. … You cannot have the kind of resolution that you want in life.”

If we ever got an episode that could pull together the loose ends and give us answers to questions first posed almost 25 years ago, it would definitely be worth watching. But the one-step-forward, two-steps-back narrative got old by about 1997.

But this isn’t about art or even entertainment. It’s about commerce. It’s a way for Carter, Duchovny, Anderson and Fox to make some money.

Not that there’s anything wrong with making money, but they’re doing it with an inferior, outdated product.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against revivals. Much to my surprise, the return of “Will & Grace” this season after an 11-year hiatus has been a welcome development. And, after seeing the first two episodes of the “Roseanne” revival, I’m … quite hopeful.

(I’d tell you more, but ABC has embargoed reviews and first impressions. Really.)

But 18 new episodes of “Twin Peaks” accomplished nothing 26 years later. When “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returned after a six-year hiatus, it had become a parody of itself.

If there is any clamor for “American Idol” to return, I haven’t heard it. And yet that show will return in March.

There’s nothing wrong with the idea of recycling old shows — whether they’re revivals with original casts or reboots that reimagine old shows in new ways. (Like The CW’s “Dynasty” or Netflix’s “One Day at a Time,” which are both good.)

But sometimes it’s better to live with our memories with reruns instead of trying to recapture the magic that’s long gone. As is the case with “The X-Files.”

Well, maybe the first four or five seasons of “The X-Files.”

Salt Lake Tribune

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Tue 2 Jan - 8:07

TV This Week: New Year's Eve; 'The X-Files'; 'The Bachelor'; Dave Chappelle; '9-1-1'; 'LA to Vegas'

Updated Dec 31; Posted Dec 31


Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the 2018 limited series revival of "The X-Files." (Fox)

WEDNESDAY

"The X-Files": Following the uneven limited-series revival last year, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are back for another round, which again combines some overarching mythology (the search for Mulder and Scully's son, William) and stand-alone episodes. Based on five episodes made available for preview, things remain uneven -- the first episode is dragged down by more conspiracy blather, interminable voiceover and way too many apocalyptic predictions of doom. And there are a few too many references to Donald Trump's presidency and friction with the FBI, elements that feel dated even as we watch.

But Anderson and Duchovny remain one of the television's best-ever teams, and, personally, I could watch Mulder and Scully on the case, hanging around crummy motels, and questioning squirrely suspects until the alien-cow hybrids come home. (8 p.m. Fox/12)


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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Tue 2 Jan - 8:12

The New ‘X-Files’ Season Is Much Better Than The Last (With One Exception)

Alan Sepinwall
Senior Television Writer
01.02.18


Fox

“Believe whatever you want to believe,” a mystery man tells Fox Mulder. “That’s all anyone does nowadays.”

This bit of depressing wisdom comes late in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” the fourth episode of the newest revival of The X-Files. Written and directed by the famously gifted but elusive Darin Morgan, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is, unsurprisingly, by far the best episode of the new season, which debuts tomorrow night at 8 on Fox. (I’ve seen the first five episodes.) It is, like most of Morgan’s classic episodes (“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” “Humbug”), a potent mix of comedy and tragedy, simultaneously spoofing the series’ most iconic elements while offering a genuinely melancholy spin on both the series and the larger state of the world.

It’s also, however, an argument that The X-Files — the special division of the FBI that Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) used to investigate reports of the paranormal — has long since outlived its usefulness. In the age of “Fake News,” shameless conspiracy theories being turned into political cudgels, and public figures committing brazen crimes in plain sight without feeling the need to cover up or apologize for them, what purpose is there for a team of investigators who specialize in uncovering secrets that figures of power have worked so hard to keep hidden?

More surprisingly, though, these new episodes make a successful argument for the continued life of The X-Files as a TV series.

The 2016 revival season was mostly a mess. The one great episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” was essentially Morgan dusting off an unproduced script (for the short-lived The Night Stalker remake) he’d kept in a drawer for a decade. Two other episodes (one each by series vets Glen Morgan and James Wong) were decent but mostly unmemorable, and the three by series creator Chris Carter were creative disasters: a pair of bookend “mythology” episodes that were both outright gibberish and unintentionally played more like a parody than anything Darin Morgan ever wrote for the show, and an ill-conceived comedy episode about terrorism committed by Muslim extremists.

More than most of the recent wave of TV revivals, those new X-Files episodes illustrated the way that great TV shows are a product of a specific time in the lives of the characters, the people making them, and the audience watching them. The world was too different, Carter was too far removed from the daily grind of making a TV show (and Duchovny was too often content to mail in his performance in the role that made him famous), and Mulder and Scully themselves felt weirdly trapped in amber. Even the one episode that worked entirely was an artifact from an earlier period, largely written only a few years after the original show ended. The finale was so dire, it seemed that the only way to justify an additional season — other than the nostalgic murmuring in the hearts of every mythology expert and Mulder/Scully ‘shipper — would be if Carter was willing to step back and let someone else take control of his creation.

Instead, the creative roster is basically the same for these first five episodes (out of ten): two from Carter (albeit with the second one directed by TV veteran Kevin Hooks, in his first spin at this franchise), one from Wong, and one each from the Morgan brothers.

Things do not get off to a promising start with “My Struggle III,” a continuation of the new, “everything you thought you understood was wrong” mythology that Carter introduced in the 2016 episodes. It is both stilted and incoherent, and the only reason I might advise against skipping it is that the new season is slightly more serialized than The X-Files used to be, with the conspiracy bleeding into several of the largely-standalone Monster of the Week outings(*).

(*) X-Files is one of the shows most directly responsible for the serialization boom in TV drama, yet the series always had a clear separation of church (the mythology) and state (Monster of the Week), with the black oil, the bees, Mulder’s sister, etc., rarely being mentioned in the episodes where Mulder and Scully were traveling the country and looking for a flukeman or a pyrokinetic. (The mythology stories got all the buzz back in the day, but the Monster ones hold up much better now.) Carter and company tried sticking to that structure in the 2016 season, but an audience conditioned by cable and streaming to expect continuity even in standalone episodes grew impatient with the conspiracy being ignored for weeks on end. Given how awful all the new mythology episodes are, the series would be better off abandoning that altogether, but this season at least feels more of a piece, even if it’s a bit harder to cherrypick the good episodes from the terrible ones.

But things perk up instantly with the Glen Morgan-written/directed second episode, “This,” a rollicking action-thriller hour where our heroes investigate a mysterious message left for them by the late Ringo Langly (Dean Haglund), one of the members of the Lone Gunmen. The Carter/Hooks collaboration “Plus One,” where people are haunted by their own doppelgangers, is solid meat-and-potatoes Monster of the Week stuff, bringing back Karin Konoval in a couple of new roles after she previously appeared in both “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and the original series’ most infamous installment, the incest horror story “Home.” And Wong takes over for the fifth episode, “Ghouli,” which seems like it’ll be one kind of X-Files story before taking a sharp and clever turn into being another.

None are classics compared to the best of the original run, but all three are improvements over last season, owing as much to Duchovny seeming more engaged as to the writing. There’s an inescapable sense that these are a bunch of greatest hits from a bygone era — despite near-constant references to tensions between our current presidential administration and the FBI — and that the series’ many successors have built on its foundation and do this kind of thing better now. But there are also advantages to being an oldie-but-goodie. “This” turns out to involve the kind of idea that Black Mirror could tell with more flare and a more unsettling tone, but Duchovny and Anderson’s chemistry(*) is enough to compensate.

(*) One drag: a few different episodes (“Ghouli” in particular) involve our two heroes pondering long and lonely futures as singletons, even though there’s no good reason presented for why they wouldn’t get back together again personally, as well as professionally. It’s like Carter thinks it’s still 1995 and the show will somehow fall apart if he pairs them off. The two seem so comfortable together, it’s distracting each time there’s a reference to them not being a couple, because that’s the opposite of what Duchovny and Anderson seem to be playing.

And “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is special, as much a loving tribute to The Twilight Zone as an examination of where this series belongs, or doesn’t, in Trump’s America. (Mulder admits at one point that he’s lost his giddiness about conspiracy theories, “especially after all this birther stuff.”) Two years ago, I considered “Were-Monster” enough to justify the existence of the entire season, even though large chunks of the rest of it were unwatchable. “Forehead Sweat” is better than “Were-Monster,” and this season as a whole so far is much better than the last one.

It’s not peak, season three X-Files, because too much time has passed, too many stories have been told, and the world is too different from the one in which Mulder and Scully first partnered. But, the mythology episode aside, it’s much better than it has any business being, particularly given what we got two years ago.

“I want to remember how it was,” Scully says late in Darin Morgan’s episode. “I want to remember how it all was.”

These new episodes will make you remember fondly how it all was, in a way I never would have expected given how the previous batch turned out.



(I won’t be recapping the new episodes every week — I have nothing more to say about the premiere than what’s written above — but will check in as often as I can.)


UPROXX

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Tue 2 Jan - 10:32

Review: 'The X-Files' returns with weak story line, but better episodes follow

Rick Bentley | Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, 11:18 a.m.



‘The X-Files'
2.5 Stars
Premiere: 8 p.m. Jan. 3 on Fox

Updated 1 hour ago

Trying to explain what happens in the latest batch of 10 new episodes of "The X-Files" would be complicated enough just because of the strange, bizarre and flexible style of storytelling used in the Fox sci-fi/fantasy drama since it launched in 1993. Add to that a passionate plea from the team behind the show not to give away any details about what transpires after the end of the six-episode run return of "The X-Files" from two years ago and you are just going to have to trust that "The X-Files" is as fascination and frustrating as ever.









In case you forgot, the six-episode run ended with the world on the verge of total annihilation because everyone had lost their immune systems. A host of diseases was set to wipe out all humans. Even Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) looked to have one foot in the grave just at the moment a giant alien-looking craft appeared in the sky.

Details of how that scenario is handled in the new shows are heavily classified, but what can be said is the way the previous short-run series is bridged into the new is very unsatisfying.

One of the hallmarks of "The X-Files" has always been that the thick mythology that ran through the series could be altered or manipulated when needed. It's not a documentary about an FBI team that explores the strange and unusual; it's a fictionalized tale.

The adjustments made for the opening episode show less of the kind of creative skills that made episodes like "Triangle," "Home" and "Ice" so memorable and come across as a uninspired solution to what looked like an unfixable situation.

The good news is the show gets better. Once the bridge has been completed to the new offerings, "The X-Files" shifts into the same kind of alternating storytelling style used from the beginning.




In a 2016 interview to talk about the return of "The X-Files" after 14 years, series creator Chris Carter said, "The signature of the show was we would do a mythology episode, and then you could do a monster-of-the-week episode, and then you can do a comedy episode and go right back to a mythology episode, and it worked, and the audience went with you week to week.

"The thing we became known for was our range, how the show could come right back to its original concept. We did that always in the run of the original series."

Stand-alone episodes have always been the best format for the series, as it would give Mulder and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) the opportunity to investigate and defeat the creature of the week. Solo episodes gave viewers a break from trying to keep track of the complicated threads that had to do with conspiracies, kidnappings, close encounters of the weird kind and how all the histories of the characters align.

That mixing of styles worked as, during its nine-season run, the series went from a sci-fi favorite with a small but loyal fan base to being a massive global hit.

"The X-Files" earned 16 Emmy Awards, five Golden Globes and a Peabody Award. All that goes to making the first episode of this latest batch of new shows all the more frustrating, as it has taken a far too lazy path. More would be said, but out of respect for the series, the only way to find out what makes the return so unsatisfying is to watch.





Don't give up on the show because of the first episode, as the format quickly shifts to more self-contained episodes. "This," airing 8 p.m. Eastern Jan. 10, features the return of a popular character who reaches out to Mulder and Scully for help. The identity of the character is also considered to be top secret, but it is a superbly written story that brings the character back.

A week later, "Plus One," gets back to the roots of "The X-Files" when a series of deaths are caused by the doppelgangers of the victims. And the Jan. 24 episode, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," looks at the idea of how a group of people can have a different memory of history.

The embargo on details makes it nearly impossible to talk about the new batch of "The X-Files." But, the show has always stressed that sometimes the impossible is possible.




How much you like the latest leap into the supernatural will depend on your past relationship with Scully and Mulder. Loyal fans will forgive the weakness of the opener and then be rewarded by some very strong individual episodes. If you are only a passive fan, the opener will be a serious test of whether or not you want to believe it is worth sticking around for other episodes.

Rick Bentley is a Tribune News Service writer.


Tribune-Review

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Tue 2 Jan - 12:10

Review: ‘The X-Files’ in a Familiar Groove

By MIKE HALEJAN. 2, 2018


“The X-Files,” with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, returns for its 11th season on Fox on Wednesday. Credit Robert Falconer/Fox

As “The X-Files” enters its 11th season — 10 episodes beginning Wednesday on Fox — it’s beginning to look more like a membership club than a television series. It cruises along doing business the way it has since its founding 25 years ago, and it caters to an audience that knows the staff and delights in the many arcane rules and quirks of service.

And membership has its privileges. Like the country club that still turns out a good porterhouse, “The X-Files” still produces excellent stand-alone TV episodes — tremendously entertaining hours with the show’s familiar blend of spookiness, self-deprecating humor and cleverly conceptual in-jokes that only the initiated can really appreciate.

In the five episodes of the new season made available to critics, the winner is the fourth, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.” It was written and directed by Darin Morgan, who also provided the best hour of the show’s revival season in 2016, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” and authored celebrated old-school episodes like “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” back in the 1990s.

“Forehead Sweat” guest-stars Brian Huskey (“People of Earth”) as either a madman or a fellow F.B.I. agent from an alternate dimension who is intimately familiar with the show’s heroes, the alien-chasing feds Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Mr. Morgan uses this premise to provide the ultimate in fan service — constructing an elaborate meta-story that recapitulates the history of the series, with a cracked version of “The Twilight Zone” as a framing device, and wallows in specific references to past “X-Files” installments (including “Clyde Bruckman’s”).

As if that weren’t enough, the episode is simultaneously a running commentary on the current American condition. The name Donald J. Trump isn’t mentioned in the five episodes, but the season capitalizes on Mulder and Scully’s place of employment, positing an embattled F.B.I. threatened by a Moscow-based military contractor that enjoys White House protection. In his episode Mr. Morgan goes further, suggesting that the “fake news” era has rendered the X-files moot — in a time when mass delusions are the norm, it no longer matters whether “the truth is out there.”

“Forehead Sweat,” by itself, will justify the continued existence of “The X-Files” for the true devotees, and Mr. Morgan deserves full credit for that. But when you take a broader view, you can’t help noticing that of the 10 writing and directing credits in the first five episodes, nine are shared by inner members of the show’s coterie — Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, James Wong and the creator, Chris Carter. (One episode is directed by a newcomer, Kevin Hooks.)

What they’ve produced is intelligent, stylish and always graced by the wonderful performances of Ms. Anderson and Mr. Duchovny. It also feels more formulaic than ever. “X-Files” episodes come in three varieties — mythology, monster and mixed — and their order is predictable. Mr. Carter takes on the obligatory season-opening story that extends the series-spanning mythology, which ran out of gas back in 1999 and now revolves tepidly around the Cigarette Smoking Man and William, Mulder and Scully’s missing son.

Glen Morgan and Mr. Wong chip in with mixed episodes, where cases of the week combine with the overarching conspiracies. Mr. Morgan’s “This” brings back, in a manner of speaking, a fan-favorite character thought to be dead, while Mr. Wong’s “Ghouli” is a move-the-story-along hour with revelations that don’t have the impact they should.

Which leaves the stand-alone episodes, “Forehead Sweat” and Mr. Carter’s “Plus One” (directed by Mr. Hooks), where the show can relax and have some unforced fun. Everything about “The X-Files” now being meta, Mulder acknowledges this state of affairs at the beginning of “Plus One” when he tells Scully it’s time to jump on I-95 South and “get back to our bread and butter.”

It will be interesting to see whether the addition of new female writers and directors in the second half of the season — a response to criticisms of the show’s mostly male, mostly white core group — shakes things up. The familiar pleasures of “The X-Files” aren’t negligible, but a few surprises would help.


New York Times

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Tue 2 Jan - 13:32

'X-Files' returns with mythology, monsters and the search for truth in the Trump era

Bill Keveney, USA TODAY Published 2:45 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018


Mulder (David Duchovny), left, and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are back investigating cases in Season 11 of 'The X-Files' on Fox.(Photo: Shane Harvey, Fox)

When a TV drama known for the motto, “The Truth Is Out There,” returns during the presidency of a man who denounces real reporting as “fake news,” it might seem like something out of the twilight zone.

But that’s the case when Fox's The X-Files, which was poking at the Deep State before it became trendy, makes its first outing (Wednesday, 8 ET/PT) during the age of President Trump.

In 10 episodes, Season 11 offers the sci-fi classic’s popular mix of monster-of-the-week mysteries, government-secret and alien mythology and the push-pull of FBI partners Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) — with a side of contemporary commentary.

Duchovny embraces the longer season, preferring it to the six-episode revival in 2016 (a strong 13.6 million-viewer average), 14 years after it ended a fabled nine-season run.


Mulder (David Duchovny), left, visits Scully (Gillian Anderson) in the hospital in the Season 11 premiere of Fox's 'The X-Files.' (Photo: Robert Falconer, Fox)

“I’m much happier With six episodes after a long layoff, we had a lot of legwork in explaining where these characters had been,” he says. “One of the notable things about our show was that it could stretch in so many directions, suspense, thriller, sci-fi, sometimes comedy and soap opera. With 10 episodes, it's that feeling again."

There’s even room to incorporate real-world events. Mulder mentions Trump’s hostility — “a president working to bring down the FBI” — and one episode consists of a broadly comic but blistering satire of xenophobia and obfuscation of truth, complete with a birther conspiracy reference and an alien visitor who promises to build a wall to block humans from outer space.

“The show has always been of its political moment and never more so than now, when conspiracies seem to be taken wholesale and the truth is now considered suspect,” creator Chris Carter says.

It also has been of the scientific moment, as Carter found "amazing" the recent revelation that the Pentagon had a UFO program. "The things that were science fiction in 1993, many have become science fact."

Duchovny separates Mulder's belief in conspiracy theories and suspicion of government from those championing those topics today.

"Mulder has been saying 'fake news' from the beginning: Don't believe what the government is telling you. (But) I wanted in no way for him to be aligned with Donald Trump's version of 'fake news,' " Duchovny says. "Mulder is like the flip side of people yelling fake news for cynical purposes."


FBI Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) faces a test of his loyalty in Season 11 of Fox's 'The X-Files.' (Photo: Robert Falconer, Fox)

Without spoiling last season’s cliffhanger — Scully was desperately trying to save a dying Mulder when a UFO appeared — it’s clear it wasn’t the end of the world or the FBI duo, as they're back investigating cases.

Last season included mythology episodes centering on Mulder and Scully. This one opens with a revealing look at villainous Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and ends with an episode about William, the teenage son of Mulder and Scully and an emerging key to X-Files mythology.

Carter was defensive about criticism of the 2016 return, which he attributed to people "who either had forgotten about the show, don't know the show or are not hardcore fans. … In coming back, we picked up on a larger (mythology) thread that I think sometimes was dense and complex for casual viewers."

That said, he says the 14-year TV gap made the 2016 return feel like "a standing start and now we have a bit of a running start."


David Duchovny, left, takes to series creator Chris Carter on the set of 'The X-Files.' (Photo: Robert Falconer, Fox)

Other episodes feature killer doppelgangers, false memories and a nod to The Twilight Zone, providing a canvas for back-and-forth between Mulder and Scully.

“The relationship is strong and contentious professionally, as it's always been. Their personal relationship is not exactly frosty, but they are not together in any kind of romantic way,” Carter says. “You're going to see some exploration of that.”

Their bond with FBI supervisor Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) is murkier. “We are testing Skinner’s loyalty, his self-interest vs. his relationship to (Mulder and Scully)," Carter says.

Some drama in 2016 came from behind the scenes, as The X-Files was criticized for a lack of female writers and directors and Anderson said she initially was offered half Duchovny's pay.


Viewers will learn more about the mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) in the season premiere of Fox's 'The X-Files.' (Photo: Robert Falconer, Fox)

Carter says Anderson and Duchovny are being paid the same — “and they were last time,” after the initial gap in proposed pay — and the show has three credited female writers and two women directing. “We heard people. Certainly, we are in a period of greater diversity and we tried to be true to Fox’s imperatives there.”

Neither Carter nor Duchovny — interviewed before TV Line published a story Sunday in which Anderson confirmed this will be her last season — would say whether this season will mark the end of The X-Files.

Carter says Duchovny and Anderson "are The X-Files and I think The X-Files wouldn’t be the same show without them. So as long as they’re prepared and eager to do the series, ratings holding, I certainly would anticipate more episodes."

Duchovny is non-committal. “I’m open to anything. We certainly don't need to close the door on it, but if that were the case, I'd be fine as well.”




USA TODAY

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Tue 2 Jan - 14:34

Somewhat unexpectedly, The X-Files is deeply relevant again in 2018

Lots of TV shows like to say “fake news.” Only The X-Files really knows what that means.

By Todd VanDerWerff @tvotitodd @vox.com Jan 2, 2018, 9:20am EST


Mulder and Scully are back to lurking in cemeteries. This is a good thing. Fox

Rating 4/5

A lot of TV shows in the Trump era have tried to use the term “fake news,” but only The X-Files seems to have the institutional backing to truly make it count. The series, after all, has been chasing fake news since 1993, whether in the form of things that go bump in the night, or vast alien conspiracies, or the pabulum we are spoon-fed every day to blind us about the truth.

What’s striking about watching The X-Files in 2018 is just how rejuvenated it feels. While it’s never going to hit the heights of the third or fourth season from the original series (which aired from 1993 to 2002), the 2018 iteration is a damn sight better than the 2016 one, which boasted some solid installments but also felt like a show in danger of chasing its own tail so rapidly that it might burrow straight down into the Earth.

Now, even the obligatory check-in with the alien conspiracy, while still a muddled mess, at least feels like it has drive and purpose. And once the conspiracy storyline is set aside after the season premiere, The X-Files unleashes a set of standalone episodes that compare favorably to episodes from its fifth or sixth seasons — when it had lost a step from its creative highpoint but was still inventive and fun. (I should know, too; I co-wrote a book about the show, coming out this fall.)

What’s most remarkable, however, is the way our own reality has circled back around to The X-Files. In early 2016, the show’s take on Alex Jones and other paranoiacs of the internet felt slightly musty, as if it had no idea how to update its paranoia for an era where, for a lot of people, not believing what the government said meant believing a racist supposition that President Barack Obama hadn’t been born in the US.

In 2018, The X-Files isn’t so much paranoid as it is scared. It’s a show about how the end of the world has already begun, and everybody behind the scenes is deciding who gets to survive — by moving to another planet, or vaccinating themselves against an alien virus, or moving into the cloud. And do you really think you or I will have any say in our own survival?

The news is fake, but your feelings are real

The X-Files works best when it presupposes that something awful is being covered up. In its best seasons, it was a metaphorical grappling with the sins that America committed during the Cold War, made “safer” by filtering them through the lens of an obviously fictional (or was it?!) alien conspiracy.

The shift that season 11 makes is one that the show has tried to make several times before but often struggled with — it’s not just that something awful is being covered up, but that something awful is already here. The apocalypse is already in motion, and even if aliens were involved at one point, the darkest actions have always been undertaken by humanity (represented, as always, by the enigmatic Cigarette Smoking Man).


Mulder and Scully are back to exchanging meaningful looks, and nothing could be finer. Fox

To be clear, the 2018 conspiracy storyline is still full of nonsense, nonsense that will tax even longtime X-Files fans who know their virus-carrying bees from their green-bleeding alien bounty hunters. The show attempts again to simplify this story by eschewing a lot of what it no longer needs, but creator Chris Carter and his writers can’t seem to find a way to boil it down to something more manageable, which leads to some pretty strange maneuvering to escape the seemingly apocalyptic story promised in the season 10 finale. (Ending the world in a season finale, then suggesting that what happened wasn’t all that bad in the next season premiere is something Carter has actually done before.)

The writers do, at least, seize on one big idea in season 11: the hunt for Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully’s (Gillian Anderson) son William, gifted with special powers by some sort of alien DNA and long ago given up for adoption. Where the FBI agents’ pining nostalgia for the child they said goodbye to for his own well-being felt well-meaning but clunky in season 10, The X-Files now animates this story with the sense that only William knows enough to stop whatever horrors lie ahead.

And there are, indeed, horrors ahead. With the end of the world in its early stages, the rich and powerful are looking to hop on board any ark they can find, not to try to stop the worst from happening. The government is no help, deluded as it is by its own paranoid fantasies. And the media? Forget it. If nobody — from those who report the news to those who consume it — can agree on the same set of facts, how can they agree on the same sources of information?

That leaves season 11 in a pleasingly fascinating place — it consists of mostly standalone episodes, but they all circle the same question of how on Earth we’re all going to get back to the same baseline reality. In past seasons of The X-Files, genius writer Darin Morgan (about whom I wrote so much more here) stood out as an iconoclast, writing brutally funny episodes that questioned the underlying premises of the show itself. But his season 11 outing, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” (episode four of 10), ends up being a Rosetta stone for the season as a whole.

Morgan takes the idea of the “Mandela effect” — in which people have very clear memories of an event that contradicts the memories of others, to say nothing of the factual and historical record — and runs with it to suggest a world where reality is constantly being manipulated, where even the TV show you’re watching might have once starred a different cast of characters. At first, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” winks toward Donald Trump in a somewhat clumsy fashion, but Morgan is building to something, to the idea that once you agree to the unraveling of one strand of reality, you’re drifting out to sea.

Fake news is only fake if you realize its fakeness — which is why it’s such an effective concept for propagandists. We all have our own fake news to believe in now, our own variations on the shadowy alien figures running things behind the curtain. Those figures may not always be visible to us, but we know they’re there. And times like these — times of uncertainty and weirdness and horror — are times when The X-Files can thrive.

The X-Files, season 11, debuts Wednesday, January 3, at 8 pm Eastern on Fox. Previous seasons are streaming on Hulu.


Vox

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Tue 2 Jan - 16:52

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in "The X-Files"(Credit: FOX/Ed Araquel)

“The X-Files” returns to a world gone mad

Life as we know it feels more insane than ever. The fact that this old show feels new again just proves that

Melanie McFarland
01.02.2018 • 10:00 PM

Now that we’re well and deeply marinating in the post-truth era, a smidgen of a tinfoil hat fanatic exists in all of us. He’s been there all along, mind you, that little voice that spins impossible explanations and alternative facts to what we see and hear. Facts and studies be damned — what we really want, what we’ve always wanted, is to believe in the unbelievable.

Chris Carter has long played with this idea in the mythology driving “The X-Files,” a series that seemed like it would have enough content to ensure it would never run out of weirdness of explore, until it did. The presumed series finale in 2002 was a disappointing mess, as was the 2016 revival’s final episode, which lazily presented a world-ending scenario comparable to the worst episodes of “24” (As if you need reminding, bad episodes of that series were absolute stinkers by any standard).

Any presumptions that we’d seen the end of “The X-Files” were premature. Like The Cigarette Smoking Man, this series has a talent for bouncing back even after looking really, most sincerely dead. The different is that now, it is very much in its element.

The latest episodes of “The X-Files” return to Fox on Wednesday at 8 p.m., and skeptics may be surprised to discover how well it has returned to form, despite Carter’s stubborn insistence of drawing out a thread involving FBI Agent Fox Mulder’s obsession with aliens and the child he has with his partner Dana Scully.

“The X-Files” will always have its hardcore devotees, the folks who never wanted the series to go away, and who hounded Carter and the show’s stars Gillian Anderson, who plays Scully, and David Duchovny, the man behind Mulder, to continue their saga. If the show’s 2016 felt out of place, as it were, perhaps part of the reason for that is that Carter and the show’s other writers, including Glen Morgan, Darin Morgan, and James Wong, were lacking sufficient inspiration.

But these episodes were produced in 2017, a year overflowing with discussions about the manipulation of news and information and all the ways in which far-fetched falsehoods found purchase with a public hooked on echo chambers and siloed into tribes by social media. The result is a series of episodes all but intoxicated by the fears of fake news.

Actually, it’s even worse. As a villain in an upcoming episode puts is, we’re so befuddled by the deluge of “alternative facts” that he and his kind can operate in the open by dispensing “phony fake news,” which we used to know as that outdated thing called fact. “They want you think all conspiracies are nutty so that you can ignore the ones that are true,” a character insists.

He’s explaining why his story sounds crazy, but isn’t. Handily he’s also explaining our reality. These days, Mulder’s distrust of government reports and belief in cover-ups no longer makes him the outlier. Actually, we’re a lot closer to seeing the world the way he does now that we ever were before.

That may be why these new “X-Files” episodes feel sharper, tighter and smarter than the first attempt at its revival.

In the new season, Mulder and Scully accept the charge of saving the world, and part of that involves finding their child William. This thread lends a tangible purpose to the season’s standalone episode, a promise that we’ll work our way to another link in the series long-running lore. In truth, season 11 shapes up to be a parable about how little control the common person has when facing the apocalypse.

That’s always been true of this show, of course. But “The X-Files” of 2018 also peers at another horrifying reality of its doomsday scenario: that the end of the world is really mostly a problem for those of us who don’t have a part to play in its plan. You know — anyone who isn’t obscenely wealthy and powerful.

Much of our current tension is defined by the widening gap between the wealthy and everyone else, a notion this season echoes by positing that this has long been the design of a cabal of powerful beings, some of whom may not be of this Earth. And that should allow the viewer a smidgen of emotional distance as evildoers lay out their plot to destroy humanity, but we all just came through 2017, right?

Smartly, these new episodes sustain balance the show’s Rod Serling-style fictions with a paranoia, terror and humor reminiscent of “The X-Files” at its best, particularly an upcoming written by Darin Morgan, the writer behind the legendary episodes “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” as well as the best of 2016’s batch, “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-monster.”

The hours that expressly deal with the show’s primary mythology — including this week’s premiere, written and directed by Carter — are the weakest of the new batch. They’re also matched set; the 11th season debut, “My Struggle III,” picks up where “My Struggle II,” aka that botched 2016 season finale, left off.

Happily the leaden feel of the premiere doesn’t appear to be representative of the season as whole, which may re-earn any viewers disillusions by what recently came before. Besides, now we understand a new truth: Indulging conspiracy theories can be fun, until doing so obscures the truth so completely as to place our very existence in mortal jeopardy. It’s a scary new world, and “The X-Files” is finally getting around to welcoming us to it.


Salon

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Wed 3 Jan - 12:28

The X-Files Returns with the Same Chris Carter Problem

It's time for the veteran creator to let others find the truth out there

by Michael Roffman
on January 03, 2018, 3:30pm



Look, The X-Files is one of the greatest television shows of all time. Nobody’s going to dispute that. What Chris Carter and his team of crackerjack writers did throughout the ’90s is simply unbelievable, on par with past greats like Rod Serling and Larry Gelbart, at least in their ability to evolve the medium. From 1993 to 2002, they never stopped surprising or challenging their fans, be it twisting the sci-fi genre into unshakeable drama (see: “One Breath”, “Closure”) or flipping the script entirely for unquenchable comedy (see: “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”, “Bad Blood”). Even when David Duchovny downgraded himself to a guest star by Season Eight, Carter rebounded with aplomb, making Fox Mulder’s disappearance one of the bigger events on television at the time, all while creating a hero out of the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), who followed Gillian Anderson’s exceptional lead as Dana Scully. Some fans hated it, but only because they missed their beloved sunflower-eating true believer.

Where things took a real nose dive is in Season Nine. Because no matter how talented she is — go ahead and binge through Halt and Catch Fire, why don’t you — Annabeth Gish was never going to elevate an underwritten and confusing character like Monica Reyes. And when it became obvious she was being positioned as the replacement for Anderson, who was then eyeing Duchovny’s footsteps stage left, the cracks to the series became gaping fissures and the magic dissipated fast. Yet that was also happening narratively, specifically with Carter’s cherished mythology arc, which became so deluded and so confusing that even diehard fans are often hard-pressed to remember what exactly happened without muttering something along the lines of “Um, supersoldiers? I think?” By then, it was clear that Carter had nothing left to say, that his story had ended probably two seasons back, and that whatever magic was left in the tank remained in the free-form Monster-of-the-Week episodes.


Sadly, that hasn’t really changed. Since then, Carter has only gotten progressively worse, as evidenced by his work on 2008’s instantly forgettable I Want to Believe, 2016’s mostly awful Season 10, and this year’s similarly problematic Season 11. Today he’s less Serling and more Lucas, a sci-fi genius of brazen mediocrity, delivering lazy scripts with overwritten expository dialogue and ham-fisted political rhetoric. His “My Struggle” trilogy — thus far, there are three chapters to this mess — are inarguably the lowest points of the show, perhaps only rivaled by his Season 10 charmer “Babylon”, which may or may not be the most frustrating way to listen to The Lumineers. And whereas he once allowed for economy in his writing, whether it was pairing up with Frank Spotnitzor Vince Gilligan or even Duchovny, he has now taken up the mantle entirely by himself. This warped sense of control also extends to behind the camera, where he’s also dulled creatively, forgetting any of the atmosphere and pacing that made the series so iconic.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Carter dug himself and the series into a dark grave with last season’s finale, “My Struggle II”. Coming off the heels of the aforementioned “Babylon”, Carter doubled down on his creative losing streak by going all-in on the much-hyped alien invasion narrative, squeezing one ludicrous detail after another into 43 minutes of tantalizing stupidity. It was seemingly the death knell of the series, which is why, not surprisingly, its followup, “My Struggle III”, plays the Dallas card and makes it all a part of Scully’s latest vision. (Mind you, we saw countless scenes that involved multiple point of views, which already punctures crater-sized holes in this narrative, but whatever.) It’s an eye-rolling move made even more aggravating by the fact that Carter fumbles the whole thing once again, delivering a frenzied and emotionless episode that essentially boils down to: “Mustang ad” + “William B. Davis monologue” + “ending of US Marshalls.” At multiple points, you have to remind yourself that this is actually The X-Files.


No kidding. These last two seasons are proof that the original parts don’t always fit in the long run. With Carter’s recent spate of episodes, you get the feeling that something is missing at nearly every facet. If it’s not the dialogue, it’s the pacing. If it’s not the atmosphere, it’s the set design. If it’s not the lightning, it’s the natural lighting. It’s like that great haiku moment from Wayne’s World: This is The X-Files, but … this isn’t really The X-Files. Gone is the unsettling mood. Gone is the feeling of terror. Gone is the notion of a lived-in world. Sure, they’re filming back in Vancouver, British Columbia, an area that has long been emblematic of the show’s Twin Peaks-esque look, but what good is a setting when it’s being completely wasted by mediocre direction. Where is Rob Bowman? Where is David Nutter? Where are the eyes that set the tone for the series? It’s really upsetting, especially when this show used to look like it was modeled off of The Silence of the Lambs or All the President’s Men, and now looks like another CSI knock off.

Again, this all goes back to Carter. His reluctance to hand over the mythology episodes to anyone but himself has directly affected the series as a whole in more subtle ways than we’re apt to notice. After all, it was the mythology arc that created the world of The X-Files, expanding the action far beyond the walls of the FBI offices and into places as far reaching as the Russian wilderness. It was in these episodes that the world became more nuanced, thanks to the inclusion of colorful characters like Alex Krycek, or Cassandra Spender, or Marita Covarrubias. These faces embellished this series in ways that the Monster-of-the-Week episodes couldn’t, if only because they were destined to return. Both their respective narratives and their on-again, off-again relationships with Mulder and Scully added a depth to this series that goes beyond aesthetic. That’s what’s been missing these past two seasons — hell, even the second movie — and every familiar face now exists to serve as little more than a chess piece of exposition.


It’s just baffling that the same guy who once wrote “Duane Berry”, “Irresistible”, “Paper Clip”, and “The Post-Modern Prometheus” could walk away from scripts as bad these. It’s not like he didn’t have all the time in the world, either. For over a decade, and long before Fox expressed any interest in moving forward with either a movie or another season, Carter had campaigned for another go-around, professing how he knows exactly where he wants to take the franchise and where it might end. There was reason to be alarmed with I Want to Believe, but seeing how it wasn’t a mythology episode, some admittedly shrugged it off as being a story he wasn’t as interested in telling. But that’s the thing, this new mythology story does have that energy, only it’s rattled, unfocused, and cluttered with intriguing ideas that don’t exactly add up. Again, he’s fallen into the same camp as George Lucas, a guy with ideas but no conscious way to execute them, and while that’s sad and tragic, it also doesn’t have to be the only option.

The X-Files is still a great show in capable hands. Although Carter has lost his edge, veterans like Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan, or James Wong certainly haven’t, and the three have done their best over the past two seasons at proving there’s still a half-life to this show. Darin Morgan’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was the sole highlight of the 10th season — in fact, one of the series’ best for some fans — and he returns with yet another gem this year in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”, centering a whole episode around the recently popular Mandela effect. Glen Morgan’s “This” is about on equal footing with last season’s good-not-great “Home Again”. And finally, Wong gets super emotional with “Ghouli”, improving upon his average Monster-of-the-Week episode for Season 10, “Founder’s Mutation”, with what is essentially a mythology episode in disguise. It should come as a relief to anyone who still wants to see the alien narrative go in ways and directions that feel organic to the original series.


That’s not to say Carter should be entirely out of the picture — not at all. To his credit, he does take a surprising left turn for the better with the Monster-of-the-Week entry, “Plus One”, which he only wrote (leaving the direction for a much more capable Kevin Hooks). While it’s not exactly a stellar episode, and seems a tad unhinged, even with its own built-in logic, it does have its share of genuine moments. Among them is a nighttime exchange between Mulder and Scully, who reflect upon their own duality in life, and what actually defines them. It’s meditative, it’s smart, and above all, it brings out the best in the two stars. You can tell they actually relate to the words they’re saying as opposed to just delivering them with sterile expressions. Still, it’s a brief respite in a barrage of unforgettable carnage, and evidence that Carter works best in small dosages these days. But that’s fine! He’s written over 70 episodes for the series! That’s more than anyone should ever have to write, and he should know that.

He just needs to not take his own advice and trust someone.


Consequence of Sound

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Wed 3 Jan - 14:38

'The X-Files' is back, less as a revival and more on its own feet

By Robert Lloyd
Jan 03, 2018 | 11:55 AM


'The X-Files' is back, less as a revival and more on its own feet
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny as agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder in the 11th season of Fox's "The X-Files." (Shane Harvey/Fox)

Two years ago, "The X-Files," which ran on television from 1993 to 2002 and jumped to the big screen in 1998 and 2008, returned from narrative limbo for a six-episode "special event" season.

It left behind some memorable moments and the impression that of all the people who should be writing and directing the series now, creator Chris Carter, responsible for the season opener and closer, was possibly not among them.

Still, a good enough time was had by the people who needed to have one, and enough money made by the bodies that needed to make it, that the principal partners have reconvened for a 10-episode 11th season. It premieres Wednesday, as ever on Fox.

The good news is that a longer season gives other writers more time, and that if anything, leads Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny seem more comfortable this time out as partners in spooky crime fighting and something more than pals. It comes off less as an exercise in brand revival and more a genuine new season of "The X-Files."

The previous season ended with a cliffhanger, with the arrival of a giant spacecraft over Washington, D.C.'s 14th Street Bridges, where Fox Mulder (Duchovny) was dying from the Spartan virus — the work of William B. Davis' Cigarette Smoking Man — and Dana Scully (Anderson) was without any handy options to save him.

Reviewers have been asked to refrain from revealing how this resolves, but suffice it to say, as with "Flash Gordon" or Gene Autry serials of yore, there is a certain amount of rewinding involved. (It also smacks of a rethink; it has been two years, after all.) And suffice it also to say that Mulder survives into the new season. He would have to, of course, although I for one would watch a series called "Scully."

Carter has once again written and directed the season opener, "My Struggle III" (numerically following Season 10's opening and closing episodes), and as before it is surprisingly awkward. His dialogue is prosaic and ponderous by turns, expository and speechifying rather than conversational, and there are times I laughed out loud at an exchange clearly in no way meant to be funny. Nearly without humor, the episode seems composed with the urgency of Jean-Paul Marat writing his 14th of July call to the people of France.


Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," an upcoming episode of "The X-Files." (Shane Harvey / Fox)

Indeed, a memo appears to have gone out from Carter to his writers (again including Glen Morgan, James Wong and Darin Morgan, all of whom also direct their writing) to make sure to address the year of Trump, if scrupulously avoiding any mention of his name. (He is seen, a little, in the montage that opens "My Struggle III.") The fact that a conspiracy theorist is occupying the Oval Office would naturally tend to take some fun out of a show that brings pseudoscience to life.

"The world has become too crazy even for my conspiratorial powers," Mulder says at one point, but now even the villains know what's what: "Every day a new disaster," Carter has the Cigarette Smoking Man say. "We refuse to imagine our impending extinction, the acceleration of the cataclysms. We've thrown science out the window in favor of scandal and opinion, cant and all manner of ridiculous untruths."

After the mythology-encumbered "My Struggle III," things quickly improve with the opening of Episode 2, from Glen Morgan. Mulder and Scully are hanging out, feet up, watching old footage of the Ramones on television, as an old friend calls from out of the ether and a station wagon full of goofball assassins barrels their way.

Punk rock also opens the following episode, written by Carter — better here — in which Mulder suggests to Scully that they "jump onto I-95 and get back to our bread and butter," which is to say, hunting monsters. (The episode features Karin Konoval, the mother in the Season 4 episode "Home," in a sort of quadruple role.)

I am sure there are viewers for whom the mythology is the thing — from Mulder's search for his sister, whom he believed abducted by aliens, to the "black cancer," to Mulder and Scully's long-lost son, William, given up for adoption to protect his life. The big themes have made "The X-Files" feel grand at times, but they can also grow tiresome — not you again, Smoking Man. Go on, end the world already!

At this point, the show works best as a kind of ritual, a collection of moments from which you can pick the ones that make you happy without worrying too much about consistency or canon — as a celebration of itself. That's why Darin Morgan's "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," an unreliable comic turn through an alternate history of the series, is the most effective of the five episodes available for review.

It is not the only time the series looks backward. Throughout the episodes, there is not a little talk of simpler, smarter days; even the monsters have lost their mojo.

"This is my problem with modern-day monsters, Scully," Mulder says of an illustrated beast, all teeth and mucus. "There's no chance for emotional investment, like Frankenstein, Wolfman... There was pathos."

"There's a lot of money to be made in scaring people," says Scully, who has been paying attention.

'The X-Files'

Where: Fox

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Rating: TV-14-DLV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and violence)

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

Follow Robert Lloyd on Twitter @LATimesTVLloyd


LA Times

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Wed 3 Jan - 14:42

Second 'X-Files' revival improves on the first, but not by much

Updated 5:00 PM; Posted 5:00 PM


David Duchovny, left, plays FBI agent Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson, right, plays FBI agent Dana Scully in "The X-Files."(Courtesy of Fox)

By Patrick Cooley, cleveland.com

pcooley@cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio - If you were disappointed with the six-episode 2016 revival of the iconic sci-fi series "The X-Files," get ready for more of the same if you watch the latest resurrection of the once-revered sci-fi show.

While the newest incarnation of the venerable series is an improvement over the six chapters that aired in 2016, many of the inconsistencies and shortcomings remain.

The premiere shrouds itself in uncertainty right off the bat, invalidating much of what happened in the apocalyptic final episode of the previous revival, the events of which are now described as a vision.

The showrunners were likely trying to set the stakes, but only created doubt and reservation, with the audience now unsure of what is real and what is merely imagined. Much of what happens in the first several episode is presented as if it's really happening. But then again, so were the events of the revival's finale.

"The X-Files" has always been a flawed series, asking more questions than it answers, leaving gaping plot holes and more often than not failing to provide the payoff that it promises.

But during the show's first six or so seasons - which aired in the '90s - the good was enough to make up for the bad.

Creator Chris Carter and his writing team crafted suspenseful tales of aliens, mutants and supernatural creatures that wowed audiences and managed to generate plenty of scares, even though you knew the two main characters, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, would always survive.

Unfortunately the show dipped in quality as it aged, and it seemed the writers came up with stories that pushed the limits of credulity in vain attempts to offer something fans hadn't seen before.

The showrunners behind the current version veer off that course but end up creating the opposite problem, setting up intriguing scenarios but losing their focus and spending too much time on the elements of the story that ultimately don't matter, all the while glossing over the elements that do.

In the season's second episode, for example, Mulder and Scully receive a message from a character they believe to be dead. How is he alive and why is he contacting them now? Those are the most relevant questions following a chilling cold open. Unfortunately they're pushed to the side in favor of a few poorly executed action scenes that last long enough to amount to a colossal waste of time. After all, the duo only has an hour to solve the conundrum.

The fifth episode begins with two teenage girls stabbing each other after seeing visions of a monster that isn't there. One would think the mysterious force behind those visions would be the focus of the episode. Unfortunately, the attention shifts and the apparitions are barely mentioned again, with the explanation relegated to a few throwaway lines.

A new dynamic between the two leads also robs the show of much of the charm that made it so memorable following it's 1993 premiere.

The conspiracy-obsessed Mulder (David Duchovny) and his skeptical partner Scully (Gillian Anderson), are as charismatic as ever. Unfortunately their roles have shifted.

Scully now buys into Mulder's wild explanations for the strange happenings they investigate, but only to a point. Sometimes she joins her partner in the role of intrepid believer, and other times she asks the necessary questions that once defined her character.

At times her skepticism seems like a token gesture, but in other instances it feels genuine, and the jarring shifts make it hard to know where she stands. Has Scully grown beyond ingrained notions of truth and established science?

It's hard to know for sure, and with Scully increasingly playing the part of a true believer, the series loses much of the back-and-forth that made the show so watchable when it first hit the airwaves.

And in the era of Infowars, the Mulder's hunt for proof of alien visitors doesn't seem as fresh as it did before the internet age.

When "The X-Files" first slithered its way into the public consciousness in the early '90s, Mulder's quest to expose the truth made him seem like a noble freedom fighter, battling jack-booted thugs bent on concealing government schemes.

In the days of conspiracy-obsessed pundits praying on an ill-informed and paranoid public, his adventures strike the audience as far less virtuous. While the show tries to separate Mulder from the Alex Joneses of the world - in one scene he demands proof from mistrustful source covered in forehead sweat in a dingy DC-area parking lot - the show never quite succeeds in holding its hero to a higher standard.

On top of its new flaws, the 11th season of "The X-Files" suffers from many of the shortcomings that plagued the show since it first burst into living rooms across the country.

The government conspiracy at the center of the show's mythology offered tantalizing clues in the first three or four seasons, but dragged on laboriously after it became clear that the writers were stalling over a lack of good ideas for a conclusion.

When Carter finally ordered the mystery unraveled in the sixth season, the ending was well short of gratifying.

The two mythology episodes in the 2016 revival were a microcosm of the original mythology, asking big questions but failing to leave enough time to answer them.

The season 11 premiere seems to continue that trend, offering so many mysteries (for example: how is the cigarette smoking man still alive after the show has killed him off at least twice?) it would take a lifetime to unravel all of them.

"The X-Files" premieres tonight at 8 p.m.


cleveland.com

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Wed 3 Jan - 16:14

January 3, 2018 5:41 pm

The X-Files Is Sublime in Season 11

By Matt Zoller Seitz


Photo: Robert Falconer/FOX

There’s a moment in an upcoming episode of the new season of The X-Files that’ll bring a smile to the face of anyone who’s stuck with this show through thick and thin. FBI special agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) are in a cemetery, trying to find a certain tombstone, when they begin attaching historically significant dates to the birth dates and death dates on the stones. This one was born on the day this famous person died, and this other person was born on the day another famous person died, and so on. They affectionately bust each other’s chops, as Scully and Mulder always do, and then it inevitably dawns on them that there is a pattern here, one that will lead them to the tombstone they seek, and they discover it intuitively, like little kids making up rules to a new game on a playground. And damned if they aren’t proved right. The most significant element that The X-Files borrowed from Twin Peaks is the freedom to let characters figure things out by listening to their feelings, analyzing their dreams, or just having fun. There are several scenes like this in the new season, and they’re all gifts.

The rest of it isn’t half-bad, either. The last season of writer-producer-director Chris Carter’s never-ending magnum opus got mixed to negative reviews, and deservedly so. You could always feel the goodwill emanating from the screen and fans returned it, but except for the episodes by Glen Morgan (“Home Again”) and Darin Morgan (“Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster“), none it it really clicked in the way that it needed to. It was hard to tell if the season had too few episodes, too many (maybe another stand-alone film would’ve been a better approach), or if Carter and company were simply rusty and slightly out of tune and missing the beat, which tends to happen whenever you try to get the old band back together after a decade-plus of not sharing a garage. This new batch of episodes is considerably stronger. Even the ones that don’t really do much but spin their wheels do so with feeling, and when the show is great — as it is, yet again, in Darin Morgan’s episode — it’s downright sublime.

The season more fully integrates the story of Scully and Mulder’s son, William, by putting him at the center of an international conspiracy to wipe out the world’s population with a plague. (As far as I can discern, anyway.) Intriguingly, while the filmmakers still mix densely packed and relatively humorless mythology episodes about the ongoing international plot to do yadda yadda with one-offs that let Scully and Mulder solve a mystery together, they also pull off a couple of episodes that feel like hybrids of the two forms, including one built around the bureau of the X-Files itself. It all kicks off with another exposition-choked conspiracy episode by Carter — titled “My Struggle, Part III,” unfortunately; let’s presume Carter embraced the Hitler-Knaussgaard echoes for a good reason — which picks up where the cliff-hanger ending of the preceding season finale left off. Carter is one of the most exposition-dumpy TV scribes of all time, and this one is a hall of famer: Not only is it stuffed with dialogue that amounts to little more than the writers preemptively asking and answering questions that might otherwise be posed by literal-minded fans on Twitter, it leans heavily on voice-over that doesn’t always feel organically anchored to the story. But it also features some of Anderson and Duchovny’s best close-up acting, particularly when they’re separated, and it’s a kick to see Carter, always one of the most formally adventurous of the show’s main voices, going wild with the parallel editing, jumping between multiple timelines and hypothetical scenarios as if he’d recently binge-watched the complete works of Christopher Nolan.

The other episodes are strong — maybe not season three or four strong, but season seven or eight strong, which is nothing to sneeze at. There’s an episode set in and around a ghostly tanker with a story line that has echoes of the Slenderman urban legend, and one that puts Scully and Mulder on a case in which multiple murder victims reported seeing doubles of themselves right before their demise. The Darin Morgan episode, titled “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” is a perfect swan dive into postmodernism and goofing around. Among other things, it shoots a stylistically spot-on, nonexistent Twilight Zone episode in black and white, posits an explanation for the phenomenon of false cultural memory that’s as good as the explanation for déjà vu in The Matrix, and treats us to a YouTube video that answers the burning question “What if Thomas Pynchon wrote Abbott and Costello’s ‘Who’s on First’ routine?’” (A comment below the video tells the creator, “The editing could’ve been tighter.”) We also get to see Scully and Mulder have multiple parking-garage conversations with the latest Deep Throat character, a brilliant and theoretically minded nebbish named Reggie (Brian Huskey, who could play Stephen Tobolowsky’s kid brother quite convincingly). “A conspiracy nut is right twice a day,” he tells them, misremembering the saying just as Mulder seems to be misremembering the very first Twilight Zone he ever saw. When Scully suggests that Mulder is confusing a Twilight Zone episode with one from The Outer Limits, he whines, “Do you even know me?”

This season also stages a close-quarters gunfight that’s surprisingly intense for The X-Files, lets Mulder hold forth on his lifelong fascination with Bigfoot, and has Scully talk about a brand of gelatin she loved as a child (except for the lime-flavored version, which she says tastes like “Leprechaun taint”). If you’re a fan of this series, I can’t imagine watching the new season and finding nothing to enjoy. It’s a pleasant, clever, and sometimes inspired reunion with old friends who were right on the verge of wearing out their welcome when they suddenly reminded you of all the reasons why you loved them in the first place.


Vulture

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Fri 26 Jan - 12:15

‘X-Files’: New season takes on Trump – Worse than an alien plague

written by Stephen Z. Nemo Jan 26, 2018



WASHINGTON, January 26, 2018: Those familiar with the Fox network’s sci-fi offering, The X-Files, know all about the shadowy and crafty “Smoking Man” (William B. Davis).


The “Smoking Man.”

He’s the chief figure in every conspiratorialist’s worst nightmare: a government servant of high station with few limits to his power; a man possessing mind-blowing information so sensitive as to exist many magnitudes above the usual “need to know” security rules; a man who on occasion feels it’s in the interests of the “secret government” to eliminate a U.S. president; in short, a James Bond-like villain. An unlucky few are given hints about his disturbing plots, as the tip to his cigarette glows bright orange, as voluminous clouds of white smoke flow out from his charred lungs to sinister effect.

A new and very different X-Files season


Agent Mulder with a case of the alien plague.

Earlier this month, Fox premiered the X-Files’ eleventh season. The new season begins where 2016’s short, six-episode 10th “revival” season left off.

FBI Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) is infected with an alien plague that has gone global and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) must save him. But something occurred between seasons with implications far worse than an extraterrestrial pandemic.

Donald J. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton for president in the 2016 election.


That is why X-Files Season 11 swiftly moves past Mulder’s impending death and, instead, dives right into a Donald Trump-laced prequel.

It is at this point we enter “The T-Files,” with “T” standing for Trump.


In the beginning, there were flying saucers.

We watch as an alien spacecraft crashes in the U.S. during the late 1940s and are told the extraterrestrial creatures were tortured, their bodily fluids distilled into super biological weapons, while their technology stolen and reverse-engineered.

For X-Files creator and writer Chris Carter, after Election 2016, America has taken U.S. imperialism to infinity and beyond.


Agents Mulder and Scully battle Trumps Russians.

Sometime near the present, Scully and Mulder are attacked and threatened with death in their secluded country home by Russian paramilitary forces.

When the pair are subdued, the Russian team leader sees Mulder’s familiar poster hanging on the wall. You know. The one that features a flying saucer with the words, “I want to believe.”

“Here’s what I believe,” says the Russian commander to Mulder, “We would have all saved lots of money and headaches if we only knew Americans would have been just fine losing the Cold War if they could only make a little money from it.”

If Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was watching, he no doubt launched into a rousing rendition of the “Internationale.”

When our the dynamic duo eventually escapes, they just happen to run into FBI Deputy Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) lurking in the woods.


An angry Mulder demands to know why Russian forces are operating on U.S. soil.

Skinner confesses that the goons work for an “American security contractor with headquarters in Moscow” and operates in the U.S. “under a security directive from the Executive Branch.”

Wow! Even more evidence of Trump/Russia “collusion” for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigative team of Hillary Clinton campaign contributors to consider.


Scully and Muldur spooning on the Deep State.

When in a later episode the couple spoon in bed, Scully mournfully observes, “Mulder, sometimes I think the world is going to hell and we’re the only two people who can save it.”

“The world is going to hell, Scully,” responds Mulder, “and the president is working to bring down the FBI along with it.”

To say the FBI is an innocent victim of the orange-haired, Oval Office tweeter, and not the other way around, is plot a twist that only works in science fiction.

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

We come to learn that “Smoking Man” and the Deep State are locked in a twilight struggle. Puff the Magic Dragon wants to release an alien bio-weapon to cleans a polluted Earth of all but a select few humans inoculated against the disease.

Deep State forces, on the other hand, want to employ extraterrestrial technology to build space craft capable of spiriting a select few from an Earth that is warming and whose natural resources are fading.

The “Smoking Man” acts a lot like an environmentalist fanatic in the mold of former Vice President Al Gore, determined to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint with extreme prejudice.

The Deep State actors of the story, meanwhile, are typical government planners “investing” taxpayer dollars in boondoggles that only benefit the politically connected.

It appears the only hope for the forgotten Americans and bug-eyed aliens of this sordid tale is for President Trump and his merry band of Russians to go medieval on these elitist factions in an effort to Make America – not to mention Earth and Ceti Alpha V – Great Again.

The all-new, Trump Derangement Edition of X-Files airs Wednesday evenings on Fox.
 

Communities Digital News

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Fri 2 Feb - 11:42

X-Files memories sweeter than its fading final episodes

By: Alison Gillmor
Posted: 02/2/2018 12:37 PM



Since The X-Files got a six-episode reboot in 2016, with another 10-episode season airing right now, some critics and fans have viewed this project as a misguided, Frankenstein-ish attempt to resurrect a dead past, to recapture a mood, a mindset and a pop-culture moment rooted in the 1990s. With the fourth episode of the current season, a super-meta, self-referencing little outing called The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat, it feels as if an X-Files insider might be joining them.

Darin Morgan, the episode’s scripter, was always good at puncturing the series’ often overweening seriousness with cheeky, funny standalone episodes like Jose Chung’s From Outer Space. In these new seasons, as show creator Chris Carter doubles down on his increasingly turgid mythology, Morgan’s episodes — 2016’s Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-monster and now Forehead Sweat — don’t just feel like necessary comic relief. They feel like wry commentary on the series itself.

In Forehead Sweat, a character named only Roger Something (Brian Huskey) talks about the Mandela Effect, a term for collective false memories. (Take the weirdly widespread belief that Sinbad played "an irrepressible genie" in a 1990s movie called Shazaam.)

This might be why Mulder, a Twilight Zone super-fan, is recalling a Twilight Zone episode that never existed, and why Scully is fondly reminiscing about Goop-o ABC, a favourite food of her childhood that seems to have disappeared.

And this is definitely why Reggie Something appears in the FBI parking garage, talking about a completely different origin story for the whole X-Files project. His memories cue a very funny alternative-history reel, in which Reggie suddenly pops up in the series pilot and is then inserted, Forrest Gump-like, into some of the show’s high spots, lowlights and best-known controversies.

Morgan is basically asking us to re-evaluate the relationship between past and present, a line of inquiry that brings up some important issues for the whole X-Files reboot.

First off, Morgan is refreshingly frank about the fact that the show is getting middle-aged — along with Mulder and Scully and its original fans.

Were-Monster made a joke out of Mulder struggling with his new camera app. (When The X-Files debuted in 1993, mobile phones were the size of bricks.)


SHANE HARVEY / FOX
Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) in The X-Files.

Forehead Sweat brings in two whippersnapper millennial agents who have heard of the legend of Fox Mulder but find him distinctly disappointing in person. This sends Mulder into a hilarious old-man-on-a-porch act. "I was fighting the power and breaking conspiracies before you saw your first chemtrail!," he shouts. "I’m Fox freakin’ Mulder, you punks!"

Morgan also seems to be pulling off a sideways critique of the whole conspiracy vibe, which generated a paranoid thrill in the 1990s but now feels dated and depressing. Let’s face it: X-Filey conspiracy theories about a "deep state" within the American government are a whole lot less fun when they’re also being pushed by Sean Hannity on Fox News.

In Forehead Sweat, even Mulder is suffering from conspiracy fatigue. "Maybe you’ve just lost your taste for it," Scully suggests, "especially after all this birther stuff."

The conspiracy issue is also connected with the long-running X-Files fan debate regarding mythology storylines vs. monster-of-the-week episodes.

The X-Files premièred when TV was primarily episodic. Carter basically made up the over-arching conspiracy storyline as he went along, and it shows. Unable to control his metastasizing alien abduction/government plot/ black oil/secret syndicate/super soldier/doomsday narrative, Carter fell back on always promising but never quite delivering that final big reveal.

This ambitious approach to television writing — the notion that one-hour episodes could connect to complex themes explored over successive seasons — was hugely influential, helping to transform the TV landscape. But in The X-Files itself, this master narrative collapsed under its own weight. In the new seasons, especially, the mythology episodes have become simultaneously over-explainy and incoherent. The modest standalone offerings, meanwhile, at which Morgan excels, hold up very well.

Finally, Forehead Sweat is a deeply affectionate tribute to pop-culture touchstones and the ways they become embedded in the tastes and smells, associations and impressions of a lost time. At one point, Mulder, Scully and Roger visit a Mandela Effect-style shop, which is packed with slightly off versions of arcane comic books, weird candies and treacherous toys.

In the episode’s final scene, Scully acquires a box of Goop-o but can’t quite bring herself to eat it. For Scully, Goop-o is associated with the happiest times of her childhood, with parties and holidays and her mother making her favourite treat.

"I want to remember how it all was," she says wistfully, suggesting that she prefers her sweet childhood memories to Goop-o’s gelatinous present-day reality.

I suspect that millions of X-Files fans have also decided that they prefer their happy 1990s X-Files memories — with the big shoulder pads and slow computers and the "I want to believe" poster — to this current season.


Winnipeg Free Press

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Re: ‘The X-Files’ Season 11 Review

Post by jade1013 on Tue 6 Feb - 11:26



The X-Files: Season 11 Review

3/5 stars

James Dyer

6 Feb 2018 18:28
Last updated: 6 Feb 2018 18:35

This review is based on episodes 1-5

Twenty-five years after it first aired, The X-Files is synonymous with alien abductions, government cover-ups and shadowy, nicotine-fuelled cabals. Between contributions to the labyrinthine conspiracy, the show’s heart lay with a string of taut, tightly written case-files, each one a paranormal horror story that tapped perfectly into ’90s paranoia. As a serialised conspiracy thriller The X-Files was good, but as a supernatural procedural, it was entirely without peer.

Given that, it’s somewhat disappointing to see Chris Carter follow the (poorly received) finale to Season 10 by doubling down so unrepentantly on the show’s worst traits. Despite opting for a cop-out that renders the cliffhanger pointless, Carter ploughs on with the doomsday virus über-plot, slathering ever thicker layers of preposterousness onto an already buckling conspiracy. When the episode culminates in a final, groan-worthy twist, it feels more reminiscent of an SNL send-up than The X-Files in its prime.

As a supernatural procedural, The X-Files was entirely without peer.

Happily, with episode one out of the way, The X-Files clicks back into groove, swiftly reminding us why we all loved it so much in the first place. From the supernatural to the technological via the joyously absurd, we find Mulder and Scully doing what they do best, history and experience having now worn away their respective archetypes’ harder edges. With ten episodes providing more breathing room than Season 10’s measly six, the shift between episode types is also less jarring, reminiscent of The X-Files of old.

Psychic projection, deadly doppelgängers and fatal word games all feature, grounded in a modern climate that draws on contemporary politics and internet memes to fuel its mysteries. A smart, micro-conspiracy episode plays with the idea of a computer-powered afterlife, taking its cues in part from a contemporary FBI embattled by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, ‘Ghouli’ begins as a classic freak-of-the-week, but develops into something with far more import, while pouring salt in some of Scully’s emotional wounds.



Anderson has declared Season 11 will be her last, making it likely these ten episodes will be Mulder and Scully’s final assignments and, while what we’ve seen so far is hit and miss, there’s some superb paranormal rummaging to be found amid the invasion hokum. Of course, with the global conspiracy at its end-stage and the fate of the world hanging in the balance, it’s entirely bonkers that our heroes find time to drive about the country sniffing after mysteries, but we should all be very thankful that they do.


Empire

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