Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The X-Files--"My Struggle III"

     I am a huge fan of The X-Files. Even though I felt the tenth season was uneven, I was excited to see something new for the show. The prospect of an even longer eleventh season is equally exciting with the caveat the weakest parts of the previous season were the mythology episodes. So imagine the trepidations over the first episode of the eleventh season not only delving exclusively on the mythology, but depending heavily on exposition tossing the mythology we know on its ear.
     Scully suffers a seizure as she is presumably being contacted by her son, William. It turns out everyone is looking for William. Mulder, Cigarette Smoking Man with Monica Reyes, never before seen Syndicate members Mr. Y and Erika, and probably others. The season is young. The Cigarette smoking Man and Mr. Y have competing agendas. The former wants to poison humanity with the spartan virus. Mr. Y prefers a less brutal colonization plan. I do not know. The waters are not terribly muddied. This is why the mythology episodes worked so poorly in the tenth season.
     The worst part? The Cigarette smoking Man tells Skinner he is Williams' real father. He artificially inseminated Scully during the 2009 episode "En Ami." Did you hear that giant roar? It was the collective screams of agony from millions of X-Philes. Mine, included. I assume the Cigarette Smoking Man is lying but if he is not, William's paternity is the cheapest twist in the series history. Not to mention the Mulder family tree is the most perverse around.
     The bottom line--”My Struggle III” is a bad start. It is difficult to follow who is who and what their agenda is through all the manic car chases and reams of explanatory dialogue that nulls= and voids all previous mythology. I will not bail on the first episode, but I am equally not excited to see what comes next. Loyalty to a brand can be painful.
     Rating: ** (out of 5)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Doctor Who--"Twice Upon a Time"

     I am a little late in reviewing the 2017 Christmas special. The holiday season can be unpredictable when last minute plan changes and health issues crop up. But better late than never and definitely worth the wait. Here we go!
     The episode begins with Twelfth, still refusing to regenerate, arriving at the South Pole where he encounters the First, who is also refusing to regenerate for his own reasons. They are soon joined by a displaced and confused World War I British captain who was moments prior in a standoff with a German Soldier. All three are forcibly taken on board on an alien ship where they encounter Bill, evidently alive and well. The glass-like aliens who run the ship agree to let them go if the captain can be returned to the time of his death in the stand off.
     Such is a no go, so everyone escapes the ship and eventually flees in First's TARDIS. Twelfth seeks the help of Rusty the Rogue Dalek—ugh, that is painful to type—to discover what these aliens are all about. They take people at the moment of their deaths and upload their memories. Since the captain was supposed to die but did not, the universe is no longer in proper order. Deciding nothing evil is going on, First and Twelfth agree to return the captain to the standoff. However, Twelfth moves the arrival ahead a bit to be interrupted by the Christmas Truce of 1914 when German and British soldiers began singing “Silent Night” and eventually celebrated Christmas together. The captain survives. Lucky thing, too. He is either the father or grandfather of the Brigadier.
     The question running through the minds of the First and Twelfth—where would the universe be without them—is answered. They both need to regenerate and keeping doing their work. The philosophical question of why good is not a solid survival trait, yet good prevails is a heady one, but the answer appears to be because there is always someone willing to fight for the good. With the realization he needs to continue on as a force for good, Twelfth regenerates into Thirteen.
     Hello, Jodie Whittaker! It will be a long, tough wait until the fall premiere of the eleventh series.
     “Twice Upon a Time” is definitely a treat for Classic Who fans. The banter between First and Twelfth is delightful humorous, as does First's old fashioned chauvinism towards Bill. There is the reference to the Brigadier’s family tree and mentions of nicknames given to various incarnations of the doctor over the years because of his exploits. Those are all well and good. But there was not much point to more recent references to Twelfth's time. Rusty and Bill are just thrown in. Nardole's appearance is brutal since he means he has been killed by the Cybermen. Seeing Jenna Coleman again is great, but it is not any different than Karen Gillan's brief appearance before Eleven regenerated four years ago. Maybe I am being harsh, but those pre-regeneration scenes did not resonate quite like Ten or eleven's.
    Nevertheless, I enjoyed “Twice Upon a Time.” Peter Capaldi's run is criminally underrated. He really started coming into the character during the last series and a half. I would have liked for him to continue on for another series or two for a chance to shine even brighter. Alas, it is time for a new era. The show has the cleanest slate it has enjoyed since 2005. I am curious to see what the powers that be will make of it.
     Rating: *** (out of 5)