Review: “Doctor Who – Knock Knock” (TV Show Episode)

Well, it’s time to review the fourth episode in the new series of “Doctor Who”. Again, although I’m not sure how many of the new episodes I’ll end up reviewing or how long it will take me to review them. But, I’ll try to review as many as I can.

So, that said, let’s take a look at “Knock Knock”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS.

The episode begins with Bill and several of her friends house hunting after they’ve had to move out of halls. However, as anyone who has ever been to university here will probably know, this isn’t as easy as it looks.

Surprisingly, they actually visit the estate agents’ though. I’m kind of surprised that their university doesn’t have a list of houses, or that they don’t use the internet to find one. Then again, neither of those things allow for a hilarious montage scene at the beginning of the episode…

After looking around a couple of unsuitable properties, they leave the estate agents’ in despair… when they are suddenly approached by a mysterious old man who offers them a surprisingly cheap deal on a creepy, creaking old mansion. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, apart from this, of course…

One of the first things that I will say about this episode is that I was surprised to see that it was set in the present day. Since the trailer last week included an old house and several interesting 1980s/90s-inspired costume designs, I was looking forward to an episode set in some of the coolest parts of the 20th century. But, no, the characters are modern people.

Set in the 80s or the 90s? Ha! What could have possibly given you THAT idea?

But, joking aside, one of the first things that I will say is that this episode is actually a surprisingly good horror episode. It contains a fairly good mixture of comedy, suspense, horror, tragedy and science fiction. Not to mention at least one slightly shocking and poignant plot twist too.

Ok, to seasoned fans of the horror genre, there’s nothing especially scary in this episode. But, even so, it’s still fun to see an episode set in a creepy old mansion with lots of dramatic lightning, rattling doors, a mysterious tower, no phone signal and constant ominous creaking sounds.

And, yes, the house doesn’t even have lampshades! The horror!

It kind of reminded me a little bit of the (genuinely scary) “The Grinning Man” episode of Jonathan Creek, not to mention classic horror/comedy films of the 80s (like “Elvira” and “Beetlejuice). Plus, the creepy old man who rents the house to the students is played by none other than David Suchet!

Ah, with Poirot on the case, this mystery will be solved in no… Ooops, wrong TV show! Still, it’s cool to see David Suchet on TV again 🙂

One interesting feature of this episode is that there is gradually less and less comedy as the episode progresses, which helps to add some tension. However, although the episode initially seems more like a haunted house story and then a story about sentient woodwork, the actual cause of the strange events in the house is … well… silly:

Yes, giant alien woodlice. Obviously. What else could it have been?

Even so, this silliness is offset somewhat by some even sillier scenes of people being devoured by swarms of woodlice. However, the story of why the alien woodlice are eating people is surprisingly poignant and tragic. As bizarrely contrived as it is, this part of the story will still send a shiver down your spine and possibly bring a tear to your eye. Yes, this episode includes some actual drama.

Still, this episode is a good mix of serious and silly. Each of these two things helps to prevent the other from getting too out of hand, and it’s also an absolute joy to see a classic horror-themed episode of “Doctor Who”. Not to mention that, before the silly “woodlice from space” plot twist appears, the idea of sentient wood is a genuinely innovative and creepy one that could have made the episode even creepier.

In terms of the characters and the acting, this episode is reasonably good. Although the bulk of the characterisation in the episode focuses on Bill, The Doctor, David Suchet’s character and another character called Eliza – the supporting cast put in a fairly good performance as what I imagine to be modern university students:

However, the lounge looks WAY too neat and tidy for a student house! Seriously, WHERE are the vodka bottles, the unwashed plates etc..? I hope university hasn’t got THIS boring within the past few years!

All in all, this is a reasonably good episode. Although it isn’t quite a perfect horror episode (mostly due to the silly decision to include woodlice from outer space), it’s still a surprisingly fun piece of retro-style horror comedy, with a few serious moments. It’s significantly better than last week’s episode and, best of all, the trailer for the next episode seems to include zombies… in space! Awesome!

If I had to give “Knock Knock” a rating out of five, it would probably get a four. It’s really good, but could have been better.

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Review: “Doctor Who – Thin Ice” (TV Show Episode)

Well, it’s time to review the third episode in the new series of “Doctor Who”. Again, I’m not sure how many of the new episodes I’ll end up reviewing or how long it will take me to review them. But, I’ll try to review as many as I can.

So, that said, let’s take a look at “Thin Ice”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS.

As shown in the last few seconds of the previous episode, the TARDIS has decided to take both The Doctor and Bill to London… in 1814.

In that year, the river Thames has frozen over and the ice is thick enough for a frost fair to be held. After a brief discussion, they change into some historical clothes and decide to enjoy the fair. Of course, unknown to them, the TARDIS is flashing a warning message:

An oddly non-specific message, at that. I mean, surely there are millions of life forms in London. It’s a densely-populated city!

And, yes, the Doctor actually gives directions to the TARDIS’s wardrobe. Which at least explains how the characters sometimes look the part whenever they travel into the past.

After a while, Bill begins to notice mysterious green lights under the ice. The Doctor has noticed them too, but doesn’t want to ruin the occasion. But, after an orphan steals The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and then gets pulled under the ice by whatever is lurking there, the Doctor and Bill decide to investigate….

One of the first things that I will say about this episode is that it’s a pretty standard “Doctor Who” episode. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad episode, but that it’s the kind of episode that could have appeared in any previous series of the modern incarnation of the show.

Seriously, there isn’t really too much that sets the main story of the episode apart from, say, an episode from Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant or Matt Smith’s tenure on the show. This episode could have easily been released in 2005 or 2010 and it would still be fairly similar.

Surprisingly, despite the premise, this isn’t really that much of a horror episode. If anything, it’s kind of a cross between a more adventure-based episode and “serious drama”. Yet, the episode mixes serious nuanced drama with cartoonish melodrama in a way that kind of ruins both of these things.

On the one hand, a central theme of the episode is the worth of life. There’s a somewhat chilling discussion between Bill and The Doctor, where the Doctor cannot remember exactly how many lives he has saved and how many lives he has ended.

This scene is surprisingly dramatic and you’ll actually wonder whether Bill will stay with The Doctor or not.

Bill also has to make a serious moral decision at one later point in the episode, which is a fairly dramatic moment. There is also, of course, also a lot of philosophical discussion about various subjects and, in true “Doctor Who” fashion, the monster under the ice isn’t really the villain of the episode.

Yes, this isn’t the main monster. But, awww… how could this adorable little angler fish be evil?

Likewise, the episode also talks about the historical context (eg: Bill nervously mentions that slavery still existed in 1814 etc..) and the time period is correctly referred to as “Regency” rather than “Victorian” (the Victorian era lasted from 1837-1901, if you’re curious).

In addition to this, the episode also quite rightly points out that London in the early 19th century was probably more of a multicultural place than is commonly thought.

Yes, the episode probably exaggerates this very slightly to make a point – but, from what I’ve read about the time period, it is basically historically accurate (in addition to colonialism being a factor, this was also because formal immigration laws were first introduced in Britain in 1905 – because of a stupid anti-Semitic mass panic about people from Eastern Europe).

Yes, this is probably at least a somewhat historically accurate depiction of 19th century London.

Still, this subtle realism is undercut slightly by a speech about history that the Doctor makes early in the episode which occasionally comes across as a somewhat preachy lecture to the audience rather than just an explanation of the historical context.

Likewise, the portrayal of London as an open-minded metropolis and anywhere even slightly outside London (eg: an aristocrat’s rural manor) as being incredibly narrow-minded and backwards is slightly annoying. I mean, you sometimes have to wonder if the makers of this show have ever ventured outside the M25….

Yet, despite all of the serious nuanced drama and historical realism, there is a lot of silly Victorian-style melodrama here too. There are Dickensian orphans (who are in a vaguely “Oliver Twist“-style gang), there’s a slightly ominous-looking workhouse and the main villain of the episode (Lord Sutcliffe) is pretty much a cartoon character. He’s an evil aristocrat with a fondness for industry, racism, the British Empire and explosives. He even has henchmen too!

I say! If only I still had my moustache! I feel like twirling it right now!

He even does the classic James Bond villain thing of leaving the good characters in peril, but with lots of time to escape.

Still, all of the drama and melodrama in the episode is counterpointed with a few humourous moments. However, these are somewhat less memorable than in previous episodes.

The special effects in this episode are reasonably good, although there is a little bit of mildly clunky CGI in some scenes with the sea monster near the end of the episode. Still, in terms of special effects, the scene that takes place underneath the Thames is surprisingly good. Not only does it feature a large sea monster but, amusingly, we also get to see Bill and The Doctor clanking around in some rather steampunk diving suits too.

Do you think it saw us?

All in all, this is a fairly “standard” episode of “Doctor Who”. Although it could have gone in a much more interesting horror-based direction, it just ended up being the same kind of episode which you could have expected to see in 2007 or 2011 or whenever. It certainly isn’t a bad episode, but it isn’t an outstanding one either.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it might get three and a half.

Review: “Doctor Who – Smile” (TV Show Episode)

Well, it’s time to review the second episode in the new series of “Doctor Who”. Again, although I’m not sure how many of the new episodes I’ll end up reviewing or how long it will take me to review them, I hope to review as many episodes as possible.

So, that said, let’s take a look at “Smile”. Needless to say, this review will contain SPOILERS.

So, let’s take a look at “Smile”:

The episode begins in the TARDIS with Bill asking The Doctor lots of questions. In the traditional fashion, he offers to take her anywhere in time and space, much to Nardole’s chagrin.

Whilst all of this is going on, a woman called Nadia is standing in a field of wheat on another planet in the future, watching a group of robots (called Vardies) tend the crops. However, she receives a radio message from her sister telling her to return to the buildings nearby. When she meets her sister, she smiles at Nadia before telling her that their parents have been killed by the robots.

As well as being incredibly chilling, this scene also stars Mina Anwar from “The Thin Blue Line” (who plays Nadia’s sister).

Needless to say, Nadia doesn’t smile. This upsets the robots….

So, naturally, they resolved the misunderstanding over a cup of tea and some scones.

Of course, after all of this, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out where the TARDIS ends up taking Bill and The Doctor….

Hey, it’s a friendly robot! This is going to be a fun adventure!

One of the first things that I will say about this episode is that it is an absolutely brilliant sci-fi/horror episode.

The idea of robots (both traditional robots and micro-bots) who kill anyone who doesn’t pretend to be happy is genuinely chilling and the episode gets a lot of suspenseful drama out of this. Although, since this is “Doctor Who”, there’s also a lot of comedy too and – unlike in the previous episode – this episode actually gets the balance between comedy and horror right!

Like how the robots still look hilariously adorable when they are in “killer robot” mode.

One of the reasons why this episode works so well is because, unlike some episodes of the show, it’s actually traditional science fiction! In other words, there’s a logical and scientific explanation for everything that happens in the episode. This helps to keep the story coherent, as well as making the horror-based parts of the episode even more chilling too (eg: the idea that the city is built out of micro-bots etc..). There is nothing mystical or supernatural in this episode, just good old fashioned malfunctioning technology.

Of course, this also gives the episode a bit of a thriller-like storyline, since The Doctor and Bill have to work out why everything has gone catastrophically wrong. Likewise, they also have to find a way to stop the robots before more human colonists begin to arrive on the planet. So, yes, this episode is a good mixture of science fiction, horror, comedy, suspense and (mostly) intelligent problem-solving. In other words, this episode is “Doctor Who” at it’s best!

There are so many interesting things in this episode, such as the fact that the robots communicate via emoticons/ emojis (which is both hilarious and chilling at the same time). Likewise, they insist that all humans wear badges that display their mood – this allows for a lot of suspenseful dramatic moments where we see that a character’s true emotional state is different from the one that they are expressing.

Although the idea of a “flawed utopia” is an incredibly old trope in science fiction, this episode actually manages to do something new and interesting by turning the idea of a utopia itself into a source of horror. The idea that the utopia is only a utopia to people who act like they’re living in a utopia is a brilliantly intelligent and chilling one. Likewise, the whole idea of well-intentioned robots going horribly wrong (because they lack an understanding of humanity) is also genuinely chilling too.

One of the cool things about this episode is the set design. The utopian city is the kind of shiny, modern-looking thing that looks very trendy and very “new” – and, yet, the only safe place in the city is a grimy, old 1980s-style spaceship that looks like something from “Blade Runner” or “Red Dwarf“. This clever visual contrast between safe and dangerous places is an absolutely brilliant subversion of typical visual storytelling in the science fiction genre.

In this episode, this shiny, trendy, clean and new modern building is incredibly dangerous…

And this cool-looking “Blade Runner”/”Red Dwarf”-style area is reassuringly safe. YES! Finally, sci-fi set design that makes sense!

As for the writing, it’s really good. There’s lots of classic “Doctor Who” style clever rapid-fire dialogue, lots of intelligent ideas and lots of hilarious questions from Bill too. Likewise, the pacing of this episode is considerably better than in the previous episode. Since the episode starts out with something horrific, the slower-paced scenes when Bill and The Doctor arrive on the planet actually work because they help to build suspense.

The only criticism I have of the episode’s storyline is possibly the ending where the Doctor pretty much lets the robots get away with mass murder (and actually insists that the humans pay them rent for living in the city). Likewise, a major part of the episode’s storyline is that the robots/micro-bots have become sentient and that the Doctor thinks that they should be considered to be life forms. Yet, he has absolutely no problem with “turning it off and on again” and wiping their memories near the end of the episode. Although this is a logical course of action, it kind of goes against everything else that The Doctor has said about the robots.

Likewise, the Doctor is predictably horrified when the human colonists take up arms against the robots. Yet, he has no real problem with killing one of the robots in self-defence earlier in the episode (by throwing it off of a bridge). So, yes, the whole “The Doctor is a pacifist” thing is handled in a wildly inconsistent and incoherent way in this episode.

Needless to say, the Doctor doesn’t approve of this.

Likewise, the acting in this episode is fairly good too. Although some of the episode’s horror comes from the actual storyline, a large part of what makes this episode so chilling is the acting, and the main cast manage to pull off the whole “pretending to be happy, whilst obviously not happy” thing surprisingly well. Plus, as mentioned earlier, this episode also guest-stars Mina Anwar from “The Thin Blue Line“, which was a really cool surprise.

All in all, this is an absolutely brilliant episode. It contains a really good mixture of genuinely chilling horror, (mostly) logical science fiction and a fair amount of humour. The set design in this episode is brilliantly creative, the acting is really good and there’s lots of brilliant dialogue too.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least four and a half.

Review: “Doctor Who – The Pilot” (TV Show Episode)

Well, the new series of “Doctor Who” started yesterday- so, it’s time for a review.

Although I’m not sure how many of the new episodes I’ll end up reviewing or how long it will take me to review them (eg: the review probably won’t appear for a day or so at least), it has been way too long since I last reviewed an episode of “Doctor Who” (and, yes, I know that I reviewed the Christmas episode a few months ago, but still…).

So, that said, let’s take a look at “The Pilot”. Needless to say, this review might contain some SPOILERS.

The episode begins at a university, where the Doctor is teaching. He’s asked somone called Bill to his office because she has a habit of attending his lectures, even though she isn’t a student at the university (she works in the cafeteria).

Yet, instead of complaning or ordering her not to attend lectures, The Doctor is intrigued by the fact that she apparently smiles whenever she doesn’t understand something. So, he wants her to become one of his students and offers to become her tutor.

Needless to say, it isn’t long before Bill realises that The Doctor is slightly… strange.

After a strange series of events involving another character called Heather – Bill, The Doctor and his friend Nardole find themselves fleeing through time and space in the TARDIS in order to escape a mysterious watery ghost who seems to be chasing them across the universe….

The first thing that I will say about this episode is that, as the title suggests, it’s an episode that can be enjoyed if you’ve never watched “Doctor Who” before. It spends a while reintroducing and re-explaining various elements from the series, which slows down the pacing of the episode slightly. Still, as introductory episodes go, it manages to cram a lot of characterisation and storytelling into just fifty minutes.

Plus, unlike the previous series, it’s a proper stand-alone episode. It tells a single story that is concluded by the end of the episode. After the relentless over-use of two-part episodes in 2015, it’s great to see the series returning to what it does best!

Still, despite all of the cool stuff in this episode, the pacing isn’t quite right. The beginning of the episode is surprisingly slow-paced for a “Doctor Who” episode and, whenever something thrilling, suspenseful or creepy happens later in the episode, it is often broken up by a subsequent scene with a different emotional tone.

This is especially disappointing since this episode really, really tries to be a horror episode. There are even a few scenes that are reminscent of late 1990s/early 2000s horror films too. But, many of the creepy parts of the episode aren’t really allowed to develop to their full potential since the suspenseful atmosphere is often broken by something random and/or silly.

For example, this had the potential to be a really suspenseful scene. But, Bill and the Doctor get into the TARDIS and flee to Australia long before the ghost even gets close to them.

But, although this episode fails slightly as a horror episode, there is still loads of really cool stuff here. In addition to lots of hilarious dialogue and subtle references to earlier parts of the show, there are all sorts of interesting locations and we also even get to hear the Doctor delivering a lecture about time too. Plus, there’s a vaguely “Blade Runner”-like scene that involves a mirror in an old photograph.

One other cool moment in this episode is where The Doctor uses the “monster infighting” tactic from the original “Doom” in order to try to defeat the ghost. In other words, he tricks a Dalek into fighting the ghost by standing in front of the ghost and diving out of the way just before the Dalek fires it’s lasers. Seriously, it’s great to see classic 1990s FPS gaming tactics in TV shows.

Well, the corridor was too narrow for circle-strafing, I guess.

As for Bill, it’ll be interesting to see how her character develops as the series progresses. The scenes involving her include a good mixture of both comedy and serious drama. She comes across as a fairly realistic character, even though she has a habit of asking hilarious questions almost constantly. A lot of the drama and comedy in this episode comes from the fact that Bill has only just been introduced to the TARDIS, time travel, other planets etc.. So, it’ll be interesting to see how her character changes when she gets more used to going on adventures with the Doctor.

One other outstanding feature of this episode is the set design. This episode contains a ridiculous number of locations and they all look suitably interesting, realistic and/or futuristic. In addition to the cool blue/orange colour scheme used in the locations where the Daleks appear, there’s also a scene set on another planet that includes almost Hollywood-level effects:

Seriously, the CGI in this series has really improved over the past decade.

All in all, it’s great to see “Doctor Who” back on TV again. Although this episode doesn’t really “work” as a horror episode and the pacing isn’t quite right, it’s an absolutely great introduction to the series for people who have never watched “Doctor Who” before. It’s kind of like a “greatest hits” compilation of everything that makes “Doctor Who” what it is – even if it ends up being slightly less than the sum of it’s parts sometimes.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would maybe just about get a four.

Mini Review: “The X-Files – Babylon” (TV Show Episode)

2016 Artwork X Files Babylon review sketch

Even though I still don’t know if I’ll get round to reviewing all of the new “X-Files” episodes, I saw the fifth one on Channel 5 earlier and I thought that I’d share my thoughts about it.

Even though I’m personally trying hard to avoid SPOILERS for this new series, this review may contain some SPOILERS for this episode. You have been warned.

Following a terrorist attack on an art gallery in Texas by two Islamic extremists, Mulder and Scully are joined by another team of two agents (called Miller and Einstein) who are basically a younger version of themselves. Both Mulder and Scully have different ideas of how to communicate with one of the terrorists who survived the attack, albeit in a comatose state.

Scully teams up with Miller and plans to use a ECG machine to map the terrorist’s brain activity, in the hope of getting neurological responses to yes/no questions. Mulder, on the other hand, convinces Einstein to (reluctantly) give him a hallucinogen, in the hope of communicating with the terrorist telepathically. Can they question him in time to prevent further attacks?

The best way to describe this episode is probably ” ‘Homeland’ meets ‘ The X-Files’ “. Although I’ve only seen the first season of “Homeland”, it’s pretty clear where this episode got it’s inspiration from (I mean, the episode even begins with a Muslim character saying his daily prayers). Even so, it’s still very much an “X-Files” episode, with lots of brilliant dialogue, philosophy, occasional comedy, surrealism and thrilling drama.

The episode, as is mandatory in most vaguely intelligent TV shows about modern terrorism, contains a lot of philosophical debate about religion, and about attitudes towards Muslims. There’s some focus on Christian mythology and a small amount of focus on Islamic mythology too.

Although the episode briefly touches on the idea that the extremist terrorists attacked the gallery because of a “blasphemous” painting, there’s relatively little debate in the episode about issues of free speech (there’s a brief scene of two political commentators arguing on a TV screen, but that’s it).

After the whole “Je Suis Charlie” thing, I’d have hoped that this episode would have included more stuff about free speech and religion (eg: about how verbal/written/pictorial arguments, rather than violence, are the only appropriate response if someone feels that their religion has been “blasphemed”). Then again, this is a “dangerous” subject these days, so I guess that it’s courageous that the episode even mentioned it.

However, although some parts of the episode feel a bit melodramatic (eg: the nurse who tries to kill the comatose terrorist because she believes some conspiracy theory about the UN and Muslims, or the scenes with the other extremist terrorists in their hideout), the “moral” at the end of the episode is surprisingly nuanced and philosophical.

Basically, Mulder points out the fact that both Christianity and Islam share the same god (and about how this god is used to “justify” acts of anger and violence). He also points out that he can’t believe that mothers would have children in order for them to turn into violent religious fanatics.

The best scene in the episode, by far, is Mulder’s hallucination scene. This is, quite frankly, brilliant. Not only do the Lone Gunmen make a brief cameo appearance, but Mulder also goes line dancing too (this is even more funny than it sounds). There’s also a darkly futuristic gothic cyberpunk sci-fi S&M scene too. Then there’s this wonderfully, and beautifully, surreal scene set on a ship that floats through the clouds.

The idea of introducing a younger version of Mulder and Scully (Miller and Einstein) is an absolutely brilliant one. Seriously, these two characters need their own spin-off series. They’re like a modern version of Mulder and Scully. We only get to see them for one episode and, yet, they’re both similar to and different from Mulder and Scully.

My only minor criticism of the episode is that the ending seemed a bit rushed. Then again, since this gives the makers of the show more time for witty dialogue between the four main characters and for Mulder’s hallucinations, I can’t exactly blame them for making the ending fairly quick.

But, yes, the writing in this episode is brilliant. There are just too many excellent parallels and mismatches between the four main characters and so many brilliant lines of dialogue.

All in all, even if the thriller plot is kind of a generic “stop the terrorists” plot that could have come from “Homeland” – the sheer amount of weirdness and fun character-based stuff make this is a brilliant modern “X-Files” episode. Seriously, this new mini series just keeps getting better and better.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least four and a half.

Mini Review: “The X-Files – Home Again” (TV Show Episode)

2016 Artwork X Files Home Again review sketch

Even though I still don’t know if I’ll get round to reviewing all of the new “X-Files” episodes, I saw the fourth one on Channel 5 earlier and I thought that I’d share my thoughts about it. Since I’m in a slight rush at the time of writing, this review will be much shorter than usual (for once, the “mini review” thing is literal as well as metaphorical).

Even though I’m personally trying hard to avoid SPOILERS for this new series, this review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for this episode. You have been warned.

“Home Again” begins with a group of cruel city officials in Philadelphia, who are trying to evict a group of homeless people from a street using fire hoses. When one of them gets back to his office at the end of the night, there is a mysterious intruder who quite literally tears him limb from limb. Naturally, Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate and it isn’t long before a number of strange pieces of evidence begin to emerge.

However, halfway through the investigation, Scully recieves a phone call. Her mother has had a heart attack and is in hospital. Whilst Scully visits her mother, the mysterious killer strikes again and it is up to Mulder to investigate….

All in all, this is probably the closest thing to a classic-style “X-Files” episode that I’ve seen so far. The main plot of the episode is a classic 1980s/90s-style horror movie type story that reminded me a bit of the short story by Clive Barker (called “The Forbidden“) that later got turned into an American horror movie called “Candyman“.

Many of the scenes from this storyline could have been taken from an old 1990s horror movie (they also reminded me a bit of a modern TV show called “Supernatural” too), and they all work really well.

In classic horror movie fashion, Mulder and Scully are too late to stop the mysterious killer from getting his bloody revenge on the motley crew of villainous officials. Although there is very little dark comedy in these scenes, the epiosde is a classic horror movie-style/ vintage horror comic-style morality tale in many ways.

The resolution to the main plot is, in classic X-Files fashion left slightly mysterious. It’s a little bit contrived, but a street artist has accidentally created a golem-like sculpture (which is likened to the concept of a tulpa, or thought-form) who has come to life and is fighting on behalf of the homeless.

As for the sub-plot about Scully’s mother, it’s fairly depressing. Like with previous episodes in this mini series, there’s also more of the long-running sub-plot about Mulder and Scully’s son, William.

Although I really liked the main plot, I wish that the writers of this episode had spent more time developing it. But, since there’s a fair amount of emphasis on the sub-plot invovling Scully’s mother, some parts of the main plot can feel a little bit rushed or under-developed sometimes.

All in all, this is a reasonably good episode. The main plot is classic 1990s-style “X-Files” and it works really well. However, it also has to compete for time with the rather depressing sub-plot and it loses something as a result. Personally, I’d have preferred it if the episode had focused entirely on the main plot.

If I had to give this episode a rating out of five, it would just about get a four.

Mini Review: “The X-Files – Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster” (TV Show Episode)

2016 Artwork X Files Were monster review sketch

Even though I still don’t know if I’ll get round to reviewing all of the new “X-Files” episodes, I saw the third one on Channel 5 earlier and thought that I’d share my thoughts about it.

Even though I’m personally trying hard to avoid SPOILERS for this new series, this review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for this episode. You have been warned.

“Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster” begins with a thirtysomething couple in Oregon who are sniffing paint in the woods when they hear a commotion. A lizard creature flees the scene and a man lies on the floor. Fortunately, the man – an animal control officer – is fine, but another man lying on the ground nearby hasn’t been so lucky. His throat has been ripped out!

Meanwhile, Mulder is settling back into his old office at the FBI and he has grown disillusioned with his previous cases. Talking to Scully, he despairingly explains that many of the monster-related cases he’s found in the archives all have logical explanations. However, Scully insists that he should investigate this new lizard monster case, much to Mulder’s chagrin…

One of the first things that I will say is that I expected it to be a “serious” old-school “monster of the week” episode. It isn’t. This is a comedy episode and, my god, what a comedy episode it is! It’s one of the most inventive, and funny, comedy episodes of “The X-Files” that I’ve ever seen!

The plot twists come thick and fast, and many of them are laugh-out-loud hilarious. The episode just doesn’t take itself seriously at all! The dialogue is witty, the characters are extremely eccentric and there are just so many funny moments. After the dreary heaviness of the previous two episodes, it’s great to see that the creators of the show haven’t forgotten how to write oddball humour.

There’s a fairly good variety of humour here. There are countless in-jokes – Mulder is the sceptic for once, Mulder loses his gun (yet again) and there’s even a tombstone with the name of one of the show’s directors (?) on it etc… There are a few quirky visual jokes too.

There’s a lot of witty dialogue too. Seriously, there are too many funny lines to list here. But the bulk of the comedy comes from the characters and the dialogue.

The main plot twist is that the were-lizard that Mulder and Scully are hunting isn’t actually a person who turns into a lizard creature. No, it’s a lizard creature who – after being bitten by a person – suddenly finds that he transforms into a human (called Guy Mann) when the moon is full. Likewise, he turns out not to be responsible for the mysterious killings (being an insectivore, he even feels a sense of guilt over eating a burger at one point).

Guy is, by far, the best character in the episode. He’s played by Rhys Darby (it took me a while to recognise him, but he’s the guy from “Flight of The Conchords”… although it’s been about eight years since I watched any of that show) and he is, well, brilliant. He’s able to be tragic and comedic at the same time. He’s able to make pretty much every emotion he portrays is comedic in some way or another. Seriously, he’s a brilliant comic actor.

One of the things I really loved about the episode was the fact that the lizard creature is genuinely horrified by becoming a human (and about having to bullshit his way through life as a human) and he quite rightly points out that it’s normal for him to be a lizard.

He feels genuinely happy when he changes back into a lizard in the privacy of his motel room. I’d try to point out that this is a subtle and poignant LGBT metaphor, but the show itself kind of points this out openly – only to (sort of) play it for laughs.

In fact, this episode’s handling of LGBT topics is, well, complicated. Being LGBT myself, I feel like I have to discuss it here, but I don’t want to sound like a humourless political critic (because most of this episode is funny!). So, what I’ll say is that the LGBT stuff in the episode is handled with an equal amount of irreverence and non-seriousness as anything else in the episode is.

For example, a motel owner is revealed to be a sleazy peeping tom, but it’s revealed that he’s more interested in spying on Mulder (who sleeps wearing nothing but a pair of red briefs… which is more than I would have hoped/expected Mulder to wear, but American TV censorship… ). But, before any straight men, lesbian women and/or bi people complain, there’s equal opportunity fanservice later in the episode when Guy fantasises about Scully seducing him. So, it’s cool to see an episode that is refreshingly bisexual when it comes to it’s gratuitous fanservice scenes 🙂

At one point, the “monster” approaches a transgender woman (who, in clichéd American detective show fashion, is a prostitute) however, she’s easily able to fight him off using her handbag. Whilst this initially seems like a cool subversion of the grim American TV/ Hollywood movie cliché about transgender characters always being killed, it turns out to be the set up for Guy to make a groan-inducingly predictable comment about how she “fought like a man” later in the episode.

Likewise, at one point, Mulder begins to give an open-minded speech about the fact that some people are transgender – only for it to quickly degenerate into a few clichéd jokes about genitals being cut off….

So, yes, for every open-minded thing in this episode, there’s also something a bit more conservative. Then again, given that the comedic style of this episode relies on expectations being subverted over and over again, I can’t really moan about it too much. It treats LGBT topics in an equally irreverent way to any other subject.

All in all, even though I spent the last five paragraphs moaning about one small aspect of this episode, it’s my favourite episode in the new series so far 🙂 Seriously, I love it. It’s funny and quirky in only the way that “The X-Files” can be.

The main plot twist is genuinely inventive, and the episode contains a wide variety of different types of comedy that are combined in all sorts of hilarious ways. It isn’t a “serious” monster of the week episode, but it’s an astonishingly good parody of one!

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least four and a half.