Thursday, March 1, 2018

REVIEW: FOX's 'The X-Files' and '9-1-1' (February 28)

Various FOX reviews for February 28, 2018:

The X-Files - Episode 11.07 "Rm9sbG93ZXJz"
9-1-1 - Episode 1.07 "Full Moon (Creepy AF)"

In 2018, it's impossible to watch every scripted show out there. There are over 450 of them. It's even more impossible to even provide adequate coverage of some of them. Great shows slip through the cracks. Some shows take awhile to figure themselves out. So as a way for me to provide more coverage, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes on FOX for February 28, 2018. Enjoy!

The X-Files - "Rm9sbG93ZXJz"
Written by Shannon Hamblin & Kristen Cloke and directed by Glen Morgan

Across these two revival seasons, The X-Files has produced some great and solid episodes. And yet, they've also mostly felt like the same old, reliable pattern of the 90s show. There wasn't a whole lot of new in the execution that made it seem relevant for the 2010s. This is the first episode that feels like a new approach to a very familiar story. It presents a bold way forward for the series. As such, it shouldn't be surprising that it was written by two newcomers to the show. It's a great example of how welcoming new talent actually makes the show better. But it's also a solid episode because of the aspect of the revival that has been the most present: the familiarity of these characters. Even if the plots were formulaic, it has been compelling to watch Mulder and Scully embark on these adventures once more. The themes are explored on many other shows out there at the moment. This episode is no different than what Black Mirror typically does. But it's greatest strength comes from the Murder-Scully dynamic even though they barely say anything to each other over the course of this hour. This episode is a nice play on the silent horror movie trope. It updates it for a modern horror story on the over-reliance on technology. The world expects technology to make our lives easier. It has. But it has also created a number of additional problems - like constantly be watched and our actions no longer being our own. This episode takes that to the extreme with this automated network of technology becoming increasingly aggressive because Mulder didn't give a tip at the restaurant. But it strikes the perfect tone of being both whimsical and sinister. The threat is always real to these characters. At times, it feels like they aren't living in the real world because they are the only humans anywhere. But that gives it an edge too. There is the assumption that human connection will always be there if something like this were to happen. But it's terrifying to realize just how alone and isolated it can still make us. That's the threat that Mulder and Scully realize and face here. And in the end, they do ultimately give in to the demands of technology. Mulder gives the tip even though he didn't have a good and complete meal. This program only wants to learn from humans. But there's the horrifying reveal that it's pushing Mulder and Scully into making the choices it deems right instead of operating on the free will of humanity. Even the ending could be very cliche. But it's ultimately very sweet because of the audience's awareness of Mulder and Scully's history. As such, that only enriches this tale of human connection ultimately being the thing that allows us to thrive. A

9-1-1 - "Full Moon (Creepy AF)"
Written by Adam Penn and directed by Maggie Kiley

This episode states early on that there's a full moon and that's when all the crazy calls come out. As such, the show needed to deliver on that promise. It needed to be more absurd than usual. And yes, every single aspect of the show went to the extreme. When it came to the ridiculous calls, that worked because that's the mode this show operates the best in. It can be absolutely silly while being a blast to watch. When it comes to the melodramatic twists in the personal lives of the characters, it can still be a chore to sit through. There's just no context for anyone to yell at the television the moment Hen kisses her ex and then has sex with her. It highlights that it's a destructive act. But the show really didn't build up a relationship with Hen and her wife. It makes it seem like this is just something that happens in order to create conflict and justify hiring Aisha Hinds and Tracie Thoms. Abby's story is pretty serious as well because a woman is murdered while on the phone with her. It's absolutely horrifying. But the way in which it ties in with the unsettling case from earlier is completely crazy and baffling while still being very effective. It's such a unique blend. It again seems like the show wants us to be happy that Abby and Buck finally sleep together despite all of the previous evidence that proves that's a bad idea. But who cares about that when Abby solves a murder thanks to the technology at a 911 call center and her new friend on the police force! In all actuality though, the most effective sequences come from the two calls that Bobby and Buck respond to. Athena shooting a man acting like a zombie is fun in the moment but carries too much dramatic baggage afterwards to be entertaining. Meanwhile, it's just crazy to see three women go into labor as soon as Bobby and Buck enter the room. That's insane but is something that will naturally happen on this show in a rational way. The same is also true of the tapeworm that Buck has to remove from a man's butt. It's a gross visual but the show still finds a way to mine the comedy from the situation effectively. B-