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well, that sucked.
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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Re: I'll give you the cow.

I think "Drive" is excellent, I can definitely agree there. (To say I was thrilled to hear that Gilligan and Cranston would be working together again when Breaking Bad was announced, well... that would be an understatement.)

I do feel that S7 pulls off the lighter tone much better than S6, yes. For the reasons you've stated here, and probably more. I think, ultimately, we can look to "The Beginning" for reasons why: that episode shows just how afraid the writers were of what they were to do next, after the milestone of a feature film. There was backpedaling, aggravating character tweaking, and I think from that point on, they were hoping to bring in more of that "new" audience with the lighter tone. It was obviously experimental, and it was pretty hit-and-miss, I think.

I think I might have to put "Drive" pretty high up on my list, too (though I have a hell of a time pinning anything down beyond my Top 3). The Unnatural is one of those fixed ones, though.

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