X Files movie - a day late and a dollar short? | Street Jazz

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

X Files movie - a day late and a dollar short?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 1:00 AM

Who would have thought that a cultural phenomenon like The X Files (well, once upon a time, anyway) would fare so badly at the box office - both at home and abroad. I have a theory that I have been boring my friends with, that I’ll now take the opportunity to bore you with as well,  if I may.

When Star Trek left the air in 1969, there was great wailing and lamentation in the land. I know, because some of it as mine. Unlike The X Files, we had to wait 10 long years before a Trek movie hit the big screens.

But to fill the gap, we had reruns (as with X Files), but there were also many paperbacks released, both adaptations of episodes, and original novels. We had the Gold Key comics - okay, they were pretty bad, but there was a certain goofiness about them, that made them enjoyable. And it was Star Trek, so we overlooked a great deal.

In 1974, NBC gave us the animated series, which holds up pretty well, even today.

Power Records even came out with audio plays (though with different actors playing the parts). They were sort of juvenile, but a few were written by noted SF writer David Gerrold, who had written the classic episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles.”

How do I know he wrote them? Because he answered an email I wrote to him, and confirmed it.

And I am just enough of a geek to still be thrilled that David Gerrold answered my email.

And X Files? What? A few computer games? A few comic books? Did 20th Century Fox not think they needed to keep stirring the pot, to keep stoking the public’s imagination?

I think they just sort of took it for granted that if they filmed it, people would come. I feel like they sort of disrespected the fan base, and now they are paying the price.


Oh, they’ll probably still make scads of money, from DVD sales, novel sales, and what have you. I just hope they make enough to warrant another movie.

******
I know it must be true because Leonard Nimoy said so . . .

Back in 1975, Leonard Nimoy came and gave a talk at the UA - in the old men’s gymnasium, of all places. No doubt he’d be in some place a lot cooler, now. Anyway, he told an interesting story about how studio executives were intent on bringing Star Trek to the big screen, but hadn’t been able to make the right connections with everyone concerned yet.

He told an amusing story that at one point, the studio wanted Paul Newman and Robert Redford to play Kirk and Spock. I believe that, too.

***** 

Quote of the Day

Optimism can make you look stupid, but cynicism always makes you look cynical. - Calum Fisher

****

Seriously, this guy needs a hobby . . .

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, there was a fairy tale romance, of lovers fair and true - oh, you've heard this one already? Well, what if I told you the kingdom far away was New York City, and that it wasn't all that long ago, but a mere two decades ago?

Of course, in Television Time - which is sort of like Dog Years, if you take short seasons and abrupt cancellations into consideration - it might as well have been hundreds of years ago.

In 1987 Ron Koslow created "Beauty and the Beast" for CBS, featuring one of the most interesting stories the small-screen has ever seen unfold. It told the story of corporate attorney Catherine Chandler (Linda Hamilton - "The Terminator," Children of the Corn,") who is mistaken for someone else, and almost murdered. To her rescue comes Vincent (Ron Perlman - "Hellboy") a mysterious cloaked figure who literally slashes her assailants to death before taking her down to his home below the city to nurse her back to health.

Vincent lives in an underground world of misfits and artists who have fled the cruelties of the outside world and created their own society - one based on Utopian principles. They are guided by man known as "Father" (Roy Dotrice) who fled the upper world after some sort of incident in the red-baiting 1950s. The Below World is a fine fantasy creation. Just think of parts of Fayetteville's culture during the 1970s, only without the benefit of sunlight, and you'd have a pretty good idea of how cool a place this really is.

Oh, and more thing. Vincent? Well, he sort of looks like a lion. He stands on two feet, and recites poetry, but he's got claws (and knows how to use ‘‘em!) And his features are more catlike than human. It is never resolved in the series as to how Vincent came to be, or where he came from.

It is sometime before Vincent allows Catherine to see his true face. By then, of course, she has fallen in love with him.

After she is healed, Catherine returns to the outside world, where she joins the staff on the District Attorney, working for Assistant District Attorney Joe Maxwell (Jay Acovone), and becomes a sort of crime fighter.

The first season is fairly action oriented, though with heavy emphasis on the growing love between Vincent and Catherine. Much is also made of the emotional/spiritual bond between them, which enables Vincent to sense whenever she is in danger, and come to her aid.

In the second season, the decision was made to try and move away from the action-oriented stories and develop more "relationship" stories. In essence, this is the Harlequin Romance season, with many actual scenes seeming to ape romance novel book covers.

This season might also be known as the Sappy Season. Though my wife might tell you otherwise, I like romantic stories as well as anyone, but you can go back to the well a little too often.

And herein lies the problem with DVD collections - when you watch a season on DVD - and watch several episodes a week - the flaws jump out and can't just be ignored, whereas they might be when the series was just shown on a weekly basis.

That being said, there were several excellent episodes that second season, including one haunting episode on child abuse which is still powerful twenty years later.

At any rate, at the end of the second season, the producers moved back into high gear, telling stories about Central American death squads, and drug dealers, and giving Vincent several chances to flex his claws.

At the beginning of season three, Linda Hamilton departed the series, and was killed off in the opening episode, after giving birth to their son, who is promptly kidnaped by a truly evil character named Gabriel. The pursuit of Gabriel takes most of the short season.

The truth is that the Catherine/Vincent relationship had been getting stale. He'd go up to her balcony and read poetry to her, they'd sit under city grates (only on TV would they not stink) and listen to concerts in the park, and he'd sit around the underworld (his version of the Batcave, I suppose) looking pensive until the bond between them would alert him to the
fact that yet again Catherine was doing something stupid and putting her life in danger.

Vincent to the rescue!

A new woman was brought into the mix in the third season - Diana Bennett (Jo Anderson), a sort of police profiler assigned to solve Catherine's murder. Though the series only lasted a handful of episodes that third season, it's pretty exciting and well-written. A new sense of purpose seemed to have been found by the writers, and one thing it isn't is stale.

Fans don't like it when characters leave, even when the show may be just as good, if not better. Look at "X Files" when Mulder left.

For my money, the Jo Anderson character had a lot more potential than the Linda Hamilton character ever did. She was smart and tough, and didn't really need to be rescued every week. But not only does she not get pictured on the DVD box for season three, her name isn't listed. That's her thanks for job well done.

rsdrake@nwark.com

 

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