TV Review: The X-Files 11.2 “This” (dir by Glen Morgan)


If nothing else, last night’s episode of The X-Files was definitely an improvement over the season premiere.

The whole thing started off with a bang, as a bunch of Russians showed up and tried to gun down Mulder and Scully.  It turns out that apparently, the Executive Branch has hired a Russian agency to handle America’s secret intelligence work.  The Russians can even give orders to the FBI.  Yes, it’s all about Trump and I’m sure the Resistance loved it while the majority of MAGA probably wasn’t watching The X-Files to begin with.  Speaking for myself, as a fairly nonpartisan reviewer, I stopped being shocked by Russian villains a long time ago.  At this point, whenever a mobster or a mercenary shows up in a movie or TV show, I always expect to hear a Russian accent before they even open their mouth.

Anyway, as Skinner explains, the fact that the Executive Branch now hates the FBI is going to make it even more difficult for Mulder and Scully to do their thing.  I’m not really sure how much I agree with Skinner on that, though.  If there’s anything that quickly became apparent about these Russian mercenaries, it was just how totally inept they were at their job.  They literally blew up Mulder and Scully’s apartment and yet, Mulder and Scully still escaped without a scratch.  Later, another Russian assassin popped up and, even though he had the element of surprise on his side, he still couldn’t manage to hit either one of them.  Part of me hopes that the Russian ineptness was deliberate on the part of the show.  That would be the ultimate joke, wouldn’t it?  The Russians aren’t even good at their job and they still managed to secretly take over the country.

When Mulder and Scully weren’t running from the Russians, they were dealing Langley, an old friend who, despite having been dead for 16 years, still kept appearing on Mulder’s phone and asking if Mulder was there.  It turns out that Langley, like a lot of geniuses, arranged for his consciousness to be transported into a simulated world after his death.  However, it turns out that the simulation is actually a prison where people like Steve Jobs are being used for slave labor.

It also turned out, of course, that Erika Price (the great Barbara Hershey) was the one behind both the Russians and the dead slave labor.  She explained that every time you use an iPhone, a piece of your mind is scanned and stolen.  When you think about it, that makes perfect sense.

Last night’s episode was all about paranoia, which is one reason why I enjoyed it.  Admittedly, things did get off to a somewhat shaky start with the whole shoot out between Mulder, Scully, and the Russians, which was so haphazardly edited that I was worried I was going to get carsick just from watching it.  But, after that, the episode became a deliberately paced mediation of darkness, death, and a paranoia.  The extended sequence where Mulder and Scully explored the shadowy National Cemetery was brilliantly handled.  As I watched, I was very much aware that there was undoubtedly a secret behind every tombstone.

That said, the main reason that last night’s episode worked was because of the playful chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.  The main problem with the premiere — well, one of them — is that Duchovny and Anderson didn’t have many scenes together.  Instead, Anderson spent almost the entire episode is the hospital while Duchovny spent his time driving through tobacco country.  Last night, though, Duchovny and Anderson were together in nearly every scene and their banter was the best thing about the show.

As I watched last night’s episode, I was able to understand why so many people love The X-Files.  It’s not the conspiracies.  It’s not even the monsters.  Instead, it’s all about the way that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson bounces lines off of each other.  Here’s hoping that the rest of the season understands this as well.

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2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy


Continuing my look back at the best of 2017, today is the day that I reveal my picks for the best SyFy movies and performances of the previous year!

But before I do that, a plea to the SyFy Network.  I make this plea every year and it never does any good.  It probably won’t do any good this year.  But still, I’m going to make it.  SyFy, give us more original films!  From a business point of view, I can understand why SyFy shifted their focus from movies to episodic television.  But I’m not a business person!  I’m a movie lover, one who has wonderful memories of when every weekend would bring another gloriously over-the-top SyFy movie.

Those were wonderful days and it’s sad that the only time that I get to relive them is either during Shark Week or during October.

Seriously, SyFy — give us more original movies!

With that in mind, here are my picks for the best of 2017 SyFy:

(All credits are based on what’s listed at the imdb.  If anyone has been incorrectly credited or left out, please leave a comment and I will correct the mistake.)

Best PictureHouse of the Witch (produced by Neil Elman, Margaret Huddleston, Bryan Sexton)

This haunted house movie was effectively creepy and featured some unexpectedly starting imagery.  Runners-up (and it was a close race): Trailer Park Shark, Sharknado 5, and The Sandman.

Best Director — Griff Furst for Trailer Park Shark

The idea of sharks attacking a trailer park sounds like a huge joke but Furst crafted it into a compelling and entertaining story that celebrated redneck ingenuity.

Best Actor — Ian Ziering in Sharknado 5

The fifth time is the charm as Ziering gives his best performance so far as the chainsaw-wielding Finn.

Best Actress — Haylie Duff in The Sandman

Duff brings some much-needed gravity to the role of a formerly irresponsible aunt trying to save her niece from a monster made of sand.

Best Supporting Actor — Jason London in Mississippi River Sharks and Dennis Haskins in Trailer Park Shark

As much as I tried, I simply could not make a choice between London’s comedic performance (as himself) and Dennis Haskins’s villainous turn.  So, we have a tie!

Best Supporting Actress — Shae Smolik in The Sandman

As the girl being haunted by the Sandman, Smolik gave a refreshingly realistic performance.

Best Screenplay — Neil Elman for House of the Witch

This is the third year in a row that Neil Elman has won in this category.

Best Cinematography — Dane Lawing for House of the Witch

House of the Witch feature some truly haunting images.  In my review, I raved about one shot in particular, of a pickup truck driving across the desolate landscape in the middle of the night.

Best Costumes — Mary-Sue Morris for Empire of the Sharks and Kendra Terpenning for Neverknock

Another tie.  Empire of the Sharks proved that, just because the world’s ending, that doesn’t mean you can’t look good,  Neverknock’s costumes made good use of the Halloween setting, especially with Lola Flannery’s devil costume.

Best Editing — Anna Florit and Ryan Michelle for Sharknado 5

In 2017, Sharknado 5 took us on a trip around the world, offered up nonstop action, and there was never a boring moment.

Best Makeup — Madeleine Botha for Empire of the Sharks

Again, just because the world’s ending, that doesn’t mean you can’t look good.

Best Score — Andrew Morgan Smith for Trailer Park Shark

The score brought the bayou, the trailer park, and the shark to life!

Best Production Design — Anthony Stabley and Dana Rice for House of the Witch

Seriously, that house was so creepy!

Best Sound — Dylan Blount, Leandro Cassan, Jonathan Iglecias , Mitchell Kohen, Chris Polczinski, Mike Varela for House of the Witch

It wasn’t just the way the house looked in House of the Witch that made it a creepy place.  It was also the way that every sound in the background could have just been someone stumbling around or it could have been the witch about to jump out and rip off someone’s fingers.

Best Visual Effects — Craig Bassuk, Sasha Burrow, Yancy Calzada, Glenn Campbell , Yolanda Charlo Rodriguez, Aine Graham, John Karner, Tammy Klein, Mark Kochinski , Kevin Lane, Christian McIntire, James Payfer, Richard A. Payne, Paul Runyan, Chris Simmons, Scott Wheeler, Aaron Witlin,
Al Magliochetti for Sharknado 5

Keep those sharks flying!

Tomorrow, my look back at 2017 continues with my list of good things that I saw on television last year (not counting, of course, all of the good things that I just mentioned in this post).

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017

 

Music Video of the Day: Hey Heartbreaker by Dream Wife (2018, dir by Mason London)


This trippy video came out five days ago and it’s already a favorite of mine. To be honest, I have a weakness for anything that involves a robot band breaking free and beating up a bunch of drunks.

Enjoy!