Saturday, July 27, 2013

Partying like it's...1993

Last night, I started thinking how I haven't done a "re-watch" in a while. I mean, a legit start to finish on a show. I watch old shows all the time. I have an almost embarrassingly huge collection of television shows on DVD. Plus a few more newer ones on iTunes. And amongst those I have a few go-to episodes that I tend to watch over and over again. So what I actually decided to do was watch TWO things. It's weird, The X-Files has been EVERYWHERE on my social media for the last week and change because this fall is the 20th anniversary of its premiere and it was featured at Comic-Con. And I was really thinking about 20 years ago, because last weekend was also my high school 20th reunion. I didn't go to it, but I've REALLY been remembering 20 years ago because of it. As I walked to the shelves with the TV DVDs for some reason my eye was drawn to Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. And I realized that is ALSO premiered 20 years ago (or thereabouts) and that it was, in fact, the OTHER show that I watched on Sunday nights in college. So, I'm going to watch both. It's an interesting juxtaposition. They were both huge nerd draws. The X-Files still very much is, I think. Lois & Clark ran for four seasons and a total of 87 episodes. It was fairly light-hearted and embraced the comic-y side of the Superman mythos. And by that I mean the old school comic-y side. It was almost cartoonish in moments and had a pretty loyal following although it was never a ratings boom. Even at its very most serious it wasn't particularly deep. Even though it dealt with a subject that was so ingrained in the public consciousness, it took it from a completely different angle. What I loved about it was that that the guiding premise (and I'm going to quote Clark Kent on the show here) was "Clark is who I am. Superman is what I do." Which was a sharp contrast to the Superman films that I had watched as a kid. Because it focused on Clark, I think it was a great way to shine a light on other characters--if it's always Superman, it's always Superman and the Big Bad--specifically, in this case, Clark and his relationship with his parents was so cute and fun and depth-filled. I have a hands-down favorite episode, "Tempus Fugitive" from the second season (which is probably the best season as well) and having so clear a favorite episode is weird for me. Sadly the show was never able to produce great ratings (although Teri Hatcher became one of the first internet phenomenons because of it. And being a smoking hot babe). It ended on a cliffhanger and then didn't get picked up for a fifth season. The X-Files was different. It was a phenomenon. It was HUGE. It ran for 9 seasons and a total of 202 episodes plus two feature films and two spin-off series. So many aspects--"I Want to Believe", "The Truth is out there.", the theme song, the characters themselves--became so hugely iconic (I can name off the top of my head it being explicitly referenced by both Bones and Castle) that it's sometimes hard to remember a time when it and references to it weren't a part of our cultural vernacular. Filmed for the first four seasons in dank, rainy Vancouver, it couldn't possibly be any visually different from L&C and while there were any number of stand-alone/Monster of the Week episodes that were just plain funny, they were also sophisticated and even if verging on the silly, very, very clever. The episodes that weren't the "comedy" episodes were dark. ALL of the mytharc episodes were dark and the stand-alones that were dark were freakishly dark and sometimes absolutely terrifying. Like L&C, it was part of the first wave of internet fandom although rather than a picture of Teri Hatcher rolling around scantily clad and wrapped in a Superman cape, with The X-Files it as EVERYTHING. Message boards full of speculation and episode discussion and fanfiction. This is a fandom who created the idea and terms of "shipping" and "shippers", for God's sake. The last two seasons were shaky--mainly because David Duchovny was absent from about half the episodes of the 8th season and all but the final episode of the 9th season--but they finished with at least a respectable amount of closure and enough ongoing interest for there to be a second movie and continued speculation about a third. I've watched both pilots. My thoughts to follow.

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