Monday, May 16, 2011

The X-Files Reaches Perfection With "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space!'"

The Good: Funny, Intriguing, Well-Acted, Well plotted.
The Bad: None!
The Basics: "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" is a perfect episode of The X-Files suitable for anyone who enjoys great film!

Right off the bat, my review is definitely biased toward the second episode on this tape, "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space.'" "Pusher" is fine, but one of the drawbacks of writing a review of a show that has two episodes on it is that one expects the review to give equal footing to both parts. The problem is "Pusher" is good, but "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" is perfect.

"Pusher" finds Mulder and Scully tracking a guy who can impress his will upon others, forcing people to kill themselves outright or through failure to see death immediately before them. It's a tense episode that is accessible to all in that it has a great sense of pacing and everything is coherently explained.

"Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" is the perfect episode of The X-Files and it's a treat to fans of the show, fans of science fiction shows and, surprisingly, anyone who hates The X-Files, science fiction, and television in general. Why? This episode is a brilliant example of The X-Files doing what it does best - telling an interesting, character-driven story - while not taking itself seriously.

The episode is about famed author Jose Chung, who - for the bulk of the show - is interviewing Scully to try and find out what happened during an alien abduction that supposedly happened one night. Despite Scully saying she doesn't know, after enough viewings it becomes painfully clear. Interestingly enough, it doesn't diminish the episode's success.

The episode opens with two teens driving at night when aliens come to take them away. The aliens are dragging the kids from their car when another alien comes along. As events unfold it becomes clear the first set of aliens are Air Force pilots trained to create alien abductions. The other alien? Well, it could be the real thing.

The story is uniquely narrated. While most of the episode is actually between Jose and Scully, it doesn't feel that way because Scully tells a story and we see it, Chung tells her what a character she mentioned says and the episode progresses like a narrative tennis match.

All of the guest stars (which include Jesse Ventura as a Man In Black and Alex Trebeck as the same) were perfectly cast and they fit together so well and the episode, which is occasionally creepy, is ultimately hilarious. The episode turns on every science fiction cliche, with the Man In Black being abrasive and angry about scientific ignorance as opposed to quiet and sinister.

Why would a non-X-phile enjoy this episode? Mostly because it successfully pokes fun at the series and at science fiction in general. One of the characters is a twenty-something man who lives in his parent's house and goes out at night hoping to be abducted by aliens so he wouldn't have to find a job. He's the tip of the iceberg, but a perfect example.

Even in the context of a mostly humorous episode, the piece is true to the characters of Mulder and Scully. Scully still evaluates everything with dispassion, Mulder explores all avenues no matter how bizarre. The real courage here is in their acting; David Duchovny manages not to crack a smile during an absurd yelp and Gillian Anderson portrays Scully with serious devotion as if this were any other episode of the series.

There's not a single bad thing about this episode; it holds up over multiple viewings, it's funny, creepy and it's The X-Files at its best. All in all, this video gives any science fiction fan the most bang for their buck in a long time; the contrast of the edge of your seat thriller that "Pusher" provides plays off the humor and utter lack of menace of "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space.'" Worth your time, even if you've never seen the series.

[Given that VHS is a rapidly dying medium, a far better investment would be The X-Files - The Complete Third Season, reviewed by me here!
As well, those who already love The X-Files will find The X-Files - The Complete Series to be an even better buy, here!
Thanks for reading!]

"Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" - 10/10
"Pusher" - 9/10
VHS - 9/10

For other television reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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