Monsters of the Week
In 1993, Fox debuted a strange new television show called The X-Files. Little did anyone suspect that the series would become one of the network’s biggest hits—and change the landscape of television in the process. Now, on the occasion of the show’s 25th anniversary, TV critics Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff unpack exactly what made this haunting show so groundbreaking. Witty and insightful reviews of every episode of the series, revised and updated from the authors’ popular A.V. Club recaps, leave no mystery unsolved and no monster unexplained. This crucial collection even includes exclusive interviews with some of the stars and screenwriters, as well as an original foreword by X-Files creator and showrunner Chris Carter. This complete critical companion is the book about The X-Files, the definitive guide whether you’re a lifelong viewer wanting to relive memories of watching the show when it first aired or a new fan uncovering the conspiracy for the first time.

Monsters of the Week Details

TitleMonsters of the Week
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 16th, 2018
PublisherAbrams Press
ISBN-139781419732478
Rating
GenreNonfiction

Monsters of the Week Review

  • Schizanthus
    January 1, 1970
    The first X-Files episode I clearly remember watching was Squeeze. I was wedged into a beanbag on the floor of a darkened lounge room. Behind me was an open door leading to the kitchen which, like the rest of the house, was dark and Eugene Tooms creeped me out enough that several times he had me looking over my shoulder. My love of the weird and the wonderful and all things spooky began that night and I’ve been an X-Phile ever since, collecting episodes on VHS and then DVD and an assortment of b The first X-Files episode I clearly remember watching was Squeeze. I was wedged into a beanbag on the floor of a darkened lounge room. Behind me was an open door leading to the kitchen which, like the rest of the house, was dark and Eugene Tooms creeped me out enough that several times he had me looking over my shoulder. My love of the weird and the wonderful and all things spooky began that night and I’ve been an X-Phile ever since, collecting episodes on VHS and then DVD and an assortment of books and memorabilia.As soon as I saw Monsters of the Week I knew I had to have it. I loved the picture of Mulder and Scully on the cover and the title called to me. I suspected immediately that reading this book would lead to an overwhelming urge to binge watch the entire series (again!) but the reason why I need to surprised me. I’d expected to binge read this book and then slowly reread it as I rewatched each episode but in my rush to get my hands on this book I somehow missed the critical part of the subtitle. There was always going to be some disagreement between myself and the authors; you can’t be this invested in a series for so long and not have strong opinions about it. While the writers shredded some episodes that I count amongst my favourites, most of their comments were a fair balance of the good, the bad and the creepy. However, sometimes the criticism was so critical that it had me wondering at times if this pair even liked The X-Files. My stubborn has kicked in so my upcoming binge will now be about confirming to myself that the episodes I always loved are still worthy of my adoration.I adored Patrick Leger’s cover artwork and the illustrations accompanying each section of the book. There are several of these that I’d love to have framed. I do appreciate how much time and effort has gone into this book. Besides watching or rewatching 11 series of TV and two movies between them, Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff have tackled all of the monsters and mythology in a fair amount of detail; ranging from half a page to over three pages of commentary per episode. The authors also really like footnotes; most pages have several, ranging from really interesting extra information to seemingly random.As a huge fan I wanted this read to feel as passionate about the series as I am and it was to a point. There were some quotes I loved: Mulder’s defining trait is his willingness to charge headlong into danger if he thinks he will find the answers he seeks, and Scully’s defining trait is her willingness to ultimately trust her partner, even when she doesn’t believe him.The X-Files is a cop show, yes, but it’s also one in which you could wake up in a safe, standard reality, then turn the wrong corner and end up becoming a thing that goes bump in the night. No one is safe, and any given door could lead to madness.this isn’t a show about aliens as much as it is about our need to believe in something, lest the night become too dark and terrifying. There’s so much darkness in the night sky, but there are also so many stars. And maybe one of them is looking back at us.If Deep Throat was a cheat code to the quest for the truth, X is a walkthrough written by somebody who doesn’t want to share his secrets, doesn’t like you, and might not even be playing the same game. While I loved most of their take on the first few seasons I found the book became a bit of a slog to get through towards the end as it became more focused on the negative when discussing the later seasons: The mythology episodes would come to feel more and more poorly motivated, and eventually, you’d start to wonder how Mulder could believe in any of this bullshit.you won’t just be wondering why you decided to watch this episode; you’ll be wondering why you decided to watch a show that could produce an episode this bad at all.Other people die, but those deaths don’t have any weight, and the point the episode tries to make is too unwelcome and backward to really care about.Like nearly everything else in the episode, there’s no real joke here, just a joke-shaped hole where comedy could have theoretically existed.The X-Files has been reheating its leftovers for several seasons nowThe X-Files is frantically trying to find a new reason to justify its own existence as it circles the drain. But then I’d find sentences like these and know they understood after all: we wouldn’t still be talking about the series if it didn’t hit more than it missed.“The Sixth Extinction,” parts one and two, are ridiculous television, but dammit, they’re our ridiculous television. I acknowledge that had I written this book most reviewers would be commenting on how annoying it was to keep reading, “This is one of my favourite episodes!” almost every time they turned the page. It was a really nice trip down memory lane and it reminded me of so many episodes that shocked, horrified, intrigued and amazed me. I’d forgotten or maybe never realised that the Lone Gunmen made their appearance before Skinner did. I did keep waiting for the commentary about how each time Mulder pulls his gun on someone he loses it but sadly it never happened.I had some objections when criticisms were made based on what is or isn’t acceptable today without consideration for the time that the majority of this series was made, when we thought computers were going to do some really scary things once the clock stuck midnight at the end of 1999. In particular the embarrassment the writers supposedly felt by being two white men critiquing a TV show written predominantly by white men irked me. By focusing so much on the gender, racial and cultural inequalities of the show they missed the obvious; Scully, being such a strong lead, inspired so many women to study and go on to work in STEM.If you’re not already a fan you probably won’t pick this book up anyway but if you are just beginning your journey to find the truth out there I’d definitely recommend watching each episode prior to reading the commentary about them to avoid spoilers.Thank you so much to NetGalley and Abrams Press for the opportunity to read this book.
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  • Lisa Ks Book Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent, detailed information on The X-Files. My sister is a huge fan of the show, but I taught here some new things that I learned from this book! MONSTERS OF THE WEEK will thrill X-File fans!
  • Todd Vanderwerff
    January 1, 1970
    Propriety keeps me from writing a review of this, but I DID read it three times in 2018 (very closely!), so I want to make sure it gets added to my woefully-behind "reading challenge."
  • Audrey Adamson
    January 1, 1970
    I mostly enjoyed Monsters of the Week. I love the X-Files and it was great fun reliving the series. The reviews are honest and many times spot on about the issues with each episode. I do admit there are times when I absolutely did not agree with their assessment (Dreamland should just have been one part? As if!) but that was to be expected. I dropped a star for two reasons. The first was because of the unevenness of the nerdy facts and information. I actually doubted one of the reviewers true fa I mostly enjoyed Monsters of the Week. I love the X-Files and it was great fun reliving the series. The reviews are honest and many times spot on about the issues with each episode. I do admit there are times when I absolutely did not agree with their assessment (Dreamland should just have been one part? As if!) but that was to be expected. I dropped a star for two reasons. The first was because of the unevenness of the nerdy facts and information. I actually doubted one of the reviewers true fandom. (How had he not seen From Outer Space before doing it for a review! A travesty!). And the reviewers seemed to know a lot of info about what was going on behind the scenes and culturally but then left some questions unanswered (If Duchovny wanted to leave so badly and sue the company, then why did he come back to direct in Season 9?) I was also surprised that they left out Supernatural from the discussion at all. It both figurately and literally had X-Files to thank for its success. The second biggest problem is that they reviewed everything through the 2018 Social Justice lens (only Seasons 10 & 11 should be treated to this kind of scrutiny; it was made in that time frame). While I understand pointing out what did not age well, the obsession with being PC takes away from some of the accomplishments. Yes, white men ran it. This was the '90s. Were cultures sometimes portrayed stereotypically? Yes, but at the same time, the myths and legends of these cultures were completely ignored by network tv. Often groundbreaking isn't always done right, but you need those to get to the truthful portrayal. The authors even make the "apology" of being two white guys writing the book trying to be self-aware. But a dozen pages later, they make a big deal of two episodes to be the first written by a woman and then go on to tell you how much they sucked. I love The X-Files and I know it's strengths and weaknesses. I loved reading about the episodes and learning new tidbits. I did not enjoy the tone about being PC when the two men did not understand what they are talking about. (Criminal Minds is bad because it has an unbalanced portrayal of violence against women? Please tell that to the real life serial killers whose biggest pool are the vulnerable especially women!) I have the desire to read any of their other work, but I do thank thing for a great nostalgic trip through a show I love.I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    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 revie 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.http://www.easyvegan.info/2018/10/26/...
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  • Robert Rich
    January 1, 1970
    I love The X-Files. It scared me to death as a kid, provided a nice couple of summers of bonding with my mom as an adult as we re-watched it, and filled in for my years of missing Lost when they decided to bring it back in 2016. So when Kumail Nanjiani tweeted about a book full of reviews of every episode and movie ever, I was sold. The result is a nice collection of the history of the show, with some pretty good reviewing. Just like with the episodes of the show itself, there are flaws in this I love The X-Files. It scared me to death as a kid, provided a nice couple of summers of bonding with my mom as an adult as we re-watched it, and filled in for my years of missing Lost when they decided to bring it back in 2016. So when Kumail Nanjiani tweeted about a book full of reviews of every episode and movie ever, I was sold. The result is a nice collection of the history of the show, with some pretty good reviewing. Just like with the episodes of the show itself, there are flaws in this collection as well. Namely, for the authors to say they are huge fans of the show, there is a LOT of “this episode is terrible” commentary abounding. Sure, plenty episodes didn’t work, but come on guys. There’s also several reviews that hinge on “this plot is just not realistic” theses, which again, is ludicrous considering the show is ostensibly about ALIENS AND MONSTERS. Finally, the authors also find themselves seemingly forced to point out every sexist, insensitive, and borderline racist comment and story that happened during the show’s run, which definitely exist, but get bogged down in the argument about whether or not it’s okay for them to have happened because of the time period when they were written, but rather than take that approach, the authors simply point these instances out to make sure the book has “woke” cred and move on. Despite all that, you do get the sense the authors were and are fans of the show, and the book is a labor of love. Maybe it’s fitting that the result is something that is both beautiful and flawed, just like The X-Files itself.
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  • Melinda M
    January 1, 1970
    Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files by Zack Handlen reviews every episode of the tv series. It is detailed and witty. My only complaint is that they look at the episodes thru a 2018 eye using the PC and cultural of the day instead of viewing thru the lens of the time it was made. As a person who loves history, I have found it to be a common problem. This does not take away from the fact that this is a great book to have if you like the X-Files or have just found Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files by Zack Handlen reviews every episode of the tv series. It is detailed and witty. My only complaint is that they look at the episodes thru a 2018 eye using the PC and cultural of the day instead of viewing thru the lens of the time it was made. As a person who loves history, I have found it to be a common problem. This does not take away from the fact that this is a great book to have if you like the X-Files or have just found the X-Files to find out more about the series. It also was interesting to find out details about the show. This book tells about the monsters and gives details that will make seeing the episode again interesting.I received a copy thru a Goodreads Giveaway.
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  • Chris Worthy
    January 1, 1970
    (Full disclosure: I haven't completely finished this, but that's not how this book works. It's a compendium of sorts. Enjoy bits at a time.) The X Files is my all-time favorite show, so there was really no doubt that I was going to love this. It is wonderfully nostalgic, but doesn't cut corners on calling out the show (and its creator and writers) for some of its obvious problems (rape in one form or another as a recurring theme, for one). If you've stuck around for the 25 years of highest highs (Full disclosure: I haven't completely finished this, but that's not how this book works. It's a compendium of sorts. Enjoy bits at a time.) The X Files is my all-time favorite show, so there was really no doubt that I was going to love this. It is wonderfully nostalgic, but doesn't cut corners on calling out the show (and its creator and writers) for some of its obvious problems (rape in one form or another as a recurring theme, for one). If you've stuck around for the 25 years of highest highs and lowest lows, I think you will enjoy coming back to this book time and again. The illustrations leading into each chapter are really superb! (I was able to read an advance copy through Netgalley. This book publishes Oct. 16, 2018.)
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  • Reading Lit
    January 1, 1970
    As a long-time X-Phile, I found this book to be detailed and interesting. The book brought to mind several of my favorite episodes and helped me learn some new details about a show that has been one of my favorites for decades.
  • Greg Chatham
    January 1, 1970
    This is the episode guide for The X-Files I longed for back in high school!Adapted from the authors' AV Club coverage, each episode is approached conversationally, but with most of the "muse of the week" asides common to weekly TV show recaps edited out. The result is a fairly comprehensive, thoughtful trip down memory lane that recaptures the fun of watching the show for the first time. I burned through this book, staying up late into the night because I couldn't wait to relive the next season. This is the episode guide for The X-Files I longed for back in high school!Adapted from the authors' AV Club coverage, each episode is approached conversationally, but with most of the "muse of the week" asides common to weekly TV show recaps edited out. The result is a fairly comprehensive, thoughtful trip down memory lane that recaptures the fun of watching the show for the first time. I burned through this book, staying up late into the night because I couldn't wait to relive the next season.Also impressive, the authors mostly avoid Internet groupthink ("Everything after [blank] is terrible!" "The showrunners don't know what they're doing!"), and attempt to frame their criticism in the proper historical context. Occasionally they reach a little too far. The credit they give the show to changing the look of television should also go to ER, and you can't tell me any of the half-hearted attempts to continue the series after David Duchovny (kind of) left carry the same weight as the show in its prime. But for the most part, the authors stay on point. When this show was on, there was nothing else like it, and it was awesome... until a vaguely indeterminable point that will depend upon your personal preferences.A few other quibbles. There's some behind the scenes speculation which comes off like amateur armchair showrunning, and the second movie and revival seasons really get short shrift. Season 11 in particular comes up pretty light. Earlier entries take pains to provide a short summary of each episode, but that's almost entirely absent in the final chapters. And the footnotes throughout the book are really, really weird, highlighting general pop culture information I think would be obvious to anyone who would pick up an episode guide. But then again, this show is really old. Maybe kids these days don't know what an Ed Asner or a Robert Patrick is?However, if I wasn't up for some quibbling, I wouldn't be the type of guy to read this book! The X-Files was the beginning and the ending of my romance with fandom, and I learned a little bit about courage and how TV shows are written along the way. My only regret is that I can't send this book back in time to a younger version of myself. That guy really loved talking about The X-Files, and this is a great book for anyone else who still feels the same.
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  • J Aislynn d'Merricksson
    January 1, 1970
    Handlen and VanDerWerff's Monsters of the Week takes the reader on a whirlwind review of every single episode from all 11 seasons, as well as looking at the two feature-length films. This was an interesting read, to be sure. I'm already a huge fan, so there were no spoilers for me, but those new to the series should watch the episodes before reading about them, both to avoid spoilers, and to avoid going in with preconceived notions picked up from the essayists that may colour the viewing. Each a Handlen and VanDerWerff's Monsters of the Week takes the reader on a whirlwind review of every single episode from all 11 seasons, as well as looking at the two feature-length films. This was an interesting read, to be sure. I'm already a huge fan, so there were no spoilers for me, but those new to the series should watch the episodes before reading about them, both to avoid spoilers, and to avoid going in with preconceived notions picked up from the essayists that may colour the viewing. Each author offered unique opinions, sometimes flattering, and at other times decidedly not, so don't go in expecting a rave fest for how great a show it is. Much of the information was old hat, but I did learn a few new things! Perfect for X-Philes of any flavour. ***Many thanks to the Netgalley and Abrams Press for providing an egalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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  • E
    January 1, 1970
    I normally do not do a "review" of a book before I read it (or pre-emptively shelve it on my favorites shelf), but OMG, I *LOVELOVELOVELOVE* the X-Files MOTW episodes, so I have very high expectations for this book!
  • Lel Budge
    January 1, 1970
    As a die-hard X-Files fan, I love this book. It has a forward by Chris Carter, the creator of the TV series and the book is arranged in Chapters by Season. So, each chapter is a critique of every episode in that season, it covers the brilliant parts, the good parts and the downright bad ones. It covers the relationship between Murder and Scully, the cigarette smoking man and the lone gunmen. It even names the, now more well known, actors that had parts in the X-Files, such as Donal Logue, Giovan As a die-hard X-Files fan, I love this book. It has a forward by Chris Carter, the creator of the TV series and the book is arranged in Chapters by Season. So, each chapter is a critique of every episode in that season, it covers the brilliant parts, the good parts and the downright bad ones. It covers the relationship between Murder and Scully, the cigarette smoking man and the lone gunmen. It even names the, now more well known, actors that had parts in the X-Files, such as Donal Logue, Giovanni Ribisi, Seth Green et al. I loved being able to read about my favourite episodes and it really captures the mood of the show. Brilliant.It’s a great companion to the TV show for fans and those who are new to it (are there any?)...I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review
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  • Lynn Coulter
    January 1, 1970
    Just in time for Halloween---and the TV show's 25th anniversary--Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff are releasing their new book, Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to the X-Files. If you were a fan of this television series, you'll want a copy for your shelves. The book recaps each episode of the show and even includes interviews with some of the stars and a foreword by its creator and showrunner, Chris Carter. You'll get the authors' take on what they liked and disliked about Just in time for Halloween---and the TV show's 25th anniversary--Zack Handlen and Todd VanDerWerff are releasing their new book, Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to the X-Files. If you were a fan of this television series, you'll want a copy for your shelves. The book recaps each episode of the show and even includes interviews with some of the stars and a foreword by its creator and showrunner, Chris Carter. You'll get the authors' take on what they liked and disliked about the various monsters and paranormal entities. Reading the book, which was provided to me for my unbiased opinion by Netgalley, makes me want to start watching X-Files all over again.
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