The Lone Gunmen were spun off of The X-Files, and they premiered last night. If you don’t mind spoilers, then Read More to read my thoughts and contribute yours.

Original Airdate

Sunday, March 4, 2001

Cast

Bruce Harwood as John Fitzgerald Byers
Tom Braidwood as Melville Frohike
Dean Haglund as Ringo Langley
Zuleikha Robinson as Yves Adele Harlowe

Crew

Written by Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, and John Shiban.
Directed by Rob Bowman

Synopsis

The episode opens with the three Gunmen trying to steal the Octium IV chip from a manufacturerwith the goal of proving it invades the privacy of its users. (I’ll try to ignore the flagrant inaccuracies of the computer science used in this scene, and others.) At the last minute, their presence is revealed, and the chip is stolen from Frohike by a woman in disguise. (Frohike was stuck suspended from the ceiling at the time.)

The three were subjected to full body cavity searches, and then released. Back at the Lone Gunmen HQ, Byers received a phone call informing him that his father had died.

At the funeral, one of his father’s co-workers approached them, and told the trio that he didn’t think the death was an accident. The Lone Gunmen decided to check out the victim’s house and car looking for clues.

In his house, they found documents on his PC referring to scenario 12D, and a freshly cleaned blood stain in the carpet. His car contained a curcuit that would allow his car to be controlled remotely, making it look like a dead man was behind the wheel. They decided that Byers’ father was killed at home, and then driven into the pillar. Later, they realized that that wouldn’t make sense. What would make sense would be if Byers’ father had survived, but his would-be assassin had died. The assissin could have been the man in the car, and Byers’ father would be alive and well.

Langley enlisted the help of a fellow hacker (who was also seen with the Gunmen on The X-Files) to break into the DOD computer system and find out about scenario 12D. They found an astoundingly large text file describing the scenario, but were unable to download the entire file without being caught.

Byers returned to his father’s home, and found his father there, alive and well. His father told him that the man who was helping the Gunmen was one of the men involved in the conspiracy to crash a plane into New York to restart the cold war with whichever dictator took credit for the act. The two Byers’ got on the plane that had been targeted to find this bomb and save the plane.

Once on board, they realized there was no bomb, and that the plane was being controlled remotely. Langley tried hacking into the system to release control of the plane back to the pilots, while Frohike went to find Yves Adele Harlowe for help.

When he found Harlowe, Frohike revealed that he knew she was using a fake name (an anagram of Lee Harvey Oswald) and that he knew who she really was. This was enough leverage for him to get the Octium IV chip from her and break the encryption codes to release the manual control of the plane, and save the day. Everybody survived, and the Lone Gunmen got their hands on the Octium IV.

History of this Pilot

While I am not officially involved in the show, I have heard some rumours about it online. It sounds like this pilot was rushed into production at a time when the future of The X-Files was uncertain. (It was intended to be an X-Files episode which featured the Lone Gunmen, along the lines of First Person Shooter.) The Octium IV storyline seems grafted on, along with the Harlowe character, as though she was written in to replace Mulder and Scully after they were written out.

This episode was also filmed before they had decided whether to go all-comedy, or keep the same dramatic tone that The X-Files uses. It seems that future episodes will be all-comedy.

High Point

Frohike’s Tom Cruise-ish jaunt in the harness was rather amusing, in my opinion.

Low Points

The computer science was grating at times. Also, I simply didn’t believe the pratfalls on the wet carpet.

The Review

Originality: This episode wasn’t a far cry from the past X-Files work. The episode was more about setting up the characters than anything else. It’s hard to be truly original in a spin-off, though. I give it 2 stars out of 6.

Effects: The only real effects needed for this episode was the CGI plane heading toward the World Trade Centre. The shape was right, but they’ve fallen into the all-to-common trap of making it too shiny. (Who here remembers The Phantom Menace?) I give it 3 stars out of 6.

Story: The storyline had a lot of potential. The ideas were all there, but the rushed execution hurt it in the end. I give it 5 stars out of 6.

Acting: The three Gunmen have a lot of experience with these roles, and did fine with them. The guest stars were competent, if not spectacular. I would have expected a stronger reaction from Byers at his father’s death, though, even if they hadn’t spoken in 11 years. I give it 4 stars out of 6.

Emotion Invoked: I didn’t really feel for any of the characters as the episode developed. The show was intended to be light, but some impact of Byers’ father’s death should be there. 3 out of 6.

Production: The production was well done all around. Normally, I’d give a bonus star to the pilot episode of any show, since the crew is unfamiliar with each other, but in this case, they rounded up much of the original crew that worked on The X-Files during its Canadian seasons. I give it 5 stars out of 6.

Overall: Overall, this is a show that can really take off. The settings and characters are almost entirely in place, and ready to go. I give this 4 out of 6.

Total: 26 out of 42.

The next episode is Bond, Jimmy Bond, and it airs next Sunday.