It’s been awhile since we’ve done a full-fledged review of the fledgling twenty-first century take on X-Files.

Title: “Bad Dreams”

Cast and Crew

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham
Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop
John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop
Jaskika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth
Ari Graynor as Rachel Dunham
David Call as Nick Lane
Lilly Pilyblad as Ella
Michael Cerveris as the Observer

Synopsis

Agent Dunham dreams of committing horrible crimes, and learns that the crimes have happened in real life.

High Points

1. The opening scene relies on stock techniques– ominous music, eeriness mixed with childhood imagery– but it sets a terrific tone, and made me want to watch the episode.

2. The episode has an interesting premise, and the potential mass-suicide at the conclusion worked well.

Low Points

1.

“Seems a little too coincidental to be coincidence.”

I really dislike when genre does this sort of thing. The entire series revels in far-fetched coincidences and improbabilities. Suddenly, however, real-world rules apply, and we’re supposed to see that this particular far-fetched coincidence reveals something.

2. Having the mad scientist’s son interrupt his infodump scene doesn’t improve the scene, nor does it disguise the fact that we’re listening to infodump. It also didn’t really add to our understanding of character.

The Scores

Originality: 3/6. The concept has been used elsewhere before, though Fringe certainly adds a number of twists.

Effects: 5/6. Simple and effective filmcraft– and those annoying comic-book location titles.

Story: 4/6. The convoluted backstory would have worked better if Olivia had been established or even hired because of her Special Abilities. Revealing them now, with reference to this one case, as the result of a hitherto undisclosed experiment, seems a credulity stretch, even for a show that loves stretching credulity.

Acting: 4/6. This episode relies heavily on the actor, and they’ve hung it on Torv who, while improved, still does not consistently rise to the occasion. Her faux lesbian scene was just embarrassing.

Production: 5/6.

Emotional response: 4/6. Uneven acting and writing results in an uneven response.

Overall: 4/6. This is better than many of the earlier episodes, but not as good as last week’s, and still not enough to keep me watching.

“Bad Dreams” receives 29/42.

Where’s Waldo?

Our bald Observer passes by quickly as Olivia heads for the jump site.