Sunday, June 10, 2012

The X-Files: Lord of the Flies (9.5)

This is one of those episodes that wraps up generic simplicity in a showy, self-consciously 'wacky' tone, in an attempt to create something along the lines of Bad Blood or Jose Chung's From Outer Space. The X-Files has always been slightly unbalanced when it comes to comedy, sometimes stumbling upon genuine humor with a lot of heart to it, while other times appearing so desperate to reach those Darin Morgan highs that things become strained and sort of embarrassing. Lord of the Flies falls into the latter area, ending up an aimless mess with no discernible purpose.

However, there are naturally things to like about the episode. I happen to enjoy the simplicity of an honest-to-God monster story, while there's something pretty sweet about the high school romances and social anxiety that permeate a lot of the Dylan story. Samaire Armstrong, before the personal problems set in, is also ridiculously gorgeous here.

But Thomas Schnauz's script never seems sure of what tone to reach for. There's the nutty horror of the fly attacks and the cocoons, but it doesn't sit well with the trying-way-too-hard 'kerrr-aaazy-ness' of Erick Avari's uncomfortable doctor or Michael Wiseman's Buzz Lightyear-ish entomologist. It's the show bashing you over the head with comedy, bringing to mind the similarly god-awful Hollywood A.D. and it's horrible attempts at niche humor. The Jackass riffing, too, reads like a desperate attempt to appear relevant.

There are a lot of things here that could have worked, even if there's an overwhelming lack of new ideas. Plus, who doesn't like Jane Lynch shooting bug webbing from her mouth? But Lord of the Flies strains so hard to be a comedy classic that it winds up a major misfire. Ugh. D+

Guest stars Hank Harris (Dylan Lokensgard); Samaire Armstrong (Natalie Gordon); Michael Wiseman (Dr. Rocky Bronzino); Jane Lynch (Anne Lokensgard); Aaron Paul (David Winkle); Branden Williams (Bill Kizzler); Erick Avari (Dr. Herb Fountain); Aeryk Egan (Camera Dude)
Writer Thomas Schnauz Director Kim Manners

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