X Files Reviewed


Having read that the X Files was returning to the screen on the blog, I was very surprised & excited to start to watch the new series. I watched the first episode & as my partner enjoyed it to my surprise (as I think Series 10 has turned out to be a bit meh), I suggested to her to start at the beginning.
To novices of this show, which I hold in high regard, a good place to start are the writers. Before Breaking Bad, Homeland, American Horror Story, 24, Fringe, Intruders, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural to name just a few (none of which I have seen but some I hear good things about) there was a TV show in the 90’s that started the career of most these writers – The X Files.

The set-up of the show is quite simple – the genre is the unexplained…anything unknown mostly centred around aliens, UFO’s, the paranormal, unusual creatures or abnormal powers. The plot centres around an FBI agency that looks into these unusual cases called The X Files. Fox Mulder is assigned to the agency mainly as his interest and motivation is driven by the mysterious disappearance of his sister at the age of 8 that he believes was an alien abduction. Dana Scully a scientist & doctor is assigned alongside to debunk his ideas (as they are quite “out there”).
The plot and episodes are split into two; one a central plot involving a deep government conspiracy involving Mulder & Scully alongside other characters / the other standalone episodes typically referred to as “Monster of the Week” episodes. The setup works a charm, as either one vests interest into the conspiracy or one into the “Monster of the Week” or both.
I’m not going to review each episode as that is 202 * 45 mins of TV I’ve revisited close to over 6 days! I’ll briefly mention my best episode of each series & some honourable mentions.

Series 1 – setting the scene, establishing Mulder as the believer & Scully as the non-believer
Squeeze – The first of the “Monster of the Week” episodes, centres on the investigation into a series of ritualistic killings by somebody seemingly capable of squeezing his body through impossibly narrow gaps. The episode is quite thrilling as it really is quite creepy & chilling with the protagonist Tooms returning in a later episode to continue his killing spree. What I like specifically is it establishes the trust between the leads that will be further tested over a decade & the ludicrous element of a man who can wiggle his way through tight things like vents, the manner of the deaths being quite visual / gory.
Honourable mentionsIce (stuck in a isolated building with a parasite, Mulder & Scully are required to build their trust with each other amongst strangers) & The Erlenmeyer Flask (season finale – the first real sighting of an alien & the killing of Mulder’s key confident “Deep Throat” [no idea what to make of this name when I was in my early teens – but funny nonetheless], this episode is a roller-coaster entertainer with excellent acting & tragic ending)

Series 2 – Multiple dual episodes lead the charge to forward the mythology of conspiracy & The Cigarette Smoking man is established as the main villain. X replaces “Deep-Throat” as Mulder’s confident.
Duane Barry & Ascension – A travel agency under hostage by a man claiming to be an alien abductee only later to be shot & then kidnap Scully. Krycek who is basically a bad guy flipping between sides through the 9 series is hunting down & sabotaging the chase for Scully. Barry leads Scully into an alien abduction…effectively writing her out while in real life she has a baby. These episodes are thrilling – classic race against time scripting. It raised the stakes & effectively established future storylines for Scully involving what happened to her while being abducted … establishing the Mulder/Scully legacy of the programme and strong emotional connect both have with the audience.
Honourable mentionsOne Breath, Scully’s return & near death experience plus Mulder’s best performance. Quite a stunning episode with moving moments for the fans of Mulder & Scully, emotionally charged with brilliant acting. Colony/End Game is the introduction of the alien bounty hunter arc of the mythological episodes – these episodes require a high level of concentration as it’s unclear who is on whose side. Anasazi the season finale is the cliff-hanger of all cliff-hangers as it ends with Mulder supposedly dying. All episodes mentioned for Series 2 are linked to the main plot line & arguably this is when X Files is in absolute top writing/acting/emotional form a powerpacked set of episodes that appear to get better & better.

Series 3 – widely acknowledged as the best series (not my opinion), the series opens with a couple of crackers.
The Blessing Way & Paper Clip – Mulder fighting for his life – need I say more. By this time X Files is getting very popular, viewing figures are huge. The dilemma of how to return Mulder after season 2 finale must have been difficult but these episodes & revelations set up another set of questions & add more spice to the already iconic pairing of Mulder & Scully. The infusion of post WW2 politics adds more dimension to the show. As a trio Anasazi/ The Blessing Way/Paper Clip are probably the best main plot driven episodes period. Kinetic, full of energy bursting with cliff-hanger & emotional moments they are riveting episodes.
Honourable mentionsClyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (Frank from Everyone Loves Raymond wins an Emmy here, rated by many as best episode ever…I was probably less enthused by the episode, it’s fun & clever but by now I’ve realised the internet is full of smarks who like very contrarian episodes, give me exhilarating kinetic energy, nonstop edge of the seat stuff over “clever”). Quagmire – a sea monster kills Scully’s affably named dog Queequeg lending to Mulder & Scully having an emotional chat beneath the stars – is romance finally blossoming? That’s what a few wanted but still had to wait ages. The true greatness is the writers did not give in to early to what was clearly legendary onscreen couple stuff here. Keeping the partnership simmering was the key.

Season 4 – The X Files is now a cult phenomenon recording high viewership & the lead out show following Super Bowl.
Memento Mori – Scully’s abduction gave so many storylines, one being her fight with cancer. You begin to fall for this red-headed spunk of an actress by this time if you have not already. Some remarkably emotional, tender sometimes beautiful moments in this episode between Scully & Mulder. By this time it’s clear when The X Files is anywhere close to a hospital it’s going to be humdinger.
Honourable mentionsHome is grotesque & from what I know was banned by some channels for its storyline. Violent/excessive dealing with abortion this is still a great episode. Paper Hearts an episode hinging on identifying the killer of Mulder’s sister is probably Duchovny’s greatest act. The way the killer gets into Mulder’s head is the best part of the episode.

Season 5 – Season 4 ended on a powerful not of Mulder’s death being faked so Season 5 kicks off with a couple crackers. But generally I find this series to be weak as it was meant to be the last till some point during the series.
Bad Blood – Probably my favourite episode of all time as its so witty and poking fun at the legacy of Mulder and Scully. A hilarious view on how each views each other. Cleverly written with a hilarious moment of Mulder serenading Scully with lines from Shaft. Just a cracking episode, the funniest by far. Shows the many facets of acting both leads had during 10 seasons.
Honourable mentions“The Post-Modern Prometheus” a take on Frankenstein is quite funny but again rated as one of the “greats” shows the smark community like shows that poke fun at the show itself. The “winking” at the audience is fun to an extent and going black & white in the episode makes it an epic. Redux & Redux II – Dealing with the devil itself to save one close to you is what these episodes deal with. The central plot is becoming indecisive in my opinion, but still engaging enough. Mulder’s defying speech & Scully’s cancer resolution & the death of the Cancer Man are moves in the show now. Still highly engaging, well written but one can sense the season won’t be great on the main plot line front.

Season 6 – A renaissance in my opinion, this is pretty good stuff again. Introduction of new characters makes it interesting. As no clearly the Mulder/Scully relationship needs to go in the direction of love as it’s gone too far without any nooky!
Arcadia – X Files is not always just drama / thriller but it has plenty of comedy. This episode starts with Mulder & Scully as a married couple investigating in a town undercover. Blatantly hilarious as a couple this is the perfect episode to whet the appetite of those yearning for this couple to get it on. The chemistry is top notch as is the episode.
Honourable mentionsMonday a take on Groundhogs Day is cleverly presented via a bank robbery everyday with Mulder dying. Triangle another fun episode where Mulder is stuck in a Nazi warship in 1939 via a trip in the Bermuda Triangle, this is what clever is.

Season 7 – David Duchovny’s last as the main lead. The worst season too with Duchovny as lead.
Requiem – Mulder now gets abducted in the final shots of the episode and season finale. It’s nice to have moments from & characters from Pilot, it’s not convincing stuff by this time as the central plot is flagging. The sense that nothing will be the same is evidently portrayed & Scully’s life is shattered!
Honourable mentionsClosure as it nicely wraps up Mulder’s sisters’ abduction storyline…not much else

Season 8 – Reading loads about Season 8, it feels that many felt without Mulder the show could not live on. Contrary, this is great stuff again as Agent Doggett who is more Scully and Scully who is more Mulder makes for interesting confrontations & the chase to find Mulder makes the central plot very interesting. Just shows you don’t need the main character in the story to make it great.
Essence & Existence – the season finales is where the show should have stopped. Scully’s pregnancy and delivery excellently executed – it being revealed to be Mulder’s baby and them having the moment of glory with the baby is the absolute fairy-tale ending. Masterfully acted and emotionally charged one senses why did the show continue?
Honourable mentionsRedrum is cleverly crafted show working backwards in time to solve a crime. Deadalive is about Mulder’s resurrection from the dead, the re-uniting is worth the watch.

Season 9 – nothing to mention except the finale. Which is a courtroom style get up revealing the truth behind the whole conspiracy. Even after watching this I’m still confused about the conspiracy – aptly called The Truth it seeks to vindicate the work of the X Files.

Season 10 – its meh but ended on a note suggesting more is to come. With all the science/powers The X Files speaks to why has science not developed a means to transport the young David Duchovny & stunning Gillian Anderson from the 90s into 2016. Unfortunately they have become wooden actors now. A bit fat & plastic.

The more terrifying thing is I’ll probably watch another series of it!!! And will one day do it all again!

164 Responses to “X Files Reviewed”

  1. Jayshah I will read this later. But it is always thrilling to read somehting on the X-FILES and I am an x – files pedophile..

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  2. Never been fan or you may say never tried it seriously.
    Saw first episode of reboot.

    Have you seen Peaky Blinders? Just finished last episode of 3rd series. Really liked it.

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    • this has been in the queue but haven’t got around to it.

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      • Have you tried Game of Thrones?
        Never seen a comment on that. Or you don’t want to jump on the bandwagon?

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        • I’m totally up to date on Game of Thrones. Did catch up on it relatively late. The first four seasons are especially the most addictive thing I’ve seen on TV, at least in this contemporary age. Haven’t quite liked it as much since. The recent season ended with a bang for sure and generally was much more event-oriented than Season 5 which as rather transitional. Still the first four seasons were something else. On that note the next season will just have 7 episodes and will start in the summer. This is of course the penultimate one.

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          • I think 6th was more of closing all the loops. Apart from last 2 episodes, it was dull comparatively.

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          • yes agreed.. last two episodes were fine.. the rest was just about ok though probably (maybe a couple of better than average episodes at the beginning).

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          • Even I was touching the series because I thought it is fantasy. But once you get past couple of episodes, it is politics on steroid.
            For same reason (zombie), I am not catching walking Death.

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          • yes I haven’t seen that either.

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          • Saw second episode last night. The first one was okay but gave my logical mind headache. Too many foolishness or convenient plot devices in first episode.

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          • Recently saw “Turn”. Liked it for the setting. It is decent.

            In many ways some of the series on cable are much better than actual cinema.

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          • I liked Season 1 here reasonably but got a bit bored beyond a point in the second season. The one I liked quite a bit for this sort of period terrain is Hell on Wheels.

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  3. Great to get a post from you Jay. I will however totally shock you and say I have never seen a single episode of this show! Really!

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    • jayshah Says:

      Devastated

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    • I’ll second your comment on Jay and I’ll personally add another shocker to the list. I’ve been watching The Inbetweeners recently and I don’t think I’ve seen anything more funny in my life. Usually I’m the last person to be interested in teenage gross-out comedies (e.g. American Pie ) but this is just off the charts funny. It’s all British humour by the way and to reiterate my personal belief, the level of acting coming from British actors is just incredible. Even in teenage comedies, you get to see some serious acting chops. Can’t recommend this enough – but wouldn’t recommend it to people who are prudes. It’s going to shock the hell out of the latter bunch, and probably not in a good way!

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      • jayshah Says:

        I didn’t watch the TV episodes but caught the films…very funny

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        • You should catch the TV episodes as well, Jay. That’s how I got hooked up to the show, watching one of the re-runs on Channel 4. I think there are only 18 episodes in total. Now that I think about it, there’s also a character called Jay in the series…probably my favorite character apart from Will. I’m probably now an Inbetweeners fan for life!

          Used to love Only Fools & Horses and still do, but this is something else…

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  4. X files post reminded me of XXX sequel, the return of Xander Cage with our very own Deepika Padukone!

    [post created]

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  5. jayshah Says:

    Season 1 – Tooms Promo video

    Season 2 – Duane Barry Promo video

    Season 2 – Ascension Promo video

    Season 3 – The Blessing Way Promo video

    Season 3 – Paperclip Promo video

    Season 4 – Memento Mori Promo video

    Season 5 – Bad Blood Promo video

    Season 6 – Arcadia Promo video

    Season 7 – Requiem Promo video

    Season 8 – Essenence Promo video

    Season 8 – Existence Promo video

    Season 9 – The Truth Promo video

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  6. jayshah Says:

    This pretty much covers the craze & best episodes/scenes.

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  7. Watching Homeland now. Up to season 3 finale now. Solid TV drama in the spy thriller genre. Acting of Claire Daines (as Carrie Mathison) as a bipolar CIA case officer – splendid. Damian Lewis (as Nicholas Brody) as a POW at points simply mind-blowing. Mandy Patinkin (as Saul Berenson) as Carrie Mathison’s mentor is my favourite character and actor on the show.

    Not sure where the show is headed but as a spy drama across the US, Iraq, Iran, Al-Qaida climate it’s great viewing.

    Unfortunately you do need to watch from beginning as storytelling is linear.

    Yet again I sell X Files here as similarities can be concluded, but very much into Homeland.

    http://www.vulture.com/2012/02/x-files-breaking-bad-homeland.html

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    • The first season was the best here. After that it became ‘masala’, still enjoyable. Haven’t seen the most recent season.

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      • It’s enjoyable but not efficient. The story is moving slowly and I keep waiting for the big moment but it gets pushed to something bigger.

        First season had a solid consistent star cast. The 2nd and 3rd seasons – a lot is wasted on Brody’s daughter’s angle that serves little purpose. Also new characters keep popping up and confusing the plot.

        Have it on decent authority that season 4-6 is good. Let’s see.

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      • Unfortunately Homeland kind of train wrecks after season 3. Still watchable and addictive to a degree. Season 5 in Berlin is pointless.

        Watching Breaking Bad now. Up to season 4. Boy can Aaron Paul act as Jesse Pinkman. This is great stuff which gets better. It’s very light at points too.

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  8. Finished Breaking Bad. The third last episode of season 5 – just WOW (read up a bit on it and it’s rated as nearly the best hour of TV on American TV period. Hard to disagree)

    Moronic, monstrous show – amazingly written. Clearly creators had a vision early on as the show doesn’t seemed to be written on the fly as so many pointers on what will happen. When it finally explodes towards end of season 5 and how is truly spellbinding.

    Homeland is guilty pleasure, Breaking Bad is just remarkably clever in every way.

    Now I’m stuck on where to go next. Any recommendations welcome!

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    • check out the Americans or Justified. Both very different kinds of shows of course. Justified too gets better as the seasons progress. On Americans I haven’t seen the recently completed season yet. Think there’s one more to go here. On Netflix I find Narcos quite addictive. Similarly Fauda is fantastic.

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      • On Netflix?

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        • Narcos and Fauda are no Netflix. Americans/Justified are on Amazon. If you have Prime you get access to these though sometimes there are differences in libraries across countries.

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          • Americans sounds good. Is it idiot proof? Does one need to be knowledgeable of Reagan administration history?

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          • Ok heard of Mad Men. On my list. House of Cards & The Wire too.

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          • I much preferred the British House of Cards. Still for about three seasons the remake is watchable. I at least found it tiring after this. haven’t seen the most recent season. The Wire is extraordinary. Very intense but one of the best shows ever!

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          • Into season 4 of The Wire. What can I say?

            It is extraordinary as you said and very intense. Even catching up on Wikipedia on plot lines is tough reading. So many angles to ponder, new characters galore, a show not afraid to kill off key characters. D’angelo and Stringer were key tracks in season 1-3 but killed off. Now I’m lost in the story in a good way.

            Love McNulty’s character and his friendship with Bunk and Keema. Omar is just pure bad ass. The politics and social landscape is so cleverly woven into the story.

            It’s not an easy watch like Homeland, but the show is somewhat of a masterpiece in how it’s put together. Literally multiples of tracks all somehow linked together by the bureaucracy of the politicians, police and gangsters of Baltimore. And it’s so raw, feels like the majority of the cast are real.

            Have to add my wife gave up on it after 2 episodes so it is a slow burner of a show.

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          • agreed everywhere. Glad you got into this show.

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          • It is one my favorites show along with Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones..

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          • speaking of netflix and if you haven’t already seen it the extraordinary Masaan is available or has been for a while. One of my favorite Hindi films in the last several years. Also check out Interrogation (Tamil, Visaranai). I wish they’d make Udaan available too. This is my other favorite alternative Hindi film in recent years.

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          • Not at all. It’s just set in that age, nothing more specific there.

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        • if you like crime shows there are two good Italian ones – Gomorrah (movie and series, movie came out a number of years ago), Suburra (movie and series). All of these are on netflix.

          And if you haven’t seen it Mad Men (also on netflix) remains one of my very favorite shows. Have seen the whole thing twice!

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          • How is true detective?

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          • Liked the first season upto a point. Very well shot, a slow boil kind of deal, the end a bit anti-climactic. Even otherwise some of the existential angst of the dialog and though it matches the mood of the show becomes a bit pretentious at points. But certainly an absorbing watch.

            Never bothered with the second. Of course thise has completely different actors.

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    • Just watched Gunpowder on BBC. It’s probably the most violent drama I’ve ever seen (squeamish folks should really stay away!)…but otherwise, it’s worth a watch. Terrific acting, as usual, from an all British star-cast (except Liv Tyler, who’s quite good as well).

      It’s a very short mini-series (3 episodes), so more like a Hindi film, in terms of length, but boy does it pack a punch.

      I could argue that the story is quite one-sided…that it romanticizes a certain point of view, but that ought to be left for another day. The storytelling, the craft of world-building, is undeniably very very powerful.

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      • Everyone keeps talking about Doctor Frost – have you watched that?

        If I was studying now I’d fail – too many distractions.

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        • Haven’t heard of Doctor Frost at all. Did a google search and it looks like a Korean series.

          I hardly get the chance to watch movies these days (diverging interests; been more interested in Formula 1 than anything else).

          If you enjoy or even remotely like Formula 1, you don’t want to miss out on Rush. The documentary on Senna is also pretty good.

          Recently I watched another documentary on F1 (1: Life on the limit), which was pretty good as well.

          I pretty much know about the entire history of Formula 1 right now, even though I’m a recent convert (Lewis Hamilton FTW!)

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          • I’m not that interested in F1 beyond who wins the title. Of course Hamilton is starting to become a significant driver. Senna’s history is intriguing, of course likely the most loved driver ever & if not for death might have been labelled the greatest ever.

            Doctor Frost is a BBC serial drama following a females inclination that her husband is having an affair. All English.

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          • I think it’s Doctor Foster..

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          • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Foster_(TV_series)
            No idea what the link to a Korean series this has. Thought it is an original BBC 1 programme. It’s got women talking in my wife’s circles!

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          • Lewis Hamilton’s history (coming from an average background) and then beating/matching an all time great in Fernando Alonso (in his rookie year, no less) is downright amazing.

            Senna and Schumacher are the two biggest contemporary names in F1 with many commentators calling the former the best of all time. The thing is, Senna was probably the best in Qualifying. Hamilton is probably second best of all time in that respect. His speed over one lap is amazing.

            Going back a few decades though, it seems that Jim Clark who only won the championship twice (as opposed to Schumacher’s 7) is the greatest of all time, all things considered. He was as ahead of his peers as Bradman was in cricket.

            The thing about F1 is that it’s 80-90% the car and only the rest accounts for driver input. So even though Alonso is only a 2 time winner, he’s actually better than Vettel who is a 4 time winner — there’s very little doubt about that. He’s probably even better than Hamilton, if consistency is the golden standard. He’s been unlucky with his choices of cars and he’s also to blame for that, but even so, his position as an all time great is not at all in doubt.

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          • Verstappen is the guy to watch. It’s a pretty unfair sport as the best car typically wins, in the 90’s it was more fun. The courses were wider and overtaking ability greater. Great rivalries like Prost/Senna. Schumacher won in a pretty poor car like Benetton if I recall. And had big rivalries with Hill and Villeneuve. Of course if Senna didn’t pass away the chances of a Schumacher/Senna rivalry were there.

            Now I pretty much don’t watch it. Hamilton is certainly a great and if the courses were wider it would be much more fun. It is the sport with the lowest dependency on skill – where equipment really can win. I’m not sure if Alonso is that much better than Vettel, the latter won 4 in a row with Red Bull which were a relatively young team compared to Mercedes, Ferrari & Williams. I’d probably go Schumacher, Senna, Hamilton/Prost, Vettel & Alonso of the main drivers since late 80’s. No doubt both Hamilton & Vettel can still climb that list.

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          • In terms of the history books no doubt Schumacher towers above all, but Senna is a fan favourite and that what if question lingers on him.

            It is one sport the British have really dominated! Apart from darts, snooker! Lol!

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          • Verstappen is indeed the guy to watch. He’s had a very impressive start to this career — he’s beating Ricciardo, who in turn destroyed Vettel, albeit over one season only.

            Red Bull won because of Adrain Newey, the best Aerodynamics designer in F1, in an era where engine performances were roughly the same across all manufacturers. The Red Bull was clearly the best car from 2010-2013. Even so, Alonso ran Vettel close in 2 out of those 4 years in a car that was 3rd or 4th best. I was actually rooting for him back then.

            With Alonso, the thing is, apart from Hamilton (over one year, 2007), he has beaten all of his teammates. He destroyed Kimi Raikkonen, Massa…beat Jenson Button. And often by huge margins! His gap over Raikkonen (1 time winner) was astounding. Even at the age of 36, he’s still at his peak even though he is stuck with the 9th best car on the grid.

            I personally prefer Hamilton, because of his speed, but Alonso is probably the most respected driver on the grid right now. Hamilton acknowledges his greatness as well.

            Alonso’s consistency is a bit like Schumacher’s in some respects. And Schumacher destroyed all of his team mates — though there is some controversy about him asking for the #1 status and playing dirty to win as well.

            Having said that, I agree with your list — Schumacher before Senna, Alonso/Hamilton, Prost and then Vettel.

            Vettel is pretty quick, but he too like his idol Schumacher, prefers to have the #1 status in the team. Hamilton doesn’t, which is what makes me like him more. Plus, there are very few drivers who can drive in the wet as well as Hamilton (Senna, Schumacher come to mind…Jenson Button, matched Hamilton in the wet, which is pretty amazing by itself; Alonso’s up there). Vettel isn’t a great wet condition driver by any stretch of the imagination.

            Verstappen is pretty good in the wet as well, which really bodes well for his future, as a potential all time great!

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          • I’ll give you Alonso – he strikes me as unlucky and a bit of bridesmaid. As the sport is unfair, drivers like him land up on the wrong side of the merry-go-round. If he had the right team most of his career, no doubt he’d have more titles to his name.

            Your point on beating his teammates is fair but generally management pick a one and two. They like to try an win the individual/constructors titles without a war. Thats why the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry was fun as both were genuinely allowed to race each other without this stupid do it for the team attitude to some degree. It was no holes barred literally on and off the race course.

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          • Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry was great to watch, indeed. Rosberg was able to get into Hamilton’s head in a way that cost him the championship (also some bad luck to boot!).

            Rosberg has been quite underrated as a driver. In qualifying, he’s definitely a part of the top tier.

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  9. Masaan is available or has been for a while. One of my favorite Hindi films in the last several years.

    Hear, hear!

    Masaan indeed is a terrific film. I’ve seen it twice…unfortunately the version on Netflix is a shortened one. It misses out on quite a few scenes. Vicky Kaushal and Sanjay Mishra are absolutely brilliant in the film.

    It’s hard to imagine the same Vicky Kaushal also played Raghav in Raman Raghav 2.0

    And this song, is currently one of my favourites:

    तू किसी रेल सी गुज़रती है मैं किसी पुल्ल सा.. थरथराता हूँ

    Wow, just wow!

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  10. Speaking of sport, the Italians are really in danger of not making the world cup for only the 2nd time – they’ve lost their first leg away to Sweden 1-0. Luckily Argentina got through…hard to imagine a WC without either team. It will be a huge shock.

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  11. Watching link Wolf Hall right now. Just finished 5 episodes (out of 6). This is jaw-dropping good. Will write more once I’ve finished the series finale…

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      • fairly good list. Glad the original House of Cards is here. State of Play (also led to a Hollywood film) is very good too. Tinker Tailor.. similarly is better than the recent (otherwise good) film. I would have included the sequel (Smiley’s People) as well. But there are important shows missing here too (probably not available in the store). Boys from the Blackstuff for example or Our Friends in the North. Upstairs Downstairs (original) should be on any such list as should the original Forsyth Saga. Some others too (Jewel in the Crown). These have all been available on DVD in the past. Not sure about now. Incidentally Yes Minister is one of my all time favorite shows.

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      • Jay once recommended Only Fools and Horses. I saw some episodes and it was quite addictive. Hope to get back to it at some point.

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        • Oh yes, have seen almost all episodes of Only Fools & Horses…it’s a terrific series. Perhaps the best sitcom from UK in the last 30 years or so.

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          • With Only Fools & Horses – I never tire of watching it. It’s a cult UK show. The Xmas ratings in the mid 90’s were astonishing at its peak. It was tussling with incredible ratings. The show’s magic is really watching it from the beginning and graphing the story. Once you’ve invested in the 2 brothers the reward at the end is tremendous. It’s by far my favourite TV show ever at least on British TV.

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      • All the comedy shows on this list are hugely popular. I’ve watched a fair bit of Dad’s Army (on and off) and Blackadder – the latter is a gem as it goes through periods in British history with a comedic view. Hugh Laurie (famous for House on US TV) and Rowan Atkinson (famous for Mr Bean character) are superb. The last episode is typically shown to all kids studying history in English curriculum for its poignant ending with respect to WW1. Richard Curtis is the writer famous for a bunch of Hugh Grant films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Notting Hill, and Love Actually – might not be everyone’s cup of tea but British humour that I personally love. A lot of famous British comedy actors in these comedies on this list.

        Another fun crime drama is Cracker from the 90’s.

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    • have meant to watch it for a long time..

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    • Saket: have you read the books? I love those but haven’t seen the show yet (I have heard great things about the lead, apparently he is a very well-known theater actor)…

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      • Haven’t read the books, but now I want to!

        And you are absolutely right — the lead actor (Mark Rylance) is widely considered to be the best actor in the UK — and that’s saying something. His best work is in theater though, although he is an Oscar winner and has been knighted this year as well…

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  12. The Fall is something I want to watch simply because it stars Gillian Anderson (teenage crush that will never die). Heard good things about it.

    So instead of watching all those recommended programs I got stuck with Suits. 4 episodes in we’ve binned that one – it’s The Wire instead now and it’s good so far. Quite a rugged old school feel.

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    • Saw the first series on the Fall. it was definitely good though I must admit I’m a bit tired of this whole genre. Haven’t seen the second or third series. In a related sense I liked the Bridge a lot (Swedish version, not the US), again the plot itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, it was even outlandish at points, but the female lead here was extraordinary. She has some kind of autism. She’s brilliant at what she does but emotionally unreachable in certain ways. She made the show worth watching. The male lead is pretty good too.

      Like

  13. 10 years on from The Wire – Clarke Peters on the show’s enduring legacy

    https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/the-wire-legacy-clarke-peters/amp/

    Like

    • From the same team there’s also Treme set in New Orleans. This too eventually got good reviews. I’ve not seen it though. There can be too much of a good thing! maybe at some point..

      Like

  14. The Wire – finished. Easily the best TV show I’ve watched, though Season 5 was a bit loose and the most unrealistic IMO. Still thrilling TV. I think overall I prefer this to Breaking Bad, but both are superb. I’m actually having withdrawal symptoms with respect to The Wire.

    Started Narcos, wasn’t engaged after 1st episode but it picks up thereafter. Never was aware how big Pablo Escobar was – this is a good history lesson!

    Season 11 X Files –
    Episode 1 – awful. It’s painfully fast paced. Scene after scene, I’m lost and disappointed.
    Episode 2 – better, some faith restored. Some clever loop backs to 20 years ago.
    Episode 3 – the best episode from Season 10/11. Nice episode that gets the pacing and chemistry right finally! Essence and soul captured.

    Like

  15. Revisiting The Wire 10 years on

    http://www.denofgeek.com/uk

    Like

  16. Starting watching This Is Us – really touching comedy drama on triplets (rather twins + one black baby left at the fire station that is adopted by white parents who lost one baby during birth of triplets). Really worth watching, my wife cries bucket loads with each passing episode. Very raw emotions.

    Like

  17. Season 11 X Files barring the first episode is terrific. The individual episodes are a huge upgrade on season 10.

    Homeland Season 7 is getting better. It’s turning into a cold war political thriller now.

    Like

  18. If there is one thing on netflix that we can call, cinema at its best then it is ‘The Vietnam war’.
    Life changing experience, stirs a deep churning inside you and when it ends you are not the same person who you were before watching it.

    Take a hundred bows Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

    Like

  19. Anyone here watching this on Netflix? I am 8 episodes in and think it’s terrific.

    Like

    • Not into horror ..I didn’t check GOT for longest time thinking it is horror/fantasy.
      I will give a try!

      Like

    • haven’t seen it but have it in my queue..

      Like

    • I’m looking for a new show to watch – thanks for the shout out. I’m pretty sure Season 3 of This Is Us is going to weep me out so some horror to balance it might be good!

      Like

      • this is based on a very famous American literary work.

        Like

      • Something tells me that fans of Talaash should like this. Episode 6 especially is a marvel. Incidentally the director’s next is a sequel to The Shining.

        Like

        • there is such a glut of entertainment these days you can pretty much choose the series you want more or less by checking off all your favorite boxes. So let’s say you want to watch a Scandic-Noir like British crime drama. You can basically choose where you want it set.. Eng, Scotland, Wales, Ireland etc and there will be a show corresponding to that choice. Or if you prefer Scandinavia itself you just have to choose the country in which you want your serial killer running around. Even Iceland is now part of the mix. Then there are constant drug-related crime shows, the list just goes on and on, covering all kinds of genres. Most of the productions are very well done, very cinematic, but one starts feeling a bit sick after a while. I say this as a consumer of all this stuff but I honestly feel queasy periodically. It’s all high quality TV and yet weirdly predictable. You rarely get the satisfaction of saying it’s bad! They just keep churning them out, original productions, picking up stuff from elsewhere, just the works. And this is just netflix. There are various other apps as well. In the US mhz centers around European shows, Acorn TV is just British stuff (there’s another such app but I forget the name), there’s Walter Presents which also focuses on crime shows from Europe mostly but sometimes elsewhere in Latin America. Of course there’s Prime as well. It’s utterly disgusting! No wonder people don’t go to the movies anymore. I have this sickness too, I consume all this stuff, I recognize I have a problem. Look forward to the day when there will be streaming rehabilitation centers…

          Liked by 1 person

      • for me Wild District is next!

        Synopsis:

        Wild District follows Jhon Jeiver (Juan Pablo Raba), a lethal guerrilla fighter who escapes the jungle after the signing of the Colombian Peace Agreements. He arrives in Bogotá escaping from his past, and tries to reinsert himself in society while looking to reconnect with his long lost family. But he soon finds himself wrapped in a web of crime and corruption, struggling to understand the ways of the concrete jungle, protect his family from his past, and faced with the moral dilemma of choosing what side of the law he wants to be on.

        Like

        • There is really an extraordinary amount of choice now. No real reason to leave the house!

          Like

          • How can you guys watch an entire series? I gave up after 4 seasons of Breaking Bad — and I actually liked it!

            Sacred Games was perfect — all over in one weekend.

            Like

          • Dude you didn’t finish Breaking Bad with Season 5? That’s criminal! One of the best seasons period of any show I’ve seen. The penultimate episode WOW

            But I got your point. I haven’t watched many because I know I’ll drop a lot of things for it. I don’t binge watch. Usually over 2 weeks will finish a season. I’ve probably only watched 10 shows in total – considering there are dozens it’s a pretty small count.

            Like

          • I don’t have that much patience anymore. Besides, a series takes up too much time. I’d rather read a book in that time.

            Like

          • LOL, now you’ve shamed the rest of us Saket!

            Like

          • Embarrassing fact about me. I haven’t read a book for 2 decades since school. I lack attention in this area completely.

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          • well these new prestige TV productions are often compared to 19th century novels so you might be doing alright!

            Like

          • wow, really? Breaking Bad? By the way there are many who now say Call me Saul (the sequel) is even better but I haven’t checked it out. One of the truly extraordinary and truly intense shows though is the Wire. No one should miss this.

            Like

          • If you are into historical dramas (or dramas in general) you have to watch Wolf Hall. If you haven’t seen Mark Rylance here, you have certainly missed something in life. No kidding!

            Like

          • yes I’ve wanted to watch this too. And I love good period dramas. Would have preferred reading the books first but that too remains a constantly deferred project. Maybe by the time the author completes her trilogy.

            Like

          • Wolf Hall has very few episodes. I think I finished them within a single weekend.

            Like

          • The Wire is definitely the best of the lot. When I was watching it I was extremely addicted… haven’t watched the Breaking Bad spin off.

            Just finished Power which was okay. 5 seasons or 50 odd episodes over a month or so – but seriously this show is just soft porn till the last season. And a bit of a ripoff off The Wire but just like a Kjo version of a Kashyap film.

            Like

          • Yeah tried Power for a while couldn’t quite get into it. On the Wire the writers did something similar set in post-katrina New Orleans called Treme. Haven’t seen it though.

            Like

          • I remain a great fan of Mad Men.

            Like

          • There really isn’t enough time in life for all this! I get barely an hour a day and more often than not I’d rather watch footie!

            Like

          • I watched Kohli score his 36th yesterday. The guy is swatting flies by the looks of it.

            Like

          • We make dead pitches..even chasing 320+ is easy…BTW have you seen Abbas? He was very good in recently concluded Pak-Aus series in UAE.

            Like

          • I haven’t seen Abbas yet. I don’t think chasing 320+ is that easy. There’s always scoreboard pressure. And Rohit was taking his sweet time to get going. Considering all that, I think it was a good knock.

            The Windies bowling though was far from perfect.

            Like

          • Like

          • Yes, coming from Steyn, it definitely means something.

            Like

          • wow, high praise..!

            Like

          • thanks, this was a nice read. I wasn’t following the series with Australia but did read about the impact he’d made, specially on those pitches. Haven’t seen any of his videos though.

            Like

          • Watched fews episode of Mad Men. Liked it but didn’t have the patience, so went to Wikipedia and read the entire plot.

            Was happier in the end. Somehow I haven’t taken that route for Breaking Bad so far, which means I might return to it some day?

            Like

          • Season 5 is quite remarkable IMO. I don’t have the greatest benchmark or knowledge of all these shows but the season has been rated the single best season of any show by some. I’m not sure personally on that but it’s pretty compelling viewing.

            The Wire is another planet though. The detailing in that show is by far the best I’ve watched. It takes a bit of time to get into it but once you’re in you really are upset when it’s finished!

            Like

          • the show just keeps getting better in the later seasons..

            Like

          • My all-time favourite still remains the one on which this post is about! LOL. I’ll still have time for the odd X Files episode but not for a new show!

            Like

          • yes these are huge time commitments for sure.. even if I’ve seen all of Mad Men twice.. LOL!

            Like

      • have heard good things about this as well:

        https://www.vogue.com/article/netflix-the-mechanism-brazil

        It’s in my queue as well along with a hundred other things. Queues exist so that there is then no pressure on us to actually watch things…

        Like

  20. One series that I’ve recently finished is Sherlock. Despite my initial reservations, I loved the last few seasons. Unlike other Sherlock Holmes adaptations, this series isn’t about him solving crimes at all. It’s about what makes Sherlock Holmes tick!

    It’s about his psychology, his background, his family and his own frailty. Plus his friendship with Watson. Martin Freeman who plays Watson is simply brilliant.

    This might be the first series where I’ve liked Watson more than Holmes (although Cumberbatch is also bloody brilliant).

    I actually love this series!

    Like

  21. BETTER CALL SAUL by Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan is THE best series on American television for the past 3 years. Period. I have never, ever, seen a series so searing yet so subtle in its approach and its fantastic indictment of the disgusting American criminal/legal system and its repercussions on an ordinary citizen and how reform is really the last thing on its mind. And here, the protagonist/sufferer is a white male! For a mere mistake of littering that he once did, how an aspiring lawyer, who has but the only intention of matching up to his intelligent, successful attorney-brother has to pay the price through-out his life and end up seeing his moral fiber shredded bit-by-bit by the hypocritical work-society of the United States and ultimately end-up as a lawyer only fit to serving the crooks, is a testimony to this. He tries. Oh, how he tries to do the right things! All this empty-talk of ‘time-served’ is ‘time-done’ is talk, merely talk full of vacuum. And this is an eye-opener for those who keep claiming ‘institutional’ protections are stronger here! Protection my foot. A society which doesn’t distinguish between a hard-core criminal and a person who took a dump on a car in his youth is literally to be laughed at. [That on the other hand, we as a society are so used to pink-pants brandishing his weapon in a 5-star hotel is another extreme and a different debate altogether.]

    Season 4 is especially brilliant because it sees Jimmy literally crossing-over to the dark-side that where he doesn’t even hesitate to use someone’s death to further his cause. It’s a truly saddening transformation from a simple, honest, office mail-man who aspires to become a lawyer to a crook legally serving the crooks.

    To me, Peter and Vince have actually bested themselves when compared to BREAKING BAD. This is subtler, and a highly compelling human drama. UNMISSABLE.

    Like

    • Wow didn’t realize it was this good…

      Like

      • Continuing the praise for BCS…

        While Jimmy’s not perfect by a long shot, he’s trying to make his way in a world that doesn’t always have a place for people like him. That’s easy to understand and even easier to sympathize with. Compare this to Walter White’s perpetual bubbling anger or Jesse Pinkman’s baseless swagger, and it’s clear that Better Call Saul has a more relatable protagonist.

        Granted, unpleasant protagonists aren’t automatically bad. (There’s a reason people still read “The Catcher in the Rye”). But in the very best TV shows — the ones that stay with us for years and years, even after they go off the air — we see something relatable in the main characters. Whether it’s Captain Kirk’s roguish beneficence, Kunta Kinte’s righteous defiance or even Homer Simpson’s hapless enthusiasm, really good television can reveal a few things about our inner natures. Love or hate the character, most people would have bailed on Walter White’s plan long before Walter himself did.

        And that’s what Better Call Saul ultimately delivers that Breaking Bad never could: likable, empathetic characters. There is something good and something bad in every cast member. Jimmy is an accomplished liar, but he’s also concerned with making life better for an underserved population. Chuck is vain and controlling, but he cares deeply for his friends and family. Kim practices and enables harmful lifestyle choices, while sticking her neck out again and again for people she loves. Even Mike — who does some extremely shady, illegal, borderline-murderous stuff — honors his bargains and never lets his ego supersede his judgment.

        https://www.tomsguide.com/us/better-call-saul-best-tv-show,news-27733.html

        Like

    • I just happened to the see the 4th Season. Vince Gilligan knocked it out of the park in the last 3 episodes. Also loved the use of the song “Street Light” in Episode 5 which reminded me of Jackie Brown, a film this show resembles the most in tone IMO.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Coens’ latest western is up on Netflix.

    Like

  23. Flicking between shows. Back to Narcos season 3 and the Cali Cartel. Episode 6, ‘best laid plans’ is absolutely amazing. I thought losing Pablo would kill this show but S3 is damn good.

    Like

  24. Is Narcos Mexico worth a watch?

    Season 3 was damn good. My favourite character from the entire show is Jorge. His track is brilliantly written and performed.

    Like

  25. Finished watching season 2 of The Deuce. What a vivid view and perception of the filth-ridden NYC of the ’70s! Just cannot compare it today with the avenues or the streets or the Times Square back in the day. Porn, whores, pimps, johns, adult clubs, adult magazines: Not a single sight to be seen today.

    Absolutely mesmerizing writing and depiction: Fantastic humanization of the lives of the so-called low-lives. Fine intersection of race and gender inequalities. Every performer is top-notch; it would be unfair to pick a few, but if one were to, then David Krumholtz, Maggie Gylenlhaal, and Emily Meade take the cake.

    One needs to watch this series to understand how to make a series or whatever with a theme as the back-drop, but not let the itemizing of it dictate the terms: It is always the human beings that are at the front; the thing that controls their destinies, are in the back-ground.

    This is a series about the lowest of the baser instincts of man-kind; but by God, they never ever, shove it in your face. We need to learn something…

    Liked by 1 person

    • “The Deuce,” beginning Sunday, is about the sex trade in the same way that Mr. Simon’s “The Wire” was about drugs, his “Treme” was about jazz and his “Show Me a Hero” was about zoning. Each of Mr. Simon’s works is ultimately about systems: people of different classes, races and levels of power, whose choices (or lack thereof) define an economy and a society.

      That macro idea makes “The Deuce” smart. Its micro detail — a Studs Terkelesque catalog of the million ways to chase a hustle — makes it art.

      The series opens in grotty 1971 Times Square, in the pre-Disney days of oral sex in phone booths and rats in the blue-movie theaters. The screen oozes stale air and garbage. But there’s cash being made selling flesh, and where there’s money, power will follow: first the illicit Mafia-run massage parlors, then the lucrative legal porn industry.

      As the prostitute Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) puts it, adding a profanity for emphasis, “It’s America, right? When did we ever leave a dollar for the other guy to pick up?”

      Like

  26. Finished OZARKS second season. Gripping to say the least — as the first one. Every minute is a tentacle that just clips you; grips you.

    Watching 5 episode of WILD WILD COUNTRY; jesus – Ma Anand Sheela – what a woman!! Terrific and terrible! In those days, to defy the Americans, to defy the district attorneys, coming from India, with NO pretend-American accent, and to show the middle-finger to the disgusting, pre-judiced American law system; what balls! Am a fan of her. Would love to date her!! Stupendous!!

    I hope she posed for Playboy..that would be a collector’s edition..

    Like

  27. Been watching the noughties cop drama The Shield. It’s pretty much an adrenaline filled version of The Wire. Forest Whitaker is absolutely brilliant in Season 5. Can’t believe how satisfying it was when he received his comeuppance.

    Like

  28. Absolutely loving Prison Break. Into season 2 now, so addictive! I was misinformed about season 2 and onwards. Season 2 so far is really diverse, glad all the escapees have their own track and still linked to each other.

    I’ve been informed it gets repetitive at some stage. Anyone watched all 5 seasons and care to share if the show stays exciting? Thoughts?

    Like

  29. CHERNOBYL is the best miniseries ever. #HBO

    Like

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