Flowers Season 2 (Netflix)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe
Flowers is such a difficult show to explain if you haven’t seen it. While watching the second season, I thought it’s like The Addams Family but grounded and about mental health. The tone and characters are realistically macabre, a tormented family of creative types whose communication has broken down so badly they just simply can’t communicate with each other any longer. Creator Will Sharpe has given us a second beautiful season that goes even more in-depth with the Flowers’ history and works to heal the damage.
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Person or Persons Unknown (Season Three, Episode Twenty-Seven)
Original airdate: March 23rd, 1962
Written by Charles Beaumont
Directed by John Brahm
The Twilight Zone could really delve deeply into some intimately existential fears. In this episode, we meet David Gurney, a man who wakes up after late-night drinking. His wife reacts with horror, claiming she doesn’t recognize him and has no idea who he is. David thinks she’s playing a prank on him and leaves for work. But once he arrives at the bank, he finds his coworkers are in the same boat as his wife. They have never seen or heard of him before. Eventually, David ends up in a mental hospital where his doctor tries to convince him he never had this life; he seems to remember so vividly.
Continue reading “TV Review – The Best of The Twilight Zone Part 3”
The Twilight Zone was not the first anthology of the fantastic, but it has gone down as the most memorable and best-written one. That writing was due in part to Rod Serling setting the standard. Rod Serling looked pretty “square,” but he was a political radical, virulently anti-war and firmly in support of racial equality. He made sure that his anthology told stories relevant to what was happening in the society around his viewers. Serling’s wife, Carol, remarked that he would often say, “the ultimate obscenity is not caring, not doing something about what you feel, not feeling! Just drawing back and drawing in, becoming narcissistic”. So you can see that Serling felt compelled to not just entertain but educate whether audiences wanted it or not.
Continue reading “TV Review – The Best of The Twilight Zone Part 1”
Dark Season 3 (Netflix)
Written by Jantje Friese & Marc O. Seng
Directed by Baran bo Odar
Dark will go down as one of the most mind-melting complex series most people have ever seen. Its creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, have been uncompromising in their vision for all three seasons, challenging viewers to follow the convoluted family trees and crisscrossing timelines. This is made even more challenging to comprehend in the third season’s introduction of multiple realities. Yet it all works and makes sense in the end. Dark is not a series you can play in the background and drift in and out of, it demands the viewer’s full attention or you will most certainly become as lost as Jonas does at times.
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Search Party Season 3 (HBO Max)
Written by Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers, Craig Rowin, Andrew Pierce Fleming & Matt Kriete, Starlee Kine, Jordan Firstman, and Sabrina Jalees
Directed by Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers, Jay Duplass, and Carrie Brownstein
Search Party feels like a tv series than an indie film franchise with each season’s supporting cast changing to fit the direction of our four millennial mains’ lives. The stakes of the series have ratcheted up with each iteration. Season one was a reasonably light, missing person mystery that ended on a surprisingly dark note. Season two was a study in PTSD and guilt, veering the series into some bleak territory while still finding humor in the situation. Now season three gives us courtroom drama and such a massive development in our protagonist’s persona that it is downright chilling in moments.
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The X-Files Board Game (2015)
Designed by Kevin Wilson
Published by IDW Games
After watching through ten of the best episodes of The X-Files this month, I decided to crack open a copy of the board game from IDW I’d bought a few years ago. I remember hearing good reviews when it originally came out in 2015, and I snatched up a copy. As so often happens when you buy a board game on a whim, it sits on your shelf for a while until you finally find the time to play it. The X-Files Board Game turned out to be quite an excellent experience, a game I definitely want to play again and again to explore the tactics and mechanics going on under the hood.
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The Post-Modern Prometheus (Season Five, Episode Five)
Original airdate: November 30th, 1997
Written & Directed by Chris Carter
By this point in the series, the mythology episodes were becoming more prominent and had a more significant effect on the overall direction of the show. To balance that out, the Monster of the Week episodes became a little wilder and tonally jarring in a good way. The Post-Modern Prometheus is one of the biggest stylistic shifts for the X-Files being shot in black & white with a wide-angle lens. Additionally, the tone throughout is comedic with appropriate touches of melodrama.
Continue reading “TV Review – The Best of The X-Files Part 3”
Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (Season Three, Episode Four)
Original airdate: October 13, 1995
Written by Darrin Morgan
Directed by David Nutter
This was the period where X-Files was reaching its sweet spot. The show was firmly submerged in the pop culture zeitgeist, so the writers started to play around with the one-off Monster of the Week episodes. This might be the best episode the series ever produced. It has a tightly written, clever plot with genuinely surprising & well-earned twists. Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein, Everybody Loves Raymond) guest stars as Clyde Bruckman, an insurance salesman who gained the ability to see every person’s death. He becomes caught up in a case where Mulder & Scully are chasing down a serial killer who targets psychics and fortune-tellers. This entry into the series is incredibly dark & bleak while still injecting big doses of sly humor. Little touches like the injection of celebrity psychic the Stupendous Yappi and revelations about Mulder’s extracurricular activities help lighten a weighty & poignant study. The conclusion of this episode is just so satisfying and bittersweet.
Continue reading “TV Review – The Best of the The X-Files Part 2”
Homecoming Season One (Amazon Prime)
Written by Eli Horowitz & Micah Bloomberg, David Wiener, Cami Delavigne, Shannon Houston, and Eric Simonson
Directed by Sam Esmail
Ever since I finished watching the British television show Utopia, I have been searching for another show that hit many of the same buttons as that one. While it is not an exact 1:1 match, Homecoming is the closest I’ve come to find a show that creates that same pleasant paranoid and heightened atmosphere. There are some supremely intelligent presentation decisions made with the music and cinematography that give the show an eerie feeling. Homecoming presents an urgently relevant story with the feel of a type of cinema from decades in our past.
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If you weren’t alive or simply too young in the 1990s to remember, The X-Files was an insanely huge deal. UFOs, in particular, had a significant popularity resurgence in that decade, but this show was the most popular media to come out of all of that by a longshot. The X-Files aired on Fox for nine years and spawning two feature films, one of which came out between seasons 5 & 6 and a short-lived revival. Creator Chris Carter was inspired by his love of science fiction & horror media, with the most relevant source being Kolchak: The Night Stalker. That was a short-lived ABC series about a paranormal investigator in the Monster of the Week mold.
Continue reading “TV Review – The Best of The X-Files Part One”