Sunday, July 22, 2012

The X-Files: Jump the Shark (9.15)

I'm not sure if this didn't work for me because it was a weak episode, or if it's because I literally have no feelings, negative or otherwise, about the Lone Gunmen. I understand that they had their own fanbase back when the show was airing, so I'm sure their big coda affected a bunch of people out there. But I found myself generally unmoved by their demise. Because they were always such a one-joke unit played by actors without even a hint of charisma between them, their death scene is a curiously flat moment -- the three of them staring blankly as the affects of the virus are felt, and I guess everybody is supposed to be sad.

Jump the Shark lifts most of its characters and situations from the Lone Gunmen's short-lived spin-off series (who ever would have thought that wouldn't work out?), a show I never watched, so again there's the issue of whether I'm just not the target audience for this. Like Three of a Kind in season six, there's a definite feeling of being left out of a joke, things happening that you're supposedly meant to laugh at, or actually understand. It's also vastly different from the last 'canceled-show-crossover-episode', Millennium, in that it's essentially a whole episode from a different show. Dogget and Reyes make glorified cameos, and Scully and Skinner appear just briefly. It's like something has stolen The X-Files' timeslot for a week.

As much as I disliked it, it's foolish to claim that there weren't any strong parts here. Michael McKean is a naturally engaging comedian, and I liked his boat scene at the top of the show and later his grasping-at-straws moment where he tries to convince Doggett and Reyes of his own importance. There's also a fun energy to the script, bouncing around with a real sense of urgency despite the story itself being more than a little slight.

But Jump the Shark is one of those polarizing episodes, something that I'm sure has its fans but did nothing but sort of bemuse me. It's most evident in that final scene where Scully announces at the funeral that the Lone Gunmen "meant so much to [her]". She stands there so wistful and saddened, yet you can't help but ask... "really?" D

Guest stars
Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers); Tom Braidwood (Ringo Langly); Dean Haglund (Melvin Frohike); Michael McKean (Morris Fletcher); Stephen Snedden (Jimmy Bond); Zuleikha Robinson (Yves Adele Harlow); Jim Fyfe (Kimmy); Marcus Giamatti (John Gillnitz); John Prosky (Medical Examiner); Timothy Landfield (Professor Douglas Houghton); Michael Craven Wells (The Bald Man)
Writers Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz Director Cliff Bole

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