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Liz Tells Frank Stuff She Forgot About Mulder and Scully and “The X-Files”

Dear Frank,

As you know because we are friends, there was nothing more formative for me as a lass than The X-Files. It indulged and deepened my love of science fiction, taught me the difference between procedural and serialized storytelling, and (most importantly) created a teenage ideal for future relationships that still lingers, ever so slightly (I have a thing for trenchcoats).

But I had forgotten until recently, Frank, how COMPLETELY EFFED UP The X-Files was as a comprehensive narrative. Especially (SO VERY ESPECIALLY) when it came to the core relationship between Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.

No one would deny that the partnership, friendship and eventual romance between Mulder and Scully was the closest thing The X-Files had to an emotional center, especially myself. But when you look at the sequence of events that occurred over the show’s later seasons, it made NO SENSE, on a storytelling level or a human level.

Here is why I mention it. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine IMed me with a simple question that she had a valid professional reason for needing an answer to: “When do Mulder and Scully first kiss?” (Frank, it should not surprise you that I was the person she thought to ask that question.) Because Aimee signed off before I could respond, I was forced to send her the following email:

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Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the 1996 “Doctor Who” Back Door Pilot

Dear Frank,

As you may be aware, the history of Britain’s classic science fiction series Doctor Who is epic — we’re talking about a show that premiered the day after Kennedy was assassinated and is still on the air. But the show hasn’t been running non-stop since 1963; between the “classic” Who years and the Russell T. Davies relaunch, the franchise experienced a fallow period. A very long fallow period. During which some truly crazy shit happened.

See, in between the show’s initial cancellation in 1989 and the recent reboot, the Fox Broadcasting Company got the idea that maybe Doctor Whowould work for American audiences. This was the year 1996, at which time Fox had established a proud tradition of airing crazy sci-fi shows, including The X-Files, Strange Luck, M.A.N.T.I.S. and VR.5, so the idea of them picking up Who isn’t as bizarre as one might think.

Hedging its bets, Fox pulled a pretty common network move, commissioning a back door pilot to be shot in Canada (another proud ’90s Fox tradition!) and starring a new (younger and presumably hotter) Doctor — if it worked, then Fox would continue the series, and if it didn’t work, all that would happen is an embarrassing memory for all involved. (GUESS WHICH ONE HAPPENED GUESS!!!!) Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the “Sliders” Pilot

Dear Frank,

Of all the terrible things about being a teenager, here is one that’s only really terrible in retrospect: There will be books and movies and TV shows you consume in your adolescence that, upon future reflection, might prove to be embarrassing, especially when you realize just how much they reveal about you. There’s an inevitability to this — the most you can hope for is that the media with that kind of power over your psyche won’t include a Vancouver-produced micro-budgeted Fox show about people who hop between alternate universes with the help of an oversized cell phone.

I am, alas, not so lucky.

The pilot episode of Sliders opens with Jerry O’Connell videotaping his experiments with wormhole technology in the basement of his mother’s house; blah blah blah science science science Jerry’s a genius, having successfully opened up a portal of some sort to a… I dunno. It’s a mystery! (The answer is parallel universes.) Read the rest of this entry

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