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Sunday September 8, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday September 8, 2013 MYT 11:28:46 AM
The Conundrum from Humbug. Eats anything, says nothing.
mon·ster; noun: an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.
WHETHER it was nature gone wrong, human enigmas, genetic tampering, reincarnation or feral humans, The X-Files had it all. And I believe (or maybe I just want to believe) that the TV show really helped me open my eyes to the weird and the wonderful that may exist in the world.
One of the cool (dare I call it) pleasures that the series afforded me was a glimpse into the darker side of nature – homicidal mutants who live off fatty tissue, lycanthropes and shapeshifters with emotional baggage, satanic substitute teachers, killer bugs and really frightening families (which Mulder would be happy to call the Anti-Waltons ... LOL.)
The X-Files featured a whole slew of monsters – animal, human, alien. And at the end of each episode, the viewer would have journeyed together with agents Mulder and Scully to gain some terribly important insight into this world we live in. The Mulderisms and Scullyisms that accompanied each episode were usually undeniably hilarious and sometimes just made downright sense.
Kudos to all the great writers – Chris Carter, Darin Morgan, Vince Giligan, James Wong, Frank Spotnitz and even David Duchovny himself. For it was always such excellent material they came up with!
Some of my favourite “monster” episodes had lessons, or morals if you please, just like an Aesop fable. In Post-Modern Prometheus (Season 5), we were introduced to a real life Frankenstein and his monster, the scientist Francis Pollidori (John O’Hurley) and The Great Mutato (played by Chris Owens). The grotesque lovelorn creature that Pollidori created lived in hiding but came out every now and then to enjoy the comforts of regular people’s homes, listen to their music and ... erm, get jiggy with it.
The whole episode, shot in black and white, turned out to be really heartfelt, as the townsfolk eventually came to accept the “monster” as someone quite like them. The soundtrack was also fantastic, and did a great job or normalising the creature (because he loved Cher!). Interestingly after spending a summer listening to pop singer Cher’s music, writer Chris Carter became fixated on her songs and wrote Post-Modern Prometheus specifically for her. For real!
Humbug, the circus episode (Season 2), was another lovely episode albeit about freaks of every kind. Apart from a slew of crazy characters such as Alligator-skinned Man, Dr Blockhead, Lanny and Leonard the freaky detachable twins, and Hepcat the eccentric artist, the episode also featured real-life sideshow performers Jim Rose and The Enigma (who starred as Blockhead and The Conundrum respectively).
Darin Morgan’s first script is one of my favourites by far, and its humour is so dark, it really borders on freakish in every sense. The Fiji Mermaid, a half-ape, half-fish creature, which Mulder first suspects as the cause of the series of murders that take place in a community of former circus sideshow performers, gets things off to a rollicking start in this curiously titled episode.
“Humbug” refers to a trick, or hoax, as Scully sees the whole murder mystery. But in the wise words of one of the characters, Hepcat Helm, “That’s why Morgan was such a genius. You never know where the truth ends and the humbug begins.” (Well, Hepcat actually refered to PT Barnum, of Barnum and Bailey fame, and not writer Darin Morgan, but one cannot deny Morgan’s genius status here methinks!) The moral at the end of the episode, posed by Dr Blockhead, is ever so thought-provoking as well. Blockhead (who drove nails and hooks into his body) said: “21st-century genetic engineering will not only eradicate the siamese twins and the alligator-skinned people, but you’re going to be hard-pressed to find, uh, a slight overbite or a not-so-high cheek bone. You see, I’ve seen the future and the future looks just like him (pointing to Mulder, standing in a very GQ-esque pose).” ROTFL.
While there are heaps of “monsters” to consider in The X-Files, I seem to have a penchant for the funny, witty or downright sarcastic ones. Clyde Bruckman, the messenger of death; Eddie Van Blundht (with the silent H, played by Darin Morgan, who also donned the Flukeman’s mask in the second season episode The Host) the inconspicuous janitor (okay, he had a tail, so what?) who is able to shapeshift into anyone he sees (wouldn’t you want to be Luke Skywalker if you could?); Lord Kinbote the ginormous, furry, one-eyed alien…. oh and let’s not forget the roaches with metal exoskeletons from Miller’s Grove, Massachussetts.
Perhaps you were hoping I’d highlight the frightful inbred family from Home; the mad outcast Darren Peter Oswald with lightning abilities from DPO; the contorting, hibernating, liver-eating Eugene Victor Tooms from Squeeze and Tooms, or the WD40-wanting beggar Badlaa who smuggled himself into his victims. Were they monsters because they were maligned or maligned because they were monsters? Don’t get me wrong, I think they were all excellent, and had pretty darn good messages to share with the world too. But my monsters of the week remain the sex offenders, murderers and spies who got me chuckling at the end of the day. For they were the truly disturbing ones, because they made me like ’em (cue Mark Snow’s unforgettable riff). – AMC
The XFiles turns 20
The truth is still out there
They were all on XFiles really
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Entertainment, The X Files, Monsters
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