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Feb 3, 2016

Funny Ha Ha

the were-monster
Or funny strange? It was interesting to watch tweeted comments from viewers of The X-Files last night. The show is seen by viewers in most of the country an hour before we get to see it here in Arizona, so I see tweets about the show before I get to watch each episode. I was surprised by how many tweeters were offended by the silliness of "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster".

My Struggle
In my case, I'm watching the 2016 X-Files miniseries from the perspective of a science fiction fan. My hope is that a miracle will occur and Chris Carter will take The X-Files in a more Sci Fi direction.


Kumail Nanjiani as the perp
unreliable witness #1
Was Darin Morgan just having fun with this episode or did he go too far? Was he making fun of X-Files fans? What should we expect from a guy, a mann, who got his start in the industry by making a mockumentary? It was almost as if there were two episodes in one (call them episodes A and B).

Full of holes:
Mulder's life of belief
(as written by Darin)
In episode A, Scully got the FBI case assignment, discovered how the victims were murdered and captured the perp; but that was all in the background with Scully playing out the role of "straight-laced" law enforcement, a role usually played on The X-Files by a faceless and forgettable extra.

Mulder the X-believer: directed by Darin
Has Mulder been taking his meds?
Mulder got most of the screen time in episode B, starting with a scene depicting his self-doubts about the utility of the past 70 years of X-files investigations by the FBI.

The episode began in the X-Files office with Mulder (or was that really a shape-shifting alien who was pretending to be Mulder?) looking through old files and lamenting all of the wild goose monster chases he had participated in through the years.

rubber suit monster
The Were-Monster
Apparently Morgan's were-monster story was written 10 years ago for another television show. In order to retrofit the story to The X-Files, Darin created an out-of-character mid-life crisis for Mulder and had him wallow around in it. Then snap out of it. Then wallow in it some more. Then snap out of it again.... rather like a nightmare series of uncontrolled transformations between man and monster.
Scully being cute: in the market for monster savings (and junk) on her next smart phone.

Scully is amused by batshit
in a Vancouver motel.
At the scene of the crimes, Mulder was quickly knocked out of his sulking by a close encounter with the were-monster (here's blood in your eye). When Mulder lights up with enthusiasm, Scully mocks him for being "batshit crazy". She solves the case and lets Mulder go off and deal with the monster, a monster who is the physical embodiment of his mid-life crisis.

Complaints
The power of Photoshop.
While Scully solves the crime, she has tests performed on the blood that got sprayed in Mulder's face. Of course, since this is The X-Files and Chris Carter is doing his endless anti-science tease, we never got to hear what the test results were.

the Tom: unreliable witness #2
What we did get to hear (briefly) was how Scully solved the crime and identified the perpetrator. But she was so busy being cute and mocking Mulder for his investigation of the were-monster that she almost became the next murder victim. Mulder shows up late and chastises her for not having backup for the arrest, but nothing about the episode is serious, so this life-and-death matter is as moot as the blood analysis. Of course, if you buy into random clues from the paracosmos, Scully has nothing to fear besides an endless string of assaults and abductions: she will never die.

Unreliable witnesses 3 and 4: the "high" art of face painting
Darin went for the hee-haws by mocking small town residents with a chicken-infested animal control office, paint-huffing hicks, a poison-drinking Peeping Tom, a crack-using transgender hooker and a drug-abusing doctor.

We know this is the "funny" episode because inside the sophisticated Hollywood fantasy culture, the propagation of minority stereotypes and the mocking of rural America is how you establish rapport with the hip urban audience demographic.

Unreliable witness #5:
the crazy psychiatrist
I've previously blogged about the difference between
1) not taking science fiction too seriously and
2) mocking science fiction fans.
During the 40 minutes of "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" I was amused, but I did not laugh once. Darin was trying to be funny, but there is a big difference between being funny and just trying to be funny.

unreliable witness #6
The idea of a monster who is bitten by a man was amusing and the story could have been a satisfying 30 minute Twilight Zone episode. Sadly, when grafted onto The X-Files, it was a square peg in a round hole.

lizard skin: once bitten
Running around in the dark with his absurdly flashing "camera app", Mulder managed to get a lucky picture of the bite wound on the lizard monster's neck. Of course, since this is The X-Files, we are never told why the psychopathic animal control officer spends his life biting lizard monsters and chewing up the necks of the people who he strangles to death. "Save it for the trial."

version 2.0: human skin
Humor Darin style: What do you get when two paint sniffing druggies, a psychopathic dog catcher and a lizard monster walk into a Vancouver forest? A were-monster. Really: the dog catcher trips over a lizard monster and instinctively bites the monster? Darin brashly assures us: there is no external consistency here. Later, Mulder got to see the same bite marks on the were-monster while he was in human form. "It looks like a hickey."

falling off the wagon: unreliable witness #7
Inexplicably, after hearing the were-monster's account of events, Mulder gets drunk. I guess we are supposed to believe that Mulder's delicate mid-life ego is punctured by the were-monster calling Mulder a monster. Thank you, Darin, for your theory that we are all obsessed with impotence.

Darin's sex fantasy. Say cheese, you animal!
More importantly, the were-monster diagnoses humanity in general and, specifically, the fans of The X-Files as being so tired of their miserable lives that they will swallow any escapist nonsense that Fox broadcasts on a Monday evening. I have to give Darin credit for having the balls to give voice to such a view, but he reminds me of a rock star calling his fans idiots, or, as my favorite science fiction author had several villains say: "Society is like a cringing beast, the more you abuse people the more they worship you."

The majority of the tweets I saw about "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" were from people who claimed to be laughing their asses off. Lesson learned in Hollywood: fill the screen with dead bodies, hookers, drunks and drug users and then have a good laugh (with or at your fans).

Will Chris Carter let Scully science
the shit out her "alien DNA" or is it just
teasers all the way down?
I suspect that Darin Morgan crosses the fine line between just having fun with what could be an interesting science fiction scenario (very much welcomed) and making fun of science fiction fans.

Lucky for Fox, most X-Files fans don't read science fiction and are ready to go along with Darin on an anti-science ride. Mighty thin gruel for science fiction fans here... move along.

Next: another alien conspiracy

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