April 20, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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The X-Files “Familiar”

Children's television characters appear to lure children to their deaths in a small town.

Just a friendly reminder:  The X-Files was never afraid to kill small children.

The Case:  Witchcraft In New England!

The Rest:  At its core, this is a simple episode:  the chief of police in a small Connecticut town that had its own version of the Salem Witch Trials once upon a time cheated on his wife with the wife of a fellow cop.  The chief’s wife used a grimoire to summon a hellhound, and things got out of hand.  By the end of the episode, both cops, their wives, and their young children will all be dead.  It is, as an episode, an effective use of both Mulder and Scully.  Scully does the autopsy things and finds some ways of looking into things.  Mulder brings his knowledge of weird stuff out, and he is the one to see the hellhound for the first time.  He likewise keeps spotting salt on the ground.

Plus, the grimoire in question is sitting out in plain sight on the Chief’s bookcase.  That’s a small detail that should probably seem a little…weird.

However, the real highlights here are the manner in which the two children are both lured out into the woods to die:  the hellhound apparently takes the shape of TV characters that are popular with their victims, and rather than use existing characters (that would cost money), the show makes up some in the form of some off-brand Teletubbies with faces that look like they were painted by Edvard Munch, and then there’s Mr. Chuckleteeth.

Mr. Chuckleteeth is a guy in a costume who looks like a black-and-white Howdy Doody with eyes that look like they were swiped from a chameleon given they seem to be looking in opposite directions.  Combine that with the giant teeth in his massive smile, and I will say two things.

First, these characters are both incredibly creepy looking, the sorts of creatures this series in its heyday always did a good job whipping up as needed. And for all that the episode’s plot may seem a but rote, the way the episode actually uses these creatures is incredibly spooky and weird.  Like, there’s nothing comforting about these guys.  They just look deadly and dangerous.

But second…why would things that look like these things attract children?  They seem too scary to be any sort of beloved characters to me.  None of them talk either, so it’s not like they have comforting voices or anything.  The very thing that makes them effective as X-Files monsters likewise makes them a little too scary-looking to be effective kids show mascots.

Plus…”Mr. Chuckleteeth” as a name just sounds wrong.

Up next, organ theft.