MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM‘s second season (S1 review here) has our three cadets (Abigail, daughter of a proud military family; Tally, more innocent and very good-hearted; and Raelle, the rebel) come back from last season’s battle with the witch-hating Camarilla changed: Raelle’s tapped new powers she doesn’t understand and Tally’s having flashes of what turn out to be the origin of the anti-military terrorist group the Spree. General Adler is playing hardball, Raelle’s ex-girlfriend Scylla and her mother are waging war on the Camarilla but the Camarilla has plans of its own …
Set in a world where witchcraft is part of military service, this kept up the quality of the first season, though Scylla’s murderous past gets kind of hand-waved. I’m kind of glad next season will wrap things up, rather than going until they run out of steam or getting cut off before resolution like so many shows. “He’s a safety school with a penis.”
I didn’t watch the entire first season of THE X-FILES for Alien Visitors as only the ET episodes are relevant to the book (and I simply don’t have time to watch the whole thing). The story of brilliant profiler Fox “Spooky” Mulder and equally brilliant physicist/MD Dr. Dana Scully (David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson) investigating everything from mutant serial killers to alien abductions is probably just as familiar to y’all as it is to me. Even so, it’s a shock to realize just how much of a game-changer this series was.
As I’ve discussed elsewhere, X-Files injects the political cynicism of the Watergate era into TV and gives us a world where government can’t be trusted. Key players in the FBI are actively working to cover up the government’s knowledge of UFOs and aliens on Earth (the Cigarette Smoking Man played by William B. Davis is the face of the conspiracy). Mulder has a contact, Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) — see the Watergate influence? — but is he on the level or just playing some game with Mulder?
More than that, the concept of a show with an elaborate mythology that develops over time and mysteries that takes months or years to unravel makes this show the godfather to 24, Lost and Manifest. Which is part of why I never really cottoned to it; when Mulder rants to Deep Throat about playing games — only throwing him little pieces of information and holding most of the truth back — it’s almost a metacommentary on X-Files and Lost. Though obviously I’m in a minority in not being into the show, and that’s okay — it wasn’t for me but I don’t begrudge it it’s success (though if it had run shorter, my work on the book would be easier).
And I should note that Scully remains a groundbreaking character. Even though she’s usually wrong about what they’re going up against she remains as smart and competent as Mulder and doesn’t back down on her skepticism. As Foz Meadows says, the show let Gillian Anderson dress in unremarkable jackets and blazers rather than looking fashionable because that’s the kind of woman Scully is. The Scully/Mulder dynamic had its influence on later shows too, for example the leads of The 4400. “How can I deny things that are stamped with an official seal?”
The second season of PEOPLE OF EARTH wrapped up in 2017 on a cliffhanger and wasn’t renewed, but up until that point it was as fun as the first season. The realization they were all abducted together brings the Starcrossed therapy group back together but now they have special agent Foster (Nasim Pedrad) breathing down their neck to find Jonathan. Meanwhile, an AI takes over the ship leaving Jeff, Don and Jonathan all hating him and having second thoughts about this whole invasion business. I am a little puzzled why they wrote Ozzie (Wyatt Cenac) out mid-season but as it’s clearly positioned for him to return, I guess it was a schedule conflict, health issue or the like. Streaming on Hulu if you get the itch to check it out. “Don’t you dare use my favorite musical against me!”
TV producer Aaron Spelling was, as many critics have pointed out, not an artist, just a guy who turned out tons of glossy soap opera for entertainment. It’s true, but watching the new revival of FANTASY ISLAND just reminds me how very, very good at glossy soap opera Spelling was. Where Mr. Roarke ruled a world-class luxury resort, the island his niece and heir Elena (Roselyn Sånchez) ran in the first episode feels closer to a chain motel. Nor do the creators have Spelling’s way with a slick storyline. That said, I may pick it up once all that X-Files viewing is done … but more likely not. “I’m offering an opportunity to be brave.”
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