Tuesday, March 30, 2010
An intriguing exercise in characters finding simple solutions to what, on the surface, looks like a huge problem, Shadows is in no way a classic, but it's a reasonably exciting X-File with the requisite amount of scares and intrigue for a case-of-the-week episode this early in the show's life.
The only memorable part of The Jersey Devil is the subplot about Scully's date. Continuing her evolution as a character, it's pretty telling when she ends up realizing it's far more fun tracking down a wild beast-woman than going on a second date with a dull taxman. Unfortunately, the beast-woman story isn't so much fun to begin with.
As much a masterclass in sustained tension and unrelenting suspense as it is a pastiche on all things 1980's, The House of the Devil has deservedly been treated as somewhat of a modern classic. From the effortlessly cool freeze-frame opening titles to the hefty walkman our protagonist carries around throughout the film, the era of those reliably low-budget '80s slasher flicks is masterfully sent up, while at the same time director Ti West produces a film that undoubtedly improves on the trashy horrors that inspired it.
An emotional episode which really evolves on the character of Mulder and the abduction of his sister, Conduit is hardly perfect but does make for an entertaining hour. Regardless of its quality, it's still one of those forgettable early X-Files hours, only particularly memorable for that great moment where Kevin's binary drawings are revealed to be an elaborate picture of his sister when seen from overhead.
I found Kimber really depressing in this episode. She's clearly a damaged woman, who is madly in love with Christian, and willing to fulfill all his desires in order to make him love her like she loves him. Unfortunately, she's realizing this is impossible. The scene where she begins making out with the girl at the party made for uncomfortable viewing, seeing as she really didn't want to do it, but ended up doing so only to try and please Christian. She's a really sad character.
Kimber has always been my favorite Nip/Tuck character, and this episode is the first to give her a lot of material. It also gives her a lot more depth than she had previously been given, as well as a chance for Kelly Carlson to show what a talented actress she is.
Another spanner is thrown into the works when it comes to Sean and Julia's relationship, as an unexpected pregnancy disrupts their lives and they both end up feeling emotions which they never expected they'd feel. In Sean's case, he's surprisingly excited about the possibility of another child, and wants to go through with it. I found it interesting that he originally wanted Julia to have an abortion when she fell pregnant with Matt, whereas now he doesn't. Maybe he's subconsciously nervous over Julia becoming a success, and hopes that a baby would make that impossible?
Monday, March 29, 2010
One of the eeriest, most original X-Files episodes, Squeeze was the series' first foray into monster-of-the-week territory, successfully steering away from the UFO/alien-type storylines that could have easily been done every week, and creates the first in a long-line of imaginative, memorable bad guys.
While the pilot only hinted at it, Deep Throat reveals that the government knows all about the existence of extraterrestrial life and are willing to do anything to keep their secrets from being revealed to the general public. In a pretty nifty twist, the episode itself unravels so that the audience is left with greater knowledge than our two leads, which sets up a great dynamic between us and the characters over the next nine seasons.
Pilots are extremely difficult to get right. You have to set up all the characters, create the groundwork for the mythology of the show, have an intriguing premise which needs to hook the viewer straight away and set up enough story arcs to keep the audience interested. All in the space of 42 minutes. The pilot for The X-Files creates a world so intriguing and plain ol' different to anything you've seen before that you're immediately hooked.
Like Nanette Babcock last episode, Sofia Lopez was another moving, memorable patient of the week. Played to perfection by Jonathan Del Arco, Sofia was one classic example of a transsexual and the struggles they go through in almost every aspect of their lives. Something as simple and routine to many people as a hospital visit is turned into a nightmare, with transphobic doctors willing to let somebody bleed to death because they don't want to get near them.
This episode was all about how plastic surgery can't cover up your inner feelings, with both Mrs Grubman and Nanette being damaged inside, and liposuction and tummy tucks being unable to heal all their internal issues. It's also the first real masterpiece Nip/Tuck has produced so far.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
A great second episode which maintains the humor and visual style of the pilot, but with all the minor improvements which make the show even stronger. From the debut of the series' trademark opening credits (reflecting the coldness and clinical feel of the world of plastic) to the already familiar whip-smart dialogue, Mandi/Randi further pushes the envelope for basic cable.
I never expect much from pilot episodes. While they always give a vague impression of what the show is like, they're generally average, with the writers and actors still working out the show, and trying to see what works and what doesn't. Nip/Tuck's pilot isn't like that. At all.