The X-Files #168: Dreamland

"Don't you ever want to stop? Get out of the damn car and live something approaching a normal life?"
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder switches bodies with an Area 51 employee.

REVIEW: A premise and mechanics poached from Quantum Leap shouldn't be this dull, not where powerful comic presences like Michael McKean and Nora Dunn are in the mix. Come on! The big problem is surely that there isn't QUITE enough material for a two-parter, and Part I has obviously suffered. For too long, Mulder seems befuddled by this turn of events to the point of incompetence. When he starts taking charge of situations near the end, that's what he should have been like all along, instead of suffering through Fletcher's family life apathetically. There's an attempt in the teaser to make us wonder what Mulder would do with a so-called "normal" life, but he doesn't really try. Just keeps his nose out of it while his wife grumbles at him. Nora DID make me laugh - when Scully shows up at the door at very worst time - but the script isn't doing her any favors. The McKean in the mirror bits try hard, but I mostly feel bad for nitpicking the few out-of-sync movements. For the most part, Mulder is apathetic and less than proactive, while Scully, in her thread, asks too few questions about her new Mulder's behavior. It just feels like the situation is being stretched to get to episode length.

Though he's not the lone credit, Vince Gilligan is one again responsible for a doubtful science fiction premise. I'll buy the tear in space-time made by a malfunctioning UFO, and the way it merges people with objects. That's fine. That it could have swapped souls between bodies (not just Mulder/Fletcher, but the pilot and a Hopi woman) seems an entirely different effect. The way Fletcher seemed nonplussed by the switch may mean there's something else going on there, but we'll have to wait for Dreamland II to find out. "Dreamland" is, of course, another name for Area 51, and even that seems strange. Mulder has been investigating X-Files for how long now, and this is the first time he's attempted to find the fabled facility? Well, I guess he gets to live his dream and actually WORK there. So much for a "normal" life.

Fletcher, in his place, keeps his head down and makes Mulder a straight arrow. And he uses Mulder's body to sleep with Kersh's sexy assistant. Nice adultery-technical date rape combo there, buddy. At least he's not going for Scully. As an audience, we've already been there and done that. But that's just it. Mulder was memorably impersonated in Small Potatoes where David Duchovny was able to act the part of the impostor and make fun of Mulder. Not here. The Quantum Leap conceit means McKean is Mulder and Duchovny is Fletcher, so we don't see the incongruity of Mulder being out of character.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - It's Freaky Friday, and the talent involved should have us giggling all the way through. Alas, Dreamland is torpid and a little dull.

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