This article can be found in the blog section of the 5D website at www.5d-blog.com. There you can also find a tasty selection of Scifi/fantasy and horror treats!
Anyhoo.........back to the February double whammy excitement.
Firstly, In the dim and distant days of early 1994 life was akin to living in the dark ages. The Internet and the World Wide Web were still a year or two away from life changing transformation, there were no iPhones, no iPods and the usual way to make a friend request was to strike up a drunken conversation in the local pub. Blimey, just how did we exist?!
Another void in any self respecting geeks life back then was the veritable lack of quality scifi, fantasy & horror on television. Thesedays, with the advent of satellite TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime et al we seem to be experiencing a true golden age of TV with the soon to be discussed The Walking Dead, not to mention the likes of American Horror Story, Hannibal, Z Nation, Dark Matter and more tasty superhero series selections than you could shake Stan Lee at. In all honesty, it's getting to the point that I'm fast losing the time to fit them all into my increasingly hectic schedule...... But it's a dirty job and somebody has to do it. As you all know, I'm just the man for that job.
The smoking man's gonna getcha
From the very start of its first season it became apparent that the X-Files was a thing of unqualified beauty. For the benefit of the couple of people and their pet dog in the world who didn't manage to see this example of science fiction genius, here is a quick recap.........
Practical and serious career minded gorgeous FBI agent Dana Scully is told to keep her eye on strange and troubled not-so-career-minded FBI agent Fox Mulder........Scully likes science and being serious.......Mulder likes paranormal alien conspiracies and cracking funnies........they work together.......Scully doesn't believe........Mulder wants to believe.....common respect ensues........Sexual tension follows big time........Scully starts to believe.......Lone Gunman......Smoking man.......Syndicate.........Mulder abducted.......Alien Invasion.......fugitives on the run. I think that just about sums things up nicely.
Oh yes, not forgetting a relationship that was positively dripping with sexual tension (though not literally, however interesting that would've been). What sets the season apart from what followed was the fact that the vast majority of the episodes were all singular stories on their own, paying very little notice to the paranormal conspiracy that forms the arc of the X-File narrative. Now, while I like a good conspiracy narrative as much as the next man, some of these self contained episodes were near perfection in terms of writing and pacing........ And chills, don't forget the chills!
* Squeeze - A mutant who murders his victims with the intention of removing their livers so it can live longer....oh & it can also squeeze through seemingly impossibly tight spaces. My personal X-Files favourite.
* Beyond the sea - The sceptic/believer roles are reversed when Dana 'delicious' Scully exhibiting the leap of faith in a death row inmate's claim that he has psychic abilities. Mulder thinks the inmate is full of it. Great stuff.
Sadly, it has to be said that the X-Files suffered from the one series too many syndrome as the ideas and freshness seemed to slowly disappear - in fact it could be argued that the last two series were less than satisfactory. So too were the two movies that came after the demise of the series as it seemed the writers were stuck between providing wanting to provide a continuation of the X-Files mythology and trying to provide a stand alone narrative for the two people and their dog who had no knowledge of the TV series. What cannot be denied though is that the series did what only a few have succeeded in doing, namely transporting itself from being merely a TV programme and instead into the wider public consciousness. The X-Files found itself a pop culture phenomenon with even those foolish few who had never seen an episode were fully aware about Messrs Mulder, Scully & the smoking man. Ahhh, good times.
The truly gorgeous Gillian & some other guy.
The second reason is far more shallow and superficial - because while Gillian Anderson may have been on the right side of gorgeous back in the 1990's, well, let's just say that the sands of time have been very, very, very kind to her, God she looks so very good these days!
The six episode season 10 has already began to air in the States and so far I've been able to avoid any spoilers. What I do know is that the reviews have been a little mixed. Seriously, I don't care. I simply can't wait until I see that first episode in a couple of days.
I discovered the Graphic novels a couple of years after they first appeared back in the dim and distant days of 2003. Yes, yes I know......once again I was quite ineptly behind the times. It certainly wasn't the first or last time. To be precise it was the summer of 2006 in which I first discovered the stunning artwork and storytelling that depicted a world where an unknown apocalyptic event has transformed the majority of the human population into slobbering, rotting flesh-eating zombies. As luck would have it at that time, I had landed a new & reasonably well paid job which not only meant that bills could finally be paid, plus I could buy good quality red wine, but it also allowed me to buy up every copy to date (and ever since) of that wonderful series. I was in regular zombie heaven.
Just part of my little collection.
The thing is, I don't tend myself to get that precious about how the written word will fare under TV or film adaptation. There are some within the Scifi, horror & fantasy community who feel a strong degree of 'ownership' of literary material that to a unknowing third party would seem that it was actually them who had written it in the first place. For me, different mediums are entitled to treat the source material in any way they want. Reading a book is an entirely different experience from watching the same thing on screen, which is as it should be. I could never understand the controversy amongst fans (and I am a big time fan) about the adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Game of Thrones, to name but three.
If you love the books then simply don't give a flying fig about an adaptation that deviates from the source material. Honestly, who cares? The original source material will always be there to be cherished. And do you know something else? (I'm saying this quietly now), but sometimes those changes can work.......cough....Haldir's Elves at The Battle of Helms Deep....cough!.......really works in the movie...........cough!
I did try to dislike the TV series, I really did. Even when I heard that the mercurial Frank Darabont was going to be initially at the helm I had decided beforehand that I simply didn't want to be part of of what I saw as the inevitable watering down in the mainstreaming and mass-popularity that would take place. I can remember on that night in 2010 when I sat in front of my television to watch the 1st episode, arms crossed and a fixed facial expression that signified that I wasn't going to enjoy myself, no matter what.
1) The fabulous characterisation of Daryll by Norman Reedus has become for many the cornerstone of the series, galvanising a whole industry of 'If Daryll dies, we walk" T-shirts whenever proceedings look as if Mr Dixon might finally succumb to the Zombie bite. However, the character simply didnt exist in the original comic series and was invented purely for the TV series. However, it works.
2) The character of Shane stayed around far longer on TV than in the novels, but again this worked. The portrayal by Jon Bernthal of a man slipping ever deeper into dark insanity was a masterstroke.
3) Many of the characters seem to have become polar opposites of their comic book creations; for example Carol never really loses her meakness and self doubt in the books, yet in the TV show she has become the epitome of female power with a character ark of incredible maturity and intensity. In addition, the much maligned Andrea (who it's safe to say, was never much of a fan favourite) who on screen simply went from naivety, on to insessent complaining and finished on just plain stupid was far different from the strong purposeful Andrea who is also the lover and confidante of Rick (and still very much alive) in the comic book.
The Walking Dead series boasts perhaps more than most. I won't try to include all of my favourites as I'm sure I'll certainly be kicking myself over after forgetting to include them. However I'll mention just a small number of my personal TV moments off the top of my head.
* Shane shooting Otis as they try to evade the shuffling hords.....I can still hear the screams.
* Carol's lost daughter emerging from Herschel's barn and Rick stepping forward to deliver the killing shot.
* Darryl & Merle saving Rick et al when they return to the prison
* Hershel's demise at the hands of the Governor.
* Carol saving the group from being hung on meat racks & the subsequent breakout at Terminus. (Still my favourite ever episode)
* Carol's genuinely frightening 'Stepford Wife' baking Psychopath in Alexandria
* The whole Glenn 'is he dead or isn't he ?' affair.
The simple fact is that the series has provided some of the more genuinely jaw-dropping televisual experiences that I have ever had.
Once again Monday nights here in the UK may finally have some meaning when The Walking Dead returns after its mid-season break to feature the introduction of everybody's favourite sociopath from the novels. The casting of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan is truly inspired. I can hardly wait.