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well, that sucked.
that_khyber
I forgot how bad Season Six was in places. I'm rewatching during workouts and I just stumbled through "Ghosts Who Stole Christmas","Terms of Endearment", and "Rain King."  The latter has its moments, and I think it may the absolute pinnacle of Pointlessly!Bitchy!Scully (my wife suggests asking your doctor about Aleve, Dana.)

But altogether, it's a real trifecta of shit, redeemed pretty much only by the gift scene in "Ghosts" (and Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner.)

Sure, there are worse episodes (any episode with a Spanish name is worse--think about it), but these three stinkers in a row are a real low point.

The only thing that bugged me about the writing on the show was that they tended to make one-shot characters into these really disposable cartoons; there's little or no sympathy at all in the portrayal of anyone besides Mulder and Scully. You never get the sense that there's any backstory, that Mulder and Scully have stepped into a place and a set of lives that existed before them and will exist after they've left. I think it's really on display here, especially in the nasty cornpone sentimentality of "Rain King." If I was from Kansas (and I'm not far, actually) I'd be pissed about that one.

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Hm, I'm going to cover myself here by saying that, as a viewer, I then felt myself constantly hovering over a sinister cauldron of this-show-is-jumping-the-shark (if you can picture the shark in a cauldron). I was usually ambivalent about episodes, often trying to make sense out of the nonsensical, often responding with a stoic oh-well.

So I think I'd started to see the eps in a kind of isolated, case-by-case way. "Rain King" worked because the broad tone, which may not have been the favorite of most, was consistent and imaginatively maintained. It was a sunny show. Mulder and Scully were cute, and the oc's were cuter. I really relished the moments, and I was grateful that nothing charged out of left field to damage the mood.

As for Scully being bitchy, I don't see that. Sure, she was snarky and disbelieving, 'cause that's her job, but she was quite sympathetic later on and backed Mulder when he told nutty Sheila that the FBI wasn't going to put her in jail.

Scully in "Oubliette": *that* was bitchy.

Critics have often commented that The X-Files rescued itself by reinventing the approach to its dark material. They got funny, they got meta, they kept you guessing from week to week. But the down side of that is that, from week to week, you didn't know which Mulder/Scully you were going to get, or really which show you were watching.

It's writers like you, K, who have to repair and patch and plaster and rescue the continuity.

I rewatched the episode last night with Kyle, to see if he thought she seemed excessively bitchy, as I am so Scully-centric in my view of the show. He felt, and I agree, that the premise of their little trip to Kronor was on its face so absurd that her reactions were entirely justified and even a bit muted. Mulder knew he was skating on thin ice there, too, which is why he was so deliberately vague about the details.

I apparently have broad taste in comedy because I loved the episode on second viewing. Or maybe as a Blue State resident, eight years of being subject to Red State political domination has warped my view of the Midwest.

Didn't anyone else think Scully's little speech to Sheila in the little girl's room (that saved the day, you go girl) was sweet? Her face just went all soft and so did her voice. You could tell she was talking about Mulder. I'm not even a shipper and I loved it.

"Oubliette" is the one episode where even I actually want to shake Scully, plus her CPR skills are decidedly subpar. Stupid writers.

Critics have often commented that The X-Files rescued itself by reinventing the approach to its dark material. They got funny, they got meta, they kept you guessing from week to week. But the down side of that is that, from week to week, you didn't know which Mulder/Scully you were going to get, or really which show you were watching.

See, I can't see that as a down side. I like that the tone was so varied, and that you never knew what show you were going to get. The continuity problems were legion but I don't think that can be blamed on genre switching or the huge variation in the episodes, from low comedy to high drama. That's just laziness on the part of 1013. I doubt this show would have held my interest at all had it been more conventionally conceived and written. I certainly wouldn't have been inspired to write fic for it.

Most people I run into do seem to love that conversation between Sheila and Scully (myself included). It could be heavy-handed, but somehow it's not.

And I got into further detail in my own reply below, but I also like the varied tone. As with any gamble in a creative realm, taking chances with variety can backfire as often as it can reward; I just happen to think that ultimately they were rewarded by the chances they took, even if they did stumble a bit here and there.

Heh, Oubliette, that's a good example.

It's interesting you should bring up the argument that the show reinventing itself has been considered a saving grace by some. Theoretically (and often enough, though not always, while watching) I can agree with that. It's similar to the different camps who approach musical groups who've been around for decades; some want them to stick with the same familiar sound forever, while others want them to evolve with time. As with anything, there are pros and cons to both. I've always been a fan of shows getting meta on themselves, if they can pull it off (and for the most part, I think XF handled that challenge aptly). I happen to love "Field Trip," which not only gets rather meta about Mulder and Scully and how they see one another (sort of a more serious, subtle retread of "Bad Blood" in that way), it also deconstructs the very nature of the four-act television show.

It is definitely true that there was really no way to know "which Mulder/Scully you were going to get", week by week, and I think that's why I can enjoy S6 for the most part, on a case-by-case basis, but why overall it has an extremely uneven tone. S7 feels much more smoothed out to me.

I've always been a fan of shows getting meta on themselves, if they can pull it off (and for the most part, I think XF handled that challenge aptly).

I agree, in fact, I think that's one of the show's strengths.

I happen to love "Field Trip," which not only gets rather meta about Mulder and Scully and how they see one another (sort of a more serious, subtle retread of "Bad Blood" in that way), it also deconstructs the very nature of the four-act television show.

That is a really good analysis of "Field Trip," which I love, too, by the way. Someone should do a comparison of the two episodes. This comment makes me want to go rewatch it immediately, to look for that "deconstruction of the nature of the four-act television show."


Same here. (My favorite comedy, Arrested Development, also got incredibly, insanely meta by the end, and I loved every minute of it.)

As to a side-by-side comparison... ack, don't put these ideas in my head! There are not enough hours in the day! As to the deconstruction I was referring to... pay attention to the scene transitions and act breaks. Ordinarily, we don't ever see Mulder or Scully on planes or in cars going back home from wherever they are (which often is an implied event between act breaks), because it's a time-suck. In "Field Trip," we don't see them traveling because it never happened. I love that.

"Field Trip" is among my favorite episodes. It's slithery, heady, Darin Morgan-clever (although not jokey), and moving in a highly mysterious way. *Mulder and Scully are sharing a brain!*

Arrested Development, better not to ask. I tried, I really did. It does seem to have a ferocious following.

Generally speaking, I'm cool with meta. As for the season 6 down side, well, using the term "down side" sort of implies we've already ageed there's an up side.

Dammit, I keep forgetting that "Field Trip" is S6.

To say that I like that one is a slight understatement, as anyone who read "HFTW/WIEAYB" can probably deduce.

It is strangely moving, isn't it? Whether it's because of the things they both have to realize after having such hallucinations, or simply because the concept of them sharing a brain is a little too cool to wrap MY brain around, I'm not sure.

Heh, as with anything, it's not for everyone, I can concede that.

Oh, I know what you mean by that. Plus, I'd say -- and this is going to come out sounding silly -- the up side to S6 having a down side is, I think, that it allowed for the following season to find better footing. Trial and error and all that.

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