Monday, February 28, 2011

Formspring Question #99--Keyes to the Future Edition

"There's something basically clean and decent and all-American about the respect for human dignity that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry showed." - Alan Keyes Based on that quote would it be fair to say that Star Trek's socialistic overtones were compl
That is as much of your question as came through. Formspring appears to have a word limit like twitter. I was not aware of that before. I assume you are acking if the socialiist philosophy of Gene Roddenberry contributed to the respect and dignity of Trek characters Alan Keyes is complimenting. If I am wrong, please clarify, but that is what I am going to run with.

Short answer is no. Star Trek is pure fantasy. The Federation is a socialist utopia solely because Roddenberry said it was. He does not present any sort of socialist road map to get humanity to that point. I am certain Alan Keyes would be the first person to tell you there is not one, either. He knows Trek is escapist fantasy.

Volumes could be written debunking socialism as an economic system, but the bottom line is it ultimately fails because it does not take into account human nature--we are greedy creatures who want stuff. More and more stuff, even after all our needs have been provided.

One of the reasons Deep Space Nine is my favorite Trek is because there is frequent acknowledgement the Federation utopia is an artificial creation because of creature comforts, not because of any charge in people’s hearts and minds in the 24th century. The federation is all high and mighty about self-improvement, equality, and tolerance as long as they are safe and comfy on their home planets and starship luxury cruises. But when the Dominion waged a war that nearly destroyed everything, the Federation abandoned virtually all its ideals in the name of survival.

Forget socialist ideals. When push comes to shove, people revert to their most basic selves.

X-Files--"Schizogeny"

“Schizogeny” is The X-Files effort in a long while to do a scary kid story. I am pleased there was a twist to make it so things are not what they seem. While the series has done the theme well in the past, they seriously got off on the wrong foot here.

I chalk the problem up to the presentation of the kids as typically sullen, sand for brains teenagers, which is a habit The X-Files has also done to poor effect. Whether it is early in the episode where I am supposed to believe the kids are psycho killers, or the latter half where I am supposed to fear for their lives, I cannot get passed the Beavis and Butthead characterizations to feel the emotions I am supposed to feel.

Mulder and Scully head to Michigan to investigate a murder in which a teenage boy named Bobby apparently buried his stepfather alive within a few seconds. There is no logical explanation how the scrawny moron could have pulled it off, but it is general town knowledge he was an abused kid who hated his stepfather. Mulder does not believe the kid did it, but no exculpatory evidence is forthcoming.

While in town, Bobby’s girlfriend’s abusive father is thrown out of a window after an argument with her. It looks as though Bobby may have been a part of the incident, as he was just talking with the girl as she was walking home.

The common thread between the two kids is a therapist named Karen Matthews. Her method of treatment is to urge kids to stand up to their abusers even if they have no power to stop further abuse. Matthews was abused by her own father as a child. She obviously never dealt with the emotional scars from her past. Somehow, she has the ability to control the local trees, so she has been using the power to drag her clients’ abusive parents by smothering Bobby’s stepfather and yanking his girlfriend’s father out the window with tree roots.

She begins suffering from the psychotic habit of acting out past abuse by pretending to be her father trying to kill the two kids. The relatively minor character of a woodchopper in an apple orchard beheads her with his axe before she can smother mulder and Bobby.

“Schizogeny” is nothing special, but there is nothing terribly wrong with it. The big problem is the tough time I have feeling anything for the characters. I am not alone there, either. Mulder comments early on when Bobby is a murder suspect that he is a hard kid to love. Indeed, and also to sympathize with. The agents are clearly investigating the case out of duty with no sympathy for Bobby, even after they learn he has been duped by Matthews and is now being hunted by her. If they do not care, why should we?

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Mila Kunis

Yes, indeed.

UPDATE:Mila Kunis did smile last night.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Formspring Question #98--By Grabthar's Hammer Edition

Are you familiar with the 1999 sci-fi comedy "Galaxy Quest staring Tim Allen? If so, what did you think of it?
I saw Galaxy Quest in the theater back in 1999 and two or three more times on television since. The film is brilliant satire on Star Trek specifically and science fiction/comic book type fans in general. it is well written, well acted, and very funny.

I am not offended by it. As much as I love science fiction and comic books, I really do not live the lifestyle. They are escapist entertainment for me. Nothing hit too close to home. In fact, there a gentle tribute there. The heroes save the day because their fans understand the logic of their fictional universe even though it is not all that logical.

I would say Trekkies come across looking far better from Galaxy Quest than they do in the Trekkies documentary from the same year. There is the Whitewater juror who were her Starfleet uniform to court everyday, the dentist who had his office done up like a Federation Starship, and the family who lived like Klingons. I would rather be known as someone with an uncanny knowledge of Trek minutiae than any of those people.

Is Galaxy Quest as funny to someone who is not into Star Trek? I do wonder.

Blogroll Spotlight #83

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. As usual, these are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title.

American Perspective--Finally! The Battle is On!
American Power--Who Was Worse, Hitler or Stalin?
Amusing Bunni's Musings--Secrets of Foamy the Squirrel's Cult
Blazing Cat Fur--Let Real Judges Decide Hate Cases
Bluegrass Pundit--Are Liberals Mentally Deranged?
Camp of the Saints--Rule 5 Saturday: Sabrina Feilli
Classic Liberal--A Deep Fissure in the American Right
Da Tech Guy--This is How the Holy Spirit Works
Daley Gator--Is Obama Hostile to Oil Producing States?
Essential Mr. Bill--On Tweety Birds, Barbie Dolls, and the American Way
Fishersville Mike--Obama-Gadhafi 2012
Gorge's grouse--I Am So Blessed
In a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World--The Friday Pin Up
Lazy Farmer--I Like to Play with Fire
Left Coast Rebel--What Qualities Do Libertarians Want in a President?
Mind Numbed robot--Democrats Lust for Power at Any Cost
Motor City Times--Homeless Doing the Work Carpenter's Union Won't Do
Nice Deb--Union Thug Defends Assault on Teapartier
Other McCain--Was Hoax Call to Scott Walker a Crime?
Pirate's Cove--Liberals Think Their Tea Party Moment Has Arrived
Proof Positive--Civility, Leftist style
Randy's Roundtable--Wyoming Passes Conceal-Carry Bill
Sentry Journal--Where the Battle is Won
Sniper--Wisconsin: Land of Education
Teresamerica--Teachers Unions Destroying Education Reform
Troglopundit--This Week in Automotivators
Washington Rebel--The Rise of the Adolescent Mind

Brace yourself for more Charlie Sheen antics:

X-Files--"Kitsunegari"

“Kitsunegari’ (Japanese for “fox hunt.” Guess the plot of the episode. Go on. Guess.) is the sequel to the third season‘s “Pusher,” which introduced serial cop killer Robert “Pusher” Modell. Modell had a brain tumor which gave him the ability to force his will on others. He used this ability to build an exciting life for himself as an assassin by forcing people to kill themselves. He soon grew bored with that and began looking for a worthy adversary. He found one in Mulder. Eventually, Mulder defeated Modell by shooting him in the head. Modell was presumed to be in a vegetative state for the rest of his--presumably short--life.

Modell does recover, however. He awoke from his coma six months ago and has been rehabbing in prison since. He has recovered enough in the teaser to have convinced the guard at the prison hospital to let him walk out the door a free man. The Fbi takes charge of the manhunt. Skinner handles the matter personally with Mulder and Scully in as advisors since they caught Modell the first time.

Modell’s first victim is the prosecutor who convicted him for murder in 1996. (Keep that in mind. I will vent about the trial in a moment.) He forces the prosecutor to paint the word “kitsunegari’ all over the walls on his living room, then fatally drink the rest of the paint. His next target is the prosecutor’s wife, Linda Bowman, whom the FBI take into protective custody.

The thing is, she does not appear the slightest bit upset that her husband has been murdered or that a serial killer is after her now. In fact, she appears to have a contempt for her husband. She toys with play on words over him being a “true blue” guy and such. Mulder suspects she is in cahoots with modell. She is so over the top, I have to wonder why Skinner and scully do not see it, but they do not even entertain the idea. The whole situation devolves into another Mulder is always right, so why does no one else listen to him? Episode. When Mulder theorizes Modell is innocent and being used, he is suspended, but investigates independently.

So what is the truth? Brace yourself for the stupidity. Linda Bowman and robert Modell are fraternal twins. They were separated at two weeks hold. Bowman did not discover the truth until after Modell’s trial. Conveniently, she developed a brain tumor which give her the same suggestive abilities as her brother. Although she had no emotional connections to him at all, she decided to kill her husband for prosecuting him and then take revenge on Mulder. But she also decided to pin ther murders all on Modell. Perhaps you can chalk the failed logic there on her being a complete psychopath, but how did she seem like a normal, well-adjusted person all this time? Blame it on the tumor, I guess.

Modell is shot by skinner. Mulder remains in his hospital room waiting for him to awaken to test his theory Bowman isa behind the prosecutor’s murder. He is forced to leave when a nurse enters to change his bandage dressings. The nurse is actually Bowman. After all that has happened, the possibility does not even cross his mind he might be tricked. It is doubly funny considering the shape shifting bounty hunter folled him with the same trick in the last episode. Bowman kills her brother, then leaves an address to a warehouse for Mulder to find.

He does, but when he arrives at the address, he finds Scully there. She claims to be under Bowman’s control as she shoots herself in the head. Distraught, over his partner’s apparent suicide, he turns to find Bowman with a gun pointed at him. He is going to kill her out of anger, but Bowman insists she is the real Scully. Bowman wants him to kill her, knowing he would never forgive himself for doing so. Scully cannot convince him she is the real deal, so she shoots over his shoulder, killing Bowman and allowing him to see things as they really are.

In the end, Skinner acknowledges Mulder had him beat in figuring out the truth behind Bowman, but mulder is too busy beating himself up over nearly killing Scully to care.

The story just does not add up. It is reasonable to assume Modell could be tried in absentia even though he is in what is assumed a permanent vegetative state, though I am skeptical that would happen. Even if it did, why would Mulder and Scully not have been part of the trial/ Modell was being prosecuted for the murders he committed while they were attempting apprehend him. They were present at both murders. Mulder was the apprehending agent. They should have been star witnesses. Instead, thery learn about the trial now in 1998 and act as though they have never met the prosecutor before. Obviously, the trial went on without the arresting law enforcement officers and star witnesses to both murders taking part. Umm…how?

I can still buy that better than secret siblings, one of whom happens to be married to the prosecutor trying the other sibling for murder. Who wrote this episode, the brothers Grimm? Linda Bowman develops special powers and decides to use them to avenge the brother she cares nothing about/ then apparently decides, what the heck, she will just kill him, too. How did scully know to show up at the warehouse, for that matter? I being asked to swallow a lot of stuff here that I cannot manage.

I hate to say it, but the episode is still worth watching in spite of the huge plot holes. Modell makes for a great villain. The idea of his having a sibling with the same power is not a bad idea, either, but the story is put together so poorly, it falls flat. If you have not seen “Pusher” and do not know the inconsistencies, I imagine you would think this episode is great. I judge accordingly.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway is co-hosting the Oscars tonight. She is also very, very hot.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Formspring Question #97-Catching Fireflies in Jars Edition

What do you think of the effort to buy the rights to Firefly for Nathan fillion?
I think the Browncoats are chasing rainbows.

What Nathan Fillion said was that if he won $300 million in the California lottery, the first thing he would do is buy the rights to Firefly and make new episodes. Author Patrick Rothfuss, who not so coincidentally has a new novel coming out this week he wants to promote, wrote an open letter to Fillion suggesting the two should pair up to assemble financiers to buy the rights.

It is not happening, folks. It sounds way too much like that failed effort to save Enterprise six years ago which raised upwards of $ 1 million--a paltry sum considering how much the series cost to produce.

Fillion was throwing a bone to fans. He is on a hit show now and has no time for another. Castle earns solid ratings. It is going to be around awhile. Rothfuss is trying to attach his name to a fan campaign in order to promote his new novel. It is as simple as that.

Formspring Question #96--Multiculturalism in the 24th Century Edition

You're obviously down on the characterizations in TNG. Who do you think is the worst character?
I am tempted to say Troi. She is an ill conceived character hardly any of the TNG writers knew what to do with her. Her ability to read people’s emotions without their consent is morally dubious. Any time the issue was addressed, it was quickly swept under the rug because there was no way to rationalize her actions ethically. Add to that she gave bad advice as a counselor, and you can only draw the conclusion she is useless. But everyone picks on Troi for those reasons, so I will be creative and choose another.

I am going to go with Worf. Worf is a problem at the conceptual level, too. His creation is the fulfillment of Gene Roddenberry’s less than enlightened vision of the future wherein perfect 23td century humans flew around in space ships while lecturing no good aliens on how they need to be more like the perfect 24th century humans. For the TNG crew, Worf served as the primary target right there on the bridge. The only time he was ever praised is when he abandoned the Klingon way of doing things, which he was unsure of in the first place due to coming of age ion Earth, and embracing a human philosophy.

But his characterization has a deeper problem that than being forced to admit human ways ares far better than any other culture. His portrayal is stereotypically racist.

All right, before any Trekkies decide to start throwing sharp objects at my head, I do not believe it is on purpose. It is more along the lines of the general progressive patronizing that tells Bill Clinton midnight basketball is the best way to stop black crime and causes Joe Biden to marvel that Barack obama is clean and articulate. Trek gets away with it for the same reason Clinton and Biden do--deserved or not, they have a reputation for being progressive in the past, so they get a free pass.

I will even grant the reputation is well earned, at least for every major black character after post-Uhura. I think that just having a black woman on board the ship is not worthy of the high praise Roddenberry has received for it, particularly considering the small role she played, her menial job, how often she was demeaned. Maybe I am being harsh. That could be a product of the ’60’s. Certainly the 24th century characters--La Force, Sisko, Tuvok--have lived in colorblind societies. So I am not claiming anything overt.

(I am ignoring the first season TNG episode in which the crew visited the war turn planet which was populated by Tarzan extras. All that was missing for them were grass skirts and bones through their noses. I do not know what the powrrs that be were thinking when they wrote that one.)

But worf; dumb, violent, quick to anger over small slights, little to no manners, abusive towards women, uses them solely for sex, had a kid out of wedlock, took no responsibility for the kid, sent him off to live with his grandparents, commits cold blooded murder for personal “dissing,” and gets used for menial labor repeatedly. In essence, every negative stereotype for blacks.

Ami I reading too much into this? Michael Dorn has made more appearances in trek than any other actor, not to mention playing Worf on two different shows and five movies counting The Undiscovered Country. He has obviously not felt troubled by it. I may be too quick to point out progressive hypocrisy when there is not any, but nevertheless, I cannot help but see these patterns in Worf’s character portrayal.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #87

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

The Other McCain links to Mila Kunis.
Proof Positive links to Kaley Cuoco and Adrianne Curry.
Say Anything Blog links to Kaley Cuoco and Adrianne Curry.
motor City Times links to Wisconsin Protests Speak Volumes About Democrats.
Sentry Journal links to Wisconsin Protests Speak Volumes About Democrats.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #86, Blogroll Spotlight #82, Mila Kunis.
American Perspective links to Mila Kunis and Blogroll Spotlight #82.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week. If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

X-Files--"Emily"

I want to appreciate “Emily.” Its heart is certainly in the right place. The episode wants to create an emotionally charged story on par with some of the past episodes regarding Scully’s abduction and subsequent cancer. If you can resist nitpicking some glaring inconsistencies, “Emily” does the job. But I just cannot overlook the flaws, particularly when they are glossed over for the sake of manipulating your emotions.

David Duchovny, resigned to the knowledge a love scene with Angelina Jolie will not make him a movie star, but no so resigned we will not leave the series in three years for another try with Minnie driver, returns as Mulder. He arrives in San Diego to find scully having an impossible time proving she is Emily’s real mother. Mulder had Frohike hack into the California Social Services computers for records of live births. He finds Emily’s surrogate mother is named Anna Fuggazi, a slang term for fake, but no other records exist.

The adoption agency does not buy the idea Scully was kidnapped by secret governmenmt conspirators, had her ova removed, and was returned, but someone Emily is a product of their experiment. Why in the world would they? Scully herself suffers a pained look as Mulder makes the case. To his credit, he does go the extra mile throughout to both get to the bottom of Emily’s origin and save her. When he realizes he cannot, hew is careful again to spare Scully from uncomfortable truths about the overal conspiracy in order to let her grieve. Earlier in the series, when he was more interested in proving her skepticism wrong than maintaining their relationship, he would have dangled evidence right in front of her.

As it is now, his search for the truth as he sees it takes a backseat to Scully’s needs. There is no overt evidence guilt over the effects of her abduction is his primary motivation, which is something I chalked up to lazy writing until I decided this is another step in the journey towards their eventual romance. For better or worse, mulder has moved on from guilt over Scully’s losses because of him to the realization, perhaps because he nearly lost her to cancer, he has grown to care for her. Agape love, but not yet romantic, so chill out, shippers. Your time will come in about sixty more episodes.

Emily becomes extremely ill. They discover a green cyst on the bsack of her neck which bleeds the corrosive green blood when popped. Emily is one of the human/alien hybrids Mulder and Scully have encountered before. A systematic effort is underway to keep Scully from making medical decisions to treat Emily, from the doctor formerly treating her “{anemia’ refusing to release her medical records even after mulder pounds the stuffing out of him to the adoption agency attempting to remove her from the hospital even as her condition worsens. Scully stands her ground there while Mulder scoops around for Emily’s origin.

He finds Anna Fugazzi is an elderly woman in a nursing home. Four other women there, are also surrogate mothers to children born within the last few years, all of whom are actually the children of abductees like scully. Inside the nursing home’s pharmacy, he finds a hybrid fetus along with medication used to treat the suurogate mothers. One of the alien bounty hunters shows up to get rid of him and the San Diego detective from the previous episode. The bounty hunter, posing as the detective, escapes to clean up all evidence of the experiment.

Emily is getting weaker because she needs the treatment posing as her anemia medication in order to survive. Her parents wanted to stop it, so they were killed in what was made to look like suicides. Emily is, unfortunately, a failed test subject who cannot survive on her own regardless. She slips into a coma and dies. In the interim, all evidence from the nursing home to any records of Emily’s existence are erased. The only evidence remaining is Emily’s body.

For all the lukewarm reactions I have had to “Emily,” the final scene still gets to me. Emily casket sits in a chapel with Scully standing over. When mulder tells her all that is left of the experiment is Emily’s body, they both know the truth, but scully has to look anyway. Mulder turns around to give a private moment. She opens the casket to find nothing but sand equal to the weight of a three year old girl and the crucifix scully gave her. There is something so deeply sad about the scene.

Alas, there are so many lazy mistakes in “Emily.” how come no one has realized up until this point Emily has green, corrosive blood? If you want to argue that was only in the cyst on the back of her neck, fine, but that is inconsistent with every hybrid we have seen so far. Green blood should have been revealed when some was drawn from her Dna test in the previous episode. Fugazzi explains to Mulder they give her medication for ’beauty sleep.” Evidently, that means a nine month nap so the elderly women can carry the hybrids to term. I can see the rationale for using ’forgotten” nursing home patients, but the nine month nap and giving birth without the women knowing anything is up is too far fetched. The most glaring error is how mulder is fooled by the shape shifting bounty hunter who takes on the form of the detective. He high tails it out of the nursing home when the detective shoots the bounty hunter and becomes burnt by exposure to its blood. When Mulder steps outside to call the police, the detective comes out a moment later, perfectly fine, claiming to have subdued the bounty hunter--and Mulder buys it! Has he nort dealt with these bounty hunters enough to know that is not the detective? I guess not/

If these three errors had been dealt with more competently, “Emily” might have been considered a classic entry into the series pantheon. As it is, I have to call it a noble effort that falls short. It is definitely worth seeing, but there have been far better in the past. Even Gillian Anderson comes across as rather wooden compared to some of her past performances in similar situations. She reveals an awareness of the often lackluster material. Still, it would not be fair to give “Emily” a bad score. It is still good, but it could have been much more.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Angelina Jolie

(Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Formspring Question #95--Early Bird 2012 Special Edition

Who is your current favorite for the GOP in 2012?
I hold out hope for Sarah Palin, but I am still taking auditions from anyone except Mike Huckabee. I am not too fond of Mitt Romney, either.

Formspring Question #94--Forty-Seven Candles Edition

Did you know February 25th, 1964 is Dana Scully's birthday?
It was not on my mind. "Paper Clip" was a while ago. I cannot let the occasion pass now that it has been brought to my attention, no?Happy birthday, Scully! You bear an uncanny resemblance to Gillian Anderson.

A More Perfect Dis-Union

The biggest issue I have with the conflict between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the teacher’s union is a bewilderment anyone in the public sector should have a union in the first place. Their salaries are paid for by taxpayers. Therefore, taxpayers are paying for these unions to extort more money from themselves. Talk about self-defeating. Why the heck would any private, taxpaying citizen support these protests? Are Wisconsin taxpayers so satisfied with the public school education their kids are getting, they want to fork over as much money as can possibly be squeezed out of them by teachers? One would think not.

I also marvel at the power these public sector unions have over the Democratic party. There is no counterpart for the republicans. As much as detractors would like to believe the GOP is under the control of the religious right, the NRA, Wall Street, defense contractors, or whatever other usual suspect paranoid progressives care to name, the fact is republicans have never and will never skip out en masses from a legislative session to avoid crossing any of thiet alleged puppet masters, even as a last resort. For Democrats, when it comes to public sector unions, running away is their first course of action.

Citizens take note--there is a a double whammy being suffered here. Public sector unions are using money we give them to force more money out of us in spite of the damage it may cause to other public services without any guarantee of any increase in quality of their provided service to justify the increased spending. Duly elected Democrats, fearful of their power to extort this money without any increased results, ignore the will of the people who elected them in order to protect the public unions’ continued racket.

The bottom line is that Wisconsinites are paying public unions more and more to get less and less other than screwed over at the same time they are paying Democrat legislators to run off and not do their jobs. Wisconsin is only the place where this circumstance is currently in the news. It is happening everywhere. A light just has not been shined on every case yet.

X-Files--"Christmas Carol"

All members of Team Scully in good standing, rejoice! “Christmas Carol’ is the first part a Scully-centric effort to tug on the heart strings as last season’s cancer arc. It is a notch below the life and struggle from then, but still poignant. Scully has to come to terms with her inability to have a child as her motherly instincts rise to the surface when she mysteriously gets involved in a woman’s suicide that may have actually been a murder committed by her husband--a case which leaves their daughter, Emily, in limbo.

Mulder has only a brief appearance when Scully calls him from her brother’s home in San Diego, then thinks better of it and hangs up. It is not clear whether she wants to assert herself by sleuthing on her own, or does not want to tell him she wsas prompted to the woman’s suicide/murder scene by a phone call from someone she swears was her murdered sister, Melissa. Whichever the case, I appreciated that scully was on her own in this one. She competently handled the case, especially having it reopened as a murder investigation when the police had closed the books for good. She turns out to be right. The husband drugged his wife, then slit her wrists to make it look like a suicide.

The murder case is almost incidental to what prompts Scully, who is visiting her brother and his wife for Christmas in San Diego, to get involved in the case. It starts with a phone call the moment she arrives in which someone, whom she swears was Melissa, prompts her to go to the home of Roberta Sims. She does, and finds sims has just committed suicide. Scully sees the police interviewing sims’ husband and three year old daughter, Emily. Something about Emily catches her eye.

Later that night, Emily appears in Scully’s dream. The dream is a flashback to an incident when she was a little girl. She accidentally suffocated her pet rabbit while hiding it from her big brother. Emily is in her dream in the place of where Melissa should have been. Scully is awakened by another phone call from ’Melissa,” who tells her to ’go to her.” The dream and phone call bother her so much, she is compelled to find an oldf photo of Melissa just to confirm her suspicion--Emily looks just like melissa at three years old.

Scully forces the reopening of the Sims case. By an autopsy, she discovers a small puncture wound on sims’ foot by which she was drugged. How did scully find it when the coroner missed it? It is her show, darn it. Scully is awesome, too. Her discovery convinces the police to search sims’ house. They find a needle and syringe used to drug his wife . He claims Emily has to have daily injections for anemia, so that is why he has it. A blood test from Emily proves that is a lire.

Scully requests Melissa’s case file from the FBI to compare her DNA with Emily’s blood sample. It is a preliminary report with more comprehensive results coming in a few days, but this early result shows a match between Melissa and Emily. She is melissa’s child. Scully tries to convince her mother of this, but she does not believe it. Hert brother eventually confronts Scully to tell her she is imagining all this because she cannot have a child of her own nmow, but wants one desperately. Nevertheless, scully shows a strong bond with Emily when she goes along with the police to arrest sims for murdering his wife.

Sims commits suicide in jail after confessing to the crime. Scully immediately applies to adopt Emily. As only happens in television, the process takes two days, but she is rejected. And why not? Scully is single, lives out of state, works long hours in a dangerous job, keeps a gun in the house, was once kidnapped for months and experimented on by the government/aliens, and has a fatal cancer now in remission, and appears twice in FBI crime files, the latter of which involves her having been infected with an hallucinogenic tattoo dye which causes murderous psychosis. I am not sure I would give her a kid, either.

All that becomes moot when the full Dna report comes back. Merry Christmas, Scully. Emily is your daughter, not Melissa’s.

There is a deep, running sense of foreboding throughout. The idea that Emily is Melissa’s child never really grabs you as plausible. The key reason is a pharmaceutical company is hovering in the background. It is a different one from the company that manufactured scully’s cancer, but when we learn that Emily was receiving an experimental drug as treatment, and both parents are killed due to apparent, but not actually suicides, the truth Emily is part of the Syndicate conspiracy is already obvious. Still, the revelation Emily is scully’s child comes as a stabbing cliffhanger.

Another point of note is her brother, William. He ripped into Mulder a few episodes back because he fekt like his sister was dedicating her last days of life to him when he did not deserve it. He also thought her trust in him was going too far when she agreed totry the Cigarette smoking Man’s cure solely because Mulder urged her to do so. I excused what a jerk William was being because he was distraught over his sister’s impending death. But now, we learn as a kid, he threatened to kill scully’s rabbit. In the present, he taleked to her like she was a blooming idiot over melissa, then rubbed salt into the wound about her never being able to have a child of her own. Now I am convinced he is just a dick in general. He never gets eaten by alien, but he should have been.

Mulder only has a brief scene in which he picks up the phone in his apartment, only to have scully hang up without saying anything to him. David Duchovny was off in Los Angeles promoting Playing God. if that was his goal, he should have stayed in LA for the next three or four episodes. Not that the extra effort would have saved that stinkeroo. Fifteen year old scully is portayed in a flashback by Gillian Anderson’s real sister, Zoe, in her acting debut.

“Christmas Carol’ is not quite as emotional as some of the other scully-centric episodes regarding her abdsuction and cancer, but there are still some touching moments. Scully has that compelling need to protect those who cannot help themselves along with a quiet Christian faith. Both collide when she meets Emily. The scene in which she gives the little girl her cross necklace before handing her over to Social Serrrvices is one that has strangely stuck out in my mind these nearly fourteen years. Some things just speak to me, I guess.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tiffani Amber-Thiessen

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CBS Cancels Two and a Half Men for the Season

Not necessarily permanently, but after star Charlie Sheen used an anti-Semitic slur against and challenged to a fight executive producer Chuck Lorre, there is not much else left to do.

Well, there is still the Charlie Sheen deathwatch. Stay tuned for that. By that, I include anyone else he may kill in his alcohol or cocaine induced rages.

Odd fact: Desmon Wilson once stomped through the halls of the Sanford & Son production office brandishing a loaded gun in the midst of suffering a cocaine rage. The series went on. eventually, wilson became a christian minister and cleaned up his act. I do not see such a thing happening for Sheen, but you never know.

Formspring Question #93--To Go Boldly Edition

Which TNG character do you identify with the most?
I have to offer up the caveat that I do not identify with any TNG character that well. Hardly any effort was made to present the characters as real. They were the representation of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of human perfection in the 24th century--a perfection which I not only do not buy into, but also think is a twisted product of a warped, progressive utopia that I do not aspire to live in.

The Next Generation was not big on character development at all. Characters were said to be a certain thing, and we were expected to believe without question. Is Picard really a ladies man? Someone who commands unquestioned loyalty? Someone Beverly Crusher would fall for, since he is responsible for her husband’s death? Is Riker really a natural born leader when he absolutely refuses to assume command on his own? Does he really have a true romance with Troi? Is she a great counselor after she advises data to make himself angry after he murdered a Botg the last time that happened? Is worf an honorable warrior, or a moron who destroys anything he does not understand, which is pretty much everything? Etc, etc.

The only character who had any interesting growth over the series was Data. That was a lucky break. It was part of his Pinnochio wants to be a real boy character theme or else he would have been the show’s version of R2D2.

But you asked who I identified with the most, so I am going to say Ro Laren. You may consider that cheating, since she was supposed to join DS9, but when Michelle Forbes opted not to commit to the series, the character of Kira Nerys was created instead. I like Kira more. I dentifyy more with her, but there is enough of her in Ro that I can see many things from herr perspective. I am not as emotionally damaged as Ro was, but othwise, I am just as edgy and cynical. I would not want to be on the Enterprise around all those cardboard cut outs posing as people, either.

X-Files--"The Post-Modern Prometheus"

Brace yourselves, shippers. This is the one in which they slow dance to Cher’s cover of ‘Walking in Memphis.” Commence swooning as you deem necessary. Many good elements of “The Post-Modern Prometheus” are forgotten because of that final scene, but taken as a whole, the episode is one of the best of the series.

I am biased, of course. It is no secret I have some alienation issues stemming from disabilities, so I tend to empathize with characters suffering the same experiences. Not entirely unrelated, I am a fan of the Frankenstein mythology, both in its conflict between science and religion/existentialism and, again, the alienation that comes from being different. With The X-Files’ tradition of pitting Mulder and Scully in the midst of traditional horror movie themes and urban legends, it was only a matter of time before they ran into a Frankenstein monster.

Oddly enough, I am glad it happened during this era of the series. I think the series is great overall, but I have a particular fondness for its early, cult favorite days when it was dark and gritty. By this point, The X-Files has doubled its ratings thanks to word of mouth buzz over season finale cliffhangers and a post-super Bowl appearance in 1997. That same year, it attracted an Emmy win for Gillian Anderson and a golden globe fort her and the series. The show had hit the mainstream, and the powers that be made sure it stayed there.

The result was a more comedic, often less gritty feel. Sometimes that worked better than others. “The Post-Modern Prometheus” is a case of it working well. I do not believe the episode would have played out as well in the early days of the series. I have a hunch it would have been more gruesome and far less poignant. As it is, the episode strikes the right tone of homage to Frankenstein with cultural satire.

A woman from a small southern town is compelled to write to Mulder when she learns from a Jerry Springer guest who believed she was impregnated by a werewolf he is an expect in such strange matters. She claims she was impregnated by a monster while Cher’s “the Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine” played in the background. Sure enough, Mulder visits her, anyway. The woman is definitely pregnant, but the agents soon discover the creature she described as attacking her is a character in her son’s comic book he created about a local urban legend, The Amazing Mutato.

Ah, but then they discover The Amazing Mutato is real when the boy lures the creature out that night with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The creature gets away from them. An old man they encounter while giving chase assures them the only monster in town is his son, mad scientist Dr. Francis Pollidori. Pollidori is wonderfully played by John O’Hurley, who had gained popularity at the time by playing Elaine’s boss on Seinfeld. Jerry Springer, Cher, and Seinfeld. that amounts to pop culture overload.

Pollidori is working on mutating flies through genetic experiments. The fly was referred to as a ’bosko” something or another in reference to the famous bruhaha over George Costanza’s impossible to guess ATM password in a Seinfeld episode. I will bet you can log into all kinds of ATM and online accounts using bosko as a password these days. I regret not perusing that list of blown Gawker passwords a few months ago to see if bosko appeared. But anyway, Mulder suspects Pollidori is responsible for The Amazing Mutato. Scully does not think any ethical scientist would do such a thing. There is a world of difference turning flies into freaks than do so to humans.

Scully is only half right. Pollidori, Jr. did not create The Amazing Mutato, but his father did. The old Man grew to love the Mutato in spite of his deformities, but realized he would want female companionship at some point. So he set out to create the Mutato a mater. The agents quickly--and grossly--realize many of the townspeople were unknowingly products of crossbreeding experiments with farm animals. The Amazing Mutato wins the raging townspeople over when they come after him in the belief he has killed Old man Pollidori.. He is a gentle soul who only longs for someone to love him the way Cher loved her deformed son in Mask, which I have reviewed.

Pollidori, Jr. kills his old man in a rage when he learns his wife was impregnated, too. He is sent off to jail, but The Mutato, whom Mulder and Scully take pity on, gets to go to a Chert concert in Memphis. Everyone who wanted to get on Jerry Springer with their mutant kids does. Mulder and Scully dance. We are all happy now.

Well, everyone is happy but Cher. she refused to appear in the episode, but later expressed regret after seeing the episode. Too little, too late honey.

We are all happy because "The Post-Modern Prometheus” is an enjoyable episode. As a Frankenstein enthusiast, I appreciated the homage elements to the classic Universal film, which include filming in black and white, strange camera angles to make it appear Pollidori’s lab is an old castle 9Had to describe. You need to see it. The episode won an Emmy for art direction because of it and more.) and the torch weilding townsfolk who come after The Amazing Mutato. The story adds its post-modern elements of Jerry Springer and other pop culture references. The wild humor The X-Files has been adding lately is there, too. The episode is a combination of humor and poignancy that hit’s the mark perfectly.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

I do not like Cher's cover of "Walking in Memphis" nearly as much as Marc Cohn's original:

Kaley Cuoco

A new episode of The Big Bang Theory means it is Kaley Cuoco Day!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Formspring Question #92---Shapeshifting Edition

I have been reading through your Deep Space Nine reviews. In your introduction, you said Odo was your favorite character, but in your reviews, you progressively sour on him. Kira Nerys sounds like the character you really like. Did you change your mind while reviewing the series?
If asked, I will still say Odo is my favorite character on most days, but I could flip a coin between him and Kira on most days. It can really depend on my current mood. There are several factors for me to consider.

First, the reviews were the first time I had watched DS9 on a daily basis. Up until that point, I had only watched the series when it originally aired. The introduction in which I described my presuppositions about the series and opinion on characters was coming from memories anywhere from ten to seventeen years old. Age and circumstances changed my perspective, so much so I did not bother to introduce The Wild Wild West or The X-Files because I figured there would not be much value in what I would have written in hindsight. The idea that I will see something at 16 the same way at 34 is a bad assumption. My enthusiasm for Odo did not survive the test of time.

Second, I had forgotten how much Odo petered out as the show went on. I identified with him early on. In the first couple seasons, he was a guy who was alienated because of his physical differences. Lonely, but not but too impatient for the social trappings that are involved in making friends, he tried to become an outside presence so he could intellectually observe others and be a neutral party in disputes. As a disabled teenager in high school who could not play sports or date as freely as the pretty people, I adopted a similar attitude/social role. What I remembered most about Odo is how well I identified with him at this point.

Odo suffered two developments which screwed it all up for me. One, he discovered his people. He was no longer alienated, nor saw the value in being an observer of social trappings. He was now a part of something. Being part of the Founders turned him into a real dick in the latter seasons. Two, he began a romance with Kira. Trek does many things poorly, but romance is by far the worst. Romance in trek is always done as a lonely 14 year old virgin’s fantasy. Either it is all about sex, or it is an idealistic Lady and the Tramp fantasy completely devoid of any real emotion. I have matured too much in the ensuing years to tolerate the way odo was handled in both regards.

Finally, I am not an alienated, crippled high school student anymore. I am a 34 year old man with very little idealism left, tons of baggage, and a begrudging resignation there are more shades of grey than black and white. I have to live with emotional pain that runs far deeper than not playing junior varsity soccer or fondling that cute redheaded cheerleader in the Hardee’s parking lot Friday night. Yet I persevere in hopes of better things, often motivated by religious belief. In other words, the older I get, the more I appreciate Kira, the cynical former freedom/fighter terrorist who is a damaged soul, but still clings to the idea there can be gentler, happier future.

My preference between the two characters depends on whether I am feeling nostalgic for my younger self, or feeling the weight of my current life. Whichever answer I give you, you will know how I am feeling that day.

Formspring Question #91--Sudden Death Edition

You have a choice between saving one of two people: an adult with a proven, valuable skill to offer or a child who is a blank slate for the future. You know what the adult has to offer the world. You have nob way of knowing the child's intelligence, talent, etc. Who do you save? No cheating! It's one or the other.
I would save the child. Call me an idealist, but I imagine the adult would want me to do so. If he did not, then I would be even more inclined to save the kid. We have far too many self-important jerks in the world as it is.

X-Files--"Detour"

The best thing I can say about “Detour” is that I like it in spite of itself. The story is quite weak, with an implausible premise that appears to just be thrown in there along with a preachy message about the encroachment of civilization. I get the impression the writing was so rushed as to not be well thought out because Fight the Future was wrapping up production at the time. What saves the episode is the humor. It is padded with so much classic banter between Mulder and Scully, it is easy to forget the episode itself is pretty bad.

The two agents are on their way to a team building conference in Florida with two other incredibly dull agents. Why they are driving instead of flying is one of the first dumb aspects of the episode. It is a necessary element in order to get Mulder distracted by a police roadblock which is part of a missing persons hunt. Bored out of his mind, Mulder joins the case, dragging Scully along.

Conveniently, it is an X-File type case. Those twop are like weirdo magnets, no? Some sort of creature has been grabbing and hauling off with people entering in or living near the forest. We only catch hints of the creature (s) through early CGI camouflage with the forest background. I immediately thought of it as a predator homage. Then I thought, “Geez, how unoriginal.”

The two wildlife/police/whatever they were searching the woods with her heroes are picked off by the invisible creatures. Lost in the wooods, the two have to camp out. Shipper alert--there is lots of sexual innuendo about snuggling naked in order to stay warm during the night. As a city boy, albeit a small, Southern one, I must confess such a happenstance is the only virtue I find in camping out. I have never had occasion to go camping with anyone I wanted to snuggle with naked, however. Maybe one day.

In the morning, Scully randomly falls into the burrow of the creatures and finds all the missing people alive. Mulder falls in, too, of course, but both are discovered by the other two FBI agents they were traveling with before anything else bad happens. Mulder wraps up the case by claiming the creatures were Ponce de Leon and his mwen, having found the fountain of youth, protecting it from encroaching real estate developers. Yes, really. One of the other agents suggests Mulder is joking so he can write off the motal room to the FBI. Lord, I hope so. That makes for an awful wrap up.

“Detour’ is saved by a barrage of jokes. Mulder jabs Scully with sexual innuendo. She snaps back with the silliness of his theories over the creatures. She belts out a terrible rendition of Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World.” They discuss the virtues of Wilma v. Betty. (Scully identifies with Betty. I bet she chooses Betty over Veronica, in that debate, too.)) There is a running gag about a team building exercise using office supplies to build a tower that Mulder snickers in reference to throughtout the episode, but he and Scully wind up piling the bodies in the burrow in order to get enough height to climb out. Morbid, but funny.

The episode itself is trite, but funny. I am still going to give it a decent score because it is enjoyable to watch, but it is certainly not the full package. As a bonus, someone made a compilation video of Scully singing the first few lines of “Joy to the World,” then using the original version for some lighthearted clips from the whole series. It is a nest videoRating: *** (out of 5)

Alyssa Milano is Expecting

I feel old. (Link)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Formspring Question #90--Celebrity Lookalike Edition

What celebrity have you been told you resemble?
An old lady once told me I looked like a skinny Clark Gable:Cataracts or far too removed from Gone with the Wind: you decide what her problem was. A classmate in law school told me I looked like Frankie Muniz. I think she was more accurate, but not by much: Draw your own conclusions. It is either the pug nose or bowling trophy ears. I dunno.

X-Files--"The Unusual Suspects"

We have reached the halfway point of my reviews for The X-Files, more or less. There are 201 episodes. ‘The Unusual Suspects” comes in at 100. I am calling it the halfway point just to have a nice, round number for the occasion. It would certainly be more poetic for a key episodes like “Redux, Part II” to have been the 100th, but thanks to the main cast being off in California filming Fight the Future, an installment without them had to be filmed before any others in order to fill the network episode order. So we get the Lone Gunmen origin story as we hit the triple digits.

The Lone Gunmen are generally a fan favorite, but not a big part of what makes The X-Files enjoyable for me. I appreciate the characters as occasional comic relief best experienced in small doses. Witness the failure of their 2001 absurdly slapstick spin off as evidence I am not alone in my thinking. I will allow they have had some high points--becoming field agents in “Momento Mori”, for instance--but outide of comic relief, they serve as a too convenient source of info to guide Mulder in the right direction when the script cannot logically progress any other way. A further detriment is there is generally no explanation how they have earned such specialized knowledge about conspiracies.

I do not want to sound like I am too down on the characters. The occasional epide centered on them counts as an enjoyable small dose. “The Unusual Suspects” also reminds me of the old Secret Origins DC comics used to publish featuring the “untold” origins of it characters. Issues were usually done by brand new, fill in type creators whose origin stories were generally dismissed by the regular creative teams of the characters. The lack of respect the comic got was amusing, much like what the Lone Gunmen suffer.

“The Unusual Suspects” is set in 1989 and tells the story of how they formed and hooked up with Mulder. Byers falls for a woman named Suzanne Modeski at an electronics trade show in Baltimore. She is clearly manipulating him, but you know how nerds are about a pretty girl batting her eyelashes. She claims her abusive husband has kidnapped her daughter and needs Byers’ hacking skills to find her. Her abusive former husband? Fox Mulder, of course.

Byers recruits two electronics salesmen, Langley and Forhike, for their better hacking skills. They discover Mulder is an FBI agent hunting Modeski because she allegedly stole materials from a weapons facility in New Mexico, killing four people in the process. She denies this as a frame up. In reality, she has uncovered a plot to use an experimental gas on the population of Baltimore which will heighten the peoples’ sense of paranoia.

What is the point to that, by the way? If the government really wanted to control minds, why do so by increasing one’s paranoia? That would make people distrustful and afraid. People who are distrustful and afraid are harder to control. All the government would really wind up doing is creating enemies. I cannot discount the idea Modeski is not correct that control is the government’s intention. However, when Mulder is gassed, he very clearly exhibit’s a paralyzing fear the government agents surrounding him are aliens. So the stuff works exactly as advertised. It is left up to you to draw your own conclusion as to what is really going on.

Mr. x arrives to clean up the mess once everyone runs into each other at the warehouse where the gas is being stored. Mulder gets a face full, so he is taken out of it all. The experience, and Modeski’s sudden kidnapping by Mr. X, prompts the Lone Gunmen to dedicate themselves to uncovering government conspiracies. They form a working relationship with Mulder when they fill in the gaps on what happened while he was off in paranoid la la alien land.

“The Unusual Suspects” is a fun, but frivolous episode not to be taken too seriously. The confusing motives of the government plan to gas Baltimore ought to be enough to convince you of that. The episode feels like a lot of personal indulgence. The Lone Gunmen get to clown around, David Duchovny insisted on wearing his wedding ring to show off his recent nuptials to Tea Leoni, and Richard Belzer got to play an exaggerated version of his famous det. John Munch. He became the first actor in television history to play the same character on three different shows in one week: Law & Order, Homicide, and The X-Files. That is about the only thing one can remember the episode for.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Jaime Pressly

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is US Rep. David Wu Crazy?

Yes, yes he is.

His staff thinks so, too. They tried to have him committed shortly before the mid term election, which he won in spite of obviously being nuttier than squirrel poop.

Thanks, Oregon.

Formspring Question #89--Jack Bauer Power Hour Edition

If forced to watch one of these series directed by Brannon Braga: Enterprise, Treshold (2006), 24 Day 8, or FlashForward Which would you choose. (Blinding yourself is not an option)
I would choose Day 8 of 24. The series had definitely lost steam by that point, but the final season was still better than the previous clunker.

I have no desire to ever watch Enterprise again. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, meager talent to begin with, were spread way too thin. They were just cashing the checks by the time the series headed off into merciful oblivion.

I confess to never having watched Threshold. Was it on right after Lost? If so, I was writing up my review and never paid the show any attention. I doubt I have missed anything.

I never got into FlashForward. Only saw a couple episodes, but cannot imagine it got any better as it went along.

X-Files--"Redux, Part II"

I was disappointed by the weak first part of the fifth season finale yesterday, but speculated it could be saved by a strong conclusion. Indeed, it was. ‘Redux, Part II” possesses many of the same elements of the character relationships and mythology that makes the fourth season my favorite. It is both poignant and monumental.

The most important theme in “Redux, Part II” is the restoration of faith. Both Mulder and Scully enjoy epiphanies. Remarkably, mulder’s is just as powerful even though he is not experiencing his last moments on earth as Scully is. That writer Chris Carter is able to pull that off without maudlin melodrama is a testament to his writing ability. For a former surfing freelance journalist, he knows what makes the human heart beat.

Mulder and Scully are being broken down in other to build them back up again. While she lays on her deathbed, slowly but surely coming out of the protective shell of her skepticism to admit she is afraid of what lies beyond and is hoping for a miracle, mulder is off on his own journey with the Cigarette Smoking Man in a last ditch effort to find a cure for her. Their plights complete the journey they begun in the last episode in which Mulder was rapidly losing his faith in the existence of aliens as scully was just as quickly learning to accept that a global conspiracy may actually exist right under her nose.

So why exactly is Mulder’s journey as poignant as the dying Scully’s? it is because je gets everything he wants here--the ‘truth” about aliens, the CSM brings his sister back to him, and he exposes the Syndicate mole inside the FBI--but he gives up all that to save Scully. It is a bitter pill to swallow. While he does offer up the cure thr Csm gave him and scully opts to go for it, her family rips him to shreds, not only for putting her in this spot in the firtst place, but because they believe she is still indulging him right to the end. In fact, we never see Mulder and Scully together after her cancer goes into remission. Mulder is not only alienated from the victory he caused, he sits alone, crying over a photo of his lost sister, whom he knows he will never find now that--as far as he knows, at any rate,--the Csm is dead and can never lead him back to her.

So when I say “Redux, Part Ii’ is about the restoration of faith, it is really about the restoration of faith Mulder and Scully have in each other. It is true she was willing to try the Csm’s cure solely because she trusts Mulder. In the inquiry in which Mulder is ready to blow open the conspiracy by naming Section chief Scott Blevins as the guy who set up Scully with cancer, he acknowledges for the first time Scully has been a great asset to him, not the spy he first suspected and Blevins likely intended. Her loyalty to Mulder is a mark of her professionalism and integrity. I am not so certain mulder would have acknowledged that at any point in the past because of how much his quest for the truth meant to him--more than anyone else did.

Blevins and the Csm wind up killed by the Syndicate for their actions. Specifically, for Blevins getting caught and Csm helping Mulder along. I take issue with the former, because Blevins has not had a large role in the series. The revelation he is a traitor does not offer much emotional sting. For the former, I have to blind myself to Csm not being Mulder’s father. Thinking that at the time, it appeared Csm was saving Scully and bringing Samantha back in the way an estranged father might make offerings to his distraught son. These gifts came after CSM believed Mulder was dead. Many times it takes losing someone forever to find out what he or she really meant to you. Taking into account only the knowledge I possessed at the time, the CSM/Mulder dynamic was quite poignant here, too.

I thought “Redux, Part Ii” was a vast improvement over the fifth season premiere. Shippers consider this the point at which Mulder and Scully begin falling for each other. That is not a big deal for me, but I can see where they are coming from. This episode is a fan favorite to the romantics at heart for that reason. I give it high marks myself.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Alessandra Torresani

I have beheld maany, many beautiful ladies sporting the metal bikini from Return of the Jedi, butt none quite like Alessandra Torresani. She may have singlehandedly ended the meme.

Mercy, mercy me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Formspring Question #88--Future Voyages Edition

Are you going to review Voyager?
As soon as I am finished ripping out clumps of my hair in frustration over repeated answering this question. The answer is maybe, but not anytime soon.

Here is the deal about the television reviews. Back in May 2009, I was rapidly burning out writing about politics. I do not have a journalist’s mindset to write intelligently about the events of the day whether they hold my interest or not. I am a political scientist, albeit an amateur with only a BA in the subject. I should have stuck with it instead of law, but that was my error in youthful judgment. So I often have a tough time getting into the general news of the day. Besides, the Eye is small potatoes. By the time you get here, you have already read conservative viewpoints on issues a dozen times. Why would you care to read it again from me? So I figured to broaden my writing topics.

I am not only a political science geek, but a science fiction geek, too. It made sense to give myself a chance to indulge both. The plan to review an episode of Star Trek: the Original Series was threefold. One, I wanted to see if I could commit to such a propject without biting off more than I could chew. Eighty episodes meant nearly three months of daily work, but not too overwhelming a task. Two, I wanted to branch out to more science fiction, maybe even to the point I might never have to resort to current events for content. Finally, I assumed TOS would offer many chances to write about Bib Issues. It did, all things considered.

I moved on to Star Trek: the Next Generation because I preferred the series, was confident I could manage the 170+ episodes, and assumed the issues dealt with in the series would be even more relevant. Then I reviewed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because it is my favorite trek series. Considering its themes of being forced into a war that sacrifices your ideals, I assumed there would be some interesting things to say about it in the post-9/11 era. All that was well and good, but I got a reputation for being the Star Trek Guy rather than the political science junkie who analyzes science fiction.

Fortunately, I was in a nostalgic rage at this point. It was fun to run through old DVD sets and review television series I liked in my younger days. To demonstrate I had shifted gears, I reviewed The Wild Wild West, a silly childhood favorite that has absolutely nothing profound to say about anything. I have since moved on to The X-Files. If you have not noticed, I am far more fond of that show than any other I have written about. From being an enthusiastic X-Phile--I would rather be known as that than a Trekkie--I have enjoyed the emphasis on film/literary criticism than political.

The bottom line is that I have to work my nerve up to go back to Trek. I would have to do shore myself up even if Star Trek: Voyager was good, which it most certainly is not. It is 174 episodes of poorly written, knee jerk progressivism with a cat suited Jeri Ryan thrown in towards in the end to distract the audience from the fact everything else about the series is awful. On top of everything else then, you should expect numerous poison pen reviews. My enthusiasm is underwhelming.

There are other series I am considering reviewing after The X-Files instead. I have not decided whether to do a couple short series to broaden the scope of reviews, or dive into another long series I can sink my teeth into. I may throw it out to you in a poll. I have never done one of those before. The X-Files will run through June, so there is plenty of time to make up my mind. But do not hold your breath waiting for VOY.

Formspring Question #87--White Out Edition

Are you upset the White Stripes called it quits?
A seven nation army could not hold back my tears.

Actually, other than "The Denial Twist," I never cared much for the White Stripes. "The Denial Twist" is pretty catchy. Neat video featuring Conon O'Brien, too, which cannot be embedded.

Blogroll Spotlight # 82

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. As usual, these are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title.

American Perspective--White House Won't Testify at Stimulus Hearings
Amusing Bunni's Musings--Andrew Breitbart Energizes the Rally in Madison
Big Feed--Wisconsin Teacher Salaries
Blazing Cat Fur--Who Says Islamicists Are Devoid of Humor?
Bluegrass Pundit--Obama in Secret Talks with the Taliban
Camp of the Saints--Once Upon a Time in America
Classic Liberal--The Naked Gatekeepers
Da Tech Guy--Doing the Math'''Shy a Couple Hundred
Essential Mr. Bill--God at the Edge--of My Fingertips
Fishersville Mike--Why palin is Paid So Well
Gore's Grouse--Golden Hearted Whore
House of Eratsthanes--Wisconsin: What's at Stake
In a Mad Mad Mad Mad World--One of Florida's Harpies
Jaded Haven--Screw the New York Times
Left Coast Rebel--Hacks and Quacks
Mind Numbed Robot--Government Cheese
Motor City Times--CBO: ObamaCare Repeal Will Save $ 1. 4 Trillion
Other McCain--Dreams of a Government Shutdown?
Paco Enterprises--Rule 5 Saturday: Betty Hutton
Pirate's Cove--Globull warming Creates Futuristic Bikinis
Proof Positive--You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Be a Democrat...But It Helps!
Self-Evident Truths--The Snarky Files
Sentry Journal--Rant: Don't Trust a Politician
Sniper--The New Wonder Woman
Teresamerica--Pittsburgh Union Thuggery
Three Beers Later--An Open Letter to Gov. Scott Walker
Troglopundit--Let's Rebut Some Lefty protest Signs
Washington Rebel--Obama's Purple Thug Army Mobilizes

the IBM developed Watson defeated Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter earlier this week. Here is a warning about our new robotic overlords from Lemon Demon:

X-Files--"Redux"

Rolling right along here, we have reached the fifth season premiere. Because Fight the Future was filmed simultaneously with part of the season, the fifth is cut short to twenty episodes. The limited episode count means the season is short and sweet. Bittersweet, in many places. Absurdly funny in others. This is also the season in which some famous authors who were fans, but not associated with the series, got a chance to pen episodes. Horror master Stephen King worked his black magic, as did cyberpunk guru William Gibson. Lots of good stuff to come is the point you should take away from this introduction.

Speaking of taking away, any tension built up over the question of whether Mulder committed suicide in the fourth season finale cliffhanger immediately dissipates as we learn Mulder kills a DOD emplyee spying on him from the apartment above, then creates a ruse with Scully to root out which members of the FBI brass they can trust. All events occurring within the first five minutes of the episode. Basically, the cliffhanger is resolved as quickly as possible so we can hurriedly get to the action.

As a side note, Mulder fires his gun in a full apartment building in the middle of the night, then carries the corpse downstairs to his apartment in order for it to be found and identified as him. Now, cast aside the absurdity of Mulder shooting the guy in the face, rendering him unidentifiable even before he concocted the plan to fake his death. Surely he would have shot him in the chest, or maybe just wounded him so he could still answer questions. The real oddity is no one was disturbed by the gunfire or noticed mulder carrying a corpse down the stairs. Washington was the murder capitol of the United States at the time--the NBA Washington Bullets changed their name to Wizards because of it--but surely Mulder’s neighbors are not jaded enough to not care?

To add another absurdity, when I said get to the action up above, I should have said get into the heavy exposition and voiceovers. There is a load of it here as Mulder and scully split up to pursue their half of the plan to uncover the conspirators. There are long stretches of no dialoguer at all in which Mulder, using the dead DOD’ guy’s identification, sneaks into the catacombs of the Pentagon while Scully works on comparing the cell sample from the faux alien with cancerous cells from herself while each explain their thoughts and motivations in voice over.

The point I really liked about this was the role reversal to the extreme. Yesterday, I wrote the two of them had been pushed to the edge of the respective roles as the True Believer and the Skeptic to the point of alienating 9no pun intended) one another. Now they have gone to the exact opposite directions. Mulder has lost all faith in the existence of aliens as he runs deeper into the Pentagon to discover elements of the of how the alien conspiracy was faked. He is only motivated now by finding a cure for Scully to make up for the damage his quest has caused her. Scully, on the other hand, is dedicated to proving a connection between the faux alien and her cancer which would prove a near global conspiracy she cannot believe exists. Mulder is not full of doubt, but Scully is ready to believe the extraordinary. Appreciate the moment.

If you can stay awake to appreciate said moment. Aside from the Mulder and Scully voiceovers, the theory that the government concocted an alien conspiracy during the Cold War to distract the public from the threat of nuclear annihilation is reiterated in excruciating detail complete with public domain archival footage of atomic blasts and iconic images of the Cuban revolution, Vietnam, etc. I thought it was a silly touch back in 1997, and it has not improved with age.

But the silliness there does not detract from the wham moments interspersed throughout the episode. The Cigarette Smoking Man enters Mulder’s apartment after he believes he is dead and mopes about, looking at old photographs and such with a deep sense of melancholy. We know now Mulder is not his son, but at the time, the scene helped strongly reinforce the theory. The end sequence which switches back and forth from Mulder discovering, along with the Lone Gunmen, that he has not stolen a cure for scully, but a vial of de-ionized water and scully collapsing at the FBI hearing before she can name Section Chief Scott Blevins for giving her the disease in the first place is a sharply painful duo on which to leave us hanging.

“Redux” has flaws, logical and technical, which make it a relatively weak season premiere that requires a stronger second part to improve the story. As I recall, it gets it. The episode’s heart is in the right place, but relies way to much on telling us what is going on rather than letting the action flow.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Renee Zellweger

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #86

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

Sentry Journal links to Egypt: Out of the Frying Pan and into Into Fire
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #85, Blogroll Spotlight #81, and Summer Glau.
Classic Liberal links to Mitt Romney and the Moderates' Strategy for 2012 and Billy Ray Cyrus Blames His Problems on Satan and David Lynch.
Proof Positive links to Monica Belluci
Say Anything links to Monica Belluci.
Left Coast Rebel links to Billy Ray Cyrus Blames All His Problems on Satan and David Lynch, Kaley Cuoco, and Olivia Wilde.
Amusing Bunni's musings thanks the Eye for a link.
American Perspective links to Scarlett Johansson.
Page of Kaley Cuoco links to Kaley Cuoco.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week. If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

X-Files--"Gethsemane"

We have reached the finale of the fourth season. There were more highly rated episodes in this season than in any other, so while I have the most nostalgia for the earliest seasons when The X-Files was a cult hit, I have to label the fourth season as the most well done. I am not the only one. Gillian Anderson won an Emmy Golden Globe for the season and the series itself won a Golden Globe, one of the rare times a genre show has been given such clout. David Duchovny was nominated for an Emmy, too, but did not win.

Do not fret. It is not all downhill from here as far as the show goes. We have not yet reached the halfway point of the series. There are still many favorite episodes left to cover. But it must be noted we have completed an unusually good string of episode. It is not easy to hit so many high points in a 24 episode season.

“Gethsemane” runs on two themes: betrayal and hoax. The first should be obvious. Gethsemane is the garden in which Jesus was betrayed by Judas to the Romans. Seemingly, Scully is betraying Mulder’s trust throughout the story by debunking the X-Files before an FBI committee hearing. The hoax aspect holds a double meaning, only one of which is readily apparent in the episode. It appears the grand conspiracy Mulder has dedicated his life to uncovering has been an elaborate plot to deflect attention away from Defense department initiatives in general and lately, to throw him off specifically. The other hoax will have to keep for the fifth season finale review tomorrow.

The episode opens with one of Chris Carter’s favorite tricks--showing us the end of events at the very beginning. In this case, Scully arrives at Mulder’s apartment to identify a wrapped up corpse for the police. We do not see who it is, but it is pretty obvious we are to believe it is Mulder himself. The story resumes later with scully relaying the events of the last few days in front of a hearing of FBI top brass. She is ready to announce the X-Files has been one big hoaxed that has duped both her and Mulder.

As her testimony goes, Mulder had been contacted by an anthropologist associate of his who has found an alien body frozen in the ice of the Yukon Territory. He drags scully away from a welcome home dinner for her naval officer brother to test some cell samples of the alien. Mulder has regressed back to his old self of putting his own agenda above anyone else’s feelings after he had been maturing over the season. He is being a royal jerk here. Scully’s cancer is spreading aggressively. She deserves to spend as much time with her family as possible.

She does passive aggressively acknowledge his selfishness. Why should she bother looking at these samples when Mulder believes they are alien anyway and would only consider a false report to be a detour on the road to the truth? Mulder tells her this is his life’s quest. It is as important to him as finding proof of God would be to someone else. There is a tough of sadnness in how important finding proof of aliens is to him. Scully responds it is more important to her to live what little time she has left, not waste time pondering unanswerable questions of faith.

Notice how their roles are being taken to the extreme in “Gethsemane.” Mulder is the ultra True Believer here by comparing his search for proof of alien life to the timeless quest for proof of God’s existence. It is a religion to him, and one in which he is willing to absorb the last bit of life scully has left to resolve. Scully is the ultimate Skeptic. She does not want to waste time on pondering the existential questions, even those about life after death, even though she is quickly marching into twilight. The two of them have been pushed to the very edge of who they are.

The two split up on estranged terms. Interestingly, Scully still researches the cell samples as Mulder heads off the Yukon. She gets scolded by her brother for it when he comes to her aid after she is attacked by a Dod agent stealing the cell sample. Her brother wants to know why she is so dedicated to spending what is left of her time when he has hauled off to chase after an alien corpse. She does not have an answerr, but does offer further proof she is one tough woman by hunting down the agent that injured her.

Mulder discovers the corpse in the midst of the anthropology team having been murdered. He excitedly watches the autopsy. There is a palpable sense he is trilled to have finally reached this point. He and his anthropologist buddy return to the united states with it, but are confronted by Scully and her DOD assailant. He spills the beans that everything Mulder has seen about the alien conspiracy, including the cell samples and the corpse, have been faked. There are no aliens, but they wanted him to believe there was. The coup de grace was too give scully cancer to solidify his belief in the conspiracy. Mulder storms off, clearly distraught at the cancer revelation.

In the cliffhanger, scully testifies she identified mulder’s body early that morning. He had apparently committed suicide by a gunshot wound to the head.

This was still in the Dark Ages of 1997 when a television series could keep spoilers away from even the most dedicated of geek snoops. The cliffhanger came as a total surprise. There was speculation all summer long that Mulder might really have committed suicide. The speculation was not helped any by the increasingly vocal distaste Duchovny was having for being tied to a television series rather than becoming the movie star he was obviously destined to be with such cinematic masterpieces like Playing God under his belt.

Oh, you did not see Playing God? Neither did anyone else. My mother brought it home one night from my stepfather’s video store because she knew I was a big X-Phile and assumed I would want to see Duchovny in the film. I watched in order to be polite. I gave it one star. Duchovny plays a doctor who loses his medical license because of drug use, but becomes the personal physician to a crime lord after performing an emergency procedure. He has a romantic encounter with Angelina Jolie. I have to assume that is the only reason he agreed to star in the clunker.

But I digress….

“Gethsemane” earns high marks for one of those rare cliffhangers that actually had me anticipating the season premiere. It takes a lot to impress me with such things, so when one comes along, it must be acknowledged. The lead up to the cliffhanger is good, but not great. It is certainly not as monumental as one would hope for a season finale. The powers that be spent a ton of cash on the elaborate cave in which the alien corpse was frozen in ice. Perhaps that was supposed to be enough to wow us. I would have preferred more personal touches, such as a further exploration of Mulder’s religious obsession with finding proof of alien life versus Scully total rejection of it, but still loyalty to him. The dynamic of their relationship means more here than expensive sets and weird, alien corpses, particularly considering all that is revealed as a mindfrak in tomorrow’s episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)