I’ve recently been rewatching a few old television favourites and it’s become clear to me that the shows I tend to invest in usually have a strong couple at their heart. Some of these are friendships, some are more than that and others morph over time from one to the other. I’m still considering my list of ultimate TV friendships (watch this space), but in the spirit of it being Valentine’s Day, I’m starting with my favourite television couples.
Of course, everyone’s list will be personal, so I’m sure there will be couples I’ve missed who you would choose, so feel free to let me know your choices in the comments! It also goes without saying that this post will contain spoilers for the shows referenced.
Fox Mulder & Dana Scully (The X-Files)
To me, Mulder and Scully will always be the ultimate television couple. It was a relationship that grew from their strong friendship and over the years of the series I loved seeing how much respect and love these two amazing characters had for each other. It bubbled under the surface, but never detracted from the series itself and even 20 years later, the incredible chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson remains as powerful as ever. The magic the two of them share does not come around very often and as yet, has not been beaten. You can read more of my thoughts on these two here.
Harvey Specter & Donna Paulsen (Suits)
I know some people may argue against the inclusion of Harvey and Donna in a couples list, but their relationship has developed so much recently, that I find it impossible not to see them as meant to be, even if they are not quite there yet! Over the last six seasons we have seen their deeply-rooted friendship grow. Yes, they’ve already been lovers once, but they share so much more than that. Sarah Rafferty and Gabriel Macht have a chemistry that is rare on television and I’m sure their long-standing friendship has added to the fabric of Harvey and Donna’s relationship. These characters wouldn’t be so wonderful on screen were they portrayed by anyone else. As with Mulder and Scully, this is certainly a slow burn, but surely these two have to end up together?!
Josh Lyman & Donna Moss (The West Wing)
I clearly enjoy the slow burn relationships don’t I, as here is yet another one! From the start of Aaron Sorkin’s political drama I always loved the banter between the Deputy Chief of Staff and his assistant and as the series progressed, their wonderful bond became more apparent. Thanks to Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney’s on screen connection, any other relationships each character had just never seemed quite as special as the one they shared together. Josh may have been the political player, but it became clear how much he relied on Donna and when she left to pursue her own ambitions, it gave him the push to pursue his new path and when they did finally get together it didn’t overshadow the series, as by then it was the logical and natural next step.
Alicia Florrick & Will Gardner (The Good Wife)
I still feel incredibly sad when I think about this ill-fated pair, but there was no way they wouldn’t feature on my list, as they are probably the hottest and most moving couple on TV. The attraction between Will and Alicia was clear from the very beginning (in no large part down to the chemistry between Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies) and along with many fans of the series, I had my fingers crossed for their future. They clearly loved one another and Alicia should probably have picked Will before she ever married her dreadful husband. The time they were together treated us to some of the steamiest scenes on television (here’s one for the uninitiated) as well as some of the most emotional, but sadly it wasn’t to be, with Will being tragically killed in series five (something I still wish the internet hadn’t ruined for me in advance). It was an event I never expected, which still makes me reach for the tissues. The fact their love was cut short in such an cruel way makes their whole story all the more powerful and is probably the couple that has moved me the most on television.
Temperance Brennan & Seeley Booth (Bones)
Bones is a series I’ve missed over the last few years and I’m slowly playing catch up, but what was clear from day one was the chemistry between David Boreanaz’s Booth and Emily Deschanel’s Brennan. I have only reached series eight (the final season 12 is airing now), but what I enjoy most about this series is how the writers were able to transition the characters from friends, to lovers, to marriage and children. It has enabled fans to see their relationship grow in a more mature and realistic way, which is something other shows could learn from.
The Doctor & Rose Tyler (Doctor Who)
Since it’s return in 2005 Doctor Who has seen some wonderful partnerships on board the TARDIS. However, there is one that touched the hearts of many fans of the series and that was the love between David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler. Yes, nothing ever happened between them, but their bond was never in doubt and their heartbreaking farewell on Bad Wolf Bay was a classic moment that certainly made me shed some tears.
Kevin Walker & Scotty Wandell (Brothers & Sisters)
There were many relationships within Brothers & Sisters, but for me the most heartfelt and believable one was that between Kevin and Scotty (played brilliantly by Matthew Rhys and Luke MacFarlane). Through all the Walker family turmoil, they were a breath of fresh air with their loving relationship. They weren’t free from problems (most notably Scotty’s affair), but loved each other enough not to throw their relationship away.
Buffy Summers & Spike (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
Some may be surprised that the relationship on my list from Buffy is not the one between Buffy and Angel! Yes, theirs was one of the core elements of the series in the early years, but Buffy and Spike’s short-lived relationship was the one that has always interested me the most. When you think about it (and leave aside the undead aspect!), they were a far better match for each other. Perhaps it was the fact Buffy was older than the teenager who fell for Angel, but her connection with Spike came across as a more mature one. They knew each other’s faults and accepted them anyway and some of the scenes between James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Geller in those later episodes remain some of my favourites.
Doug Ross & Carol Hathaway (E.R)
E.R remains my favourite medical series (more on that here) and although it had some lovely relationships during its 15 years, one always stood above the rest and that was the love affair between Doug and Carol. The fact it became so iconic in the 90s (and was the first big break for each of George Clooney and Julianna Margulies) is more impressive when you think that Carol wasn’t even meant to survive the pilot episode. They went through ups and downs, split up and got back together more than once, but you couldn’t help but root for them and the icing on the cake was Clooney’s surprise return for the last few moments of the episode which saw Carol leave Chicago behind for the love of her life.
Chuck Bass & Blaire Waldorf (Gossip Girl)
Chuck and Blaire were the best schemers in Gossip Girl, manipulating situations and characters to their advantage and there were many times when I really couldn’t stand them! However, the writers created something very clever in their relationship. Despite their underhanded behaviour, they seemed to bring out the best in each other, which in turn changed my perception of them and thanks to the acting talents of Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester they became my favourite characters in the show. Had they not ended up together I’d have been thoroughly disappointed.
Carrie Bradshaw & Mr. Big (Sex And The City)
The Mr.Big debate was a big one during Sex And The City’s run, with fans divided as to whether Carrie should end up with him or not. He may have been an idiot for the majority of the show, but I was always of the view that deep down they were soul mates. Despite all the pain and hurt, they always seemed to come back to one another and he would do anything for her. I also loved the fun they seemed to have and Chris Noth and Sarah Jessica Parker sparkled in their scenes together.
Sydney Bristow & Michael Vaughn (Alias)
J.J Abrams’s spy drama was a highlight of American television at the time of its original run and the will they won’t they dynamic of Sydney and Vaughn captured the hearts of its fans (including me). Yes, there were some utterly bonkers plot developments along the way, including Vaughn’s faked death, but Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan always ensured the relationship between Sydney and Vaughn was genuinely lovely to watch right until the end.
Ross Poldark & Demelza (Poldark)
Yes, Aidan Turner’s torso has generated a great deal of attention since Poldark was brought back to our screens in 2015, but the best character in my view is the fiery Demelza, superbly played by Eleanor Tomlinson and their romance is what keeps me tuning in each week. They may be from different backgrounds, but they are undoubtably stronger together and do truly belong together. I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead in series three after the ups and downs of the last series.
Lizzie Bennet & Mr Darcy (BBC, Pride & Prejudice)
Colin Firth may be a successful Oscar-winning actor, but he’ll always be best known for his iconic portrayal of Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. The British public fell under his spell and that of his counterpart Jennifer Ehle. In my opinion, they created the definitive Lizzie and Darcy and every scene they had together sparkled, making them one of the TV couples of the 90s in Britain.
Ianto Jones and Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood)
The relationship between Captain Jack (John Barrowman) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) in Torchwood was hugely important for British television and remains one of my favourites of recent years. What was lovely about the pairing was that they may have been very different personalities, but were in fact perfectly suited. They were playful, affectionate and stood by each other through all the crazy happenings in their lives and Ianto’s emotional death in Children Of Earth was heartbreaking for fans of the show. We felt his loss as much as Captain Jack. Heck, does any other fictional character have a shrine like Ianto’s in Cardiff?!
So, those are my top fifteen television couples. I look forward to hearing about who you would choose!
Despite being ahead thanks to US iTunes, as a loyal X-Files fan based in the UK, I thought I’d save my reviews until the episodes air here. Tonight saw episode two arrive on Channel 5 and in my view it’s an improvement on the season opener, seeing Mulder and Scully back out in the field investigating a brand new strange case.
Founder’s Mutation is a standalone-style paranormal mystery of the week, which always proved so popular in the earlier seasons. The mysterious apparent suicide of a scientist brings Mulder and Scully to the crime scene, freshly suited and booted for a new stint as the FBI’s most unwanted. What unfolds is a case involving a strange piercing noise that seems to affect anyone at any moment and mutations on young children, possibly the result of genetic manipulation by scientists, the latter bringing to the surface our favourite duos’ own feelings about the child they gave away, one who may or may not not have had unique abilities.
The episode works well in tackling both a standalone case and the overarching backstory of Mulder and Scully, in this case focusing on William. James Wong (who together with Glen Morgan was behind so many classic X-Files) manages to fit both threads together in a way that doesn’t feel forced and is able to move the overall Mulder and Scully relationship forwards without compromising the mood and tone of the case they are investigating. This is no easy task and in my view works very well here, especially when compared to episode four, which attempts to do something similar (more on that in a fortnight).
For avid long-term fans of the show, Founder’s Mutation has some great Easter egg moments – we have the actress who played Scully’s therapist Karen Kosseff in seasons two and four (Irresistible, The Calusari & Elegy if you were wondering) playing a nun, the return of the glorious torches, a mysterious government suit sitting in the background in Skinner’s office and a witty wink to the show’s most well known catchphrase. We also get an insight in to how each of our lead characters feel abut the loss of their son and what their deepest fears are about what could have happened to him, each clearly influenced by their own experiences. Despite this sad tone however, there are also touching moments of what could have been, as we see the parents they wished they had been if things been different.
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have so easily slipped back in to these characters and the partnership between Mulder and Scully is as if they had never left the basement. There is the witty banter, the intellectual back and forth and the deep bond, which always burns off the screen. You really cannot imagine them apart, personally or professionally. Yet they have also grown as people and bring to the screen a credible version of who these characters are 15 years later. One of the things I’m most happy about when watching this revival is that their individual characters, as well as their partnership, feel very true to the Mulder and Scully we knew and loved in the 90’s. Things have changed and yet things have stayed the same too. It was always going to be a tough balance to strike, but it’s one I believe the writers and actors have succeeded in getting right.
Adding to the mood of there series as usual is Mark Snow’s eerie and atmospheric score, so distinct to The X-Files that is feels as if it’s an additional character. This story enables him to deliver some creepy pieces, as well as some more emotional beats when touching on the William arc.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. It’s not a classic, but it delivers an interesting case, some creepy moments and pushes Mulder and Scully’s relationship forward during this new phase of their lives. Hopefully it will highlight to newcomers to the show that it was always about more than just aliens and that there are always going to more files in the basement office that need investigating.
I can’t say it any better than Skinner himself says in this episode: “Welcome back you two.” Well said Skinner, well said.
The X-Files series 10 continues next Monday on Channel 5 with Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster. Make sure you tune in, as in my view it’s the best of the series so far. Series 1-9 are available to stream on Amazon Prime and all the usual stockists.
The X-Files is back! I admit as a fan since the age of 12 I never thought I’d get to write that again let alone review a new series! Thanks to an American friend with a US iTunes account, I’ve been able to start watching the series before it airs here in the UK. The fact it is still yet to air here (starts 8th February) or Germany, two of its strongest fanbases originally, still seems crazy to me, but next week UK viewers will finally be able to tune in on Channel 5 and continue the search for the truth.
As I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to start watching already, I thought it was time to review the three episodes aired so far, starting with the series premiere. If you’ve yet to watch, then be warned there will be spoilers.
My Struggle is a traditional mythology story to kickstart series 10. Written by Chris Carter, it’s a bit ridiculous and in my view the weakest of the first three episodes. It is however, an enjoyable reintroduction to the finest partnership on television (for more of my thoughts on that click here) and the basis on which the subsequent stronger stories can be built. My message then? Don’t give up if you don’t enjoy episode one!
Where are they in 2016? Still where they were at the end of the last (somewhat disappointing) film – Scully is still a doctor, assisting at a hospital with complex surgeries on young children and Mulder is still holed up in the little house we found him in the last time we saw him. The catalyst for bringing them back on to the investigative track is a call from Skinner, informing them that a internet/tv conspiracy theorist is keen to talk to Mulder, who of course refuses to go without Scully joining in the fun.
The said conspiracy theorist Ted O’Malley has some out there ideas about the government’s involvement in a greater conspiracy and over the course of the story manages to change Mulder’s beliefs yet again and refuel his desire to find out the truth once and for all. The latest mythology strand is back to the government, not aliens, being behind it all and it is them who wish to destroy mankind as we know it, not little green/grey men or super soldiers (although their reason is unclear, or at least it was to me!). I admit over the years it’s taken a lot of concentration to keep track of the mythology and it seems this complex web is clearly set to continue.
The vital puzzle piece in the story is a young woman, Sveta, who was apparently taken and tested on by the government. She, Mulder says, is the key (so the new Gibson Praise then). However, who she is and her part in the search for the truth is perhaps a bigger mystery than Mulder realises.
Overall, I enjoyed many aspects of this episode, but it also frustrated me as well. Acting-wise, David Duchovny effortlessly steps back in to Mulder’s shoes and I realised just how much I’d missed him. He’s still paranoid (taping over the webcam on his laptop), but seems to no longer know what he believes. The episode at least gives him the spark to get back to work. Gillian Anderson is just as brilliant as ever as Scully (although the wig drove me mad). Older and wiser, she clearly misses her work with Mulder and is still the equal to him on the screen. Their characters may have separated in the romantic sense when we meet them again but, crucially their chemistry is just as electric as ever and there was always so much more to their relationship than romance. It was always the show’s finest element and that’s certainly the case in this story. It’s also wonderful to have Mitch Pileggi back as Skinner (still an A.D after all these years, the poor guy) and I hope he continues to pop up over the series.
The visual effects are better then ever thanks to the modern technology available. The UFO crash in the teaser looks great and seeing Mulder up close with an ARV (alien replica vehicle) is quite a thrill. There is also the return of Mark Snow’s eerie musical tones, underscoring the scenes just as perfectly as before. Plus I loved that they have reinstated the original title sequence with the 1993 badges for David and Gillian and simply added Mitch in. It gives the series a classic feel, which will no doubt make long-term fans happy.
However, there were weak aspects to this story. Ted O’Malley (played by Joel McHale) is a rather two-dimensional character, who I found an unlikely catalyst for bringing the duo back to work and felt weak against the two of them. Would Skinner really have taken this man seriously enough to contact the agents about meeting him? The scene in which he and Mulder set out the latest conspiracy theory does feel incredibly far fetched too. Yes, I know this is part and parcel of the show, but I preferred earlier arcs where things didn’t seem quite as OTT. Also when Mulder returns to his office the cases are meant to still be there. Really? After 14 years? Then there is Scully’s revelation about her genetic makeup – surely she would have run such tests before, after all she’s been through? I find it surprising to know that she hasn’t.
By the end of the episode The X-Files are open again, with Mulder and Scully back on the FBI payroll running them. I’m sceptical the events of this episode would have resulted in the reopening of a division of the FBI. Plus would our duo be able to just walk back in to their old jobs years later? This is where Carter’s writing is a bit lightweight for me, with so many unlikely elements that stand out, but I suppose ultimately we’re not meant to care about the how – the fact is the basement office is back open for business and after watching episodes two and three (reviews to follow), I can safely say it only gets better from here.
Yes, “My Struggle” is a little silly and doesn’t make complete sense, but it’s an enjoyable hour in which the key strands of the show are reintroduced, old characters re-established (who didn’t love seeing the CSM at the end like old times?!) and a new course is set for the remaining stories to be built on. From what I have already seen the show is still more than capable of brining both creepy and comedic classics to the screen. Welcome back Agents – I have truly missed you and can’t wait to see where the journey takes us next!
The X-Files begins in the UK on 8th February on Channel 5 at 9 p.m. Even if you’ve already watched it, tune in to get its ratings as strong as the US to show there is still an audience for the show here! If you’ve yet to see it enjoy (and even if episode one seems silly, stick with it, as so far the rest have been fantastic)! For a flavour here’s a trailer.
After looking back at my television highlights of 2015, it’s time to look at what television treats we can expect in 2016. There are exciting dramas returning to the screen, as well as some new offerings which I’m curious to try. So, here are my top choices of programmes to tune in to this year. As I’m in the UK, this list refers to dates and channels on which the shows will be aired here (if known).
The X-Files (Channel 5 – early February)
Anyone who knows me will have expected nothing else to be top of my teleevision choices list for 2016! The X-Files was my first addiction and would probably still be my category if I were ever to go on Mastermind. Therefore, it’s fantastic that it is returning to our screens, albeit for only six episodes. With David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson back in such iconic roles, Chris Carter back at the helm and stories also from Glen Morgan, James Wong and Darin Morgan, this is already very promising. I sincrely hope this delivers for all the fans, but also pulls some new viewers in too. Remember, The Truth is Still Out There!
The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (BBC Two)
In the hope this would air in 2015, this was also on last year’s list, but we can expect the second series of the BBC’s Hollow Crown some time in the next few months. Entitled The Wars of the Roses, this captures Henry VI and Richard III, with some of Britain’s brightest acting talent involved. Alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard, there’s Dame Judi Dench, Sophie Okenedo, Andrew Scott, Tom Sturridge and Michael Gambon to name but a few. If the quality is as high as the first series (recommended if you missed it), then we are in for a treat.
Happy Valley (BBC One)
I came late to Happy Valley in 2014, but it impressed me almost immediately, with Sarah Lancashire playing such a strong and complicated character as Catherine Cawood. After the traumatic events of the first series, it will be interesting to see what writer Sally Wainwright has in mind for her next. I’m sure it will prove to be just as exciting and engaging as before and especially when the teaser trailer just released includes James Norton as the awful Tommy Lee Royce!
Line of Duty (BBC One)
Line of Duty quickly became a success (with help from social media fuelling interest) and with two strong series, both with separate stories, the possibilities are endless of Jed Mercurio’s drama. After focussing on Lennie James’s Tony Gates in series one and Keeley Hawes’s superb multi-faceted performance as Lindsay Denton in series two, the bar has been set very high for the next instalment. With Vicky McClure and Martin Compton being joined by Daniel Mays and Will Mellor, I’m already very excited to see this and will be going to a BAFTA preview screening of episode one on 8th February, so we can expect this some time in the near future.
Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic, 25th April)
Although the last series was a bit of a mixed bag (but made up for with Hardhome!), I’ll always look forward to my return to Westeros. Now that we are in uncharted territory, with the majority of characters past book positions, anything could happen in series six and in a show where no one is safe, that is very exciting indeed. Filming photos suggest there will be some wonderful sequences in the new series and I’m looking forward to finally moving forward with the story (seeing as who knows when we’ll get book six from Mr Martin)!
James Norton will be back on our screens again for the second series of Grantchester, in which he plays the lovely vicar, turned detective Sydney Chambers, in stories based on the novels by James Runcie (the opposite end of the spectrum to his character in Happy Valley thank goodness). This was a lovely drama when it aired in 2014, with some interesting charcater relationships and a great partnership in James Norton and Robson Green. Anyone mourning the end of Lewis can take comfort in this series as a worthy replacement.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix, 15th April)
I admit to being a person who prefers dramas to comedies, on both film and television, but after two friends raved about this Netflix series last year, curiosity got the better of me and I’m so pleased that it did. You cannot fail to warm to the ever optimistic, innocently naive Kimmy Schmidt, as she adjust to life in the real world after 15 years spent in an underground bunker. The scripts are witty and sharp, the characters are fun (who doesn’t love Tituss Burgess’s loveable Titus Andromedon!) and the acting is very good indeed. If you haven’t been tempted yet, give it a go – I guarantee you’ll be humming the theme tune all day.
The Crown (Netflix)
“Two houses, two courts, one Crown.” The first trailer for this upcoming, ambitious new Netflix series has just been released (see above) and it looks very promising. The Crown will chart the two key istitutions of Britain – the monarchy and the government, from the 1950s onwards. Written by Stephen Daldry (writer of the acclaimed play The Audience), with a huge £100 million budget and starring some excellent actors, particularly Claire Foy as the young Elizabeth II (last seen playing Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall), Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Alex Jennings as Prince Edward, Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret and John Lithgow as Churchill, this could be a historical drama to rival the BBC if the quality is there.
Queen Victoria (ITV)
Staying on the historical theme, ITV will later this year be casting a light on the young Queen Victoria in their new eight part drama series. Fresh from her time on Doctor Who, Jenna Coleman is the young Victoria, as the series charts her life from accession at 18, through to her marriage to Prince Albert. It has a fantastic cast including Tom Hughes (as Prince Albert), Rufus Sewell, Peter Firth, Eve Myles and Nigel Lindsay. I still really only know about Queen Victoria’s later life and reign and therefore I’m looking forward to seeing a new aspect of her story.
House of Cards (Netflix, 4th March)
Everyone loves Frank Underwood right? Or is too scared not to?! In the series which undoubtedly helped Netflix become the success it is now, Kevin Spacey has become so iconic in this role and his partnership with Robyn Wright is always glorious to watch. Now occupying the Oval Office, it will be interesting exactly what lies in store for them in the next series.
Death in Paradise (BBC One – started Thursday 7th January)
Another heart-warming and fun series that blows away the winter blues is Death In Paradise, which returned this week. I didn’t see the first two series, but as a fan of the lovely Kris Marshall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Humphrey settle in to island life. How can anyone not love him?! It’s fun, entertaining and is Sherlock Holmes on a tropical island, as Humphrey seemingly solves murders using clues that no one else can see. Yes, your parents may watch it, but so what? This is a brilliant winter tonic!
The Night Manager (BBC One)
Coming soon in 2016 is this six-part adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel, in which a former British soldier (Tom Hiddleston) is recruited by intelligence agent Burr (Olivia Colman) to infiltrate the arms trade being run by Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie). I haven’t read the book, but I love a good spy thriller and with such a strong British cast I have high hopes for this series.
Undercover (BBC One)
As a fan of the BBC’s legal drama Silk, it’s wonderful that its creator Peter Moffat has a new series coming this year. Sophie Okenedo leads the show as the first black Director of Public Prosecutions, who discovers her husband (Adrian Lester) has been lying to her for years. I’m intrigued enough to tune in!
In the Pipeline / Awaiting a UK network…..
I always enjoyed Prison Break, although admittedly the first series was certainly the best. News that it is the next show to be revived is a bit of a surprise, but I’ll tune in to see what direction the story takes next. I believe it will be set as though the finale (in which we said farewell to one character for good) didn’t occur. After watching them act together in The Flash it’ll be great to see Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell back in the roles they are most famous for.
Of Kings & Prophets (starts in the US on 8th March on ABC)
I imagine the makers of this new biblical series are hoping it’ll attract the same audience as Game of Thrones. Its success will depend on whether it’s decent and can attract an audience fast enough. The pilot has already been partly recast and reshot, but the trailer looks promising. With established actors including Ray Winstone (as Saul, King of Israel) and Nathaniel Parker, hopefully the acting quality will be strong. For me though the biggest attraction is its young, male lead, playing David (as in David vs. Goliath, future King of Israel) Oliver Rix. He was Aumerle to David Tennant’s Richard II in 2013 for the RSC and proved what a fantatstic actor he is. I hope this does well (but doesn’t keep Oli away from the stage for too long)!
Damian Lewis is back on television is this new US series, playing hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, who is trying to be brought down by US Attorney Chuck Rhoades (played by Paul Giamatti). Having just started in the US on Showtime, I’ll be keeping an eye how this series is received. Given the pull of the two stars, if it is successful hopefully it’ll soon appear here in the UK.
His Dark Materials (BBC One)
I’m quite excited by the prospect of the BBC adapting Philip Pullman’s popular trilogy of books in to a series, especially after the success of last year’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Admittedly, this may not make it on to our screens until next year, but just in case, I wanted to include it here, as I’m sure it will prove to be a wonderful series for all the family, whether a fan of the books or not.
So those are the shows I’m most excited about watching in 2016 from the ones we know about this early on in the year. Who knows what else could be coming to our screens over the next 12 months! Feel free to let me know what you will be watching. I’m always looking for recommendations!
I’ve very much been in a nostalgic mood recently and no finer example of this is my revisiting of my favourite television series, returning with six new episodes in January 2016. I’ve already discussed on this blog why I loved the show so much and my favourite episodes, as well as talking about my most memorable moments between, in my opinion, the greatest TV partnership. Something else that has been very obvious during my recent viewings of the series is the power and importance of the musical score of The X-Files.
Written throughout the series and the two films by composer Mark Snow, it has a very distinct sound, which became ingrained in the fabric of the series and also a vital part of its atmosphere, tone and mood. The series was always meant to be a little out there and needed to have music which matched its various tones – whether myth arc conspiracies, creepy monsters of the week or more emotional, personal stories centring on the lives of the characters we had grown to know so well. Mark Snow scores all of this brilliantly.
Recently his music has been able to be appreciated all over again by X-Philes with the release of two volumes (4 CDs in each) of his wonderful music from the series by La La Records, each selling out very quickly (although you can still locate copies on the web if you keep looking). A re-release of the score to the first film is however still available (see the link at the end to buy). It’s been fantastic to listen to the music on its own and realise just how much certain moments in the series are linked to the music that accompanied them.
Fans are already chatting about what music they’d like to see in a further third volume (come on La La Records, you know you want to!) and it’s made me consider which musical score moments from 202 episodes and 2 films have stood out for me. So, as we await those new stories and new music from Mark to accompany them, here are my favourite pieces of Mark Snow’s X-Files score. I’d love to hear what other fans have on their lists and what they would love to hear on a third CD volume if we are lucky enough to get one.
1. Ending from Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (series 3)
This is a fairly surreal episode by fan favourite Darin Morgan (hard to believe he only actually wrote four episodes!), but more than anything I love the music written for the final few minutes. It’s a genuinely beautiful piece of music, which is able to be both melancholy and hopeful at the same time. This is a very distinctive musical piece from the series and it’s no surprise it was included on the first volume of music released.
2. Scully remembers her sister in Piper Maru (series 3)
This is only a short music cue from Piper Maru, but it’s always been one that I’ve remembered and I was thrilled to see it included on volume 1 (within the track “Back In The Hood”). As Scully returns to the naval base she grew up on, we see her remember happy childhood times playing hopscotch with her sister. With Melissa’s death still very recent, this moment is very touching and this cue from Mark Snow truly adds to the emotional depth of the scene.
3. Dark revelations in Grotesque (series 3)
Grotesque is one of the series’s most chilling episodes and required a darker, more disturbing musical background to enhance the atmosphere we were seeing on screen. Mark’s loud, intense score, heavy on the piano and its relentless pounding is absolutely perfect to depict the frightening events of the story as the viewers start to worry that Mulder may have truly fallen over the edge of sanity.
4. Home Again (I Want To Believe)
Although it disappointed me in many ways, the music for the second film I Want To Believe was not one of them and Mark Snow proved that years later he was still perfect at capturing the magic of Mulder and Scully (and indeed David and Gillian) on screen. The stand out piece for me has to be what is effectively their love theme from the film, captured in “Home Again.” It’s a beautiful piece of music, full of love and emotion and marks this deeper connection now shared between them.
5. On a bridge between life and death for Scully in One Breath (series 2)
One Breath was bound to be in here somewhere as it’s my favourite episode and it’s another which highlights the variety of music needed over the course of the series. Unlike darker, moodier music such as for Grotesque, the music for One Breath needed to be more delicate, in order to reflect Scully’s fragile life and how close she was to death. Mark Snow’s score is very touching and feels, in parts, rather spiritual and I particularly love the music chosen for scenes in which Scully sits in her boat, which at any point could be set adrift. Thankfully volume 1 of the CD collection has captured this score in both “Reanimation” and “Guardian Angel”.
6. Unwavering love and friendship in Momento Mori (series 4)
Momento Mori is one of those episodes that always manages to bring a tear to my eye and remains, for me, one of the finest hours of the series. It’s certainly some of Gillian Anderson’s best work (in the year she deservedly won an Emmy) and this scene at the end of the episode, in which she deals with Penny’s death by resolving to come back to work as she has things to finish, is truly wonderful and contains one of the series’s most emotional and heartbreaking pieces of music. The fact this has yet to be released on the CDs surely means a 3rd volume is a necessity?!
7. Sweeping conspiracies in Gethsemane and emotional depths in Redux (series 4 & 5)
The music of the fourth series finale and indeed the start of series 5 has always stayed fresh in my head and for me is one of the most memorable sections of score written for the show. These episodes were quite epic in story, both on a myth-arc level, as Mulder searches to prove the ultimate proof of a governmental deception and on a personal level, as Scully’s cancer seems to finally be too strong for her. Mark’s music is very impressive, with grand, sweeping sections, moving seamlessly through to the more fragile moments. Although most of the music from Gethsemane and Redux has been captured on volume 2, I was sad that the beautiful short cue from Redux II, played as Mulder visits a sleeping Scully was left out. Surely this is another must-add piece for a third volume?!
8. Beware Eugene Victor Tooms! (series 1)
Tooms remains one of the most memorable and indeed terrifying characters of the series and the music written by Mark in his two episodes was fantastic. With brilliant use of plucked strings and synth, he truly conveys an eeriness that was essential to the effect the episodes were designed to have on the audience. The creepy music from the beginning of Tooms, when we are within the Druid Hill, stands out for me as being some of the most frightening music on film or television (captured on volume 2’s release). It’s a perfect example of how crucial music is to something – no matter how well written and acted, I think Squeeze and Tooms would not have had the same impact without Mark’s score.
9. Maybe there’s Hope in The Truth Part 2 (series 9)
It was a sad day when The X-Files came to an end and the final scene of the series was a lovely way to end the show. It left Mulder and Scully with hope for the future, one that saw them reunited and stronger together. Mark Snow’s delicate music, with echoes of the main theme within it was a lovely way to say goodbye to our favourite FBI agents and no doubt brought a tear to the eye of many fans when they first watched it.
10. At the crossroads (Fight The Future)
The release of the first feature film was an exciting event and Mark Snow created a grand score to accompany this big screen outing. I could have picked a number of pieces, but I’ve always loved the piece of score that accompanied the scene in which Mulder and Scully drive across country after the tanker trucks and instead of going left or right, drive straight ahead in to the barren wasteland.
11. The influence of the Navejo (Anasazi trilogy, series 2 and 3)
In what for me is the strongest mythology multi-part story of the whole series, there is the strong influence of the Indian tribe and their ancient traditions. Mark Snow did a great job of creating a score for the episodes that managed to capture this within the sound, giving the episodes a fresh and distinct sound. It’s such an intrinsic part of this story that you can see the moments in your mind as you listen to it.
12. Little Box of Sand (Emily, series 5)
The season five two-parter which revealed the existence of little Emily as Scully’s daughter is one of the most poignant stories. You had a sense that this could never have a happy ending. The score is delicate, haunting and filled with a tragic sadness and this piece from the soundtrack, brings this beautiful music together. It’s one of the best examples of Mark Snow creating an emotional depth in his music to enhance the power of the storylines on the show.
13. The End – Closure (The End, series 5)
As the show’s time in Vancouver drew to a close the creators gave us a finale that brought certain answers, while also setting the course for the show’s new path. It felt like an ending of sorts and the music was epic and with a sweeping grandeur to match the occasion. I especially love the score that accompanies the last few moments as Mulder finds his office and life’s work has literally gone up in smoke.
14. Cloning and the alien bounty hunter (Colony/End Game, series 2)
Colony and End Game marked a shift in the stakes of the mythology of the show, introducing the concept of clones, a deeper mystery surrounding Mulder’s sister and the frightening Alien Bounty Hunter. The music throughout is suitably atmospheric and eerie, giving the story an added other-worldly element, which was able to ratchet up the tension once Scully realises the person before her is not her partner at the cliffhanger end to the first episode. It was gripping television and Mark’s score certainly added to that.
15. and of course…..the now iconic theme!
Although this list is more focussed on music from the episodes themselves, it seemed wrong to not include the brilliant theme of the series. Looking back at the show now, I can’t imagine The X-Files without this haunting, otherworldly music cue, which set the tone for Mark Snow’s music for the entire duration of the series. It’s instantly recognisable and one of the best television themes created.
So those are my favourite pieces from the series to date. No one else would be able to capture the unique mood and atmosphere of the world of Mulder and Scully and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what musical score Mark Snow will create for the new episodes airing next January (I can’t believe how close we are now!). I’d love to hear which musical tracks you love and which you are hoping to see on any future compilation CD.
The official soundtrack releases for The X-Files were released by La La Records. The collection for the first film Fight The Future is still available here. Keep an eye on their website for news of any future releases (fingers crossed).
So today brought the news X-Philes the world over have been waiting for – The X-Files is returning to our screens! After so much speculation and a growing anticipation, it has been confirmed that Fox has commissioned six new episodes of the series, reuniting creator Chris Carter with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.
In the hope that the revival would indeed become a reality I started to think about what I most hope to see included in this new run, more so now we have a set of episodes rather than just a film. Below is my top 10 wish list. Do let me know what you are hoping to see!
1. The truth about what happened in 2012
The mythology became a huge driving force of the series and dedicated fans continued on Mulder’s quest for the truth through nine seasons waiting for answers. The finale hinted at a hugely significant global event on 22nd December 2012. That has come and gone now, so the question has to be – what happened?! I find it ridiculous to think this won’t be addressed somehow! It’s one of the biggest plot points left unresolved and one which was not touched on during the last film.
2. AD Walter Skinner
I always loved Skinner. He started out as so by the book and became one of Mulder and Scully’s biggest allies. It was lovely to see him in the last movie, after the uncertain future that awaited him in his last appearance in the finale, but it really wasn’t enough for me. Skinner better be a big part of this revival. Plus, I was lucky enough to get Mitch Pileggi’s autograph and he was a genuinely lovely guy, who I’m sure would love to go back to the show.
3. Some brand new stand alone mysteries
I certainly hope the initial indications are true that as well as some form of mythology conclusion, we’ll also see some stand alone episodes as part of the six episode run. The X-Files may have started out as a show slanted towards aliens, but with episode 3, Squeeze, a now iconic liver-eating mutant made us all realise that the possibilities of the show were endless. After Mulder’s absence from so much of the last few years and cases of the show, it would be nice to see the duo tackle a brand new, creepy monster on their return to scare a whole new generation!
I wasn’t a huge fan of the William story arc if I’m honest, but it would seem nuts to me if there is no acknowledgement or reference to him during this series. He’d be 13 or so now and so it would perhaps be interesting to see where he is and whether he is displaying any otherworldly characteristics. I also imagine Gillian would be brilliant in some scenes with him, even if it’s just them watching him from a distance.
5. Mrs Scully (just no William Jr!)
Sheila Larken’s portrayal of Mrs Scully was another highlight of the show for me. She was such a lovely character and so supportive of her daughter and clearly saw the special bond between her and Mulder. After going through so much during the course of the series, it would be lovely to see where she is now and hopefully that she is happy. Heck maybe her and Skinner could be a couple!!
6. The Cigarette Smoking Man is never really dead!
No one really absolutely believes the Cigarette Smoking Man is dead do they?! He has “died” at least twice on the show already, so I find it hard to accept that he won’t find a way to return to cause trouble for Mulder & Scully. Plus William B Davis was so brilliant in the role, that it would seem a waste to not see him sparring with Mulder or Skinner once again.
7. A return for some classic writers and directors
The X-Files always seemed to be like a family for those who worked on the show and those of us who watched it from start to finish came to recognise the names and work of the writers and directors as much as the actors. If we are to have six new stories, I certainly hope Chris Carter has lined up some of the show’s old faithful family to be part of it. I imagine such a short run would rule out a quirky Darin Morgan script, but I’d love to see the return of Glen Morgan and James Wong, whose writing partnership brought us some of the best stories and characters, together with Vince Gilligan, now more famous for creating his own successful series Breaking Bad. As for directors, it would be nice to see Rob Bowman back, as well as R.W Goodwin (aka Sheila “Mrs Scully” Larken’s husband) who directed so many of my favourite stories.
8. A special dedication to Kim Manners
Since the show ended, director Kim Manners passed away. He directed some great episodes, such as Quagmire and the controversial Home and it would be lovely to see a dedication to him at the end of one of the new episodes.
9. Filming returns to Vancouver, the spiritual home of The X-Files!
So the series left Vancouver after five seasons but, for me, the tone and mood of the show was always at its best during its years filming in Canada, in a city I’ve visited since and loved. Now the series is coming back, it feels appropriate that it goes back to the place where it all began 20 years ago and that’s Vancouver!
10. Details of filming please!
Okay, so number ten is a bit of a cheat and a fantasy request, but why not?! I’d love a comprehensive, detailed schedule for filming, issued in advance, so that geeky fans like me can seriously consider planning a holiday around coming to watch some filming! Even if it’s just a couple of days to accommodate all the loyal fans out there. If you are listening Chris Carter, make it happen!
So that’s my top ten wish list, although I admit just having my favourite series returning is exciting enough! I look forward to all the debate, speculation and buzz that will occur over the next few months! Don’t forget, the truth is out there!
Television Nostalgia – Television’s finest partnership – My favourite Mulder & Scully moments in The X-Files
With the possibility of a return for Agents Mulder and Scully on television, which I certainly hope is true, I’ve recently revisited some of my favourite episodes of this brilliant series. As my favourite television show since I first watched it aged 12, I’ve always found myself returning to my favourite episodes at times when life gets a bit tough and you need something familiar to calm you and provide that escapism that a trusty show or a beloved book manage to provide.
So, in need of some escapism from real life and following all this exciting speculation, I’ve been looking back at the moments of the series between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully that I’ve never forgotten. Watching the show, I was always quite envious of their friendship, which is one that is so strong and immutable. No matter what happened, or what traumas or tragedies they each faced, they always knew that the other would be there for them, to provide that unwavering support. It’s what sets them apart for me, as the best partnership on television – yes they were destined to be together, but it was always the uniquely close friendship that I loved. There are so many wonderful moments between them over the series, but these are my favourite.
1. Mulder visits Scully’s bedside (One Breath)
This scene from my favourite episode of the series has always been a memorable one. Scully’s abduction was quite a shocking plotline at the time and her return in such a seemingly hopeless condition allowed the writers to create some very emotional moments for David Duchovny. Mulder spends the episode consumed with fighting to find out what’s happened to his friend, when really all he really needs to do is to sit with her. This scene in which he visits her in hospital and tells her he’s there for her is wonderfully acted and highlighted how important to him Scully had become and is then followed by the touching scene in which Mulder breaks down in his apartment as all seems utterly beyond hope. This story arc may have been unplanned until Gillian’s pregnancy, but I’m so pleased the writers made these brave choices so early, as Scully’s abduction became such a hugely vital part of the series.
2. Mulder teaches Scully to play baseball (The Unnatural)
In David Duchovny’s writing and directorial debut for the series, we get to see a lighter and more fun side to Mulder and Scully here. After a rather unusual story about the joys of baseball, we see Mulder teach a sceptical Scully how to play, something which she actually finds she enjoys. It’s a sweet, tender moment between the two, as they inch ever nearer to being more than just friends. It’s also one of the more lighthearted endings to an X-Files episode and always makes me smile.
3. The hallway scene (Momento Mori)
I seem to enjoy the emotionally charged hospital scenes in the series and this incredibly moving moment from series four’s Momento Mori is one of the best moments between Mulder and Scully for me and encompasses so much of what makes their bond special and the series so successful. Gillian Anderson deservedly won an [Emmy] for her work this year, which centred on Scully’s battle with cancer and she is truly brilliant in this episode, conveying all the anger, fear and emotion that must go through you if you have to experience something so frightening. This moment in the hospital, in which Mulder waits outside Penny Northern’s room, knowing his friend will need him there, even if she probably wouldn’t have asked him, is so beautifully written and acted. Scully is determined to fight and Mulder makes it clear he will be by her side every step of the way. Depending on my mood I can get quite teary-eyed watching this scene.
4. Chatting while “stranded” on a rock (Quagmire)
Quagmire is such a wonderful little episode in which a Loch Ness-style sea monster may or may not exist in America, Scully’s beloved dog (although not loved by Mulder) meets a tragic end and Mulder and Scully end up “marooned” on a rock after their boat sinks in the middle of the night. It’s a rare chance for them to talk about topics other than work and in that respect is quite a refreshing scene. I love how Scully is surprised and impressed by his knowledge of Moby Dick and his joke about her losing weight, which she soon realises is less of a compliment than she first thought is very amusing. David and Gillian are both fantastic at comedy and it’s nice that every so often they had the opportunity to play scenes like this one, in between the more serious myth-arcs.
5. Scully falls asleep on Mulder’s couch (All things)
A more romantically slanted moment here from the first script written and directed by Gillian Anderson, which also seemingly finally signposts the turn in their relationship from friends to lovers. Scully has been on quite an emotional journey over the course of this episode and it’s Mulder who is there for her when she needs him most. This moment, as she falls asleep on his couch and his obvious love and affection for her is so genuinely lovely and perfectly played by both actors.
6. Scully breaks down (Irresistible)
Series two remains my favourite of the series (with series four a close second) and it contained some truly brilliant episodes, including this chilling story of Donnie Pfaster, the death fetishist. It’s one of the first times we see Scully in peril and how much Mulder is effected by it. It’s also a crucial turning point in their friendship, as it’s here where Scully lets herself break down in front of him for the first time and allow him to comfort her when she needs it the most.
7. Celebrating Scully’s birthday (Tempus Fugit)
The main story of this series four two-parter may have been rather tough, dealing with the aftermath of a plane crash and the death of Max Fenig, last seen in series one’s Fallen Angel, but it did contain this lovely scene. Mulder and Scully haven’t been seen much by this point doing everyday activities and their birthdays haven’t been mentioned in any significant way. That perhaps makes this scene, in which Mulder surprises / embarrasses Scully on her birthday with a sparkling dessert and gift, all the more special. These moments don’t come around too often so they are even more of a treat to watch when they do. I also always loved the gesture behind the gift – it may only be a cheap keychain, but Mulder’s reason for giving it to her, is so lovely (whether he admits it or not)!
8. Mulder visits a sleeping Scully (Redux II)
Back to the hospitals and angst galore for moment number eight, in which Scully’s battle with her illness seems to be one she cannot win. As hidden enemies and uncertain allies gather around Mulder, swaying him to choose a path that he may not necessarily want, while facing the unimaginable reality of losing the closest person in his life, he comes to seek comfort and solace at the only place he can – Scully’s bedside. Watching him watch her sleep, you can almost read his thoughts as he tries to imagine her no longer being in his life and seeing him silently crumble is incredibly moving and beautifully acted by David Duchovny. It certainly tugs at my heartstrings whenever I watch it.
9. “You were my constant” (The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati)
The opening episodes to series six aren’t one of my favourite stories. However it was lovely to see Mulder and Scully reaffirm their support and affection for each other in this scene, with Mulder admitting that when his world was falling apart, through everything, it is Scully that has been his “constant, his touchstone”, to which she replies that he is hers. As if every fan of the show didn’t know that already!
10. “Maybe there’s hope” (The Truth)
I watched the last episode of the series with a heavy heart in 2002. I’m still not really satisfied with The Truth as a climax and I certainly hope that any revival will bring further closure than this trial-centred episode tried to do. However, the heart of the series was always the chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson and even stories I am less keen on often contain moments that I love and despite what went before, this scene in a dark motel room, echoing the scene in the very first episode, is a genuinely wonderful moment. It honours the past and all they have been through together, while laying the foundations for the future – one in which hope is their shining light.
11. The dancing (Post Modern Prometheus)
The fact that Mulder and Scully’s relationship remained platonic for so long only heightened fans excitement when there was even the slightest possibility of something more and one of these moments is when Mulder asks Scully to dance with him to Cher’s Walking In Memphis. Post Modern Prometheus is a totally unique episode, which has a special charm and this is a wonderful way to end it. It’s another hopeful, happy scene, in which we see the less serious side of these two characters and it being in black and white lends it an added air of old fashioned romance.
12. Their last scene (so far…!) (I Want To Believe)
I was rather disappointed by the second X-Files film. After looking forward to it for so long and having such high hopes, the story of body swapping Frankenstein-like science was a bit of a let down. However, despite the plot’s weaknesses, it was still utterly fantastic to have Mulder and Scully back on the screen and David and Gillian certainly hadn’t let years away from these iconic roles lessen their chemistry. It’s a rocky path through this film for them and by the end I had my fingers crossed for something positive and hopeful to finish with and this lovely scene didn’t disappoint. Perfectly acted, shot and with a gorgeous piece of score by Mark Snow it makes the film worth watching for me.
13. Lost in the woods (Detour)
After the trauma and emotion of the Redux opener, it was nice to have our favourite FBI agents back out on an X-File, albeit one they happen to stumble in to. I’ve always liked Detour. Mulder’s distain for team building and wine and cheese receptions is very funny and there’s lots of opportunity to have Mulder and Scully back in the field again. It’s the scene in the woods though that makes my list of favourite moments. Despite the danger of their situation, it’s light and funny, as let’s face it by this point they’ve already faced so much anyway, what’s a potentially deadly creature in the woods going to do! It’s also more flirty, which was always entertaining to watch – shame it didn’t rain sleeping bags!
14. “Nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted.” (Pilot)
The first meeting of Mulder and Scully had to be on this list and it’s such a great scene. Mulder playfully pushes her buttons, testing the type of person she is and seeing that Scully is a strong, intelligent and independent woman, who will not be intimidated by his tactics. It’s also fizzing with chemistry, which David and Gillian had from the very beginning and you sense that this is going to be something special. It makes me nostalgic every time I watch it.
15. The (in)famous hallway scene (The X-Files: Fight The Future)
I will always remember the first time I watched this scene. It was at a preview screening of the film, in a cinema filled with X-Philes and at this moment the loud shouting was mad! Half the cinema screaming “Do it!” and the other half screaming “No!” – I’ve never experienced anything like it in a cinema since! Let’s face it this was a huge moment for the series and the characters and speculation as to whether they would finally get together was rife by the time the film opened. It’s a brilliantly created scene by Chris Carter and his team, building the anticipation up, only to dash it at the last moment due to a bee! It was exactly the right choice. As much as I wanted to see these two finally admit their feelings, there was always something special about their friendship that I didn’t want to see change.
So those are my favourite 15 Mulder and Scully moments. It was certainly difficult to keep myself to just 15 and on a different day the list may also have included either of their reflections on the office scene in Bad Blood, Mulder meeting Emily Sim at the children’s home, Scully threatening Mulder in Wetwired, Mulder arriving at the Senate subcommittee hearing in Terma, their farewell moment in Dreamland II when they think they will never meet again and the Russian roulette scene from Pusher. I’d love to hear which moments other fans love. It’s also thrilling to think what new moments we might be enjoying if the revival really does happen! All my fingers are certainly crossed!