Book Review: Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files by Zack Handlen & Todd VanDerWerff (2018)

October 26th, 2018 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Your very own aftershow in a Kindle!

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley/Edelweiss.)

I went back, as I often do, to read some contemporaneous reviews of “Pilot” (S1E1) from TV critics, and what struck me was how many of them insisted that UFOs were “played out” as the subject matter for TV series. Even the positive ones – and there were many – were worried about The X-Files becoming just another UFO series.

– Todd, “Things That Go Bump”

I feel kind of silly reviewing a book I haven’t read cover-to-cover but, since I plan on devouring Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files as part of an upcoming X-Files rewatch, it will likely be months before I actually finish it. So here goes nothing.

Monsters of the Week is a collection of the AV Club’s X-Files recaps – originally published well after the original airing of the show – revised and updated for modern viewers, and with all the spoilery bits removed so that newbies can enjoy it too.

What you won’t find here: point-by-point episode recaps. (If you’re anything like me, you already purchased those books, in print form, as they were released in the late ’90s and early aughts, well before e-readers were a thing.)

Instead, you’ll find critical analyses and reviews of each episode, as well as interviews with the actors and writers. Again, I’ve only read a selection of the essays, but overall they seem insightful and engaging, and certainly amped up my excitement to rewatch the show. I guess my only complaint so far is that I wish each essay was a little longer, but at 480 pages that might be a little unreasonable. (Or not, because X-Philes gonna phile.)

Based on some other reviews – either praising or criticizing the authors’ social justice bent – I have high hopes for this compendium.

(This review is also available on Library Thing and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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