Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Truth

In preparation for the upcoming X-FILES feature, I Netflixed "The Truth," the two-hour (with commercials) series finale that Fox aired in 2002. I had already given up on THE X-FILES by that time and couldn't muster any enthusiasm for the last episode when it aired. I was a big fan of the TV series, and if you had told me during its early run that I would totally blow off the big two-hour series ender, I would have thought you were ridiculous, that an alien abduction couldn't drag me away. However, as you know, THE X-FILES took a real dive once David Duchovny left the series. Replacement stars Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish gave a respectable effort as the new FBI agents in charge of the X-Files, but the series premise seemed pointless in their hands, and the show was having difficulties finding something for Gillian Anderson to do without Mulder around. I began to tune out right about the time Burt Reynolds (whom I love) showed up as God in a bizarre episode.

As a series finale, I suppose "The Truth" works well enough, wrapping up a few of creator Chris Carter's many tangled plot threads and bringing back some fan favorite characters, including several who were dead or believed to be dead. Carter's absurd plot puts Mulder on trial in a kangaroo court headed by FBI Deputy Director Kersh (James Pickens, Jr.) on a murder charge. With Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) Mulder's handpicked defense attorney in Kersh's circus court, the trial brings in a few ghosts of X-FILES past for no particular point, except that it's nice to see them again. For every question Carter answers, many more remain hanging, and it all ends on a bleak, though hopeful, note.

What any of it has to do with the upcoming THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE, who knows? Probably very little, though I'm curious to find out how Mulder and Scully--fugitives on the run from both the law and shadow government figures who want to kill them--could possibly end up working with the FBI (according to press stills) again.

On a completely unrelated note, I also Netflixed VANTAGE POINT, which is a bad political thriller that hit DVD recently. If you're going to tell the same story six or seven times, it had better be a compelling one, but VANTAGE POINT sadly is not. It shows an assassination attempt on the President of the United States (William Hurt) from the viewpoints of several witnesses, including a Secret Service agent (Dennis Quaid), a humble American tourist (Forest Whitaker) and others who may or may not be involved in the conspiracy. Grossly lacking in characterization or sense, VANTAGE POINT does offer a pretty good car chase that's sure to turn up as stock footage in DTV cheapies for years to come. Quaid is always best when he's playing someone with a sense of humor, which this Secret Service agent does not. VANTAGE POINT was made by a European television director named Pete Travis who doesn't appear to be untalented.

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