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Reassessing X-FILES

Plus: Just Quark-ing Around; Roswell 101; This Week's Episodes

By Steve Ryfle     November 27, 2000

Now that the eighth season of The X-Files is well under way and the post-Mulder era is upon us, it's time for the TV critics, fanboys and other pundits to weigh in with their opinions as to whether the Great Experiment is a success or not. The viewers have already spokenthe show continues to be one of the FOX network's highest-rated programs, trailing only The Simpsons, Ally McBeal and Malcom in the Middle in the weekly Nielsens, and is doing much better than the ultra-hyped Dark Angel.

While we're waiting for the experts to pass judgment on the addition of Robert Patrick to the X-Files cast, the Los Angeles Times went straight to the source and asked Patrick, who plays FBI agent John Doggett, and series creator Chris Carter how they feel the revamped show is going. Not surprisingly, they like it (hey, Mikey!). 'Everybody likes Robert Patrick and the character,' Carter tells the newspaper. 'At the same time I think everybody misses David and Mulder.'

You can say that again. It's not that the new X-Files shtick is necessarily bad, it's just that it's not The X-Files we used to know. Who's Carter kidding? When he discovered David Duchovny eight years ago, it was a stroke of brilliant luck. The actor's deadpan heroism and his character's unwavering dedication to unraveling the great conspiracy, coupled with the tension between Mulder and by-the-book Scully, gave us something that felt new and inventive.

True, after a few years, the formula got more than a bit predictable at times, and maybe Duchovny's waning enthusiasm for the show was understandable. But with Patrick playing the textbook, old-school agent (i.e., the skeptic) and Scully morphing into the believer, the new X-Files is losing its spine and turning into a routine detective drama. And the prospect of a few contractual-obligation glimpses of Mulder over the course of the season is about as gratifying as those telephone calls from Chrissy at the end of Suzanne Somers' run on Three's Company back in the 1970s.

Patrick, for his part, describes agent Doggett as a Dirty Harry-type hero, who is 'pretty confident in himself' and 'not seeking approval from anybody.' He tells the Times: 'The beauty of the show is that Doggett is now going to be confronting all sorts of things that are not normal. I'm going to be relying on Scully to sort of help me understand things and yet I will also do my detective work and present her with facts.' Sound familiar?

Carter likes the fact that Patrick has 'tremendous intensity about him and there is a lean, dangerous quality to him, too. It translates so beautifully on screenthose piercing eyes and that gravely voice serve to make the character believable and also different from Mulder.' You can say that again.

JUST 'QUARK'-ING AROUND

Some people think Quark is the name of a neato desktop publishing and graphic design computer program. Some of us who were born before the advent of the Playstation 2 remember Quark, a short-lived sci-fi comedy series that ran from February to April 1978 on NBC (you know, right after Star Wars, Close Encounters, Battlestar Galactica and all that), and featured Richard Benjamin as a space-age garbage man who patrolled the cosmos picking up trash. Fortunately, the folks at TV Guide online (www.tvguide.com) remember it, too. Quark is one of the programs featured in 'What Were They Thinking?'a new feature on their Website profiling really, really bad TV shows from the past. Quark also featured Richard Kelton as a human vegetable, as well as Henry Silva and Conrad Janis.

ROSWELL 101

Surf over to the WB Network Website (www.wbnetwork.com) to check out the new Roswell.s1 (that's code for the Roswell Season One Episode Guide). In addition to the usual synopsis of each episode from last season, it includes talking-head video interviews with series creator Jason Katims, commenting and giving behind-the-scenes details on each episode for a few minutes. For example: ''Tess, Lies and Videotape' was supposed to be where we were going to get to at the end of the season. The original plan was, we were going to reveal the fourth alien, and that was going to be the season finale. And then, because we were encouraged to accelerate the storyline, it happened in this episode, so that we would get to play out a little bit more of what that meant to our characters.'

THIS WEEK'S EPISODES

As always, with synopses culled straight from the official source:

Roswell: 'Max in the City' (WB, Monday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central) - 'Feeling betrayed by Isabel (Katherine Heigl), Max (Jason Behr) leaves Roswell to attend the interstellar summit in New York City with the duplicate versions of Michael (Brendan Fehr) and Isabel who have a very different agenda in mind for the future king.'

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: 'Listening to Fear' (WB, Tuesday @ 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7 p.m. Central) - 'As Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) help their mother (Kristine Sutherland) prepare for brain surgery, a creepy extra-terrestrial demon becomes fixated on an increasingly disoriented Joyce and infiltrates the Summers' home.'

Dark Angel: 'Cold Comfort' (FOX, Tuesday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central) - 'The hunter becomes the prey as Max and Zack go after Lydecker for kidnapping one of their own. When a fellow bio-synth (Nicole Bilderback) is abducted en route to a private pow-wow with Zack (William Gregory Lee), Max and her militant brother-in-arms fear Lydecker is to blame. But when they ambush him at a secret meeting of his own, the kids realize that, while their hostage is innocent (this time), he does know who has their friend...and why. And as the trio forms an unholy alliance to save the girl from a mutual enemy, one of them makes a false move that puts them all in mortal jeopardy.'

Angel: 'The Trial' (WB, Tuesday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central) - 'Angel (David Boreanaz) is still haunted by flashbacks of his 150-year love affair with Darla (guest star Julie Benz) and has Gunn (J. August Richards) help track her down, but he soon discovers that he is faced with an impossible choice: watch her die from a terminal illness or use his dark powers to turn her back into a vampire and give her eternal life.'

Charmed: 'Be Careful What You Witch For' (WB, Thursday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central) - 'Tired of losing countless warlocks and demons to the powerful Charmed Ones, an Infernal Council sends a fast-talking genie (guest star French Stewart, 3rd Rock From the Sun) to destroy the Power of Three by granting each sister a wish. Prue's (Shannen Doherty) wish for the thrill of first love turns her into a rebellious 17-year-old; Phoebe's (Alyssa Milano) wish for an active power gives her the ability to fly; while Piper's (Holly Marie Combs) wish that Dan (Greg Vaughan) get over her turns him into an old man.'

Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: 'Heart Of The Matter' (WB, Friday @ 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7 p.m. Central) - 'When Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) realizes she has been turning down guys right and left since her break-up, she casts a spell to turn herself into a dating machine. Blind Date host Roger Lodge guest-stars as himself.' Followed by a repeat, 'You Can't Twin.'

Futurama: 'The Cryonic Woman' (FOX, Sunday @ 7 p.m.) - 'After a prank gets Fry, Leela and Bender fired, Fry lucks into a job that reunites him with his previously frozen 20th-century girlfriend, who suggests they go somewhere quieter, like the year 4000. Kath Soucie, Tress MacNeille, David Herman.'

X-Files: 'Invocation' (FOX, Sunday @ 9 p.m.) - 'Ten years to the day he disappeared into thin air, a seven-year-old boy returns to his point of departuresurprisingly unaged.'

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