Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The X-Files-Re-Watch-A-Thon 2012

Whelp, I've just finished re-watching the entire series (9 seasons, 2 movies) of The X-Files (as implied by this post's title), and here are a few thoughts and observations. (--SPOILER ALERT--)

First, let me say that it's been at least five(5) years since I've last watched the series all the way through, perhaps even longer... and it was well before the second film ever came about.  My memories of the show were mostly from watching the original broadcasts, as I think I really only watched my DVD's entirely once.

"So how did it stand up to time?" you ask.  Quite well, actually.  Even the earlier seasons with the horribly fuzzy video quality still stand up against most anything around now.  The writing was strong from the start, and it stayed just as strong (if not stronger) through the entire series.  The production was as incredible as technology really allowed and got better as new techniques were developed.  Occasionally, early on, there were some iffy alien effects, one even being stop-motion if I recall correctly.  That was a bit dumb... but in all, it holds up better than most anything else from the 90's.

I noticed very quickly that the ground-work for the entire mythology was laid out within the first few episodes of the first season.  If they knew exactly what their plans were for the greater over-arcing story early on, then they did a fantastic job in setting it all up.  If they didn't know until later, then they did an amazing job at tying in all the early stuff.  Watching the series with the benefit of hindsight, the whole series flows and progresses just perfectly and flawlessly.

I don't care what anyone says, I HATE that damn blasted Cher episode. Worst of the whole series.  I remembered detesting it back when it aired, and I hoped that maybe I'd find a new appreciation on my re-watch... but no.  I think I hate it even more now than I did back then.

The first movie was pretty good, but I honestly have to say that I like the second one more.  A lot of people complain about the post-series film because it wasn't big, explosive, or filled with aliens... but I think it was just perfect the way it was.  I think most of the dissatisfied people just haven't watched the whole series in a long time and only remember that there were aliens, forgetting absolutely everything else that made the show what it was.  The "focus" on aliens may have been what glued the show together, like mortar in a wall of bricks, but the essence of the show as a whole was more similar to the second film than the first... especially when the series is watched start to finish.

Many people also deride the last two(2) seasons because "Mulder wasn't in them" .... Actually, I've heard people claim that Mulder wasn't in the last three seasons.  They are wrong.  He was in every season up through the end of seven(7) and was in half (sporadically) of season eight(8).  Even in the season 8 episodes Mulder wasn't in, his presence was constantly felt, as he was constantly being searched for or referenced.  During season nine(9) however, he was gone... until the very end of course.  In short, Mulder's absence from the series as a whole was very slight and minimal... and is very easy to get over when not watching week-to-week.

Due to Mulder's absence, fans also hated on Agent John Doggett.  This had nothing whatsoever to do with the character or actor, aside from the simple fact that he wasn't Mulder.  This is stupid.  Not only did Agent Doggett fit very, very well within the X-Files universe, but I actually find it hard to think of him not being there.  He was a great character that never once tried to actually replace Mulder.  Hell, half the time Doggett was trying to find Mulder, and the other half was spent trying to come to terms with Mulder's work... but he wasn't a ringer, wasn't a tag-along, and wasn't a horrible character. He was however a fantastic and under-appreciated character of which fans need to re-assess their opinion.

Sein und Zeit and Closure (a two-parter) make up some of the best and most emotional hours of television I have ever seen. Pretty much the entire episode(s), I was choked up... and I'll admit I teared up quite a bit when Mulder embraced the ghost/spirit of his sister.  That scene alone is heart-wrenching and comparable with the famous "I'll find you, Penny" scene from LOST (The Constant) on levels of pure emotional magnitude.

To finish up, I'd just like to state that they not only laid out the mythology very well, but they also closed it all up just as well.  Even before Mulder's "disappearance", they perfectly tied up almost everything for his personal journey... leaving just enough open for the series ending.  Even Agent Doggett's personal story was able to find his own sense of closure before the finale... and the "...but I'd like to know how Mulder and Scully fared after the end!" plea was brought to light with the somewhat unexpected film "I Want To Believe" seven(7) years later.

Well, that about wraps it up for my Re-Watch-A-Thon... soon, I will re-tackle Supernatural.  But for now, I leave you with a short video montage of my favourite episode from The X-Files.

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Big Finish: U - Z

Alright, so it's been one month since my last post, where I was at the letter T in my artist by alphabet blogue... Then something happened: I got to the letter U and realized the only artist I had there was U2.  I don't want to write about U2 mostly because everyone already knows about them, so I thought of other possible options.

First, I considered writing satirically, as if no one had ever heard of the band... Then I thought about posting the music of Echo & The Bunnymen just to prove a point... and finally I considered writing about the Negativland single release called "U2" that got them sued by the band of the same name.  Finally, I decided to just skip it altogether, and move on to the letter V.

Well, I could pick The Verve or Violet Sedan Chair...  and there really isn't much to say about Violet Sedan Chair, considering the band doesn't exist.  It was a mock band created for the (amazing) TV show Fringe (which everyone needs to watch), but their music is fantastic.  So instead, I will post a song from their album and continue on to the next letter.

"Seven Suns (Rising)"

So, what follows V? Why W of course.  So what artists worth writing about do I have under W?!  I suppose Woven Hand or Wired All Wrong... but for those, I'd essentially just end up repeating what I posted under my entries for 16 Horsepower and Self, respectively.  I also have about 50 artists by the name of Wilson (Steven, Steve, Brian...) and the first (and only acceptable) Hank Williams in my collections. So for the letter W I give a big "Whatever" and move on to X.

I don't have anything under X.

Which I suppose takes us to the letter Y. None other than "Weird Al" Yankovic.  I've been a fan of Al's since the 1985 album Dare To Be Stupid, and the first tape of his I owned my own copy of was Polka Party!... which is a far better album than people give credit.  I was lucky to see him live (front row) back a decade or so ago, although I think his prime era ended with Bad Hair Day.  Everything since has been great and far more creative than anyone else could do... but the releases have been sparse and sometimes felt a bit phoned in.  That's not to say I don't love him and everything he does.  I do.  I just think he needs to do more!!

That being said, I will now post one of my favourite songs, and one which really encompasses just how brilliant he is in both song-writing and vocal abilities. (The bridge, for example, was done in one breath...)

"Hardware Store"

Alright, this means only the letter Z remains. Obviously, this would be a one and only Frank Zappa. While I only have a few certain albums by Zappa, namely the Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar trilogy and of course Weasels Ripped My Flesh, I still happen to love me some Zappa.  Despite being highly regarded as easily the most creative musicial/singer/songwriter of all time (I think even Weird Al would admit that...), the man was very openly drug-free, even in the 70's when drugs were all the rage and you were a "square" for not doing them. Technically, his music was and still is far more intricate than any others, and the things they could do without digital aid is astounding.  My plan soon is to finish amassing my Zappa collection... but for now, here's a song:

"Montana" (Live)

So that kills off the alphabet in a single post.  Mostly due to laziness, but I choose to blame U2, as people should for most things really.

I do have something good in the works, and I hope to post about it soon... once I get a little bit more worked out.  It's already in the works, but the technical bit I need to figure out comes before I really want to say much officially about it.  So stay tuned for that!!  It shouldn't be too long.  So, until then...