Martin Carr reviews the third episode of The X-Files season 10…
Sidestepping B-movie monster mash expectations. This weeks X-Files throws an antipodean spanner in the works, by casting Flight of The Concords Rhys Darby as an easy-going were-lizard. Who is bitten by a human, transformed into an everyday Joe and has compulsions which include working in a phone shop.
Pulling a ridiculous premise into the realms of reality has always been something The X-Files did with flare. Whatever Mulder and Scully were confronted with these writers made it feel acceptable, if not always plausible. Darin Morgan, screenwriter, director and producer continues the legacy with barely a false note.
Bringing Darby in both grounds events, whilst keeping it light, contemporary and vaguely post-modern. His beast is non-threatening from the get go considering humanity the lycanthrope of legend within this updated campfire fable. Both Duchovny and Anderson get to have fun in this veiled pop at social conventions. Where our desire to attain money, status and material possessions are laid bare without being preachy.
But beyond the obvious moral message, episode three has everything from post op transsexuals to sexually deviant motel owners. There is none of the soul-searching, navel gazing or dramatic segues which littered the opener. There is a tip of the hat to Kim Manners a producer on the original X-Files. And Anderson gets to cast off Scully for a brief moment in a comedic dream sequence as recounted by Darby. But beyond that ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster’ plays like a B-movie double feature. Except that the ‘Were-Monster’ of the title is victimised rather than victimising. Not something which everyone is likely to get behind.
There will be those who expect this X-Files to constantly play with a straight bat. Adhering to the formula of alien threat, investigation and resolution within a strict televisual timeframe. But what the original X-Files did and this new one continues doing is mixing things up. When you want to maintain interest and keep an audience guessing tonal variation is essential. Drama is all well and good but can be draining without moments of levity to break things up. Purist or not it is blinkered to think one episode of measured mockery, less effective than a full season of bleakly textured dramatic revelations.
For my money veteran screenwriter Morgan has produced a chunk of television which broadens rather than diminishing Carter’s X-Files legacy. If things continue in the same vein for the remaining episodes, then it could mark a truly triumphant return for this latter-day classic. Proving once and for all that reboots, remakes or reinventions are sometimes worth the effort. Provided they are placed in the right hands of course.