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Generation X – Part 3: Squeeze by Jamie

Generation X: Squeeze (Production No. 1×02)

Written By Glen Morgan & James Wong, Directed By Harry Longstreet.

BBC Air Date: 03/10/1994

Well we finally come to the first of the ‘Monster of the Week‘ episodes of the X-Files and what a monster it is. First, the synopsis. Scully is asked to help on mysterious murder case by an old friend Agent Colton (Donal Logue). The cases are mysterious due to the fact that there seems to be no obvious point of entry and the liver is torn from each victim with the killers bare-hands. Mulder joins the investigation with his own theories and immediately gets Colton‘s back up. They apprehend a subject and, when Mulder introduces some of his own questions during a lie detector test, Colton officialy gets him taken off the investigation and the suspect, Eugene Victor Tooms (Doug Hutchins), is set free . Mulder, believing Tooms to be a genetic mutant who needs livers in order to hibernate for decades at a time, continues anyway since the case has some similarities to one of his X-Files and Scully decides to side with him instead of Colson. In the end, of course, it turns out that Mulder was right and they finally capture Tooms again.

This episode was one of the first that gave us the sense that The X-Files was going to be something more than aliens and abductions all the time and thank fuck for that. I mean, seriously, the whole over-arching mythology is alright in small doses but there is no way in hell I‘d be able to take that for an entire series. Really, it‘s these Scooby Doo-esque episodes which make the series, especially later when the mythology just becomes bloated and convoluted.

So, allow us then to delve deeper into this episode. There are some awesome moments held within. Mulder in particular is in top form. There are some great character moments when he’s dealing with Agent Colton who basically seems to view Mulder as a fucking joke. One of the first questions Colton asks Mulder if he suspects little green men are responsible for the murders. Mulder responds completely straight faced that the little men are in fact grey, from Reticula and that they are notorious for the extraction of human livers due to an iron deficiency in the Reticulan galaxy. He then asks him if he knows what liver and onion goes for in the Reticulan galaxy before turning around and doing his fucking job like a real FBI agent. This episode also features on of Mulder‘s classic lines after realising he‘s just put his hand in human bile, “Is there anyway I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?” Classic Mulder.

It‘s also nice to see Scully siding with Mulder in this episode, having had enough of Colton constantly bad mouthing him. It‘s clear that, though she may not agree with all of his ‘spooky‘ ideas, she does have a certain amount of respect for him and regards him as a partner who she is loyal to. You also get to see her kicking the ass of a killer mutant who has already killed several people showing that she‘s more than just an expert in medical science. She‘s also an expert in Ass-Kickery.

Finally onto Tooms himself. This really needed to be a strong episode in order to show that The X-Files could be more than that show about aliens and stuff and thankfully it was. This was mainly down to the character of Eugene Victor Tooms, a genetic mutant who is over one hundred years old, eats human livers in order to allow him to hibernate for periods of thirty years and also has the ability to stretch and squeeze into tiny places. That is a fucking awesome concept for a monster and it‘s the reason that Tooms remained one of the series favourite villains despite only appearing in two episodes.

I did always feel a little sorry for Tooms though. I got the impression that if he didn‘t get those livers and enter his hibernation, he‘d wither and die. Of course if he‘d just end up aging naturally at the same speed as everyone else or at a much faster rate is up for debate I suppose. You also do get the strong impression that Tooms does quite enjoy his little acts of murder.

Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable episode that kicks of the whole ‘Monster of the Week‘ concept and kicks it off strong, deepens the characters of both Mulder and Scully and presents an awesome villain. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.



Generation X: Part 2 – Deep Throat by Jamie

Generation X: Deep Throat (Production No. 1×01)

Written By Chris Carter, Directed By Robert Mandel.
BBC Air Date: 19/09/1994

In this episode Mulder and Scully investigate the disappearance of an Air Force Colonel and a possible cover-up involving crashed UFO’s, hybrid experimental aircraft and a pseudo-Area 51. Mulder is warned to stay away from this case by a mysterious man in a bar bathroom, the titular Deep Throat, but decides to investigate anyway. He comes closer to the truth than he ever has before but also comes to experience first hand the kind of power that those behind the conspiracy wield.

There, I think I’ve got that little problem with my synopses going on forever sorted at last. Anyway, on with the review. This is the first full on episode of the X-Files complete with theme tune, opening credits sequence and is the introduction of Mark Snow as the series composer. I have to say that I really do love that theme. It just sums up the feel of the series, evoking the feeling of creepiness and mysteriousness that comes with dealing with the paranormal.

Now, this whole episode draws heavily from the myths surrounding the top secret US Air force base, Area 51 or Groom Lake even going so far as to have a parallel to the Little Ale’Inn, which is just down the road from Area 51, in the form of the Flying Saucer Restaurant. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just go ahead and use the name Area 51? I mean, they use the real name in later episodes, including some brilliant ones that have Michael McKean making a special guest appearance. Anyway the point is that if you’re blatantly just going to use Area 51, just call it fucking Area 51.

This episode also has some great examples of some early 90s CGI in the form of a hovering triangle that has a few bright lights. Of course it’s easy to look at it now and comment about how shitty and cheesy it looks by today’s standard. We think we’re so fucking great with our ‘Avatars’ and our ‘Iron Mans’. We sicken me. Anyway, I’m sure that little nine year old me was suitably impressed watching it in the darkened living room of our house. I bet I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The most worrying thing is that it actually looks about as good as some of the CGI effects I’ve seen in the incredibly recent series ‘Spartacus: Blood And Sand’. Damn that show’s cheap looking.

As for what goes on in the episode, well, there are a few key scenes. The introduction of Deep Throat is a pretty big one and I’ll delve into that a little bit later. What you really get is an idea of the clashes between the personalities of the two agents but also how dedicated they are to ensuring each others safety. You also get an idea of just how dedicated Mulder is to trying to uncover the truth behind the conspiracy, going so far as to break into a top secret military facility and strolling onto the runway to get a better look. Honestly it’s pretty fucking stupid for someone who’s apparently a Cambridge educated FBI agent but what’re you gonna do? This is a series that kinda hinges on suspension of disbelief.

As far as being a ‘Mythology’ episode this one isn’t as bad as later ones would become. It doesn’t have the huge, convoluted history behind it so it’s still a bit light and generally an easy watch. Since it also has a separate mystery going on beside the mythology stuff, it manages to keep you interested whereas I think that some of the later ones that had Mulder and Scully investigating the conspiracy for the sake of investigating it lacked that aspect.

Finally I’ll just go back to the fact that this episode introduces us to the character of Deep Throat, obviously based on, and possibly intended to be, the Deep Throat who leaked information during the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat was the first of many informants that would approach Mulder and do what seemed as little as possible in order to aid him in the quest for the truth. His first scene is a little odd. He approaches Mulder in the bathroom of the bar and advises him not to investigate the case as the military won’t look to kindly on an FBI investigation. I don’t know about you but if an older gentleman ever approaches me in a bar bathroom and his name is Deep Throat then I’m getting the fuck out of there. Still, he’s an important character and does help in providing some information on the conspiracy without which we’d probably be as lost as Mulder. He also finishes the episode with a fantastic line. When Mulder ask him if ‘they‘ have really are here on Earth, he responds with “Mr. Mulder, they have been here for a long, long time.” Awesome.

Overall it’s a decent enough episode if not just a bit average. I’ll give it three pints out of five. Laterz.



Generation X: A Look Back At The X-Files: Part 1 – Pilot by Jamie

It’s hard to imagine now just how big The X-Files was back in the 90s. It permeated everything and as a result the 90s was also a time filled with bullshit about the paranormal and conspiracy theories. Every week it seemed as though there was some special documentary about the Roswell Incident or whether or not the moon landings were faked. Still, as much as the X-Files was responsible for a lot of belief in complete and utter bullshit I feel as though it’s also responsible for the Sceptical movement coming to such prominence over the past 10 years or so as people battle tirelessly to undo the damage the show has done.

The show started on September 10, 1993 in the US and came to the UK in 1994. I was but a young lad of 9 when it first started and I distinctly remember watching it from the beginning and, like so many others, I completely bought into the paranormal and believed in practically all aspects of it until really quite recently. I gobbled up those documentaries, read book after book and had quite an extensive collection of magazines that dealt with the subject. Still much in the same way that the X-Files is probably at least partially responsible for the growing sceptical movement, it’s probably also the reason that I am a sceptic now myself. Without it I probably would have never paid much attention to the paranormal and so wouldn’t care about ridiculous beliefs in it either way.

The X-Files influence on me doesn’t end there either. The X-Files is possibly responsible for my having a ridiculously large DVD collection. When the series began to be released on the new format I bought them as soon as each one was released. It pretty much gave me the collecting bug and from then I was pretty much fucked and doomed to have a collection far beyond the size of anything that I really should.

So keeping the massive effect the series has had on my life in mind and considering the fact that I haven’t really watched them for years, I’ve decided to go back, revisit the show and review every damn episode. Why? Well because an undertaking of this magnitude will probably cut into my movie viewing somewhat (not to say that this will completely overtake the blog, there will still be movie related things of course including some big video things that I’ve got planned) and it’s a good excuse to have a consistent stream of things to post. Let’s get underway.

Pilot (Production No. 1X79)

Written By Chris Carter, Directed By Robert Mandel.
BBC Air Date: 19/09/1994

So then, this is it where it all begins with the imaginatively titled pilot episode, ‘Pilot’. It’s our first introduction to many a character including the Cigarette Smoking Man, their boss who isn’t Skinner at this point and, of course, Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. It’s pretty obvious that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson pretty much had the characters down from the beginning. Mulder is the sarcastic, witty and all around charming guy and Scully is the sceptical, scientific and slightly serious character that they would pretty much remain throughout the entirety of the series. The only major difference is that in this episode Scully seems a little more open to Mulder’s point of view and a little quicker to accept his paranormal explanation then she would in later episodes.

There are a few things which mark this out as a pilot. For example the iconic theme music is no where to be found at all in this episode. There’s not even an opening credit sequence, instead just a black screen filled with large white letters exclaiming that ‘The following story is inspired by actual documented accounts.’ Of course they are.

Still, other then that there’s not really that much to distinguish this from and average episode. We hear how Mulder discovered the X-Files and the story of how he saw his sister Amanda being abducted by aliens for the first time but it doesn’t really seem like the big thing that it would become later in the series, more like an event that just led to his interest in these kind of cases.

Now the story of the first episode is essentially that a small town has had a rash of unexplainable deaths, each one involving the graduating class of the local high school. Mulder and Scully go off to investigate after Scully is assigned to work with Mulder, essentially being instructed to keep an eye on exactly what he‘s up to. Mulder seems to believe that extra-terrestrials are somehow involved in the case. As they are driving towards the town the radio and clock in their car go a bit haywire and Mulder pulls over, marking the spot with a big red X.

They begin to investigate the deaths much to the chagrin of the local sheriff and medical examiner who both seem to know more then they’re letting on, arousing Scully’s suspicions. They visit two of the graduating classes remaining survivors in a hospital finding one in a wheelchair and the other in a vegetative state due to a vehicular accident that both were involved in. Mulder notices that both have strange marks on their body and decides to exhume the body of one of the former victims in order to see if it has similar marks upon it.

What they discover in the coffin is a little bit of a shock as it doesn’t appear to be the body of a human but rather that of a desiccated orang-utan. They take some X-Rays of the thing which reveals a small, metallic implant in it’s naval cavity. Mulder decides to go and check out the woods were all these incidents have been occurring… Fuck, I wanted this to be a concise synopsis. Right, on the way back from the woods the two agents experience a blinding flash of white light and seem to have lost nine minutes, a phenomenon generally reported by those who believe that they have been abducted by aliens.

Upon returning to their hotel they find out they receive a mysterious phone call telling them that the girl from the hospital is dead. Whilst investigating this new death, their hotel catches fire, destroying all the evidence they have gathered up to this point which really pisses Mulder off. They meet the person who had phoned them, the medical examiners daughter who it turns out was also part of the graduating class and Mulder begins to suspect that the boy in the vegetative state is involved in the murders. A visit to the hospital reveals he has dirty feet and Scully begins to turn around to Mulder’s way of thinking.

Since the soil samples that they had taken in the woods before had been destroyed in the fire they decide to the woods to gather more, only to find that the sheriff is here. It turns out that he has been tracking his son who is up and about again, having seemingly kidnapped the medical examiner’s daughter. Mulder and the sheriff witness a blinding white light surround the two youngsters whilst Scully is distracted elsewhere. When the light dissipates the two are standing there, the boy apparently aware of his surroundings once more and the mysterious marks having disappeared.

Mulder and Scully return to Washington and she presents her report on Mulder’s activities to her bosses, seemingly taking his side on the case which pisses them off to no end. The episode ends with the Cigarette smoking man putting a metallic implant, the one piece of physical evidence into a box in a massive warehouse filled with boxes probably containing masses of evidence pertaining to the supernatural in a clear homage to Indiana Jones.

So there you go. That’s the first episode of the X-Files and the beginning of, in my personal opinion, one of the greatest on-screen partnerships in all of television history. There are a few things which happen in this episode which I don’t think are ever really mentioned or explained in later episodes primarily whether or not Mulder and Scully where actually abducted. I know they are both abducted at later points in the series but I’m not sure if this experience is ever brought up again. I’m sure I’ll found out as we go along.

Still overall it’s a pretty good episode and is much better than many of the ones that would deal with aliens later on, the so called ‘Mythology’ episodes that dealt with the over-arching conspiracy. This one plays off much more like the preferred ‘Monster-Of-The-Week’ episodes even though their isn’t really a monster. Of particular note is David Duchovny who is fucking hilarious throughout this episode. Almost every other line is some witty or sarcastic remark particularly during the pairs first meeting. It’s good stuff and one of the reason I loved this show.

So there you go. That’s the first part of this ongoing X-periment. Hahaha. Did you see what I did there? I crack me up. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of this as I go along and try and tighten up those synopses. Next up is the first of the proper Mythology episodes, ‘Deep Throat’. Until then, laterz.



Depress-A-Thon: Threads Double Repost by Jamie

Well, unfortunately there was just too much to get on with at work last night for me to find a spare moment to finish writing the list of my favourite Sci-fi villains. I did manage to get half of it done and plan to have it up tomorrow. Instead it’s time for another repost in the Depress-A-Thon, this time dedicated to the film which truly scarred my soul, ‘Threads’. I’ve decided to stick the two occasions which I’ve written about ‘Threads’ together since the original review was a little shorter than I remembered.

So included below is the part the bit I wrote about Threads for my top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Films List (Which can be found here: Part 1, Part 2) and, after the video, the original review entitled “Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Man Kind Has Ever Put To Film.” Enjoy.

1. Threads

Cause Of Apocalypse: Nuclear War.

Yes, for number one I’m going a little obscure. It’s a made for TV British film that I’ve reviewed before and it’s truly fucking chilling. The acting is corny, it’s incredibly 80s, scratch that, it’s incredibly Northern England 80s and it’s a little slow to start but fuck, after the bombs drop, it’s just… Wow.

This film portrays what life would have been like if the US and Russia had decided to launch nukes at each other and what would have happened had England been completely ravaged by nuclear bombs. I’m sure that a few of the things that are described aren’t considered exactly scientifically accurate these days but I’m also sure that it’s still as close as I’ll ever see a film get to the truth.

This film essentially put me into a sort of mini-depression after watching it. It made me feel doomed, as though at any moment the world could come crashing to a halt if a small group of people wished it so. Keep in mind that the Cold War had been over for some time at this point. Seriously though, there doesn’t need to be a cold war for it to happen anyway. All it takes is a few buttons being pushed and then Boom. Life as we know it will be over. The lucky ones will die in the initial attacks. Oh, god. It’s happening again. Just thinking about this fucking film is bringing it all back. What the fuck is the point?

Still, if you feel that happiness is a commodity that you just don’t need in your life anymore, I heartily recommend ‘Threads‘. It’s incredible and horrifying. Oh god, why? Why?

Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Man Kind Has Ever Put To Film.

I love post-apocalyptic films and games. Despite the harsh existence that the people living in the post nuclear war landscape have to eke out, they always seem fun, especially something like Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome or Fallout 3. So I decided to buy and watch the DVD of the BBC’s 1984 nuclear war drama, Threads. Spoilers ahead.

The synopsis promised a realistic look at what would happen if Britain were suddenly struck by nuclear weapons launched by then biggest threat to the Western World, the Soviet Union. I know what the effects of a massive nuclear launch would be, so I wasn’t expecting to be shocked by anything on screen. How wrong I was.

Let me start off by saying never ever watch Threads. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliantly made drama, especially for the time it was made but if you ever want the possibility of happiness to be present in your life ever again, then you really should watch a Mad Max movie instead. Seriously, I think I may have killed joy by viewing this.

The story follows two families in Sheffield, one working class and one middle class. The two families are linked by the fact that the son of the working class family has gotten the daughter of the middle class family pregnant and they have become engaged to be wed. The first forty-five minutes follows their everyday lives whilst highlighting the fact that tension between the US and the Soviet Union are growing due to military movements by both sides in the Middle East.

The film is also interspersed with narration and text that highlights the fact that Sheffield would be a prime target for nuclear strike due to it’s economic value as a producer of steel and chemicals and it’s proximity to a US Air Force base. These little pieces of information continue to mount the tension as relations between the US and the Soviet Union continue to become increasingly strained.

Then the main event occurs. Britain is essentially nuke raped by the Commies. Sheffield itself is devastated, with buildings being flattened and bodies turned to ash in seconds and the pregnant girl‘s fiancée is killed. There are some who have built shelters but the film makes it perfectly clear that the radiation will destroy those peoples futures. Hooray!

The film then follows what happens to the survivors during the years following the nuclear strike. Nuclear winter sets in meaning that during the day illumination remains at twilight levels. This, compounded by massive radiation contamination of the earth, makes the growth of crops increasingly difficult. The ozone layer is massively depleted allowing increased ultra-violet exposure resulting in more instances of skin cancer, premature aging and cataracts and the population of Britain dwindles to medieval levels.

Children are being born more frequently with physical and mental mutations and even those who are born normal have no education and speak broken English. Their parents generally die before the children are able to take care of themselves and are many of them scamper through the ruined cities, trying to scavenge for food and clothing whilst avoiding the gunshots of people who shoot looters on sight.

I’ve pretty much avoided any major plot points of the story because, despite what I said earlier, I think it’s worth a watch. For a made for TV British production it’s all pretty good. The acting and special effects are a little dated but bearable. In fact the only things that don’t really hold up are the fashions and the haircuts. So yes, I’d highly recommend it. But if you do watch it, be warned. Once you watch something, you can’t unwatch it. I spent the day after viewing this film wandering around in a kind of daze, not entirely sure what the point in doing anything was.



Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Mankind Has Ever Put To Film. by Jamie
07/06/2009, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I love post-apocalyptic films and games. Despite the harsh existence that the people living in the post nuclear war landscape have to eke out, they always seem fun, especially something like Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome or Fallout 3. So I decided to buy and watch the DVD of the BBC’s 1984 nuclear war drama, Threads. Spoilers ahead.

The synopsis promised a realistic look at what would happen if Britain were suddenly struck by nuclear weapons launched by then biggest threat to the Western World, the Soviet Union. I know what the effects of a massive nuclear launch would be, so I wasn’t expecting to be shocked by anything on screen. How wrong I was.

Let me start off by saying never ever watch Threads. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliantly made drama, especially for the time it was made but if you ever want the possibility of happiness to be present in your life ever again, then you really should watch a Mad Max movie instead. Seriously, I think I may have killed joy by viewing this.

The story follows two families in Sheffield, one working class and one middle class. The two families are linked by the fact that the son of the working class family has gotten the daughter of the middle class family pregnant and they have become engaged to be wed. The first forty-five minutes follows their everyday lives whilst highlighting the fact that tension between the US and the Soviet Union are growing due to military movements by both sides in the Middle East.

The film is also interspersed with narration and text that highlights the fact that Sheffield would be a prime target for nuclear strike due to it’s economic value as a producer of steel and chemicals and it’s proximity to a US Air Force base. These little pieces of information continue to mount the tension as relations between the US and the Soviet Union continue to become increasingly strained.

Then the main event occurs. Britain is essentially nuke raped by the Commies. Sheffield itself is devastated, with buildings being flattened and bodies turned to ash in seconds and the pregnant girl‘s fiancée is killed. There are some who have built shelters but the film makes it perfectly clear that the radiation will destroy those peoples futures. Hooray!

The film then follows what happens to the survivors during the years following the nuclear strike. Nuclear winter sets in meaning that during the day illumination remains at twilight levels. This, compounded by massive radiation contamination of the earth, makes the growth of crops increasingly difficult. The ozone layer is massively depleted allowing increased ultra-violet exposure resulting in more instances of skin cancer, premature aging and cataracts and the population of Britain dwindles to medieval levels.

Children are being born more frequently with physical and mental mutations and even those who are born normal have no education and speak broken English. Their parents generally die before the children are able to take care of themselves and many of them scamper through the ruined cities, trying to scavenge for food and clothing whilst avoiding the gunshots of people who shoot looters on sight.

I’ve pretty much avoided any major plot points of the story because, despite what I said earlier, I think it’s worth a watch. For a made for TV British production it’s all pretty good. The acting and special effects are a little dated but bearable. In fact the only things that don’t are the fashions and the haircuts. So yes, I’d highly recommend it. But if you do watch it, be warned. Once you watch something, you can’t unwatch it. I spent the day after viewing this film wandering around in a kind of daze, not entirely sure what the point in doing anything was.




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