Bases Bloated: The People v. Mulder and Scully
Nineteen-ninety-four called, it wants its everything back.
In 1994, pop culture shifted. It was the year that Kurt Cobain took his own life. It was the year that Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed. There was a major league baseball strike and there was the Lion King. It was the year Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa and Bill Clinton gave his first State of the Union address.
It was the year that John Wayne Gacy was executed and Netscape Navigator took us through the World Wide Web. Nineteen-ninety-four also marked the beginning of the Rwanda genocide during which the world pretended to care for a hot minute before returning their attention to a white Ford Bronco as it sped across the freeway.
The year that was 1994 was also the year that The X-Files was in its second season. It would go for seven more seasons and give us two movies that even the most fanatical X-File (myself included) would say are a waste of time. The X-Files came into its own during the second season. Mulder and Scully got their groove going and the chemistry that we all wanted – re: Will they or won’t they? – was starting to become palpable.
Season 2 gave us Flukeman in “The Host” and Alex Krycek in “Sleepless.” (Nicholas Lea who plays Krycek did previously appear on the show in the episode “Gender Bender” but as a throwaway character.) Although the previous season gave us Tooms played by the child-marrying Doug Hutchison (Google it, and you’ll see how old his wife was when they got hitched. GROSS.), one of the creepier bad guys, things got even creepier in season 2.
Fast-forward to 2015 when it is announced that The X-Files would come back for a 10th season. It would be six episodes with some delving in to the mythology and others bringing those freaky monsters of the week.
Personally, I prefer the monster episodes to the Mulder-is-still-looking-for-the-aliens-that-took-his-sister episodes for the simple fact that they are scarier. Don’t believe me? Watch “Home” and tell me you didn’t almost crap your pants when you found out that Mama Peacock was in on it. Spoiler alert, she’s under the bed and she really, really, really, really, really, really, really loves her sons.
At the start of this year, we got our first taste of what Mulder and Scully had been up to since we saw them in 2008 as they helped Amanda Peet and Xzibit pimp the paranormal in The X-Files: Fight the Future.
As the 10th season came to a close last Monday night, I realized something very important: It may be 2016 but The X-Files is stuck in 1994. Sure Mulder has a smartphone now with a camera app he doesn’t quite know how to use, but the show itself thinks it’s 20 or so years ago.
In this day and age, Mulder wouldn’t have to hide his obsession with aliens. He would have a show on SiriusXM called “Mulling around with Fox Mulder” where he could talk about alien/government conspiracies and his sister ad nauseum. He’d also be an independent and say “Thanks, Obama” whenever things didn’t go his way.
Basically, he’d be the character Joel McHale plays. Dr. Dana Scully on the other hand, would be the dean of medicine at Johns Hopkins. She would live a pretty uneventful life. That’s what she’d want after all those years of putting up with Mulder’s nonsense. She’d be in therapy to try to deal with all the weird shit she’d witnessed and had done to her. Also, she’d finally get to drive which is nice for her. She probably wouldn’t get paid as much as a man though.
While the show struggled to get over its own 90s-ness we did get some gems:
- Mulder’s dad jokes and dad bod
- Rhys Darby and Kumail Nanjiani in the same episode
- Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong and his garbage monster
- Skinner’s beard
- Cigarette Smoking Man’s lack of nose and other face bits. Shouldn’t this dude be vaping? It’s not the 90s, bro. Time to quit darts.
- Kids locked in a hospital that were given Elephant Manish diseases for science (or something – I spent most of that episode coloring in my adult coloring book and not paying attention. For science.)
- Nina from The Americans showing off her alien abduction scars then getting blown up by said aliens
- Joel McHale as the guy with the show about conspiracies
The only current situation that occurred in the rebooted X-Files is the whole to-do with vaccines. The government slipped a little virus into our smallpox vaccinations and now we’re all going to die. Except for Scully because she has alien DNA. Duh. Of course, we all know that vaccines cause autism anyway. Jokes! They cause nothing but good health.
The six episodes we got ended with a cliffhanger. I will watch any incarnation of The X-Files I can get but maybe in the next batch we do more monster of the week and less ALIENS PEOPLE ITS GODDAM ALIENS. But yeah, I still want to believe for some reason.
While Mulder and Scully were busy on Fox reminiscing about the alien baby they gave up, their sister station F/X was airing something even more 90s than The X-Files.
You know how in 1994, we were all like, imagine if Ross Geller and someone from the Look Who’s Talking franchise worked together on a miniseries about one of the Buffalo Bills? Thankfully, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski – the screenwriting team behind Problem Child– listened and more than 20 years later gave us American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.
As of this writing, four episodes have aired and I am soooo feeling the amount of camp and pomp that drips from each one that I don’t want it to end. As with anything showrunner Ryan Murphy and producer Brad Falchuk do – I’m looking at you, American Horror Story – there’s so much vivid color and scenery chewing that you can’t help but watch.
The People v. O.J. Simpson is bright and shiny with each actor treating their scenes like his or her personal Emmy “for your consideration” reels. Except for David Schwimmer. Who keeps waking up David Schwimmer? Let the man sleep. He clearly looks like he’d rather grabbing a schloofie (you all know Yiddish, right?) than acting. Let him sit upon that Friends money and get some shuteye. Jeez. Or I should say, PIVOT.
Getting back to the performances, every member of this cast – Schwimmer being the exception – is really giving it the old Juilliard try. The Emmys will probably go to Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance and Cuba Gooding Jr. John Travolta may get an Emmy nod too and it will be well deserved based on the fact that he’s playing Robert Shapiro as the love child of any attorney from McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak and Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Wonder Boys.
I’m not too keen on Scientologists, especially those who are rumored to sexually harass their masseuses, so if Travolta does win an Emmy maybe he’ll finally feel comfortable enough to be photographed in public without a hair piece and leave his masseuses alone. Listen Mr. Kelly Preston, there will always be roles for men in Hollywood.
No matter how old they are, how decrepit they look or how many people they sexually harass. They will be given a leading role and paired with a love interest that is old enough to be their daughter. The only May-December romance I’ll ever be comfortable with on screen is the imaginary one between Keanu Reeves and me. Whaaaat? Shhhhh. Let me have this one, before the aliens come.
Shoutouts go to Connie Britton as Faye Resnick and Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey, two minor cast members taking a major bite of every scene they’re in. Everything from the soundtrack to the score to the clothing and dialogue matches the tone and taste of what it was like in 1994 during the “The Trial of the Century.” Everyone knows where they were when they were watching the Bronco chase.
I was 12 and at a friend’s house when the show we were watching was interrupted. Many people were watching the Knicks. There was also the Saturday Night Live sketches that followed with Mike Myers as Judge Lance Ito and even an episode of Roseanne where Roseanne accuses Jackie of getting a Marcia Clark haircut. The People v. O.J. Simpson, after four episodes is almost perfect and gives us the right amount of nostalgia – well as much nostalgia as is appropriate for a show about a guy that totes killed his wife and her friend.
I do find fault with one aspect of the miniseries. It seems like any scene involving the Kardashian children is meant to portray them as money-hungry fame chasers. The many digs subtly worked into the script are mostly aimed at Kris Kardashian and how she corrupted her children.
The woman probably did corrupt her children by creating an empire out of one of her daughter’s sex tapes but the digs seem out of place on a show that actually isn’t about them. No really, it’s the one thing in this world that isn’t about them. Can you even imagine?
After The People v. O.J. Simpson ends its 10-episode run, I say we leave 1994 alone for a while. As much as I love this show, I’m jonesing for something that lives in the now. We really don’t need more 90s on TV. What’s next, a Full House reboot? Wait. Are you kidding me?
Okay, I’m ready for the aliens to take me away.